Detail photos for this Artwork
In many of Sawrey’s paintings he recollects his past life as a drover and stockman working on properties in the outback, recording along the way the life and history of outback towns and stations, and the people who lived and worked there.
A delightful aspect of many of Sawrey’s paintings is that he records in the painting titles, the places he has worked at, our travelled through, and inadvertently has helped to record some outback history.
This is the case for this lovely, detailed oil painting where he depicts a scene from “Tilbooroo” Station, which is situated just west of the Paroo River near Eulo, 134 kilometres north-west of Cunnamulla.
In “Yarning by the Wood-Heap” Sawrey depicts a hut on the “Tilbooroo” property, “Bob’s Hut”, and we see presumably Bob and a mate taking some time out, and sharing a cigarette and a chat beside the wood heap. Station life is recorded with a horse tied to a nearby tree, the windmill and water tanks, old sheds, fencing wire, washing on the line, and the family by the hut – all the things that Sawrey would have recalled from memory when painting this scene.
“Tilbooroo” has an interesting place in outback history because it is a well-known pastoral spread in South-West Queensland that has historic links to Australia’s ‘cattle king’, Sir Sidney Kidman (1857-1935), at one time the largest landowner in Australia, who purchased the property in 1909 from the London Bank.
In 1985 Sawrey produced a specific series of works relating to Sir Sidney Kidman with works that related to his vast holdings in the Channel Country.
The station also gets a mention in the traditional Australian shearing song, “Flash Jack from Gundagai”, where one verse begins: ‘I’ve shore at Big Willandra and I’ve shore at Tilberoo’.
When Kidman purchased the property in 1909, it was a vast station of 180,000 ha with a long frontage to the Paroo River. In her book, “Kidman, The Forgotten King”, author Jill Bowen records that when Kidman bought “Tilbooroo” it was carrying 12,000 sheep and 3,000 cattle. But, Kidman dispatched the sheep and ran only cattle.
Cattle were favoured by subsequent owners of Tilbooroo until 1934, when it was bought by NSW wool scourer John Jordan, who converted it back to sheep and established a Merino stud. Despite its wool-growing focus under Jordan, Tilbooroo continued to run cattle in favourable seasons, such as 1951 when the station trucked 705 prime bullocks in one hit to Flemington.
Jordan and his son Frank held Tilbooroo for 30 years, and by the time the property came back on the market in 1964, it had been scaled back to its present size.
In more recent times, “Tilbooroo” (sometimes spelt Tilberoo) was a 33,281 hectare (82,240ac) leasehold property, owned by the Hall family, who bought it in 1998. In 2019 the property was listed for sale at auction by the Hall’s, to allow for their retirement.
Interestingly too, that one of Sawrey’s largest paintings that he ever produced, “Tilbooroo Cattle along the Paroo River” is also related to Tilbooroo, and this large work was first exhibited at Galloway Galleries in Brisbane in 1986.