Getting Along Not So Fine
In 'Oklahoma', the Rodgers & Hammerstein stage musical, the foreground story is about the hero and heroine, Curly and Laurey, but simmering in the background is the rivalry between the ranchers and the farmers in the days before the territory became a state in 1907. The farmers have built fences where the cattlemen used to drive their herds. Aunt Eller's song explains: "One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow, but that's no reason why they can't be friends." She says they should forget their differences so that "cowboys dance with the farmer's daughters and farmers dance with the rancher's gals."
The Production Company's recent performance of 'Oklahoma' in the State Theatre reminded me that a similar situation had developed in Kinglake at about the same time. By 1907, the two main enterprises in the Kinglake district were farming and sawmilling. Both involved the carting of heavy loads, farm produce and timber, by horses teams and wagons or drays out of Kinglake to Whittlesea, Hurstbridge or Yarra Glen to reach the city markets. By this time, the original dirt tracks across the ridge had become roads of a sort but little solid foundation had been laid and heavy rain over the winter months caused the main road to become impassable in many places.
Farmer's cart on main road to Hurstbridge.