'Men from Snowy River' cultivated rich farmland
MOST Australians have heard of "The Man from Snowy River,” but in the Moola district it was the "Men from Snowy River” that were the legends. It was an area of dense brigalow bush covering the rolling hills, that deterred the settlers for several decades. The Government seemed keen to see the area settled but water was a problem as the creeks ran outside the district.
They contracted with Patrick Findlay with his earth moving scoops to sink four farm dams through the area so future settlers would have water for their livestock. Findlay was impressed with the bush covered soils and selected several blocks of land for himself.
Later two men, John Watt and Fred Allen, representing settlers of the Snowy River area arrived and visited Patrick Findlay at his log cabin. They must have made a good impression on Findlay as he was keen to have them in preference to others he had seen searching around. He even negotiated with the Minister for Lands, Hon Joey Bell, who he probably knew personally, to have the Snowy families settle in the area. At last in 1902 they began arriving. Watt and Allen returned and brought a party back including Christopher Ashcroft, George McKenzie, Robert Fuller and Herbert Huxton who became the originals
They picked a dry time to come as the country was in the midst of the massive drought. The only reliable water was in George Routley's well beside Moola Creek. The newly dug dams had not yet filled and it must have been quite an ordeal with the ever present smoke from the clearing fires mixed with the heat and the dust.
Soon the dense bushland disappeared to become fertile farmland but it was hard going for the pioneer settlers. One farmer grew onions and they were dug and stacked but as there was no market for them they just rotted away in the stacks. John Watt grew some tobacco and was able to make some impressive cigars but like a cotton crop there was no market to be found.
Patrick Findlay built a large home on his property "Myra”, and it was there he established a General Store and Post Office and his daughter Jessie taught school there before a government school was built.
Finally in 1912 a cheese factory was built in the district and farmers started to prosper by milking their dairy herds. It proved to be one of the most successful dairying districts around. The Men from Snowy River had made a good choice.