In March, Gulf Station had a very special visitor: William (known as Brien) Dickson, the great-great-great grandson of John Dickson who established Gulf Station in the 1840s.
John Dickson, a Scottish national born in 1815, came to Australia in the 1830s and on to the Port Phillip District in the 1840s. There he took out leases comprising 25,000 acres, which he named Gulf Station. In 1843, he married Alice Dalrymple a few days after she arrived from Scotland, presumably after an engagement contracted in Scotland. They had five children born at Gulf Station. Their house, on the eastern edge of the Gulf leases, was built at what is now Dixons Creek (the spelling error seems to have crept in by the 1880s) and was described by Andrew Ross, the Kangaroo Ground schoolmaster, when he visited in 1852. Early maps show Dickson had several shepherd outstations dotted over the leases; each shepherd had responsibility for a flock and Dickson would have visited regularly to distribute rations and check that all was well.
The Dicksons returned to Scotland in 1854. After a few years, the family returned and bought another sheep property, Caroonboon, at Deniliquin; this was only sold out of Dickson family hands in 2014.
The present Gulf Station buildings were built by the Bell family from the 1850s onwards, further south than Dixons Creek, after the leases were taken over by William Bell and Thomas Armstrong. However, there is one structure there that experts date to the 1840s: this would appear to have been a shepherd’s hut in Dickson’s time (converted by the Bells into their kitchen). It was therefore special to photograph William Dickson and his daughters, Anne Dickson and Clare Danaher, in a space where their ancestor, John Dickson, would have visited regularly during his Gulf Station years.
Gulf Station is open on the first Thursday and Last Sunday of each month, or come along on Sunday 29 October for the Gulf Station Heritage Festival.
For more about John Dickson: Latrobeana, Vol.18 No.2 July 2019 and Addendum in Vol.18 No.3 November 2019 [on the website of The C J La Trobe Society]