Munros of Keera was written by Don Whitington during or just after he had worked for Mr H R Munro as a jackaroo, chauffeur and bookkeeper. After years of casual rural work, Don decided on a career as a journalist and besides writing articles for the Bingara Telegraph, he became the Bingara correspondent for a number of Sydney based newspapers.
From this humble beginning he became a significant political commentator and in 2018, 30 years after his death, he was inducted in the Australian Media Hall of Fame.
We hope you enjoy the Munros of Keera, written in 1934.
Munros of Keera
‘Mr. Donald Munro went to Keera after the departure of Mr. Macpherson for Queensland in 1865, and since that time the name of Munro has loomed large in the pages of the pastoral history of New South Wales, and Keera has come to be regarded as one of the pastoral and agricultural show places of the State.
Allan Macpherson would recognise few landmarks were he to revisit the historic site today, but there still remains some links with the past.
Keera in 1865 comprised hundreds of thousands of acres of densely timbered mountainous country, stretching to within a few miles of Bundarra on the eastern side, and within a short distance of Barraba, on the south.
The difference today is amazing. The timbered wilderness, which later became infested with the prickly pear, has been transformed into a paradise of safe, well fenced paddocks and highly cultivated wheat fields. Some of the best bred stock arriving at Homebush bear the DM brand.
The Munro Family
Mr. H. R. Munro, who was born at Keera, took over the management at the age of 17 years, and has lived there ever since. He has concentrated on the Shorthorn breed, as have his brothers, and years of concentration have brought the Keera cattle to a high pitch of perfection.
The station itself, which comes into view after an 18 mile climb into the hills east of Bingara, is in the fork formed by the Gwydir River and McIntyre Creek. Surrounded by magnificent gardens and orchard, the mellowed red brick building in which the Munro family have lived for three generations occupies a commanding position on the gentle slope which rises from the river’s edge.
Below, on the banks of the McIntyre, is a square brick house built probably on the site of Macpherson’s first home. Colour is lent to this supposition by a passage in Allan Macpherson’s diary, which mentions that at flood time the water rose over the garden and came within eight inches of the level of the house. Floods still occur at Keera, and the waters still approach to within a few feet of this house, which now shelters the Keera jackaroos.
Keera Today (1934)
Well filled haysheds, stables, horse, cattle and sheep yards, and a shearing shed complete in every contrivance known are dotted about the valley formed by the surrounding hills.
Stud sheep and cattle, polo ponies, and thoroughbred’s graze contentedly in the homestead paddocks. Sir Chrystopher, which won the 1931 Doncaster for Mr. Munro, and many other famous racehorses have recuperated at Keera after a strenuous season’s racing in Sydney.
The surrounding paddocks are given up mostly to the cultivation of wheat and lucerne, the latter proving a great standby in times of drought, not only at Keera but at various other Munro properties in different parts of the state.
The station has its own sawmill, while electric lighting for the houses and power for innumerable pumps and machines are provided by a model electric light plant.
The Munro Properties
At the present time Keera consists of less than 30,000 acres.
Part of the original holding has been taken up by Mr. Munro’s elder son, Mr. H. G. Munro, the founder of Booroomooka Aberdeen Angus Stud.
Cromarty, another portion was taken up by another son, Mr. D. G. Munro, who also manages a Munro property on the Hunter.
Other settlers have obtained portions of varying size, until at the present time the Keera Valley is a flourishing district, having its own branch of the United Country party, its own football and cricket teams, and up till a few years ago a team of the younger Munros figured prominently in the polo world under the name of Cromarty.
That is the Keera today peaceful, flourishing, and prosperous a striking contrast to its condition in the middle of last century, and an appropriate monument to the efforts of two great families of pioneers.’
Source – Sydney Mail (NSW: 1912 – 1938), Wednesday 23 May 1934, page 46 (1,2,3)