Image 'Panorama of Challicum, No. II', c1850

TLF ID R3256

This is a watercolour measuring 16 cm x 24.5 cm showing the Victorian squatting runs Challicum and Yalla-y-poora from a south-south-westerly viewpoint. In the midground is the yellow grassland of the Fiery Creek plains, gum trees dot the countryside and the distant bluish mountain is Mount Weejort. Two emus are shown in the foreground. The artist, Duncan Cooper, included this painting as the tenth watercolour in his field sketchbook and inscribed the title 'Panorama of Challicum, No. II' on its mount. The watercolour is the second of nine panoramas that together form a cyclorama of the Challicum area in south-western Victoria.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset depicts part of two squatting runs (illegally occupied Crown land), Challicum and Yalla-y-poora, near Fiery Creek, 130 kilometres north-west of Geelong, and 12.8 kilometres south-west of Mount Cole in Victoria - as virtually no comprehensive pictorial records were made by squatters, this watercolour offers a unique historical illustration of the almost uninhabited appearance of squatting runs in the 1850s.
  • It illustrates some of the southern pastures of Challicum, a squatting run occupied by brothers George and Harry Thomson and their partner, Duncan Cooper - Cooper later acquired the southern part of the run (shown in the left midground of this watercolour) from the Thomson brothers as a separate licence and, calling it Warrapinjoe, he bred dairy and feed cattle but was more successful with sheep; Warrapinjoe and Challicum wool was very well regarded at the London wool markets.
  • It shows an area of land that the Thomson brothers and Cooper gained possession of by purchasing a flock of sheep from Alexander and Colin Campbell - squatting runs were unable to be sold since they were not freehold land and, according to the custom of the time, occupation of land came as part of the sale of the sheep.
  • It reveals the open plains surrounding and including Challicum - many early squatters had an aversion to open plains like this, preferring hillier country in the belief that it provided better shelter for sheep.
  • It shows two squatting runs in an area outside the Nineteen Counties (the Counties were the only areas in the Colony of New South Wales that had been surveyed and where it was legal to buy land); Victoria was part of NSW until 1851; grazing licences to manage squatting were introduced in 1835 for a fee of £10 each (a considerable sum in 1835), but were difficult to enforce; in response to demands by squatters for more secure tenure, the 1847 Orders in Council allowed a 'holder' the right to purchase a homestead area with a pastoral licence for adjoining land in the settled districts (the Nineteen Counties) and provided for pastoral leases with terms up to 8 years in intermediate districts and 14 years in unsettled districts.
  • It displays bands of scattered trees, the remnants of forest belts that stretched for hundreds of kilometres - the actions of the squatters had dire effects on the forests, which they cleared to provide better pasture or destroyed by removing the bark for building purposes.
  • It illustrates two emus, native flightless birds of Australia - the extensive clearing of forested areas may have increased emu numbers.
  • It features the tenth watercolour in Duncan Cooper's field album, a visual record of the early squatting years in Victoria - Cooper (c1813-1904) named the album 'The Challicum sketchbook' and described it as 'a collection of drawings made at Challicum, Fiery Creek, Victoria, Australia, from my first settlement there, January 1st, 1842 till 1853'; the album, measuring 26.5 cm x 37 cm and containing 34 paintings, is a prized item in the collection of the National Library of Australia.
  • It shows the second in a series of nine watercolours that, when viewed as a series, provide a cyclorama of Challicum and neighbouring squatting runs as they were around 1850 - a cyclorama is a cylindrical painting designed to provide a viewer, standing in the middle of the cylinder, with a 360-degree view and this cyclorama is unique in Australia's squatting history; Cooper began his cyclorama facing approximately south-south-east and with this watercolour turned to face more westerly to encompass 186-225 degrees.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Duncan Cooper
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Duncan Cooper
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements