Image 'Quail shooting, Jones' Hill, Challicum', c1850

TLF ID R3306

This is a watercolour by Duncan Cooper that shows quail shooting at Jones' Hill at Challicum, a sheep run west of Ballarat in western Victoria. It depicts two men with shotguns and two hunting dogs, which may be pointers, crossing a low plateau. The man in front has taken aim and appears to have just discharged his rifle. The watercolour, which measures 12.6 cm x 19.1 cm, comes from a field album that Cooper called 'The Challicum Sketch Book'.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows an aspect of Challicum - the sheep run was settled by Cooper and his partners, the brothers George and Harry Thomson in 1842; like many Englishmen in this period, the three men were lured to Australia by tales of the wealth to be made from wool; by 1844 the 15,000-acre (6,070-hectare) run was stocked by 3,500 weaned sheep.
  • It shows that early squatters went bird shooting - hunting was a popular pastime among squatters, providing respite from the daily grind of a sheep run and supplementing a diet that consisted largely of mutton.
  • It indicates that settlers in this period used shotguns for hunting - shotguns or 'fowling pieces' used projectiles such as bird shot, which was expelled in a cloud-like shape; Cooper's watercolour shows a cloud extending from the shotgun of the man in front, which suggests that he has just discharged his weapon.
  • It shows that quails were hunted at Challicum - the watercolour shows native birds being 'walked up' (flushed out); the quarry may have been the painted quail (bush quail) usually found in light forest country, the more numerous, migratory stubble quail that inhabited the grass plains, or even the 'New Holland' partridge.
  • It shows an aspect of the terrain at Challicum - a low plateau extends from Jones' Hill towards the Challicum Hills and Mount Langi Ghiran, which are seen in the background; Challicum consisted mainly of sparsely wooded, grassy plains that were ideal for sheep grazing; Jones' Hill may have been named after a long-serving station hand, perhaps a shepherd whose duties were concentrated in this area.
  • It suggests that squatters occupied land in western Victoria in this period - squatters moved into the Port Phillip district and illegally occupied crown (government) land from the mid-1830s; after 1835 squatters paid the colonial government in New South Wales a £10 annual licence fee to pasture their stocks and in 1847 they could lease their runs for 8 or 14 years with the option of re-leasing or purchasing the land at the end of this period.
  • It is an example of the work of Duncan Cooper (c1813-1904), an amateur artist who recorded the settlement of Challicum from his arrival in 1842 until his retirement in 1853, when he returned to London - his collection of sketches and watercolours, most of which come from 'The Challicum Sketch Book', provides one of the few pictorial records of squatting in this period.
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