Image Third hut at Challicum, 1845

TLF ID R3311

This is a watercolour by Duncan Cooper that depicts the third hut built at Challicum, a sheep run west of Ballarat in western Victoria. It shows a weatherboard hut or cottage with an established garden surrounded by a palisade (paling fence). A wooden bridge, which spans a creek, joins a pathway that leads to the front door of the cottage. An arched and rose-covered trellis frames the doorway. The watercolour measures 15.5 cm x 23.7 cm and Cooper inscribed the words 'No. 4 Challicum, 3d hut, 1845' on the mount.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows an aspect of Challicum - the sheep run was occupied 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 the 1850s Challicum had a reputation in London for producing high-quality wool.
  • It shows the third hut built at Challicum - added to the front of a second hut in 1845, the third hut or cottage was built of pit-sawn, red gum weatherboards and had a shingled roof; it was a vast improvement on the first dwelling built at Challicum, which was a crude slab hut with a bark roof; the second hut, which may have served as the domestic quarters, is visible behind the third hut.
  • It indicates that the homestead and surrounding garden at Challicum were based on a British model - rather than adapting architecture to the Australian climate, squatters tended to reproduce the types of houses or cottages found in Britain; the Challicum garden included a number of deciduous trees introduced from Britain.
  • It shows a wooden bridge and palisade (paling fence) - the bridge spanned a creek that curved around the homestead site; the palisade may have been constructed on the slat-fence principle, with the palings bridging two pairs of strained interlaced wires; the palisade suggests an attempt to separate the apparent order of the home station from the surrounding countryside.
  • It suggests that Challicum was well established by this period - despite uncertainty over land tenure Challicum expanded rapidly; records show that even by 1844 the 15,000-acre (6,070-hectare) property was stocked by 3,500 weaned sheep, 3 horses and 8 cattle, while 12 men and 1 woman were employed at Challicum, necessitating additional accommodation.
  • 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 a field album he called 'The Challicum Sketch Book', provides one of the few pictorial records of settlement in this period.
  • It gives a clue about Cooper's background - the cottage he refers to as a 'hut' is a well-constructed house by Australian standards of the time; although not a lot is known about Cooper's life before he came to Australia, he is known to have been the second son of an English major-general in the Bengal army in India; after Cooper left Australia, he lived as a gentleman, mostly at his club in London.
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
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  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
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  • Image
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