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

TLF ID R3263

This is a watercolour measuring 15.7 cm x 24.3 cm showing the vast yellow-and-green Challicum plains. In the distance a flock of sheep, watched by a shepherd and dog, is moving into temporary wooden yards. Among gum trees, to the right of the yard, is the homestead. The artist, Duncan Cooper, included this painting as the seventeenth watercolour in his field sketchbook and inscribed the title 'Panorama of Challicum, No. IX' on its mount. The watercolour is the ninth of the nine panoramas which together form a cyclorama of the Challicum area.



Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset depicts a squatting run (illegally occupied Crown land) called Challicum near Fiery Creek, 130 kilometres north-west of Geelong and 12.8 km south-west of Mount Cole in Victoria - as virtually no comprehensive pictorial records were kept by squatters, this watercolour offers a unique historical illustration of the area around a squatting run in the 1850s.
  • It illustrates the south-easterly aspect of Challicum, a squatting run occupied by brothers George and Harry Thomson and their partner, Duncan Cooper.
  • 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; many squatters had an aversion to open plains like this, preferring hillier country in the belief that they dried out more slowly and were more suitable for sheep and cattle.
  • It shows a squatting run 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 - in 1835 grazing licences to manage squatting were introduced at 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 illustrates a hurdle yard or fold in which the sheep were penned at night and guarded by a nightwatchman and his dogs - the set of hurdles had to be moved to fresh ground every few days; the nightwatchman generally slept alongside the yard in a moveable watch-box (a bed on wheels with a roof).
  • It portrays a shepherd or nightwatchman wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat, as he tends to his responsibilities - before the invention of drawn or barbed wire, shepherds accompanied flocks wherever they went, tending and guarding them and portable hurdles were used to pen the flock.
  • It features the seventeenth 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 ninth 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 this watercolour completes the circle by encompassing 106-145 degrees.
  • It reveals the strengths and weaknesses of Cooper's abilities as an artist - while he was skilled in rendering topographical, landscape, botanical and building detail, he was less skilled in portraying the human figure, horses, cattle and sheep; Cooper generally presents these at a considerable distance; in his will Cooper describes his portfolio of work as being of 'no monetary value, being amateur work'.
Year level

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

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
Strand
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings

Other details

Contributors
  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Name: Duncan Cooper
  • Remarks: artist
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 30 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
Access profile
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
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Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements