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Home > About the Region > History of the Region > Michelago History

Michelago History

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An exact date is not known when ‘whites’ lived on a permanent basis on the Monaro. A constable who rode the area gathering details of habitation, found only two people living there. This census of 1828 describes Emanuel Elliot & wife Catherine, both aged 38, living on Government ground at Micaligo. Emanuel was assigned to Catherine, she being freed from servitude. Neither appear again on later records.

The ‘limits of occupation’ was a law established in 1826, as part of moves by Governor Darling, to keep a check on land being selected in the colony. This law was extended on 17 October 1829 when the ‘Nineteen Counties’ were officially proclaimed.

The area’s southern boundary was the Micaligo Creek and a line through the twin peaks of the Tinderry range, along part of the Moruya River to the coast. This excluded the village of Michelago, as we know it today. Beyond the ‘limits’ there was no policing, no roads, and no purchasing of land. One was very much on one’s own.

Grazing regulations

However, the severe droughts of 1827-1828 forced pastoralists, already well established, to seek more grazing land for their stricken stock. The high price for Australian wool back in England and the ever increasing flow of graziers wanting to take advantage of free pasture, forced the Governor, Richard Bourke, to bring in new regulations on 29 July 1836:

‘Unauthorised squatting must be discouraged!’ The squatter had now to apply for a licence to graze beyond the ‘limits’. The fee was 10 pounds per annum ($20) from 1January 1837.

There was no limit to the number of stock, or to the amount of land.

Regulations again changed in 1848, finally giving the squatter some security on the lands he was using. Each run was limited to a carrying capacity of 4,000 sheep. Many runs had to be subdivided and a 10 pound ($20) licence paid for each. The leases were for a period of 8 or 14 years, during which time the tenant could purchase the land.

This assurance of a more secure life on a property, led to the building of permanent homesteads and outbuildings, replacing the original primitive structures. A right to compensation for improvements was also an incentive.

Free Selection was introduced 6 January 1862, this being the end of the 14 year lease. It was known as the Robertson Land Act, after surveys by the Robertson Ministry. It was to make Crown Land more available to those with limited means and to break the hold the squatters enjoyed.     

Author: Gay Lawler
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Join the MRCA

The Michelago Region Community Association (MRCA) represents our local community and is actively involved in advancing the interests of Michelago and region. We need your ideas, so please consider joining! 

The subscription for 2020 is still a mere $10 per person or $15 per family. Just fill in our membership form (pdf, 144Kb) and email to mrca@michelagoregion.org.au or drop at the store.

MRCA Meetings

MRCA meetings are normallyheld monthly at the Michelago General Store at 6:30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.  Due to Covid-19 social disctancing rules the meetings will be held as video conferences.  We welcome your participation and will post details of the next meeting shortly.

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