Bluestone Bliss

Welcome to Cocktale O'Clock, where we blend a sip of history with a tale to share.

This week we celebrate the crucial role that horses played in many aspects of daily life during the early days at Myrniong.

The versatility of horses was elaborate. When they weren't being used in Agriculture, the Military, or all forms of Travel, they were being held up by brash bushrangers or posing as an artist's Muse!

Today I want to celebrate the most famous stagecoach company, Cobb & Co., that connected rural settlements throughout Australia from the 1850s to 1920.

During this period, horses were indispensable making them invaluable in every aspect of society and the economy.

The introduction of motor vehicles, expanded railway networks and airmail rendered "horsepower" obsolete.

Mark from The Plough enjoying the Bluestone Bliss cocktail
Head Chef Mark approves!

In 1861, with The Plough Hotel being established near Simmons' Store within the Myrniong township, it was a natural location for Cobb & Co.'s changing stables.

At 11 a.m. each day (except Sundays) two coaches, drawn by three or four highly spirited horses, would arrive at The Plough where they exchanged passengers and mail, heading for Ballarat, Blackwood or Keilor where it would meet the 3.30pm train to Melbourne.

Many of the horses employed for the arduous journey were a mixture of Arab blood to ensure speed and staying power.

Today we celebrate and recognise these horses from the early days of Myrniong, their owners and operators.


The day after this blog was posted, I received a visit from Pat Shanahan, who had recently found a page in his scrapbook that I thought I might enjoy. Having received many a tale from Pat, he was right on the money!

As coincidence would have it, his information was about Cobb & Co.'s visit in 1986. I know that Pat was unaware of my previous day's blog as he is not on the internet! Below is a transcript of his hand-written page:

Cobb & Co., will run again

One of the famous Cobb & Co. coaches will come out on the road again this year to make the world's longest stagecoach run – from Port Douglas in North Queensland to Melbourne. The 3000-mile journey will take three months and finish in the arena at the Melbourne Royal Show on September 21.

Five teams of five horses each will be used to pull the 65-year-old coach through three States, covering two to four stages a day.

The run is being organised by Cobb & Co. Ltd (Brisbane) to raise funds for the Queensland branch of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The aim is to raise £20,000. Cobb & Co. will spend about £7,000 on the coach venture and is regarding this as a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The coach journey from Port Douglas will start on June 22 and many centres which have historical associations with the original Cobb & Co. will be visited. The route will follow the path of coach services of the early days.

Seven passengers at £5 a head for each stage of the journey will be carried, and specially-designed covers for letters (£1 1/ each) to be posted in Melbourne.

The others will carry food for horses and men, water, fuels, spare parts for the coach and carrying equipment for accompanying personnel, numbers about 12.

Five original Cobb & Co. coaches and 2 support wagons clattered into Myrniong on Saturday afternoon – competing in the Cobb & C. Classic – a three-day trip from Melbourne to Ballarat. The venue for the luncheon trip was the Plough Inn. The vehicles were following a route which is as close as possible to that taken by Cobb & Co. between Melbourne and Ballarat in the 1850s.

TELEGRAPH PAPER, September 17 1986


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