The History of the Barber Family and Wee Jasper Station
Cooradigbee is generally acknowledged as the first farm in the Wee Jasper valley. Four generations of the Barber Family lived and worked there from the 1860s to the 1970s.
Samuel Barber, one of the largest and wealthiest landholders in New South Wales purchased Cooradigbee in 1866. Samuel applied for his first land grant when only 15 and was successful in obtaining grants from governors Macquarie, Brisbane and Darling. He began taking up land in the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan districts in the 1830s. Samuel is listed as the lessee of Bogolaro (30,000 acres), Benduck (32,000 acres) and Cannon Point (32,000 acres).
Samuel married Mary Inness in 1826, they had nine children and lived for many years at Bogolaro not far from Bookham and just north of Corradigbee.
Henry James took over management of Cooradigbee in 1867 at the age of 28 and inherited the property when his father Samuel died in 1890. Henry James and his wife Emma Masters had twelve children, only nine survived. He acquired several other properties in the district including Sutton Grange, Woolgarlo and Silverdale near Yass and the family lived on these at different times. They were back at Cooradigbee in 1891 when Henry James died after a lung infection at the age of 52. At the time of his death Cooradigbee was a property of 7265 acres.
Henry and Emma Barber’s sons, Henry James Jnr, Samuel Innes, Charles and Alfred Barber continued to live at Cooradigbee for some years after their mother died in 1899. All four sons had left the district by 1914 but several of their offspring continued to farm land in the valley that had once been part of Cooradigbee.
Samuel Innes Barber’s son, Claude and his wife Rose Wilson took over the property around 1915. Claude ran the property for over 40 years. Claude’s final clip before he retired to Canberra in the 1950s was 350 bales and in good times he ran 15,000 sheep and cattle on the property.
Claude and Rose’s son Dudley married Dorothy Smith of Coodra Vale. Dudley settled with his wife and four children Chris, Justin, Melinda and Aliscia at Cave Creek. He called his share of the property Goodradigbee.
Dudley was a skilled horseman and a regular entrant in the rodeo events held at Wee Jasper Station. Dudley served in World War II and was a ‘Rat of Tabruk’. He was a bushman to the core and also wrote wonderful poetry.
Chris, Justin and Melinda have since returned and purchased land in the valley. In the 1990s Chris Barber purchased Goodradigee bringing back into the family land that had been farmed by the Barbers for generations. He also purchased Wee Jasper Station and has since restored and extended the homestead.
This information is an extract from the book “You can’t eat Scenery” Life in Wee Jasper 1850- 1970 written by Jennifer Barton. It can be purchased from the Rangers office at Billy Grace Reserve or Yass Information Centre.
Leonard Long's painting of Dudley Barber.