On J. H. Kerr's Station 1849 [picture]. 1 photograph : salted paper ; 14.2 x 21.7 cm.Contributors
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To understand how important rivers were for transport we need to cast ourselves back into the 19th century to a time before bridges and cars.
When rivers flooded they became major barriers to trade and movement.
This photograph of John Hunter Kerr’s station in 1849 shows the ute of the day – a horse and cart.
John Hunter Kerr was an early photographer and a pastoralist, taking property on the Loddon Plains near Boort, near the border of Dja Dja Wurrung and Wemba Wemba language group territories. Aboriginal people lived on and near his land. His now significant historical photographs taken in the 1840s and 1850s of Aboriginal people are held by the State Library of Victoria.
When this photograph was taken, one of Kerr’s neighbours, the pastoralist Fredric Godfrey, a squatter of Boort on the Loddon River, was relying on Aboriginal labour on bark canoes. Godfrey was struck by the usefulness and utilitarian nature of Aboriginal canoes, especially noting in his journal the debt owed to the Aboriginal water carriers who rescued ‘two tons of trussed hay in a fine canoe made by the blacks’ on one occasion in September 1852. He added: ‘The Aboriginals were often sent across by canoe for urgently needed goods – flour, tea, sugar, tobacco and the like, which were loaded onto waiting drays.’
 Frederic Godfrey (c.1851) cited in F. Stevens, Smoke from the Hill (Bendigo: Cambridge Press, 1969) p. 28.