4 March, 2022
Last soldier settler family leaves Berida
The last soldier settler family of a station known as ‘Berida’ in the Collie district, has recently sold their property.
Last century after the world wars, the government
had ballots to draw names of returned soldiers who
would take designated settler blocks. ‘Berida’, a big station
originally owned by an English company before
being bought by the government, situated just outside of
Gilgandra towards Collie, was split into settlers blocks
Arthur (Bill) Border was one of the lucky winners of these settlers’ blocks. His son Bryan Border, along with wife Lyn, have only just sold the property ‘Wilgaroo’. While this may be an end to an era in Berida, reflection on the property and its history has proven significant.
Bill’s youngest son, Stuart Border, recalls his father
telling him the story of when he found out he had
received the settlers’ block.
“When he came out of the ballot he told his dad, I
won the lottery! Well, I didn’t really, I’ve drawn a block,
and his dad said to him that’s going to be worth more
than the lottery to you son, and he was pretty right.
“He started a family business that then started three
A total of 1194 applications were received for the 25
settler blocks, 123 which were disallowed, and 42
received after the closing date.
The successful applicants, according to the Daily
Liberal published on April 15, 1950, were: Hilton T
Baker, Timothy M Binney, H J Brentley, W M Bromley,
Arthur Brown, Arthur Border, William James Boyd, G
C Carmichael, Bruce E Cattrell, Victor William Chaffer,
Douglas J N Fraser, Mark Goodwin, Eric C Harnett,
Keith E Hall, A G Henman, Robert M Kerr, Terence M
Moore, David J Miller, Alfred W Nancarrow, Claude
William Nelson, Donald E Riley, Leslie F Shearer,
Fredrick J Smithby, Victor F Tunney, and Alan F Wise.
“We are the last family to who still had any ownership
of the original solider settlers’ block,” said Bryan.
Bill, his wife, Olive, and four-year-old son, Graham,
arrived at the property Wilgaroo in May 1950. The
property was dominated with wilga trees and kangaroos
on arrival, hence the chosen name.
When they initially arrived, the property boundary
was set and nothing else. Stuart recalls being told that
when they first got there, Olive sat on a log and cried,
and the little family lived in a tent for the first month
while the first dwelling was built.
“They received a loan of 2000 pounds to build the
first house, a three-bedroom home,” said Bryan.
“It was originally 2000 acres, until we bought another
1300 acres after that, essentially buying out a neighbouring
property.” Stuart explained that the settler
blocks were called closer settler lease (CSL) blocks.
“You paid a lease fee each year, until we got to about
the late 70s and the government offered to buy the lease
out, so to speak. I don’t think everyone did, but dad did,
so he then owned freehold land. “It’s obviously more
attractive to sell because you could sell it as a lease
holder, but the person who buys it would have to continue
to pay the rent on that lease to the government.
“They were sneaking up too, they were getting a bit
higher all the time,” said Stuart.
The Border brothers have always been extremely
grateful for their upbringing, as they reflected on what it
was like to grow up on their farm.
“It was a wonderful life, growing up on a farm in our
era, so machinery orientated and bigger and automated
and computerised,” said Stuart.
“We just had sheep when dad first started,” said
“We didn’t get machinery until the late 50s, and it
wasn’t until the 60s before he really started farming.”
The seasons were great when the Border’s first
moved to Wilgaroo, with wool at record prices.
“Wool was amazing back in the 50s, that’s why it
was such an opportunity. These settler blocks were an
amazing thing to do, it gave them a start in life,” said
The settler families all created life-long friendships
with each other. Without Berida, and other settlers’
blocks, there is a wonder as to what might have happened
to the community we are in now.
“We could definitely learn from it,” said Stuart.
“I don’t know what governments could do now, but
so many of our soldiers come back and just can’t fit
back into society, a lot of PTSD and mental health
issues, it was just such a great thing to hand them an
opportunity like this.”
“There’s a lot of them, this is just one small one,
they’re all over the place. There’s at least four out here,”
Stuart believes that these settlers blocks may have
been a way of growing western communities.
“There would have been one family and farm workers
on Berida, and then all of a sudden there was 20.
“I think it was more a real decentralisation type push
to get people out into this vast country of ours, push
them out of Sydney, over the mountains, and starting
communities, towns, and cities out here. It’s worked so
well, it really has.”
Bryan and Lyn Border decided to sell Wilgaroo as
there was no one to take over the property from them.
“None of our children were going to come home and
take over. We would have liked our son to come back
but it just didn’t happen. He is an agronomist by training,
and the country in Wilgaroo would have required a
mix of sheep as well as farming,” said Bryan.
While the Border’s are the last settler family at
Berida, there are numerous other settler blocks throughout
the district that were drawn at different times over
If your family is on an original settlers’ block, contact The Gilgandra Weekly, and we can delve more into the history of the region.