The Police Paddock
The Police PaddockContributors
Rural City of Wangaratta
In the age of horse drawn transport, Crown allotments throughout Victoria were set aside for the purpose of holding and depasturing police troop horses between periods of usage. The Glenrowan police paddock reserve in Beaconsfield Parade occupied this allotment, which was 4 acres (1.6 ha) in extent.
It was watered by the permanent natural spring which discharges from near the paddock’s northern boundary, and which also provided most of the fresh water for the early township. A little rainwater was collected in barrels from building roofs. Split timber post and rail fenced the paddock.
During periods of usage, troop horses were stabled in premises at the rear of the now decommissioned Siege Street police station and residence. The last Glenrowan trooper (mounted policeman) was posted to Glenrowan in 1926. Currently, this Crown allotment is gazetted as the Glenrowan Spring Reserve, management regulated by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment. (Above text: adapted from Linton Briggs/Glenrowan Improvers).
This police paddock is included here to remind us of the era, and the conditions under which the events occurred. Both sides of the law relied on horses and rail, but mostly horses, especially through the wild bushland known as “Kelly Country”. Famously, during the siege, the Kelly Gang’s own saddled horses, tethered to the Glenrowan Inn’s horse paddock fence, were shot by police to prevent escape by the gang.
That the police paddock spring was the only source of constant fresh water supply in the immediate locality assisted the growth of the early township that began to establish around the new railway station, relocated in 1876 from the old Glenrowen. The police paddock spring today reminds us of how precious this source of constant fresh water must have been to the early township community, a telling detail that also reminds us of the frontier like environment in which the Kelly siege took place.
(Text adapted from Linton Improvers)