Culgoa - Balonne: Oral History of Henry and Joan Cross


Culgoa - Balonne: Oral History of Henry and Joan Cross


An informal interview with Henry and Joan Cross. No audio was recorded.

Henry and Joan Cross live at Goonaroo Station, an 11,000 acre sheep and cattle property. The property is located north of Hebel on the New South Wales and Queensland borders and was purchased by Henry's father. The Bokhara River cuts through their property.

Henry was born at the property 85 years ago. In the river he has caught Catfish (5-6 lbs), Yellowbelly (3-5 lbs), and many Crayfish. One time, he was stung by a Catfish barb. Henry used to use cloth line for fishing, and would bob for fish as there were no lures back then. He could even tell the different fish species from their bites (bite impressions).

The rivers used to run clean. Big worms (up to 2 feet long) were the best bait to use for fishing, and he still sees these worms around.

'Tea Tree Hole' was the most popular place to fish before the weir was built. In the drought of 1958 the hole went dry, and he remembers pulling dying Murray Cod out, but didn't like to eat Cod as they tasted bad.

Henry spent a considerable amount of time on the river with family. Most picnics were on the Culgoa River where the fish were better, the Narran River even better than the Culgoa.

He first noticed the fishing holes fill with silt about 30 years ago. Now trees fall into the holes, which hold up the silt and built-up material. Siltation began before European Carp arrived. The river ran clear before the 1970s and 1980s. Weeds used to grow on the water, but do not any longer.

Siltation now blocks the weirs. Blackwater (black) floods take the oxygen out of the water, killing fish. Dirranbandi saw many dead fish. Thousands of fish died there, including Cod 3 feet long. Trucks were used to load and bury the fish.

Now Culgoa River gets the most water. The weed is dead and it used to have [Red Carp/Spangled Perch/'puppy dogs']. Vegetation on the river used to be River Red Gums, Coolabahs, and the occasional Tea trees and Lomandra.

Today's fishing is very poor. The river has dried out many times - three times after the weir was built in 1958, however, on the property the water is 'very good'.


Heather Goodall
Jodi Frawley


University of Technology, Sydney


Murray-Darling Basin Authority
NSW Department of Primary Industries - NSW Fisheries


Copyright University of Technology, Sydney



Access Rights

Open access



Hamish Sewell


Henry Cross
Joan Cross


Bokhara River, NSW

Item Relations

This Item Is Part Of Item: Culgoa ‐ Balonne Rivers
This Item Was Created By Item: Prof. Heather Goodall
Item: Dr Jodi Frawley
This Item Has Provenance Information Item: State Library of New South Wales
Item: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA)
This Item References The Subject Item: Golden Perch
Item: Freshwater Catfish

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