What on earth, I wondered, was a one ton peg? How big was the washing line if the peg weighed a thousand kilos? Seriously, that was my first thought when farmer Joe said to me over the phone ‘Go down the Collarenebri Road and turn right at the sign for the one tone peg, I’m in that paddock.’
Yet again I was out in the boonies to find a farmer. I slipped into Queensland over the Barwon River at Mungindi and headed south along the Collarenebri Mungindi Rd until I found the sign where I duly turned right. As promised, my man in a 1000-acre plus field of cotton doing lots of farmer kind of stuff. After a quick introduction I went about my work so as to get out of his way and back on the road again, and more importantly, I wanted to find out about this peg.
It was obviously a tourist spot because it was well marked from the second I’d crossed the state border. The signs indicated it was a post not a peg, but nothing more. I followed a soft dirt road down to the river where the first thing I came across was a corrugated iron dunny and fencers hut. I knew it was a fencer’s hut because there was a sign saying so. I stopped and let the dust settle before climbing out of the car and into silence. To my right on the edge of the river bank, sheltered by a beaten up tin roof, was a wooden obelisk set in concrete. This I figured must be the peg.
An ingenious hand powered audio device confirmed that it was indeed the one ton post, erected by the surveyor J B Cameron in October 1881. It marks the spot where he completed the survey of the 29th parallel between Cameron Corner (the intersection of the states of SA, NSW and Qld) and the Barwon River, a distance of378kms which took him and his team 12 months and fifteen days to complete. On a map it’s the bit where the dead straight border between Qld and NSW starts to go all squiggly as it follows the river to the coast.
This spot of surveying was by all accounts pretty tough going, complete with the usual 19th century outback exploring dramas like floods, drought, dying horses and dummy spits. Cameron was so chuffed when he finished that he started the Australian tradition of big things. You’ve heard of the big banana and big merino etc? Well it all started in 1881 with the big post. It’s modest by today’s standards but given the circumstances, not a bad effort.
2.7m tall and a ton in weight this hand-made post is the original. You can run your fingers along the grooves where over a hundred years ago Cameron carved his name on one side and QL and NSW along the others. A testament to the pioneering spirit; it’s a peg the equal of any hills hoist.