By the time Sturt safely return to Adelaide in 1846 and the Burke and Wills expedition story was yesterday’s news, the area around the Grey Range had been taken up by squatters.
The land was owned by the Government of New South Wales, and occupation was encouraged so long as properties were developed with fencing and watering points. Those with little capital were disadvantaged and the runs were generally taken up by well financed individuals and companies.
Properties covered huge areas, and while grazing was restricted by the availability of water large numbers of sheep were often carried.
Successive droughts and the devastating impact of rabbits on the environment led to very hard times. A rabbit proof fence netting fence was built along the state borders to help slow the spread of the pest, and changes to the Crown Lands Act brought about more flexible tenure arrangements for landholders.
Stations in the area today are smaller than one hundred years ago but are still leased from the Crown.
With few fences to control livestock movement shepherd were employed to watch over flocks of sheep and to “yard” them at night to protect against dingo attack.
A shepherd named Thomson was tending flocks on the Mount Poole run when he came across small gold nuggets in the hills. A claim was registered and the era of gold mining across the Grey Range began with sites at Mount Browne, Warratta and The Granites (Tibooburra).
Milparinka was the first town proclaimed on the Albert Goldfields. Miners and prospectors camped along the waterhole on the creek but with little water available near mines on Mount Browne, pay dirt was carted back to Milparinka for washing in the creek.
The town was surveyed on the sandstone plateau on the western side of the Evelyn Creek where the Milparinka Hotel, the heritage precinct and local residents remain today.