ANNIE Maria Hadden was born in Devonshire England on November 24 1816.
Her father, an English Army officer who served with the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, died when Annie was only five years old.
At the age of seventeen, Annie married twenty-one-year-old Lieutenant Andrew Baxter.
Soon after her marriage, Mrs Baxter left England on the ship Augusta Jessie with her husband, an officer of the 50th Regiment.
He was one of two Lieutenants aboard the Augusta Jessie charged with keeping law and order among the convicts on the voyage.
Annie began a diary upon embarking on September 12 1834 and continued it until 1868.
Thirty two surviving volumes are held by the Mitchell Library and contain vivid descriptions of life on the early Macleay and later in other parts of Colonial Australia.
In 1839 Lieutenant Andrew Baxter resigned his commission in the Army.
He took up a run of 7,860 acres on the Macleay called Yessaba, an Aboriginal name for the white gum trees which abounded there.
Annie's story of life on the Macleay begins in that year:
"So you truly wish to know what a bush life is. I am not very au fait at such descriptions but I'll try," Annie said in her journal.
"The bush life. Oh, tis the most rustic thing you can possibly imagine - almost approaching barbarism.
"We had no house or hut of any kind of our own, nor had we even fixed on one particular spot to erect any.
"A friend of ours offered us his cottage until we should have our own- so to it we went .
"Very soon after, we pitched our slab hut on a pretty flat close to a nice creek of fresh water.
"I entered my hut when only half the bark roof was on and to add to our discomfiture, it rained almost incessantly for the first three weeks."
Their finished house had six rooms: a wide verandah, a detached kitchen and a room for the servant.
The Baxters entered the life of busy squatters in the Valley.
Nearby were other squatters on Dungay Creek - Magnus McLeod (Dandingalong), William Smith (Adelaide Plains), Captain Geary (Lower Dungee) and Major Kemp (Upper Dungee).
All are mentioned in Annie's Journals.
Most days, Annie went for a swim (bogy) in the cold waters of Dungay Creek.
Relations with the local Aborigines who they had displaced were quite convivial, a fact which she detailed in a journal entry for October 1839.
"This morning five strange blacks came - Marion and I walked over to Dandingalon [Dondingalong], and reported that the blacks were coming - and it was rare fun," Annie said in her journal.
"I only remained there a short time, and then set off home by myself. They came back in the afternoon and then invited me to go and hear them sing - which I did."
In 1841, the Commissioner for Crown Lands Henry Oakes visited Yessaba Station on his rounds and wrote that it consisted of a substantial house, slab huts, a piggery, and well fenced paddocks.
Over 25 acres of wheat were under cultivation, 30 acres of maze and eight acres of potatoes were under cultivation.
By 1843, the Baxters had 900 head of cattle 16 horses and mares, and had worked hard to establish a viable cattle station.
Unfortunately, when the economy collapsed they had no capital to fall back on.
Baxter decided to sell out and to go to Port Fairy in Victoria.
Annie Maria reluctantly agreed to go with him even though their marriage was deteriorating.
Baxter established a homestead on Yambuck Station, but by 1849 Annie had left Baxter and Yambuck to live with her brother in Hobart.
In 1851 Annie left for England but was forced to return in 1857 and help wind up Baxter's affairs after he committed suicide in 1855.
On the voyage out, she met Robert Dawbin and the couple were married as soon as the ship reached Melbourne.
Annie published Memories of the Past in 1873 based on her journals.
She died in 1905 and is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.
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