Harry ‘The Breaker’ Morant never set foot in Victoria. There would have been no point to it from his perspective: he trained and traded horses in outback Queensland and New South Wales, and although he might well have been attracted by a gold rush, the Victorian one was played out by the time he arrived in Australia.

But some of his horses did make it to Victoria, traded down the country one at a time with no particular order or design. That any of Morant’s horses ever saw each other again after leaving his custody separately is a tribute to the workings of coincidence. It is not something that anyone would have tried to do intentionally – what would the point have been?

At around the same time as the Breaker faced his last trial in far away South Africa, a horse trader named Declan Tarneit accidentally brought some of the descendents of Harry’s horses together on the western bank of the Moonee Ponds creek, opposite the holdings of the Hollister family. Sheer dumb luck on his part, and all of it bad. Morant had the knack of breaking even the most wilful mounts, to such an extent that he sought them out; Tarneit did not. And the wilfulness of horses runs in families – reinforced when the horse in question is a descendent of two wilful lines. A horse such as this would have challenged even Clancy of the Overflow’s patience and perseverance. But no one, not even the Breaker, could have faulted Tarneit for determination. His cries of “Go on, break!” became a familiar sound in the area, and survive in slightly altered form even today, a tribute to Tarneit, who always hung on until those damned horses did indeed break.

Harry Morant would have been proud.

Suburbs near Gowanbrae:

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