On the road
Bainbilla mail change – Yuleba to SuratCobb & Co. built its own coaches. Their last coachworks in Charleville operated from 1888 to 1920.
Coach bodies were suspended on thick strips of leather called thoroughbraces. Coaches rocked forward and backward on the suspension, but could negotiate the roughest tracks. Passengers were often rocked out of their seats, or became ‘seasick’. Coach travel was no picnic.
Coaches were usually pulled by teams of five or seven horses. Horses were changed along the route. As the groom changed the tired horses for fresh ones, his wife may have provided lunch. Meals of stew, salt beef or damper were common at changing stations, and even prickly pear jam and stewed galah. Passengers were happy to arrive in big towns with proper hotels.
Eighty kilometres was a day's journey for a Cobb & Co. coach. Forty horses and six staff would have been involved in getting the coach, passengers and mail through. There were other small coach operators, but they found it difficult to compete with Cobb & Co. and its comprehensive network of change stations.