A sign down the road from Streeters Lane reads “caution stock crossing’’. It is folded in half, fastened by an unbolted padlock.
Despite the sign not being displayed, the few cars that travelled down Moonambel-Natte Yallock Road yesterday slowed as they approached the lane.
It was not because the prized Streeter sheep were crossing, but because the brothers who farmed them had been killed in the lane that bore the name of their ancestors.
The bodies of John and Douglas Streeter were found by Douglas’ wife Helen on Thursday night. They reportedly had gun shot wounds to their chest and head.
The Streeters were one of six families that founded Natte Yallock, a small town of about 300 in central Victoria, in the mid-1850s, a local farmer said.
The Streeters had farmed ever since, and the brothers, aged in their 60s, had been well known for their merino wool.
Anthony Streeter, the eldest of Douglas’ two sons, said the murders had rocked the family.
He was speaking from his parents’ home in Avoca, his eyes red from too many tears and not enough sleep.
“The homicide squad said not to say anything and we don’t really know any of the circumstances,’’ he said.
“We’re in shock.’’
Homicide squad detectives spent hours scouring the modest farm house, which is the only property on the unpaved lane dotted with trees in the foothills of the Pyrenees ranges. John, who was not married, had lived there alone. Early yesterday afternoon a second crime scene was established at a recycling plant in Bendigo East, about 90 kilometres away, after the discovery of a wallet believed to be linked to the murders.
Those who knew the brothers were at a loss to explain why they would be killed.
Robert Vance, a councillor and former mayor of the local Pyrenees Shire council, had known the men all his life.
He said he was struggling to understand what happened.
“It is just beyond belief,’’ he said. “I just cannot put any sense to it whatsoever.
“They don’t make enemies. They are not those sort of people.
“They go out of their way to help people.
“I guess time will bring the truth out ... It is just so hard to understand at the moment.’’
A farmer, who was close to the Streeters but did not wish to be named, said the news had shaken Natte Yallock.
He said the brothers had two siblings, a sister and a brother who was based overseas.
The man was speaking in a woolshed that has heard plenty of shears click, before that sound was replaced with a whir, and leans on a metal rack holding wool.
“It’s just so strange. Totally strange,’’ the farmer said.
“It’s a mystery. Even the police aren’t saying anything.
“People are ringing from interstate and overseas to try and find out things, but we know nothing else here other than what’s already on the internet.
“We just don’t have the answers, and because we don’t have those answers we’re suffering even more.’’
Elders Bendigo district wool manager Adam Millard worked with John and Douglas to market their wool for about five years.
He described them as “good honest farmers, down to earth, passionate wool growers’’.
Mr Millard last spoke to the Streeters on Wednesday on a normal business call. He said the pair had just finished crutching sheep, and had been busy, like most in the area, after the dry summer to feed stock and cart water.
“Natte Yallock ... I don’t even know if you’d call it a town. It’s just a community, a small little area. Everyone’s pretty shocked over there this morning,’’ he said.
About four kilometres east of the Streeter property is the town. It consists of little more than a church, primary school, football club and fire station.
And in between the town and the property is the cemetery, where three generations of the Streeter family lay.