Beautiful Tumut

~Beautiful Tumut~

Some extra History


- "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever." When that "thing" is a thriving country town, with delightful environs, it becomes not only a joy to local resident and immigrant, but a prolific source of revenue. Who shall say that it was not this very beauty, apart from the abundance of marsupials, which many years ago led the neighbouring kings from Murrumbidgee, Monaro, and Bombowlie to assemble their people at Doomut.

As this historic meeting of monarchs there were no reportors present. Neither were any minutes taken of the subsequent conference. But the last of the Doomut tribe, who drifted to Brungle, talked big of the great assemblage. The talk-sticks had been sent round the mountains and up the winding streams which splashed merrily over the shallows on their way to the Bidgee. Then when the southern moon grew to fullness, the tribes assembled at the rendezvous. The reception of delegates, or corroboree, was a grand affair, over 500 participating. So also was the subsequent banquet.

But the proceedings terminated rather abruptly. a buck from Monaro, entranced with the charms of a Fish River maiden, desired her for his lubra. She scorned the foreign yoke, so the Monaro brave, following the time-honoured custom, stunned her with a blow from his waddy. The blow was heard a hundred yards off. It was heard by a young Fish River warrior, whose mia mia the young maiden had promised to grace. So the Fish River black protested with a boomorang. Monaro replied with a spear. There was a division. Spears, boomerangs, and other missiles darkened the air. Pandemonium reigned.

The young gin primarily responsible for the fracas slumbered peacefully. The Doomut King, who had presided at the function, failed to restore order, and the gathering dispersed. The rather meagre details procurable from old Brungal Tommy do not include the number of killed and wounded.

After the visitors had departed the local blacks lived in peace and quiet at Doomut, which, being translated, is "The Camping Place." Stringy-bark humpies were raised. Fish in abundance came from the river, while in the ranges the warriors found kangaroo, wallaby, and bears.

But soon the white man came from "over the ranges," and encroached on the happy hunting grounds of the aboriginals. Cattle took the place of the marsupial on all the country round Doomut and Bombowlee. The blacks thinned out, and the last of the tribe migrated to Brungal.

King Tommy for years held sway along the banks of the little creek that rushes and tumbles down between the mountains. A medal presented in 1812 by Mr. John Keighrer, the original owner of Brungal, was proudly worn by the old monarch. But Tommy's end is shrouded in mystery. Tradition has it that he was speared in a fight with some raiding natives from Yass.

A less picturesque but more probable story is that he and 50 of his tribe were wiped out by an influenza epidemic, which decimated the tribes in the Upper Murrumbidgee. But two years ago King Tommy's old brass medal was unearthed at Brungle, as it is now spelt. Here at the Mission Station, in charge of Mr. Hubbard, the remaining aboriginals of the district are located. When Christmas cheer comes round the population of the settlement reaches well over a hundred. Ordinarily it is about 80. And those are not by any means the degenerate blacks that one meets on the bends of the outback rivers. They are great athletes, holding their own at cricket and football, and pulling off many prizes at district sports meetings. They do all the cultivating at the station, and some of the men can plough and furrow with the best farmers of the district.

Reverting to Tumut, as the old camping place came to be called, it was 1848 before the district was settled sufficiently to warrant the visit of the Government surveyors who laid out the town. A courthouse and lockup of gum slabs and bark, with a mounted trooper and black tracker, stood as the symbols of law and order and British justice. Postmaster and Schoolmaster Hilton looked after her Majesty's mails in his spare time, inculcated into the currency lads and lasses some of the rudiments of the three R's. On the fertile Tumut "plains" were then settled the Shellys, Whitty and Blowering, Anderson and Foord occupied Tumut station; Wilkinson selected Yallowin, and Broughton held Gadara, while a Rankin squatted at Bombowlee. It was cattle rather than sheep that occupied the attentions of the backwoodsman. But soon the hornies grew so plentiful that they became too cheap. After sending a mob all the way to Sydney the squatter only realised 16s a head. Station hands worked for three half crowns a week and their keep.

Old hands still talk of the days when there were 29 boiling down establishments in the colony. That was the first or cattle era.

Then came gold. In 1848 gold was discovered at California, and a few years later in Australia. In 1851 John Bridle, now hale and hearty at 84, won the first half-ounce from the Tumut River. At Talbingo, Adelong, and Gobragandra rich alluvial patches were located. Thousands of adventurous miners and prospectors made southwards from Port Jackson. And the underpaid stockmen and drovers joined in the hunt for gold. Station hands were unprocurable at 3 a week, Cattle jumped from 15s to 5 a head.

Then resulted the third or agricultural age. With the establishments of mining townships came a big demand for foodstuffs also. Tumut supplied most of the country side, right to Yackandandah, over the border. It became the granary of New South Wales. It paid handsomely to grow wheat and maize, fruits, and potatoes. Tumut grew and prospered. Broad tree lined thoroughfares were backed by offices, stores, and residences.

Picturesque orchards dotted the landscape, and when the first fruitgrowers' conference was subsequently held in the metropolis, the Tumut delegates presented a collection which put completely in the shade the first fruits of the coast and Cumberland. Farms multiplied until the "plains" were like unto a gigantic chess board. Dairy farmers followed, and thousands of milkers meandered along the river to their dowlaps deep in the clover feed.

In the back-country the grazier added his quota to the town's sustenance, and its permanence and solvency were assured. The iron horse connected the town with the metropolis. A butter factory, freezing works, flour mills, and other commercial undertakings arose to testify to the enterprise of the inhabitants.

Then the wisdom of our statesmen and the co-oporatlon of our people saw the dream of a grand united Austialia crystallise into actual fact, and search was made for the capital of the continent. Experts scoured the mother State, as dreamors of old scoured the planet for the "Elixir of Life" or the Philosopher's Stone. In course of time they came to Tumut. They filled their lungs with the fresh invigorating atmosphere. They lifted their eyes to the green-clad hills and saw afar off fleecy clouds clinging to the purple mountains. They wandered along the bunks of the beautiful Tumut River, and heard the laughter of rippling waters, the sweet wild note of the magpie, the hilarious cachinnation of goburras, and the joyous twitterings of myriad feathered songsters. They noted the giant poplars, the stately elms and oaks, reminiscent of old England. Luscious old world fruits delighted their epicurean palates. The despised poet of the senses inhaled the scent of new-mown hay and the honeyed sweet of wattle bloom and gum.

Beyond were the fantastic stalagmitess and stalactites of Yarrangobilly, the wonder of thermal springs, the fern-fringed gorges of Jounama, and, loveliest of all, the white veil of laughing water-the splashing silver crystals of Budding Falls. The senses enjoyed a galaxy of beauty. It was only what was expected when beautiful Tumut was chosen as the ideal site for the capital of Federated Australia.

Politics, however, is a complex game, in which the players make many strange moves. As the cards were shuffled again and again other sites came uppermost, and Tumut, queen of them all, slippod unnoticed to the bottom of the pack. Wistfully the locals saw the coveted honour-amost within their grasp fade away. But though robbed of the supreme distinction Tumut must over be the resort of the world-weary, the poet, the artist, the sportsman, aud the tourist. Not without reason has Tumut been called the prettiest town in Australia. Enthusiasts may sigh for the glory which might have been; but he who has heard the song of the "Out of Doors," and knows the love of forest and fen, will never regret that the peaceful calm of Tumut River has been spared the intrusion of the politician and the demagogue. - (Ref-The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)(about) Previous issue Saturday 11 June 1910).

Indigenous Profile - Indigenous Persons - Indigenous persons account for 2.9% of the total population in the Tumut Shire. This is lower than the average for the Riverina region (3.3%) but higher than the average for NSW (2%).

While the total population of Tumut Shire seems to be ageing, the indigenous population is heavily skewed towards younger age groups especially the 0-9 and 20-29 years age groups. - Ref -

Prior to white settlement, Tumut marked the boundary of three separate Aboriginal tribes. During summer the tribes came together and journeyed to the high country to feast on Bogong moths. During the late 1820's settlers pushed down the Murrumbidgee River and by 1829, the first pioneers were settled on the Tumut River. The name Tumut is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'quiet resting place by the river'. Today the town has a population of over 6,000, a modern cosmopolitan shopping centre and an excellent range of accommodation and activities. Over 30% of Tumut's workforce is employed in the timber industry, with more jobs forecast for the future. - Ref -

In 1909 the Aborigines Protection Act became law in New South Wales.

One of its conditions was to establish a certain number of 'reserves' or 'stations' for Aborigines which were run by white managers. These managers had enormous control over the Aboriginal residents on their 'reserves'. They inspected their houses for cleanliness, controlled the amount of alcohol coming into the reserve, and could send children away to be institutionalised if they felt the parents were not capable of looking after them.

Currango Historic Precinct, Conservation Management & Interpretation Plan, July 2003 Page 9

Historical Background


This section provides a contextual historical background for the Conservation Management and Interpretation Plan (CM&IP). The history is presented chronologically, with subdivision based on key localities, events and people.. While the history is presented chronologically, a number of broad national and state cultural and social historical research themes are addressed. They are listed below. The themes in italics are the relevant national historic themes. The others are State or local themes:- FIFTEEN ACRES of "CORNSTALKS. - Apply at once to J, HOLLAWAY, Gttoow.

A BENEFIT BASKET SOCIAL, (Under the Patronage of the-


In Aid of Mr. Jas Burgess. will be held in the ODDFELLOWS' HALL, TUMUT, on WEDNESDAY, JUE 16 = Gents 2/6; Ladies a Basket.



Municipality, will be taken at the COUNCIL CHAMBERS, Russell-street, on SATUR DAY, JUNE Q6,1915, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., on the following questions "Are you im favour of the Counoil building Council Chambers on

1. The Site in Merrivale-street, at an estimated cost of 600?

2. The Site offered by the Temperance Society Trustees, in Wynyard street at an estimated cost of 800 ?

If you are in favour of the Counoil building on the Merrivale Street site, you are to make a cross thus X in the square opposite Merrivale street question, on the Poll Paper j. if in favour of the Wynyard-street site, the cross to be made in the square opposite that question.

K. E. ANDERSON, - Town Clerk and Returning Officer. Council Chambers, Tumut 11/6/15.

NOTICE. ALL PERSONS found rabbit trapping, gathering dead wool, skinning dead sheep wood oarting, or otherwise trespassing on Condonblonga paddooks after this date will be proseouted. All straying stock will be impounded. ROCHE & ARRAGON. OooionWooga, May 8TH JULY,1915.


Open Saturday Nights till 10.



Grill's Store, Tumut,

is giving the Highest Possible Price for


Any Quantity Bought.

NOTE THE ADDRESS: At the rear of Grill's Post Office Stores,


In Aid of Red Cross Sooiety by Messrs McDonald Bros,'



RED CROSS DAY Will be observed on JUNE 23.

(Prince of Wales Birthday).

MRS. E. O'MARA, Hon. MRS H, 8GQXT J Sees.



FROM JUNE 1, 1915.

Light Shoes 4/,

Sulky Horses' Shoes .... 4/6 Gart Horses 5/, Plain Draught .... 6/. Cogged and bars ... 7/. No extra charge for Stallions,

W. GREEN, FARRIER, TUMUT - (Ref- The Tumut Advocate and Farmers and Settlers' Adviser (NSW : 1903 - 1925)(about) Previous issue Monday 1)


Tumut - Description of the Place

18 July 1903 Examiner (Launceston, Tas)

What Mr. Oliver Had to Say, Why he Rejected It.

Tumut, recommended by the special commission for the federal capital site, is reached by road from the terminus (Gundagai) of the Cootamundra branch railway, the distance being 21 miles.

Tumut township has an altitude, according to Mr. Staff-Surveyor Chesterman, of 925ft.; but the mean altitude of the proposed capital site would, according to the same gentleman, be about 1300 feet above sea level.

The difference in mileage, rail and road, between Sydney and Tumut and Melbourne and Tumut, is about 70 miles in favour of the former.

The summer and autumnal heat are not excessive.

The rainfall is ample (33 inches), and is well distributed over the four quarters of the year.

The soil is very fertile on the alluvial flats, and, on the hill slopes, quite up to the average of similar country.

The water resources are ample, and a promising gravitation supply is offered by the Buddong, apart from the Tumut river itself.

The basin of Gilmore Creek, on which lies the site of the proposed federal capital, is by no means without distinctive features; and the Tumut river, which is the eastern boundary of the proposed territory, can claim to be along the whole length of its course, not only, perhaps, the most lovely stream in New South' Wales, but to offer riverside landscapes that, for natural beauty, are unsurpassed, if they are rivalled, by any in that state.

"It is, therefore," (reported Commissioner Oliver in 1900) "with no little reluctance that I feel obliged to add Tumut to the list of the rejected south-western sites; but this site, being 54 miles, even when connected by rail, from the main line of communication - the south-western trunk line between the northern and southern states - is at a perpetual disadvantage.

As against any site situated on the trunk line, Tumut is handicapped by the fact that Sydney is 308 miles, and Melbourne 378 miles, distant, which means 110 miles of extra haulage from each capital, and proportionate lengths along each state section of the railway.

The Gilmore Valley capital site is physically a circumscribed area incapable of much expansion, and a large portion of the territory site is very rough and intractable country for agricultural purposes.

The mean altitude, even allowing it to reach 1300 feet, is hardly sufficient to ensure the required climate, especially in summer and autumn; but if Tumut had been situated on the trunk line, with the advantages it possesses, that site, ac-cording to the original proposal, should, in my judgment, have been at least bracketed as on an equality with the Yass site as originally proposed."

Tumut's Evidence.

Mr. Oliver thus summarised the evidence taken at a public enquiry held at Tumut on May 11 and 12, 1900:-

John Weeden, storekeeper.

Climatic conditions.

Resident of district, 40 years.

No record of range of temperature kept, as no official observer at Tumut.

Highest temperature in his recollection 110 degrees; and the lowest on same day, 90 degrees.

Average highest summer reading for 10 years, 90 degrees, and lowest for same period 60 degrees.

The highest autumn temperature averaged 70 degrees, and the lowest 40 degrees.

Prevailing wind in summer easterly, in winter westerly and south-west.

Had never known the winter temperature to be below 40 degrees at midday.

The climate was very healthy, and the district free from epidemics.

Altitude. Tumut is 930ft. above sea level.

Rainfall. He kept the local records for the Government Astronomer.

The average annual rainfall for a period of 11 years, commencing with 1899, is 33in.

The average rainfall for each quarter of the year during the same period is: First quarter, 7.40in.; second quarter, 9.86in.; third quarter, 8.54in.; fourth quarter, 7.17in.

It will be seen that the rainfall is very evenly distributed over the whole year.

The rainfall for the first quarter of the current year is 3.73in.

R. V. Kearney, journalist.

Accessibility. Tumut is 310 miles from Sydney by rail to Gundagai, and thence by road. It is 350 miles from Melbourne, 1000 miles from Brisbane, and 810 miles from Adelaide.

Gundagai, the present terminus of the railway, is 21 miles distant from Tumut.

An extension of the railway has been recommended by the public works committee.

Nature of soil. Rich chocolate basaltic soil, with alluvial flats, very suitable for the growth of cereals and fruits.

?Undulating country.

With a 20-mile radius of Tumut there are 70,000 acres of rich chocolate soil, and 30,000 acres of rich alluvial flats.

Water supply and catchment. An unfailing supply from the Tumut river.

Catchment area almost unlimited and ample facilities for storage.

The possession of, or proximity to, stone, timber, and other building material. Blue granite in unlimited quantities; marble, slate, limestone, in plenty.

Clay suitable for brick-making is found on the proposed site, and sand and gravel are procurable in large quantities.

Timber, including ironbark, pine, box, mountain ash, messmate, and urabbi, is within easy reach.

Drainage.-The physical conformation of the country made drainage an easy matter.

Sewerage could be utilised on the farms, or destroyed by incineration.

Other physical features. The proposed site is in the midst of beautiful surroundings, the elevated portions affording good grazing.

About 20 miles from the site are the Buddong Falls, of 250ft., on the Tumut river, which could be readily utilised as a motive power for electric lighting, etc.

Facilities for food supply. Sufficient foodstuffs could be grown in the district to support a population of 200,000.

The average wheat crop is 25 bushels to the acre. Maize grows abundantly.

There has never been a failure of crops.

In the drought season, hundreds of thou-sands of sheep are sent from other less favoured districts.

Mineral products (gold). The Adelong gold-field is one of the richest in the colony.

Chrome, iron, copper, silver, lead, tin, asbestos are found in good quantities.

Conditions favourable to commercial and industrial development.

The pastoral, agricultural and mineral resources of the district were capable of supporting a large population, and the conditions were favourable to the establishment of almost any kind of industry, such as woollen mills, boot factories, tanneries, freezing works, etc.

William Bridle, landowner.

Facilities for food supply.

Over 47 years resident of district.

Tumut district premier maize-growing centre in colony.

He had raised from 80 to 100 bushels to the acre.

Lowest average crop for the Tumut Valley was 50 bushels to the acre.

Wheat averaged 25 to 30 bushels per, acre.

Some crops had gone over 40 bushels to the acre.

Oats averaged 40 bushels. Root crops flourished.

Tobacco was grown extensively a few years back.

The district would easily supply a population of 40,000 with grain and breadstuffs.

Frederick Kindred, stonemason.

The possession of, or proximity to, stone, timber, and other building material.

Twenty-three years in his trade at Tumut.

Grey granite was the best building stone in the district.

It was obtainable in large blocks, and worked very hard. Limestone, marble, and serpentine were obtainable in large quantities; also good flagging slate.

Clay suitable for bricks, tiles, and pipes could be got.

H. W. Mason, medical practitioner.

Climatic conditions.

Practising in Tumut for 16 years.

District as healthy as any in the world;.not subject to epidemics.

Consumption was rare. He had treated cases, but they came from elsewhere.

The climate was bracing and invigorating, with cool nights in the warmest weather.

The district favoured longevity.

Had only treated one case of sunstroke in 10 years.

Facilities for food supply. The soil is exceptionally rich, especially the valleys and flats.

Had some experience in farming, and knew that maize varied from 50 to 100 bushels per acre.

Had personally grown tobacco, obtaining 2300 tons from 100 acres.

District very favourable for dairying.

The weather was never too hot.

Had obtained l6lb. of butter per head per week from 70 cows during last summer.

Capacity to support a considerable population.

The district could be self supporting, if population increased by 50,000.

Without calling on outside districts, they could supply foodstuffs to a population increased by that number.

Mining was progressing, and would help to support a large population.

Alfred Henry Chesterman, district staff surveyor.

Altitude. Produced map of the proposed territory.

Considered the site most suitable.

The altitude of Tumut is 925ft., and that of the proposed site from 1000 to 2000 ft; the average, roughly, about 1300ft.

Nature of soil. Generally granite, with outcrops of basalt and volcanic rocks, and varied from alluvial flats to forest country, suitable for cultivation, and high ridges.

Belts of limestone were in close proximity to the site. The granite was a bluish grey.

Slate formation existed in the north-east corner of the territory, with slate outcrops on the eastern slopes.

Water supply and catchment There are three watersheds-Tumut river, Adelong creek, and Sandy creek.

The possession of, or proximity to, stone, timber, and other building material.

Freestone quarries near Gundagai. Marble was obtainable in the higher portions of the site, Granite is plentiful.

Ownership and value.

The proposed territory comprised 64,000 acres, of which 41,800 acres are alienated and 22,200 acres are Crown lands.

He valued thee alienated lands, as unimproved, at 151,000, made up as follows:

41,000 acres country lands .... 104,000

300 acres town lands ............... 37,000

500 acres suburban lands ......... 10,000

As improved,........................... 322,000


Country lands ......... 172,000

Town lands ............. 125,000

Suburban lands ......... 25,000

Crown lands, including reserves, commons, etc, comprised 21,500 acres country lands, 300 acres in the town of Tumut, and 400 acres suburban lands, mostly within the Tumut Common.

W. H. Hilton, council clerk.-

Ownership and value.

Excluding Government land, streets, and church property, the value of land in the municipal area of Tumut is 112,000, as improved.

The population of the municipality is 1439, and that of the police district 4170.

The average annual death-rate of the police district is 1.2 per cent.

Frank Taylor, solicitor.

Climatic conditions.

Had come to Tumut on account of his health.

Had derived great benefit from the climate, which was inimical to pulmonary complaints.

Charles Edwin Blomfield, resident engineer, Department of Public Works.

Water supply and catchment.-

Had inspected the proposed territory, with the view of reporting upon the facilities for water supply.

Had taken the hill at Gadara as the proposed site for a storage reservoir.

Had visited the Buddong Falls, from which water could be conveyed to the proposed site by piping about 20 miles.

The Buddong creek is a tributary of the Tumut river.

A large part of its watershed is an extensive timber reserve of unalienated land.

At the time of his visit a large supply of clear water was flowing in the creek.

It was clearer water than that in the river.

The falls are about 1800ft. above the datum hill, and about 2000ft. above sea-level.

There would be no difficulty in storage.

Did not measure the discharge, but there was sufficient water flowing to supply 500,000 people.

With-out storage there was enough water to supply 40,000 people.

The water could be carried to the Gilmore and down the valley.

It could also be taken close to the proposed federal site without a dam being necessary.

There was sufficient fall to generate electric power if necessary, and by going higher up the river a supplementary supply of large volume could be obtained by gravitation.

Alexander Davis, farmer.

Facilities for food supply.

Produced samples of wheat and oats he had grown; the former averaged 42, and the latter 56 bushels to the acre.

Excellent flour is made from the local wheat.

Malting barley could be grown, also potatoes and maize, Grapes, apples, pears, and other fruits grow luxuriantly.

Mixed farming was very successful in the district. Two first prizes offered by the Government for mixed farming were won by Tumut.

The possession of, or proximity to, stone, timber, and other building material.

Timber suitable for all kinds of work is obtainable within easy distance of Tumut, comprising ironbark, pine, gum, box, mountain ash, messmate, and urabbi.

Clement Vernon, builder.

Climatic conditions.

Endorsed previous witnesses' testimony re climate.

No better could be found anywhere.

Robert Donaldson, member of Parliament for the district.

The possession of, or proximity to, stone, timber, and other building material.

Had experience as a bridge contractor.

Within a radius of 15 miles from Tumut, mountain ash and messmate existed in inexhaustible quantities, measuring from three to five feet in diameter at the butt, and very little less at a height of 50ft.

Capacity to support a considerable population.

The district supplied the town with stock, and could, if necessary, raise enough to supply the requirements of 40,000 people. - (Ref- )

This report is submitted in good faith. All endeavours have been made to make all entries authentic and correct. For any corrections and additional valuable information, maps and photos you may have please contact John

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