Historical Tumut Stories by "WOMBAT"

Historical Tumut Stories




From Bongongo to Tumut

(By " Wombat.")

HISTORICAL TUMUT. [BY "WOMBAT."] (Continued) The late Mr T. Wilkinson, in a memoir he left, says he lived 18 months on the Gilmore, at the homestead how known as "Rosebank." The Gilmore Creek was dry from the end of 1838 until the middle of 1889. Wheat was worth 2 per bushel, and hard to procure at that. "We took up a license for a holding on the Gilmore," says the writer, " but a dispute arose with Shelley as to the boundaries. We were ordered to move by Mr Commissioner Bingham who possessed great power at that time. We built where O'Brien's house now stands, and had one crop of wheat, which was half smut. My brother John was with me then. We had about 70 head ot cattle. Bingham moved our license over to Yallowin; that was in June, 1840, and we were the first there. We settled on the flat, and put in a crop of wheat at the top end of it. All wheat was ground by hand flourmill, the nearest mill worked by power being at Yass. McAlister was the only man who grow wheat for sale on the Gilmore Creek, where Korn now resides. Cultivation was done with the swing plough drawn by bullocks. All crops were reaped by hand and threshed with flails. Rations in wheat were served out and each man had to grind his own flour. We bred cattle at Yallowin, fat bullocks then be- ing worth 20s per head in Sydney, and hard to sell nt that- Two-year-olds wore worth 10s, 8-year-olds 14s and 5 and 6-year-olds 20s. We paid about L25 a year for our squatting license. We could hire good men for L12 a year. Whitty used to pay his men L5 a year and gave them each a 2-year-old filly; he was one of the best employers at that time. Dr. Clayton owned East and West Blowering in 1839, and about 2 years later Whitty bought the property. There were no fences existing anywhere. Our cattle grazed from Tumut to Lobbs Hole, Davis had Yarrango- billy run in 1840. There had been stations on Long Plain, Tantangra, Coolamon and Coorangorambla, but they were all deserted on account of the snow. In 1840 we took our cattle up to Long Plain (I was in partner- ship with W. Bridle sr). We thought we could dairy there, but on March 8, 1841, snow commenced to fall and this disgusted us, so we came back to Yallowin, leaving our cattle at Long Plain where 80 of them perished in the snow. In 1851 gold was dis- covered in Victoria, and the dawn of better days began." During the '40's the brothers Messrs Ro- land and George Shelley (the latter being the father of Mr W. J. Shelley, of Tumut Plains) took up Bombowlee Station (alte Rankin Bros), and after they occupied it a while Hannibal Rose, who held Tumut Plains as a run, received a grant of 1280 acres there, as an encouragement for settlement. When Mr. George Shelley married, he dissolved partnership with Mr Roland Shelley, who purchased his interest in Bombowlee Station; and Mr George Shelley purchased Mr Hanni- bul Rose's interest in Tumut Plains Run. In the Gazette of 1866, this shows an area of 12,800 acres ; grazing capability, 800 head of cattle. In these pioneer times, with stock down to starvation price, with hundreds ol blacks spearing their cattle and causing them to stampede in terror for miles, with roads as Nature left them, and the necessity of pro- curing food supplies and clothing from Syd- ney per medium of bullock teams (usually meaning three months' absence from home), our early presidents had anything but a rosy time of it. Their residences were of the most primitive description - slab walls plas- tered with mortar to which chopped grass or horse hair had been added, roofs of stringy bark, earth floors as a rule, blocks and slabs, with four legs placed in them formed the principal sitting accommodation; their food was of the coarsest - beef and damper, the latter made of meal of their own grinding (more wholesome and bone producing than tbe fine flour of to-day) - hominy made of corn meal was a welcome addition. Of course they had their own milk and butter, and the coarse living was far more productive of health than the delicate living now. Gradually Tumut, by reason of its splendid climate, the productive character of the famed Tumut Valley from Talbingo to the conflu- ence of the Tumut river with the Murrum- bidgee, attracted settlement, but the distance to the central markets considerably retarded the progress of tbe agriculturist, and at this time (1841) the principal pursuits were pas- toral, the squatters growing a sufficiency of wheat, maize and potatoes for their own re- quirements. It is one of the troubles of the Australian squatter that he is treated alternately to a feast or a famine. Nature is profuse at in- tervals, but has also her seasons of niggard- liness. Tumut, luckily, being so near to the Australian Alps, seldom suffers from drought. The river takes its rise in the angles formed by the Big Bogongs or Mane's Range and the Snowy or Bald Mountains, about 36deg 10m south latitude ????? deg 25m east longitude. It flows in a northerly direction for about 80 miles, through rugged, scrubby country, from its source above Talbingo, until it fulls into the Murrumbidgee about 8 miles north east of Gundagai. It meanders through Tal- bingo, Blowering, Tumut and Mingay on its way, and the strange thing is that it has a greater average volume of water flowing beneath the bridge at Tumut than it has at Gundagai, although the Tumut is but a tri- butary of the Murrumbidgee. The first C.P.S. at Tumut was a Mr. Walker (appointed in 1845), afterwards and for many years Commandant of Native Police in Queensland. It la said of him that he was a clever and accomplished man, and sang a song which enraptured all hearers. He taught his native troopers songs from Italian operas, &c, and to hoar him sing "The Last Man" was considered a real vocal treat. This gentleman had a strong military turn, and, when one of Commissioner Bingham's troopers is said to have lost his way one night going to a maize field, he drew his sword and cut his way through the maize, much to the wonder of the owner when he looked at the state of his agriculture. People will wonder nowadays how it was an English gentleman would accept a position as a trooper under a commissioner. Many first class men, sometimes prosperous ones later on, had to accept anything going; there were few avenues indeed in their sphere of life. Splendid laboring hands, in 1846, worked for their grub. Mr Walker lived with Mr Henry Hilton, the chief constable, in a hut just where the Church of England has since been built. Mr Hilton was the son of a Liverpool merchant, and in the first instance acted as commissioner's clerk. Later he carried out the duties of postmaster and schoolteacher in the same quarters. Mr W S. Caswell, late Police Magistrate at Goul- burn, succeeded Mr Walker as C.P.S, taking up that office on June 7, 1847. There was no courthouse nor lockup, no town even. A store, kept by Messrs Strachan and Webb, was situated next the Show Ground. Strac- han was a Scotchman, and a very shrewd man at that, and a keen business man. Webb was the capitalist. He was an Irishman and related to one of the Irish patriots of that day. He was a Trinity College (Dublin) man and possessed remarkable talent, was witty, humorous and well informed. (To be continued) Young men about to marry should snap one of Fred Kinred's building blocks on his Railway Estate. They'll be worth double their value in a very few years. - (Ref- The Tumut Advocate and Farmers and Settlers' Adviser (NSW : 1903 - 1925)(about) Previous issue Tuesday 21 December 1909 Next issue Previous page Page 2)


HISTORICAL TUMUT. [BY "WOMBAT."] No. 9 Messrs Levi and Naphali Mandelson came to Tumut about 1857 (from either Goulburn or Gundagai, where they had a store), with two loads of goods. They camped with them in the Police Paddock, sold out, and procured two more loads, and, renting portion of Mr H Moon's property, put the goods into a slab hut thereon about the site of Mr John Weeden's ironmongery department, disposed of the lot, and, then purchasing the block or part of it on the corner of Wynyard and Rus- sell-sts, erected the present general store. They carried on a flourishing business for many years, selling out afterwards to Messrs W B and Montague Marks. Mr Levi Mandel- son went home to London, and his brother, Naphali, purchased Condonblonga Station, now owned by Messrs Roche & Arragon. Leaving the station, Naphali Mandelson bought an acre of land opposite Dr Mason's, at the corner of Wynyard and Capper-sts, from Mr Adolphus Linkey (who later married Mrs Schnokel. He carried on an auction- eering business for years, until Mr E G Brown embarked in the same line, when he went with his wife and family to Goulburn. Both husband and wife have since passed from earthly scenes. In order to bring under notice another worthy old identity, I am perforce driven to hark back to the dim past and introduce actors in the drama I mentioned at the start of this history. In the year 1824, an ex- ploring expedition started out from Yass. There were two commanders, each having four men under him. The explorers were Hamilton Hume and Captain Howell, of Yass. Thomas Boyd, of Gilmore notoriety, was one of the party. The same year they passed over the Goodradigbee River, came on through Tumut and by where Mr Frank Taylor's flour mill at Gilmore stood, thence on towards Albury. When they found the river in flood, they constructed a raft, and Boyd, with a rope tied round him, swam across. He was the first while man to cross the Murray, and a black fellow engaged cut- ting a calabast from a gum tree was so terri- fied at the sight of him that he fell into the river. During the journey, Hume and Howell had many arguments as to which was the proper route to follow. They would then separate, Hume going his way and Howell his own. Hume proved to be always right, and after a day's travelling Boyd would have to pilot Howell back, or otherwise he would get lost. Here I must pause to introduce another popular old identity, whose name is a house hold word even to-day in Tumut. I refer to the late lamented Mr Richard McKay. He was born in Buffalo, America, close to the Niagara Falls. In his youth he was engaged in the fishing trade on the Canadian lakes. Determining to come to Australia in the year 1849, he crossed the American Continent with his swag on his back, per foot from California, and, arriving at the ocean expect- ing his ship, to his chagrin he found it could not come within two miles of the shore; and, to show the indomitable energy of the man after his trying journey, he plunged into the " briny" and swam to the vessel. Just prior to leaving for Australia, he was at the gold rush in California at a place called Sutton's Hill, and it was not for years after that he found out that another old hand in Tumut Mr James Dixon (who died lately in Sydney) -had been working a claim about half a mile away on the same goldfield. Coming to Upper Adelong at the end of 1849, he was mining with Messrs Charles Fraser and James Simmers. At the end of 1850 he went to New Zealand mining, and remained there for a year, after which he rejoined his mates and stuck to mining for some time. Coming to Tumut in 1868, he purchased what was known as the Beehive Store and Hotel, on land now held by Mr William Eurell. The whole of the stack of buildings were later de- molished by fire. The store (a principal one then), a two-storey building, was managed by Messrs Watson and Turnbull. Mr McKay carried on the hotel keeping, and his hostelry was one of the most popular of its day. He was a keen, shrewd business man, with plenty of Yankee pluck and go. In 1881, he started, on a first-class scale, a tobacco fac- tory with up-to-date equipments, and turned out a really first-class article. He abandoned the industry afterwards, on account of an unsatisfactory partnership. (To be continued.) Digitisation generously supported by

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