Historical Tumut Stories by "WOMBAT"

Historical Tumut Stories



MR ROBERTSON had as a partner a Mr Barrymore. He owned and resided in those promises known as " Comely Bank," now owned by Mrs J Nestor. Like many of our oldest identities, he has passed away from earthly scenes. My readers will pardon me for here mak- ing an addenda to my previous remarks, with a view to bringing in some worthy identities previously overlooked. It will be considered how very difficult is my task when attempted in chronological sequence.

In 1841 a group of sturdy immigrants arrived in Sydney. Amongst them were the following married couples:-

Mr and Mrs Jas Brennan (who hailed from Limerick, parents of Messrs Edward, Martin and Lawrence Brennan and of Mrs N Porter),

Mr and Mrs Richard Brett (who were near neighbours, just across the border, in County Tipperary, parents of Richard Brett, Tumut),

Mr and Mrs Denny Keefe and

Mr and Mrs Michael Quirk (Wagra).

Leaving the ship, they faced at once the hardships and the dangers of the bush, and came up country to Darbalara, then owned by the Hon L F De Salis.

After some years spent there, having by persevering frugality and steady work amassed some capital, the late

Mr James Brennan and, if I remember rightly, Mr Richard Brett rented farms from Mr Archer Broughton, of Gocup, the latter residing on the site of Mr Samuel Gordon's present smiling homestead.

When Sir John Robertson's Free-selection Bill became law, Mr James Brennan quickly availed himself of its privileges and, with rare foresight, took up land in the vicinity of Gocup, thus founding the well known Eurobin Estate, now under the management of Mr Edward Brennan. Mr James Brennan, the father of the family, was a grand type of man. His shipmates were worthy men and women, who proved hardy pioneers and prospered, and whose progeny are all well known and respected to-day.

In 1811, Mr William Haydon (father of Messrs John and Robert Haydon, of Tumut and Argalong respectively) came to Tumut.

He was the first wheelwright and undertaker, and carried on his business in the now defunct town on the flat; and Mr William Eggleton was the first blacksmith. [I desire here to correct errors in my previous history where I stated that Messrs F Foord and Thos Eggleton held senior priority in their respecttive callings.]

Prior to 1847, some other old identities who have long since "returned to dust" were

Henry Rockley (father of Mrs Alfred Harris, Charles Lee (known locally as " Cockatoo Charlie") and

Bill Ward. They assisted in building Foord and Anderson's old bridge in 1847.

The first mailman to these parts was Ned Holmes. He carried the mails from Gundagai to Tumut when the town was on the flat, and he used to herald his approach by the blowing of a horn to rouse the inhabitants to the arrival of the much-appreciated mail.

There were no banks or financial institutions in the district in those days; IOU's were the medium of exchange between the business people, and it is needless to say many were lost, destroyed or worn out in the pocket before presentation could be effected.

At this time races were held at the back of the present racecourse. The run was a straight one starting from the " Frenchman's Waterhole" the one in the Bull Paddock- so called by reason of a Frenchman having driven his bullocks and dray into it, and the culmination turned out to be his watery grave.

The finish was in front of the only public house, owned by Mr Timothy O'Mara, a sturdy old Irishman, whose physique earned for him the aboriginal title of "Teddy Caborn" (big).

An accident occurred at the races which might have cost Bill Ward beforementioned his life. Though nobblers were 1s a glass, men usually got pretty merry at races. On this occasion a crowd attacked Ward and, getting him down, were kicking him unmercifully, when another old identity in the person of William Buckley sr. appeared on the scene and struck one of his assailants with a stone.

They all left their victim and turned on "Buck," as he was called, who took to his heels and was chased towards the Tumut River which he plunged into and swam to the opposite bank, none daring to follow.

In 1852, settlement may be said to have started on the site of the present town. Alexander Myers, father of Mr W Myers of Gocup, had a shoemaker's shop near the existing Oddfellows' Hall, where Ah Loy resides.

W. Haydon's wheelwright's establishment was just below.

A man named Adams was the original purchaser of the corner blook on which stands Nestor's Woolpack Hotel, and he sold it to Timothy O'Mara for two gallons of rum (there was a peculiar fascination in some for spirits in those days).

The building of the Queen's Arms Hotel, Mr John Madigan's, was effected in 1852, the late Mr James Leonard Madden, returning from the Ovens goldfield, being the contractor.

The erection of the Woolpack Hotel, a partly wooden structure, was carried on about the same time, O'Mara removing his public house from the flat.

David Crampton sr, father of Mr D Crampton, of Lacmalac, was the first baker in Tumut, and his cheery presence on the occasion of racing or other festivities will still be remembered by many residents; his "Aunt Sally" and other devices for coaxing the nimble shilling created much merriment.

The site of the first bakery was about where Mr Robins' chemist's shop is in Wynyard st, and the position of Eggleton's blacksmith's shop was between that and the Commercial Bank corner.

Mr Joseph Allatt was one of Tumut's earliest working blacksmiths, having worked for some time onward from 1847 for Mr F Anderson near the old bridge, where Mr Abraham Anderson's residence stands on Bombowlee. Leaving that employ, he secured the residence he still occupies in Capper st, and also the block alongside on which he started blacksmithing and wheel wrighting on his own account.

Mr Henry Moon has the credit of building the first flour mill, at Gilmore. It was situate in front of Whitman's Hotel, was driven by water power and was on the stone system. <

About 1851 or thereabouts he built a hotel on the site of O'Dea's, and opened it as the Royal Hotel. It passed later into the hands of C Jones.

About this time Timothy O'Mara built and carried on a general store, where Caspersson's buildings are erected. He was also a wine and spirit merchant. (To be continued.)

1878 - TUMUT.November 26. -

PETITION.- For some time past the residents on the upper part of the river, at Blowering, and Yarrangobilly, have had good reason to complain of the want of a bridge over the Tumut river, on the main road to Kiandra, The traffic had to make a detour of some seven miles over Tumut Plains, which, during the late dry seasons, did not signify much; but during the late wet winter, and even quite lately, the road over the plains has been almost impassable, involving both a serious loss of time and no end of inconvenience, A petition to Government is in course of signature, praying that a sum of £500 be placed upon the estimates for the purpose of erecting a bridge at the old punt.

THE RECREATION GROUND.-The Police court case pending with reference to the right of ingress and egress to the recreation ground had to be postponed on Friday last to Friday next, owing to the sitting of the District Court.

THE WEATHER, CROPS, &O.-During a few days of the past I week we had oppressively hot weather, and close sultry nights, which on Sundny last gave way to a better state of things. Yesterday we bad a bl listerine dust storm, which lasted all day. Towards evening the sky became overcast, with all appearances of speedy rainfall, but at nightfall a sud- den change took place, and this morning was one of the coldest of the season, an Icy wind blowing up to noon. Hay making is now proceeding rapidly all over the districts. Grain crops are looking very well, except in low-lying localities, where a good deal is lying flat. The lambing season has been very favourable. Stocks coming to the summer quarters in the mountains fast. At the end of last week two mobs of 6000 each passed through town from Wagga for Argalong and Snubba station, the property of Messrs. A. Gilman and S. M. Swift. Shearing ls now going on, and reports from the various sheds are very Houriahing.

THE BUSHRANGERS. - Early this morning our Police received Information that armed men had been seen in the mountain recesses of Yarrangobilly, on the road to Kiandra, and in the course of the day Sergeant Hoellner received orders to go in pursuit in conjunction with reinforcements from Gundagai and Adelong. The latter came in late in the afternoon, and a start was made by the indefatigable sergeant in the evening. They are supposed to be the two strangers belonging to the Kelly gang. Sergeant Joelmer has already, in the old days, won his spurs against the bushrangers at Bombala, having been instrumental in capturing two desperadoes in that district in the days of Gilbert and Ben Hall. He is right through the man of the right sort, and it tells badly for the discrimination of his superiors that, after 23 years honourable service, he remains simple sergeant. As he is well acquainted with the mountainous defiles of the Snowy River there is every hope that messieurs the bush rangers will borun bard for their lives. - (Ref- Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907)(about) Previous issue Saturday 30 November 1878).

Tumut. - A THRIVING AND PICTURESQUE TOWN. - RICH AGRICULTURAL LANDS. - (See illustrations on this page and page 27.) There are few if any agricultural districts in New South Wales possessing greater capabilities than in the rich belt of country around the thriving township of Tumut, which needs only the advantages of railway communication to come into greater prominence as an agricultural centre.

At present the nearest railway station is Gundagai, twenty miles distant, although it was intended at one time to extend it to Adelong. However, the residents of Tumut do not quite despair of beholding the approach of the iron horse.

The township is prettily situated on the southern bank of the Tumut River, which has for one of its tributaries the Yarrangobilly, from the limestone cliffs, where the famous caves are situated. Several of the roads loading from the town Mr. John Weedon, Mayor of Tumut ship are bordered with leafy hedbes, whilst there and there are stately poplar trees, which impant somewhat English aspect to the place during certain seasons of the year, and afford a good subject for the artist's pencil.

An excellent view of the town and surrounding country is obtained from the summit of an eminence somewhat impoetically designated, Telegraph Hill. From here the leading building of the town stand out in bold relief.

All Saints; Church with its fine graceful spire is deserved prominent. This large edifice was erected some sixteen years ago, the spire being constructed a the cost of Mr. C. D. Bardwell, of Oberon Station near Adelong. The church also possesses a beautiful stained glass window representing the Cruciflxion, the gift of Mrs. Shelley, in memory of the late Mr. George Shelley, of Tumut Plains. The interior of the church has a neat appearance The incumbent being the Rev. Richard Lee.

The Roman Catholic Church is a fine massive stone structure, and stands upon an excellent site. Near to it is a convent and school, the latter being well attended.

There are also Presbyterian and Wesleyan Churches, together with a Salvation Army barracks.

The public school is a good substantial building, and has an enrolment of 230 children. The playground is a large one and has a very blue elm tree in the centre. The land upon which the school buildings and play ground are situated embraces an area of two acres, and Mr. James Ferguson, the master, is to be complimented on the excellant manner in which everything connected with the school is conducted.

The postal and telegraph office is a commodious structure, centrally situated in the main street, as is also the courthouse. A new lockup and lock-up keeper's residence adjoining are of neat and ornamental design.

The mechanics' institute has a good library, and is well patronised.

There are also lodges of the Freemasons, Sons of Temperance, Oddfellows, and Orange Societies. The Bank of New South Wales and Commercial Bank of Sydney early occupies a very prominent position in the main thoroughfare, and the buildings are of handsome design. The Australian Joint Stock Bank is also represented by a branch.

There are several good hotels in the town, among which Mrs. Fraser's Royal Hotel occupies a very prominent place by reason of its well merited reputation for good accommodation and excellent management.

Mr. Madigan's Oriental Hotel is a large building, erected on the site of the old Queen's Arms, the first hotel erected in Tumut, and dating from the year 1850. The hotel, which was erected by Mr. Madigan, easily accommodate a large number of guests, and is well fitted through out in every respect. The extensive and well arranged stables at the rear of the premises contain stalls and loose boxes for about thirty horses: The buildings and yards together occupy about one and a half acres of ground.

The Commercial is also a leading hotel, and commands a considerable amount of custom, being commodious and well arranged.

There are several large stores in the town, foremost amongst which may be mentioned those of Messrs. R. A. Newman and Sons, and Messrs. Mandelson and Company. The former establishment is of an extensive character, and contains a large and varied assortment of general merchandise, all the newest and most striking novelties being always stocked. Mr. Newman is an energetic and valued townsman, and is foremost in all matters that tend to the advancement of the district. The stores of Messrs. Mandelson and Company are complete with ample supplies of drapery, clothing, mercery, grocery, hardware, earthenware, and crockery and general produce, and a very large business is transacted. The firm, which originally commenced business in Gundagai, came to Tumut in 1857, where they have since maintained a leading position. They possess large bulk stores, and indent largely from the home markets.

Mr. John Weedon of the firm is the present Mayor of Tumut, and is deservedly popular with the towns people.

Mr. H. Walker also has a large store containing drapery, clothing, boots and shoes, grocery, crockery, &c. A very large trade is also done in a special department for baking and confectionery. Mr. Walker has heen in business here since 1887, the present buildings being specially erected for him.

The name of Ah Chee is known far and wide throughout the district, and his stores in which almost every marketable commodity is to be found commands an extensive trade.

The Tumut Brewery is a flourishing industry, and has a reputation of brewing an excellent beer.

Most of the townships in New South Wales possess a recreation reserve, but here at Tumut it is over 100 acres in extent, and is prettily situated on the river flats, and is much used for racing, cricket, football and other sports. There is a grandstand, jockey stand, with commlttee, ladles, luncheon, and other rooms, bars, horse sheds, carriage paddocks, &c.

In another portion of the reserve is a cricket pavilion. The annual races are held in March, a spring meeting taking place in addition, besides semi-annual pony and galloway races. The racing track is one mile five chains in length. The president is elected annually, the present holder of the office being Mr. Robert Dear. Mr. C. S. Berne is the energetic secretary.

The Agricultural Society's show ground covers an area of 0% acres, and is picturesquely placed near the recreation reserve, and, being planted with pines, willows, elms, and ether trees, presents a pleasing appearance. The ground is provided with a pavilion, cattle yards, pens for sheep, pigs, dogs, and poultry, and other necessary appurtenances. The annual show is held in February. Mr. R. A. Newman is president of the Agricultural Society, and Mr. Bland Clayton the esteemed secretary.

Around Tumut the scenery is exceedingly beautiful. The town is bounded by ranges of hills stretching away on either side, and, as the middle distance and foreground are broken by tile winding river, the picturesque banks of which are shaded by graceful willow trees, the scene is most attractive. The rich agricultural character of the district was discovered during the earlier days of settlement, and the luxuriance of the maize and tobacco crops grown on the river has become proverbial. The Tumut maize differs from that grown on the coast, in that it keeps sound, and free from weavil when stored. Good maize and tobacco lands always command high rentals, and when land of special richness has been sold the price obtained is considerable, the available area being limited.

One farmer, Mr. Wilkinson, owns 240 acres on the Tumut River. He paid £16 5s per acre for the land nine years ago, and since purchasing it he has leased it for seven years at an annual rental of 30s per acre. About 120 acres are planted with maize, and yields good average crops. Potatoes and hay are also grown. As much as 16 tons of potatoes have been obtained from a couple of acres, the soil being a rich black alluvial.

Mr. E. G. Bridle is a representative farmer of the district, and possesses fine properties. Rosevale, which consists of 250 acres, is well cultivated; wheat, maize, and oats are grown extensively. On the Avenix Estate, at Brungle, he has a further interest in 150 acres of cultivation and 1600 acres of grazing land, where sheep, cattle, ánd horses are run. Last season his wheat crop averaged fifteen bushels, and the maize fifty bushels per acre.

Dr. Mason has also a fine farm at Bombowlee. It has an area of 150 acres, and of this seven acres are orchard, planted principally with apples and cherry trees. Maize and tobacco have hitherto been largely cultivated. Some seven years ago a large area was leased to the Chinese for tobacco growing, on the halves system. Last year four acres of tobacco yielded 43cwt, or about llcwt per acre. Mr. French is the manager in charge.

Mr. F. D. O'Sullivan is the largest farmer on Gilmore Creek, and has a holding of 1250 acres. From ninety acres of wheat sown last year he received 1800 bushels, an average of twenty bushels to the acre, and from seventy acres planted in maize he had an average yield of forty bushels per acre. He grazes a large number of cattle and horses also on the farm. The largest area under wheat amongst the farmers in the district is from 100 to 120 acres, the average being about eighty.

The Gilmore Creek land is, as a rule, better adapted for wheat crops, but what land there is suitable for maize, is exceedingly fertile. One of the Gilmore Creek farmers secured the top average yield of maize, obtaining 120 bushels to the acre, a few seasons ago, and secured the Government prize.

As a rule, the Tumut farmers grow maize and wheat and raise a few cattle, the holdings varying from 200 to 700 acres. - (Ref- Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907)(about) Previous issue Saturday 12 December 1896).

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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