A Sketch Of Tumut
Banjo Paterson's Picture.
The Riverine Grazier (Hay)
14 October 1903
The author of 'The Man from Snowy River' writes of Tumut:-
A long stretch of dusty road, up one hill and down another, through everlasting gum tree and stringy bark, now and again passing little 'cockatoo' homesteads with occasional glimpses of a river away to the right.
The coach lumbers on at a steady jog, the horses knowing to a foot how far it is up each hill, and pulling doggedly till they get to the top, and then letting her run down the other side.
The air is bright, rarified, intoxicating, for we are a few thousand feet above the sea [this figure is far too high, tumuthistory.com], and there is a dry, sweet scent from the gumtrees.
Here and there, in the gardens of farm houses, one notices that the plants are all cold country species - gooseberries and cherries making a considerable show.
But there is nothing else about the road from Gundagai to Tumut that is much different from any other Australian road, until suddenly the coach tops a rise, and there, far away up a vast green flat there is a little white town nestled in under, the shelter of a big range.
Poplars, willows, maize fields, tobacco plantations, all make up a green setting for this little white town, that contrasts oddly with the staring nakedness of the usual Australian township; and as the coach drives up to the town, through the hedges of raspberries and across a river, whose banks are smothered in green herbage, it seems as if one had left Australia altogether, and had arrived in some new country.
The climate of the town is variable. It can be hot enough in Tumut to suit the most thin blooded Queenslander, and it can be cold enough to nip a Nova Scotian; but, as a rule, the days are crisp and bright, with cool nights, and at the worst a fairly cool night can always be got by going a little way up the range.
The main attractions of the town as a residence are the river and the hills. The valley of the Tumut River is one of the richest pieces of land in Australia.
It is about two miles broad near the town, and every foot of it is good lucerne land.
Tobacco does well there, too, but the mainstay of the town is the fact that it is the distributing centre for a lot of little settlements hidden away in the mountains.
There is a little mining done and occasionally a few fossickers that have struck a patch will come in and wake the town up a bit; but the great stand-by of Tumut is the money brought in by the 'cocky,' the small settler who has his 640 acres away up in the mountains, in some parts so rough that pack horses are not quite extinct yet in the district.
All land in the; district is very good or very bad, and most of the settlers have a little bit of good river or creek flat, and eke out with pasturage on the mountains.
Wild hairy men these mountaineers are, too. It is not many years since the settlers right across from Tumut to Yass through the mountains were just a chain of thieves who passed on stock from one to another; but now they are too prosperous and too respectable to take anybody else's stock, and they drive into Tumut at the week-end in weird conveyances that have comedown mountain-sidelings and across fathomless gullies unharmed; while their horses, with the true swing and action of the mountain horse, pace up and down the streets.
They are different from any other Australian settlers, the isolation, the cold climate, and the constant mountain climbing making them a wiry, hard-featured lot, more active and enterprising than the ordinary Australian. It is said that for its size Tumut sent more men to the war than any other part of the world.
Those who know Australia from end to end say that, apart from the attractions of Melbourne or Sydney, they would as soon live in Tumut as in any part of the continent that could be selected.
The river is a great standby for rowing, and trout should do well in its upper waters.
A few miles up the mountains as the Yarrangobilly Caves.
All round the town are the mountains at present rapidly being populated by millions of rabbits; and down the river, are thousands of acres of splendid land, for farms or gardens; so that the legislator who makes his home in Tumut can find sport, sight-seeing and recreation ready to his hand, and judging from the old men, and the look of the children, there is no more healthy place in Australia.
Albury Daily News