A Trip to Tumut
A Beautiful Bit Of Country. By Robin Kemp
11 March 1903
Australian Town and Country Journal
For a considerable length of time I have had a desire to visit Tumut, and view the site of the prospective Commonwealth Capital, and the morning of February 24 found me a passenger by the Cootamundra-Gundagai train, with that object in view. A
s the Iron horse sped along the valley leading to Gundagai, through Muttama Estate, the property of the late Mr. Broughton, Coolac, and Mingay Estate owned by Mr. P. J. O'Donnell, one could hardly imagine such a fertile tract of country in such a dreadful state. Gundagai, usually well grassed, is now bare as the roads, and the havoc wrought by the axe on the timber of the district shows the straits in which stock-owners are placed.
Arriving at Gundagai (which might aptly be named the "town of bridges"), we found the coaches awaiting us.
Mr. George Danvers is the coach-proprietor, and a credit they are to him, being clean, sound, and, above all, well horsed The railway will be completed to Tumut next May, and the steed of flesh and blood will probably succumb to the iron horse.
The Tumut show eventuating on the following day, a special coach, with three fine horses, handled by that able whip, the genial George himself, was chartered to convey the judges across and on this conveyance I was fortunate enough to secure a seat.
Snake yarns and yarns of various descriptions predominated, and when we thought the evergreen Jack Moses had topped the poll our Jehu, who previously was silently manipulating the reins, brought down on himself the "garb of notoriety" by solemnly stating that his mail-coach was regularly met by a goburra, or laughing-jackass, and that this bird carried the mails daily in his bill to a neighbouring station a few miles distant.
The road from Gundagai to Tumut is mostly through hilly country, very picturesque, small cone-shaped knolls being numerous, with low-lying valleys of limited areas, basking in the shadows of surrounding hills.
The traveller by coach could very easily be impressed by the belief that Tumut is like unto Heaven, insomuch that there is only one road to it; but such is not the case.
From Gundagai, I am informed, there are three - the Brungle road, the marked tree line, and the railway line, which runs through the Gadara Capital site.
The town itself is of moderate size, of the ancient order, but with many fine buildings, and generally up-to-date, it has a splendid water supply; and the sanitary arrangements speak volumes for the civic representatives.
The Tumut Racecourse. The people of the place are proud of their little town, and show visitors over it with pleasure and pride.
Messrs. H. Butler, of Adelong, and J. Blakeney, ex-Mayor of Tumut, showed me over the Tumut Racecourse, and those two gentlemen have especial reason to be proud of it.
Both have been connected with it for over thirty years.
The former, at one time a splendid horse- man himself, a compeer of the well-known Billy Yeomans, now of Marengo, saw Tumut course when it was in its wild state; when it was adorned by gum trees, and four-forked saplings served for a grandstand.
Away back in the seventies these two veterans, Messrs. Butler and Blakeney, with two others, became sureties to the bank for an amount to lay out on the racecourse, and to-day they feel proud of their foresight, and I am sure the district is too.
Unreservedly I say Tumut Racecourse is the nicest course in Australia; its natural formation and surroundings are ideal, and those connected with the club have taken advent- age of it, and added to it by various means.
The Tumut River runs within 100 yards or less of the grandstand, and the shady elms, oaks, and willows which are growing in profusion, would be very enticing to picnic parties, or lovers of the "we two only" order.
The appointments on the oourse are also very much up-to-date; good grandstand, members' stand, ladies' stand, refreshment and committee rooms, and a fine lawn, with a good fountain of water playing on it.
If eventually Tumut should be selected as the site for the Federal Capital, I see in my mind's eye a great rival for racing supremacy to Sydney and Melbourne in Tumut.
How proud the descendants of the pioneers of Tumut Turf Club should be to see a race of equal importance to a Melbourne Cup fought out on the course that their forefathers established.
Recently, Mr. Butler retired from taking a very active part in the club, and as a memento for services rendered, the club presented him with a beautifully-engraved gold watch.
The Tumut Show. The show ground is also situated in close proximity to the racecourse, and is also a lovely bit of country. Mr. Bland Clayton, the secretary, and Mr. Ryder, Tarcutta, (milking breeds), are eminently suitable for their positions, and are also backed up by a good strong working committee.
This year the society decided to go in for the best available talent for judging in all classes, regardless of cost.
In the cattle section (Short- horn), Mr. J. J. Baylis, Goonahra, Narrandera, und Mr. Ryder, Tarcutta (milking breeds) gave exhibitors every confidence, and, needless to say, satisfaction.
Sheep saw Mr. Oliver, a well known judge, acting. In the poultry, dog, and pig, sections, Mr. Oscar Wilson, of Bonaventure Poultry Fawn, and one of the best judges we have at the present time, carried through the task imposed on him very smoothly.
That very important section (the horse section) had Mr. P. M. Bourke, Yass, as sole Judge of all classes, and the secretary and stewards informed me that they never had less complaints.
Mr. W. J. Cartwright, Temora, adjudicated In the agricultural line, and his experience was a sufficient guarantee that he would do justice.
In other classes I did not get the names of judges, but I consider a word of praise is due to the society for going to so much trouble to get experts to Judge for them in the various sections, and it is a progressive step in the right direction.
In the sheep and cattle sections some very nice animals were exhibited, also poultry was a fairly good show; but in the fruit and vegetable classes a treat was on view for visitors.
The exhibits in these classes spoke volumes for the district, notwithstanding the dry season, and after seeing them one would hardly deny the assertion that Tumut is the "Garden of this State."
In the horse section, however, the heaviest bulk of work rested, but the work of the judge was lightened very considerably by having good stewards.
The two veterans Messrs. Blakeney and Butler - were assisted in this section by Mr. Archer Broughton, of Gadara, a young gentleman who promises to graduate to fill the position splendidly.
In short, I might say the busy Bs. of the show were Butler, Blakeley, Broughton, and Bourke (horse judge). Mr. Egan, as ringmaster, was also well mounted, and busy both days, and did himself justice.
Mr. G. H. King, Jun., won first in aged blood horses with a fine sort of a big upstanding chestnut, very suitable for getting hacks, hunters, or Indian remounts; Mr. Ewell's Ready Money second.
In young stallions, Mr. Palmer, of Gundagai, was successful, with an aristocratic son of imported Simmer, a fairly good colt, though a trifle light in bone, and also a little dotty on hind leg. In aged blood mares a fine field paraded, and the judge selected Mr. Madigan's brown mare for the honour, with Mr. Mason's bay second.
Those gentlemen are two good local sports, and the decision was well received. Coaching stallion was won by Mr. Harris' black horse. Draught stallions brought out three fairly good representtatives, and the blue ribbon went to Mr. Mason's 4-year-old horse, with Mr. Irvine's neat brown horse second; and in the farming stallion class Mr. Irvine scored first.
In draught mares and fillies, nothing really first-class was exhibited, the winners being Messrs. Tonking, Harris, Clout, jun., Halloran, and Sturt.
In miscellaneous horses, the schedule specified soundness in exhibits, and in consequence many exhibits of quality were thrown out.
The most successful horse of the show was Miss B. Rankin's black horse, a really good useful fellow, that can win in moderate company anywhere.
The hunting contests were good, and provided exciting finishes.
Mr. Thorn's Harkaway won open hunters, also lady, hunter. Mr. Baker's Eastern King won the maiden hunter, and the water jump fell to Mr. Newman's Bondo, who cleared 25ft. Lady equestrienne brought out a splendid field, any one of whom was deserving of a bit of blue, but, after careful consideration, Miss Nelly Harris and Miss Rosie Baker were awarded a blue each.
The young fellows of the district gave an exhibition of riding on buck jumpers that would have impressed Rudyard Kipling even more forcibly than when he said "Banjo" Paterson rode like an angel. Cecil Lambert was awarded the blue and Percy Lambert second In tho buckjumping contest.
On the second night of the show a smoke social was held, and various toasts proposed and responded to.
Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, M.L.A., of Erinvale, Junee, proposed "Prosperity to the Tumut P. and A. Association," and said in all his experience of Tumut district, extending over 42 years, he never saw the surrounding districts in such a deplorable condition, but expressed a hope that we should shortly be blessed with a glorious downpour.
Mr. William Glasscock, of Greendale, Coolac, replied for "The Visitors," proposed by Mr. Donaldson, the popular member for Tumut.
Altogether the affair was a very suitable finale to the show, and many ardent wishes were expressed by the judges and visiting contingent that Fate would be kind enough to allow them on future occasions opportunities to visit and partake of the proverbial hospitality of Tumut friends.