Overland Journey to the Ovens and Melbourne, No. 10 (Letter)

31 March 1854 Empire (Sydney)

Sir- In your issue of yesterday you publish a long tirade from a correspondent signing himself "Gundagaiensis," who no doubt aspires to the distinguished position of being extremely "cute" and facetious.

But as I am not aware of any law which requires one man to be answerable for the stupidity of another, I would claim your indulgence whilst I correct one error into which your correspondent has fallen, and upon which the whole of his twaddle hinges.

In speaking of a communication of mine which appeared in the Herald of the 7th instant under the head of "Notes of an Overland Journey to the Ovens and Melbourne, No. 10," he observes:- 

"The author of these 'Notes,' whilst describing his passage through Gundagai, and the remains of devastation of the floods of 1852 and 1853, which were there exhibited, must have left his optics in Sydney, when he ventured to state, &c.''

Now I beg to inform this exceedingly "cute" correspondent that I never pretended to describe the "devastation, &c., of the flood of 1853,'' and that if such a description exists I believe it can only be found in his own "erratic brain."

What I did describe, as may be seen both from the passage quoted and the context, were the effects of the memorable flood of 1852, when so many of the inhabitants of Gundagai met with a watery grave.

The whole tenour of the "Notes" goes to show that the writer endeavours to describe only those things which came under his special observation during the journey, and as this journey took place in February and March of 1853, it is not likely that he would attempt to depict from personal observation the effects of a flood which took place some three or four months subsequently.

In fact, I never heard the full particulars of the latter flood, and could not therefore pretend to comment on its effects.

All that I said, or implied, with reference to this flood is, that having been informed (while at the Ovens), that the water rose three feet higher than on the former melancholy occasion, I was of opinion that that the inhabitants must have been thoroughly convinced of the folly and danger of adhering to the old site, and as a natural consequence that they would remove, or had removed, to fresh ground.

But as the passage speaks for itself, I will with your per-mission take the liberty of requoting it as follows:-

"What struck us as being somewhat remarkable, was the fact that some of the places swept away by the flood, (of 1852, in which so many lives were lost,) had been rebuilt, and were actually occupied as stores and residences.

One must have thought after the memorable catastrophe referred to, that the inhabitants would have profited by the lesson, and selected safer ground for their habitations.

The flood of the last year, which, I am told, rose three or four feet higher than the previous one, must, I imagine, have convinced them of the folly and danger of adhering to the old site."

After this explanation I do not think it necessary to make any further remarks.

The facts stated are indisputable, and "Gundagaiensis" himself admits their truth, who he says, "for both these establishments (the Post Office and the Inn,) formerly on the old site, have ceased to exist there since the last, flood" (1853).

With respect to the offensive tone and temper in which your correspondent writes, I shall make but one remark.

I have always been led to believe that one gentleman can reply to another for the purpose of correcting mere matters of fact, without resorting to coarse invective and insulting inuendos.

I neither know nor care who your correspondent is and what is more, I neither care nor heed what he may write, but I would recommend him future not to manufacture criticisms out of the grossness of his own intellectuality.  

I am, &c.  

The author of the

 "Notes of an Overland Journey to the Ovens and Melbourne." 

Sydney, March 29th.