Bush Fires Deliberately Lit at Gocup

14 December 1865 The Tumut and Adelong Times

For the past four days large bush fires have raged in the neighbourhoods of Lacmalac, Gocup, and Tabletop. That at Tabletop was a very large one, and extended down to George Dunn's fence, but as watch was kept no injury to his property was sustained.

We have heard that these fires have been lighted by the free selectors, for the purpose of driving oft the sheep from the runs; in fact Mr. Rash with his 12,000 left Gocup this week.

If it be true that the bush was set on fire simply for selfish motives, we pronounce it a malicious act, for with the present dearth of herbage such incendiaries might, with as much justice, put a lighted match into a poor man's wheat stack.

These fired having swept off every blade of grass, horses and cattle now stray for feed, and should they happen to trespass on some piece of unburnt pasture that happens to be private property, as a matter of course they are instantly impounded. Thus it will be seen that more evils than one attend the firing of the bush.

To the Editor of the Tumut and Adelong Times

21 December 1865The Tumut and Adelong Times

Sir, — A paragraph in the issue of your paper of the 14th instant, states that you have been informed the free-selectors set fire to the grass on Gocup run for the purpose of driving the sheep away, and that Mr. Rash removed his sheep in consequence.

Will you permit me, through your paper, to state that you have been misinformed.

Mr. Rash has not left, and with reference to the bush fires, no person - free-selector, farmer, squatter, or anyone else, owning but a single beast would be fool enough - supposing them to be devoid of moral restraint - to burn grass such a season as this; sheep, compared to bush-fires are a benefit to any district; fire will not only run from Government on to private land, shaving grass closer than sheep ran on its way, but will, with impunity, attack dwellings, stacks, fences, &c., without being subject to the expedient of being impounded, which is available to the injured party when stock trespasses.

To the carelessness of shepherds in leaving the fire used to prepare their noon-day meal are the ruinous bush-fires of this season mainly attributable.

If proof is necessary witness the burnt state of the country downwards from Tarcutta along the route sheep travelled up.

Your obedient servant, A Farmer, Tumut, 15th December, 1855.

Whilst willing to admit that many bush fires are occasioned by the careless neglect of shepherds or others, we have it from the best of authority that the Gocup run was positively set on fire for the purpose of driving off Mr. Rash's flocks; and we have also had related to us the expressions made use of at the time by the man (?) who did it.

At the moment Mr. Rash was leaving Gocup, arrangements were made for a water supply, consequently he then remained.

Ed. T. & A. T.