Dr. Lang and His Gundagai Visitation
4 May 1923 The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser
By George Clout.
The extremely narrow outlook shown by the majority of our present day politicians is in marked contrast to the breadth of vision and foresight of the public men who lived nearly one hundred years ago.
Those far-seeing men of the past had little more than tuition to guide them.
Their horizon was therefore extremely limited, yet in looking over our past history we are compelled to admit the "giants of those day," who held unswervingly to the faith that was in them as to the potentialities of this great continent, had contributed even more than their share to its future development.
And certainly not the least among those giants was John Dunmore Lang.
This gentleman landed in Sydney in May, 1823, and as one hundred years have now elapsed since that period it is in contemplation to celebrate its centenary during the current month.
It may not be generally known that Dr. Lang visited Gundagai in the early stages of his history when it was a very small place indeed.
"The Geographical Dictionary" tells us that it then contained 13 houses and 87 inhabitants.
This was pre historic Gundagai, or Gundagai before the flood.
And in Dr. Lang's history of New South Wales we read: "That he travelled from Port Phillip to Sydney in 1845 and stopped for a few days in Gundagai to perform service on the intervening Sabbath.
"During my stay I rode up to Darbillerha (note the spelling), at the junction of the Tumut and Murrumbidgee Rivers, and from there I went up to the Adjungbilly Creek to the station of Captain McDonald, with whom I was acquainted, as be had for years belonged to my congregation in Sydney.
He was a captain in the 17th Regiment, but sold out when the regiment went on to India, and with his large family settled here like one of the old patriarchs, in the midst of his flocks and herds, in the Tumut mountains.
The climate was healthy, and Captain McDonald and his family was quite reconciled to their situation, living in peace and plenty and rural simplicity.
From Darbillerha I crossed the Tumut at a ford near its mouth, the water being up to the saddle girths, and along the Murrumbidgee to Gundagai I found a succession of small plains, some of which were occupied and in partial cultivation by small settlers, while the beautiful belting of swamp oaks skirted the river all along."
Now with regard to Darbalara itself, which under its present management has gained world-wide fame, it may be said that it was one of the first places, in these districts to be occupied by the white race after the Hume and Hovell expedition in 1824-25.
In 1829 Captain Sturt, the most famous of Australian explorers, started on his expedition down the Murrumbidgee and the Murray to the Ocean, and in his Journal we read that his starting point was Warby's station on the Murrumbidgee.
Thus we have the absolute fact that Darbalara was occupied by Warby on or before 1829, or four years only after its discovery by Hume.*
One of Warby's employees at that early period was the late Mr. T. McAlister, of Tumut.
His eldest daughter was born at Darbalara in 1830, and she spent the whole of her life in and around Tumut, where to-day her descendants are legion.
De Sails was the owner of Darbalara after Warby, a name that in after years was prominent in the political life of New South Wales.
Mrs De Sails was a daughter of Captain McDonald previously referred to, and I am credibly informed that she used often to travel from Darbalara to Bongongo in a bullock dray with four bullocks, driven by an individual who rejoiced In the name of 'Bungy,' who was a reputed adept at bull punching.
Captain Mc-Donald's first station was in the Queanbeyan district, and the place that he then occupied was ever afterwards known as Captain's Flat.
Hume And Hovell did not visit the junction of the Tumut and Murrumbidgee rivers during their expedition of 1824-5.