Early Settlement of Gundagai and Tumut IX (By George Clout)
25 March 1924 The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser
On some fertile spot which one may call our own
Where the rich, verdure grows we will build up a home.
When the disposal of land by auction was resolved upon the agricultural possibilities of the districts under review drew together a large influx of the farming class, and no place at that period received more attention than Bombowlee Plain.
Here the purchasers were men whom it may be claimed were the builders of the district.
For although the corners had been knocked off the pioneering work previous to their advent, yet it was they who kept the ball rolling, and by their industry and perseverance in making the land produce to its fullest capacity made a name for the district which it has retained to the present time.
Among the most prominent of those first settlers were Messrs. W. Bridle, senr., Henry Hoad, George Green, Hibbens, senr., Frank Foord, senr., Abraham Anderson and many others.
The whole of those mentioned are, with the exception of Mr. Anderson, now but a memory only.
Mr. Bridle passed away but a short time since at a very advanced age, well on into the nineties, after having spent a long and useful life in the district of his adoption.
Mr. Anderson's parents first settled on the Murrumbidgee in 1839, and thence came on to Tumut.
The subject of this sketch was then a very small boy.
They there turned their attention to fruit growing, and to such good purpose that the orchard then established is still a feature of the possessions of the Anderson family.
But the historical significance of the work of Mr. Anderson lies in the fact that he, in conjunction with his father and the late Mr. Francis Foord, erected the first bridge across the Tumut river.
This was a colossal undertaking on the part of private individuals, who at that time must have been very deficient in the appliances necessary for such work, but it was undertaken and carried to completion and a very useful adjunct to transit across the river it proved to be.
A small charge was made for crossing to help recoup the expense.
They sold their interest in it to the Government some years after, when it became public property.
Later on when it became old and decrepit, the flood waters swept every vestige of it out of existence.
At the same time the grand work that these old pioneers did should not be allowed to sink into oblivion.
The bridge over the river at the foot of Wynyard-street, Tumut, was built in 1862-63 by Hammond and Backing, for the Government, and that of course has been the highway ever since.
There are numbers of the early settlers of whom but little data can be obtained as to their history.
We may presume that they were not gifted with a super abundance of literary talent, and therefore did not trouble themselves with keeping any record of their actions.
Hence the difficulty, I might say the impossibility, in many cases of obtaining information as regards their past history.
Brief mention, however, must be made of those who were in the first flight of settlers in these districts. Amongst these may be mentioned Mr. David Richardson, who came to the colony in the forties, and is still with us, hale and hearty.
He first had a turn at the goldfields, but did not meet with any great success, and eventually settled in Tumut, where one of his first occupations was at blacksmithing in conjunction with the late Mr. J. Allatt, in the vicinity of the old bridged.
Gardening pursuits then took his attention, and here be figured to advantage, as his garden of both fruits and flowers is the delight of all beholders.
A garden infinite in its productions, in which he finds in his declining years a soft amusement, a humane delight of careless sweet rusticity, which gives to a faint picture of home a never-failing loveliness.
The Atkinson's also were located on the river bank not far from Anderson's bridge, where they had a small brewery and an orchard also of small dimensions.
Their stalwart sons held a station property at Goobragandra, and it was here that our old friend Johnny Beale gained some of his first experiences of colonial life.
Mr. T. Lindbeck was on the Lacmalac road, where he lived for a long number of years.
Mr. James Kell, at Lacmalac; Mr. Geo. Sturt, senr., at Tumut Plains.
This esteemed old gentleman was a kinsman of Captain Sturt, the Australian explorer.
Another old identity worthy of more than passing notice was Mr. Auguste Lefevre, who in the early days was an employee of Mr.. Geo. Shelley, and spent a long life on Tumut Plains, where he died.
Nearly the whole of those mentioned, above have long since crossed the Great Divide, which makes me think that I must be getting old, as I had a personal acquaintance with most of them.
The real pioneer of settlement, however, was the gold fields, and although thousands failed in their wild speculations its aftermath was the agriculturist and the grain era.
To those gifted with a spirit of foresight it was plainly evident that Australia held in trust boundless wealth which her sons and daughters were to inherit, and that the wool, the wheat, and the wine of this land of the Golden Fleece would give her a status that would eclipse anything that had occurred among the older nations of the world.
Writing these gleanings from the history of those of a past age would appear to be the only way in which the present generation can obtain a knowledge of the sights, scenes, and facts of a by- gone period.
There are still living some whose great age, puts them in possession of our past history, almost to the beginning of our colonial life.
Their memory of incidents of historic value is of great service, yet it is a curious exhibition of human divergency to hear from different sources such widely different statements of the same facts.
There is a noble work lying to hand of some able Australian writer to give us more fully than has hitherto been done the Epic of Australian youth, when she was indeed a terra-incognita, to the world.
Some 16 years ago a writer on old pioneering days stated, this: -
"The lesson of the pioneers, their unquestionable courage, their boundless hope, their verile record, will be a grand prologue to the first Epic of Australia's homes.
But what should be the central theme of that Epic?
Perhaps ere long in the course of the decrees of the future, Australia may enter upon its first national ordeal, the beginning perhaps of a Titanic life or death struggle whereby her very existence may be imperilled."
That forecast was truly prophetic.
That Titanic struggle has been consummated.
The central theme of Australia’s first Epic is not now far to seek.
That theme is Gallipoli, Pozieres, Bullecourt and Villers Bretoneaux.
It was there that deeds were done which rival, in glory the gallant actions of the bravest of the brave.
Deeds as worthy of the central place in an Epic as ever were those of Leonora’s and his little Spartan band at Thermopoly 2500 years ago.