Early Settlement of Gundagai and Tumut No. VII By George Clout

11 March 1924 The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser

In the bright Spring morning we left them all 

Camp and cattle and white and black. 

And made for the ranges westward fall 

Where the dingo's trail was the only track.  


In writing of pioneers one can hardly overlook the claims of Benjamin Boyd, although he is somewhat outside the scope of these articles.

Yet he was most undoubtedly the most enterprising man of his class in the early days of settlement.

He came to Sydney in 1840 as a representative of the Royal Bank of Australia; and purchased largely of station properties in Riverina, in the district of Monaro, and in Queensland.

He was the first man to make a move in what we in these later days call decentralisation, by establishing a settlement at Twofold Bay, where he erected large stores for the purpose of supplying his stations in Riverina and Monaro with stores they required, and thus save the expense of carriage all the way from Sydney. 

He also started boiling down there to convert his sheep into tallow. 

Whaling was an industry carried out by him and Twofold Bay was the rendezvous of the whaling fleet. 

Another enterprise that he engaged in was the procuring of a large number of South Sea Islanders with the view of obtaining cheap labor

This experiment was made with natives of the New Hebrides.

He landed several ship loads of them at Twofold Bay, whence they were sent to stations on the interior, some to Deniliquin, others to stations on the Murray.

They were employed as shepherds of hutkeepers, at the munificent wage of sixpence a week, with a new shirt and a Kilmarnock cap every year.

A very short time proved their unfitness for the work as they required constant watching to keep them out of mischief.

Most of them eventually found their way to Sydney, where they created considerable consternation amongst the women and children, as they were all but naked and carried clubs as if ready to commence hostilities. 

Others of them were employed on the whale boats, and some of these eventually got back to their native shores.

In common with many other ventures of a like character, this huge business was not a success financially.

As there was practically no dividends for the share holders they demanded a change of management, and after a good deal of trouble Mr. Boyd agreed to retire, on the condition that he received two of the whale ships, his yacht, and two sections of land at Twofold Bay.

He then took a party of diggers, some of whom were Australian blacks, on board his yacht to California at the time of the great gold rush there, but the venture proved a failure.

On his way back to Sydney he put in at one of the islands of the Solomon Group, and went ashore with a black boy to have some shooting, and was never seen again.

It is supposed that he was murdered.

After his retirement from the Royal Banking Company's affairs they became more and more involved until they were finally disposed of by the official assignee in London.

The stations on Monaro sold well, but the Riverina properties left a deficit of 80,000, which the shareholders had to make up, to recoup the advances made by Sydney firms.

That was the end of one of the largest properties ever held in Australia, and nothing is left to mark its existence save the magnificent ruins of those huge structures which Mr. Boyd erected at Boyd Town in the hey-day of his prosperity.  

A very interesting phase of our early history would be a biography of those who came to the district at that early period whose sole capital was a strong pair of arms and a stout heart. Of these but few now remain.

The inexorable hand of time has taken its toll of them.

There yet remains a few who saw the land in this district when it was comparatively speaking a wilderness, and have watched its progress through all its vicissitudes up to the present time.

A very large percentage of those who arrived in the colony during the regime of Governor Gipps were free immigrants, mostly people with families, and as they were not gifted with a super-abundance of the world's goods the cost of emigrating had been an effectual bar to them.

But when it was announced that the Government of New South Wales was prepared to bear the expense, they decided to risk it and leave the land of their birth, endeared to them by a thousand and one associations and make a perilous voyage of 16,000 miles to an unknown land -  

"Where columned trunks and sunlit leafy glades outvie in beauty city built arcades." 

It was a beautiful theory no doubt. 

The stern reality was widely different.

The colony was in the throes of very serious financial trouble, and this in conjunction with the calamitous drought of 1838 and the succeeding years made for the new comers a time of trial, which had it not been for their energy and their boundless hope they could never have borne.

A great number of these early settlers located themselves on the Murrumbidgee at this period, that is, from 1838 to 1840, and amongst them may be mentioned Messrs. Quilter and McNamara, brothers-in-law.

They built the old homestead which after wards came into the possession of the Quilter family.

This old home stead was covered with water in 1852, in the great flood, and remnant of it left stood as a memento of the occurrence until 1866, when it was pulled down by the Messrs. Quilter.

The earliest employer of   Messrs. McNamara and Quilter was T. Howe.

They went to live at Gobarralong and from thence they removed to Tumut.

Their pioneering days in Tumut commenced up wards of 70 years ago.

One of Tumut's best known and most respected citizens was the late Mr. Michael McNamara, who recently died.

He was born in the Gilmore Valley over 70 years ago.