Echoes of the Past (By George Clout) No. 1.
9 May 1918 The Tumut and Adelong Times
"The measure of a people is the men
That rise from out themselves to lead - with pen
Or tongue or sword, whatever be their rank
And for their greatness but themselves to thank."
Having been favored with considerable information in reference to early settlement from very old residents of these districts, it may not prove uninteresting to place before your readers some of the conditions that existed in the earlier stages of Colony's history, and especially before those of a younger growth, who, as a matter of course, have but a limited knowledge of the state of affairs that existed when those pioneers who for three quarters of a century have helped to mould the destinies of this State, commenced to "clear the cumbered plain."
Their indomitable courage, their never swerving hope, stand out as their over enduring monument.
And may we not hope that our great Commonwealth, in her hour of triumph or trials, may find leaders as reliant and as trustworthy as the brave old pioneers of the past.
Any account of early settlement would be incomplete without brief mention of those adventurous spirits who at that at early period made it possible, and the one man who occupies pride of place as far as our districts are concerned, is undoubtedly Hamilton Hume.
He was born at Parramatta in 1797.
At the youthful age of 17 he made an exploring expedition into the country which is now known as Berrima and Sutton Forest which they discovered in August 1814.
Three years later, at the request of Governor Macquarie he accompanied Surveyor Meehan in further explorations when they discovered Goulburn Plains.
In 1821 Hume in company with Mr. Barber, Mr. W. H. Broughton, and his brother (Mr. Kennedy Hume) discovered the Yass Plains.
The Mr. Broughton here mentioned was a step-father of Messrs. J. A. and R. K. Broughton, so well known in the Tumut district in connection with the Gocup and Gadara Stations.
It might also be remarked that Mr. Kennedy Hume, who is here referred to, met with a tragic end.
He was shot by bushrangers at Gunning, in 1839.
Mr. Henry O'Brien, at the head of a band of settlers brought the scoundrels to justice.
In the encounter with them the chief of the gang was killed; another having been wounded, blew his brains out; and two were taken prisoners.
Of these one hanged himself in gaol, and the other was executed in Goulburn gaol in 1840.
The expedition which made the name of Hume famous in Australian annals was the great overland journey from Sydney to Port Philip, in which he was accompanied by Mr. W. H. Hovell (more widely known as Captain Hovell) and a party of six men.
This was the first occasion on which the eyes of a white man had rested on the fertile Murrumbidgee and Tumut Rivers districts, and apart from the historic it has a local interest inasmuch as one of the men who accompanied that expedition was a resident of Tumut for many years after, viz., Mr. Thomas Boyd.
The expedition left Appin in Oct., 1824, and they reached Yass Plains on Oct. 18th. and the Murrumbidgee on the 19th, the crossing of which was a matter of considerable difficulty.
Hume swam the river with a rope in his teeth, and, having placed their tarpaulins under and around their carts or drays, they were floated over in that fashion.
Their bullocks and horses had to swim for it.
After crossing the river they got into rough, woody country, and had to abandon their carts and pack their belongings on the bullocks.
They discovered the Tumut river on the 22nd, (sic) (should read - 3 Nov) and the Hume (or, as it is now called, the Murray) on Nov. 16th.
Here they camped, and during an interval Hovell carved the date, and his initials on the butt of a tree growing on its banks, and that tree has been carefully preserved by the residents of Albury as a memento of this famous expedition.
On Dec. 17th, the explorers reach the waters of Port Philip, at a point about ten miles westward of the present site of Geelong, thus completing the most successful enterprise of its kind that had yet been undertaken in the colony.
The return journey was void of incident, and they were back at Hume's station, at Lake George on Jan 18th, 1825.
The great service rendered to the colony by Hamilton Hume seems to have been but sparsely recognised by the authorities of the time, but the valuable work he performed in opening up the country will be recognised and perpetuated by future generations as the work of an unselfish pioneer who, as he himself wrote:-
"For the sake of those who hear my name, I should wish it to be held in remembrance as that of one who, with small opportunities and limited resources did what he could for his native land."
Mr. Hume died at Yass on April 19th. 1873, at the age of 76. Captain Hovell, the colleague of Hume on the great overland trip, was apparently a man of a somewhat different temperament.
It is recorded that serious disagreement arose between them previous to their arrival at Port Philip, and that they never afterwards reconciled.
But be that as it may, Hovell was afterwards deputed by the Governor to form a convict settlement at Western Port.
Now this Western Port was the source of the disagreement between the leaders, and it was when he undertook to establish the settlement there that he made the discovery that Hume had been right, and he in the wrong.
He therefore abandoned the task allotted to him, and a few years after settled in Goulburn.
It was the privilege of the writer to see on many occasions the tall spare form of Captain Hovell working in the lawn & garden attached to his residence, at the corner of Sloane and Vernon Streets, Goulburn, directly opposite where the railway station now stands.
Captain Hovell died in Sydney in 1876.
It seems almost incredible that but a brief century has elapsed since the discovery by Hume of Goulburn Plains, but where the Anglo Saxon plants his foot there the sturdy race take root, and where he lights his first camp fire its cheery blaze is the signal for countless more whose aim and object is the subjection of the land.
"A hundred years, and can it be
That in such little lapse of time
Has grown a nation strong and free,
Neath Southern skies, in Austral clime;
So, though our life is but a span,
Our history but a pretty tale,
We stand with nations in the van
Of progress peace, all that avail
To make a nation great."