Extraordinary Floods at Yass

Empire, Sydney

2 July 1852

The rain began to fall on Sunday morning last, and continued to pour in torrents, with little intermission until this morning.

About mid-day on Wednesday, the river begun to rise, and continued to increase up to two o'clock a.m. on Thursday, when it began to subside - by this time the whole of the houses in the lower part of Cooma-street and Church street were flooded to the depth of several feet; the water being then two feet deep on tile floor of the Post Office, and the young men in charge of Mr. Laidlaw's store had barely time, assisted by a number of the inhabitants, to empty their cellars when the water rushed in, filled the cellar and covered the floor of the store to the depth of two or three feet.

Those acquainted with the locality can farm some idea of the flood, when I state that a stranger, while generously assisting with his horse and cart to remove some of the people from their perilous situation, had his horse, a valuable animal, drowned in Cooma Street, not twenty yards from the Post Office.

Still, beyond a little inconvenience, the losses of the townspeople are but trifling.

Mr. Watson, of the steam mills, is the greatest sufferer in this locality; the water rose nearly to the second floor of the mill, and carried away the coach house and its contents; but these are minor compared to what that gentleman has sustained.

The office, together with the whole of his books and papers are swept away by the raging torrent, and the store containing an extensive assortment of general goods has been under water, and I need not say the property all but, destroyed; Mr. Watson's loss cannot be less than several thousands of pounds.

This flood was, higher by six or eight feet than the great flood of March 1841, and has never been known so high (by living men) before.

I have not heard of any loss of life, but I fear that the farms along the - valley of the Yass River have suffered greatly - huts, drays, hay, wheat, and cattle have been carried away in several places; and the havoc appears to be still greater on the Murrumbidgee.

Intelligence has just reached Yass, that Dr Edye's place bas been almost swept away, the family barely having time to escape to the high ground, where they remained all night exposed to the inclemency of the weather.

Several other places on that river, I hear, have been destroyed, but the extent of the damage is not yet known. Scarcely an hour passes without some person arriving with the sad intelligence of the entire destruction of some establishment, and the partial destruction of others, Mr. Davies, has lost five stacks of wheat out of seven; Mr. Halliday, five hundred bushels of wheat, besides other property; a settler named Potter, his all; another named Smith, had just time to escape with his wife and ten children, his place being entirely swept away.

Great anxiety is felt here regarding Gundagai, but as all communication is cut off, I have not been able to hear anything concerning the fate of that ill-fated township.

Friday, 25th June, 1852.