Federal Capital Site, Further Evidence

The Tumut Advocate and Farmers & Settlers' Adviser

3 February 1903

The inquiry in connection with the selection of the Federal Capital Site was resumed on Thursday, Mr. Jno. Kirkpatrick presiding.

Mr. W. Bridle deposed that he was a resident of the place for over 50 years, owned a large property on Bombowlee, and had followed farming enterprises the greater part of his life. His wheat yield for 10 years had been an average of 25 bushels per acre; maize from 30 to 110 bushels; oats 40 and 50 bushels, average 35 bushels. Cropped land continuously for 50 years. Had 120 acres under straw crop. There was not a great deal of wheat in the district, but they grew enough for requirements and exported. This year they had a big loss, on account of the prevailing drought. With regard to Cape barley, he bad grown it for green fodder and for seed; it aver- aged about 30 bushels per acre. He had grown and used sorghum for summer feed. With regard to lucerne, he had two crops per year, averaging each cutting about 2 tons per acre; he cut usually in October and January. The crop would grow till frost came, about April. He had grown hops, but could not give the name of the variety. He cultivated only a small area; they grew to perfection; grew them for three years for experiment on the river flats.

Had grown table grapes; from 50 rods of ground last year he sold 2 tons of grapes. Considered Tumut a premier fruit-growing district. Had grown all kinds. Respecting apples, favored the Gravenstein and Nonpareil varieties. With regard to growth of cereals, their forest and alluvial lands were exceptionally good; the grain grew plumper on forest land. He thought Tumut could supply products for a population of 40,000 or 50,000 people.

Mr. George Clout, a farmer residing at Brungle, testified to having been in the district 40 years. Had grown most products, but chiefly wheat and oats. He resided on a tributary of Brungle Greek, and had 308 acres of land. His wheat average per acre had been 25 bushels. This year he cropped 1'5 bushels per acre. His land he considered no better than his neighbors', and he put down the Brungle Creek average at 20 bushels; There were about 1000 acres under cultivation. He did a bit of dairying in a primitive way that paid him well. Maize returns in Brungle were, on an average, about 50 bushels per acre. Had grown nearly every crop, and shown at nearly every show in New South Wales. Had used manure, with little appreciable benefit. His was mostly forest land; its grazing capability was about 1 sheep to the acre, or four acres to the beast. There were 100,000 acres within a 20-mile radius at present not cultivated, but the best wheat land in the State.

Alderman James Blakeney, a resident of the district for 88 years, said over six years ago there was an outbreak of typhoid on account of bad sanitary conditions then obtaining. In 1898 there tyere 134 cases; in 1899, 24; in 1900, 19; in 1901, 10; in 1902, 17. Only 12 deaths occurred in 5 years from typhoid, and as a number of cases came from outside the municipal boundary the mortality therein would be reduced to about 4. They had one local case of typhoid during the last six months.

As Mayor of, the town, he stated the value of the property under the control of the Council was 112,000. Their average death rate was 1 per cent.

Alderman A. Emery had been brick making off and on in Tumut for 20 years. Had worked nearly all over the State, and in Queensland, and had learned his business in Essex.

He produced two bricks made from different clays. [They were examined by the Commissioners who pronounced them particularly good.] He could get fine clay anywhere, east, west, north or south of Tumut. He charged from 38s to 40s per thousand at the kiln or 45s delivered in town.

Had worked up past Gadara, "and could get capital play on the site.

His kiln was within 7 miles of the site. His clay-bed was about 30 feet deep, and he found it good from top to bottom. If he found stone in it - and he did, being quartz and iron- stone - he crushed it up with two rollers worked by a horse. His bricks would absorb about half a pound - of water. The Tumut Hospital was, he believed, built with hollow walls, not on account of the walls being likely to be permeated with moisture, but for coolness.

Mr. F. Kinred, coach and house builder, had been here 27 years and had 30 years' experience in building. They had plenty of granite to build the city of Sydney, and a few outcrops of marble. The bricks in Tumut, considering the primitive way they were made, were the best in Australia. They had all kinds of timber required for building, save pine and cedar. Joinery work had to be imported. He knew the Gadara site, and had prepared plans locating dam, and Government and private buildings; had given Mr. Oliver no financial particulars. Re their water supply, he considered, taking Gadara site into consideration, it could not be surpassed in Australia. Did not think they could find a better site. If the Commission approved of the   Gadara site they would have to shift the railway line from about 29 chains this side of Kurrajong Hill. There was a bed of limestone about 1 mile north-east of the site, again on Upper Gilmore at Mr. Back's, and on Bombowlee, about 5 miles from the town, limestone showed an outcrop about two miles in length. As regarded building timber, mountain ash was principally used. He put the court-house floor down of mountain ash, hand-dressed, 26 years ago. Stringy bark was a more durable timber in the ground.

Mr. Kinred then asked would he be permitted to give his views on a water conservation and retention scheme, apart from his scheme for the Federal Capital supply. The chairman said it was a matter foreign to their present purpose, and, interesting though it was to the members of the Commission personally, it would, if given, only be excised from their report. However, he promised if he (Mr. Kinred) sent down duplicates of his water conservation scheme he would personally lay them before the State Premier and the leader of the Commonwealth Government (Sir E. Barton).

Mr. James Back was a resident of the district 40 years. He burned lime and had done so for 12 years on the Gilmore near the marble quarry. Marble and limestone were one and the same. The price for lime was from 35s to 40s per ton. He got orders from Tumut, Adelong, Gundagai and Tumbarumba. He had sold no marble; the outcrop was about 40 yards wide. On Calafat, at Mr. Hayes' property, it was more of a limestone than marble quality. Both made very good lime. Calafat lime was whiter than his, but builders told him his was stronger.

Mr. P. McNamara had lived in Adelong 20 years. Had used the best stone to be had there. Considered the granite there the best he had seen. Had worked marble from Upper Gilmore into headstones, and made four. He produced samples of granite and marble. [These were much admired by members of' the Commission.]

Mr. John Whiting deposed that he had had a sawmill at Sharp's Creek for 40 years. Mountain ash and stringy bark were the timbers most sought after. Messmate was nearly as good, though harder to work. He was the only sawyer there. There was very little gum where he was, and very little urabbi or box. The latter was principally used for blocks. Stringy bark was the principal timber in his locality. They had a forest there 20 miles long by 12 miles wide. Ribbon gum was much used, principally in mines. He supplied Adelong principally, and did some lines in Tumut.

Mr. C. Purcell, grazier, farmer and miner, was a native of the district and 45 years of age. Had 3000 acres of land at Wondalga, about 300 acres of which be farmed. His property caried 4000 sbeep, 50 head of cattle, and 50 horses, and all were in good condition. Leased no land out. His hill country would run one sheep to the acre.

Mr. A. W. Molineaux had been a resident of Adelong for 22 years. He put in a report from Mr. Pittman, Government Geologist, re the Adelong granite; and a map showing route of flying survey from Germanton to Gadara. A line could be brought from Wagga as an alternative; route,   and that would open up a lot of country; the distance would be about 52, miles. He put the papers in as Chairman of the Adelong Federal League. He thought Gadara was a dry, healthy locality. He never saw it look worse than at present. Sixteen inches of rain had fallen last year. Grasshunters had paid as much as 15s an acre for three or four months for grass. Stock had died here in consequence of being too poor on arrival; those that came strong survived. Thought they could grow enough to support 40.000 or 50,000 people. Never saw the thermometer over 105 or 106 deg. in Adelong - then only for about, two days. Would furnish a statutory declaration as to amount of fat stock reared in the district that had passed through his hands. [Mr. Molineaux exhibited some splendid peaches, procured by him from Mr. E. Young's orchard in Adelong.]

Mr. Frank Taylor had suffered; considerably at home and in Queensland from asthma, but coming to Tumut he had been fully restored to health.    

Mr. J. M. Dodd gave evidence re Kimo Estate, the area of which was 23,000 acres. The owner ran thereon from 28,000 to 30,000 sheep for 12 months ending November, 1902, 1000 head of cattle, and 200 head of horses; sent away 16,000 sheep in 1900 and 1000 head of fat cattle; in 1901, 18,000 sheep and 1875 cattle; in 1902, 10,000 sheep and 900 head of fat cattle. He considered the rental of the river flats was an index to the value of the country. One hundred and sixty one acres of the racecourse reserve sold for lease at auction for 12 months for 240; the previous year it brought 260. 'Laud abutting it, recently cut up into 20 acre agricultural leases, realized at auction 22s to 25s per acre per annum. He believed they could easily produce for a population of 20,000. An application had been made for 20 acres at the, back of the town for mining for soapstone for lining band-boxes. From January to October, 1902, there were trucked from, these districts, from the Gundagai railway station, 2599 cattle, 208,177 sheep and 690 pigs.  

Mr. A. Davis was a farmer resident 48 years, and had been farming since he was a boy, on the Gilmore valley. The crops he grew were maize and wheat, in all about 100 acres. His average for wheat last year was 20 bushels; this year, on account of the dry season, 10 bushels per acre. [He handed in a sample of wheat grown by him of Algerian and purple straw varieties. The samples were very much admired by the members of the Commission.] He had won in a competition, from the Agricultural Department, for maize return per acre - 112 bushels. His crops were grown without fertilizers. His land grew very good wheat on the hill above his house. For grass, it would require about six acres to a beast on his flat. The hills at the back of his place would carry one sheep to three acres. Did not dairy, only for his own use. His farm was a fair average of the Gilmore valley. There were about 2500 acres of similar land there not cultivated. Preferred the western bank of Gilmore for cultivation, it being granite; on the eastern side it was slate formation. Believed the western side would give better results for grain.      

Mr. W. D. P. O'Brien had been a resident of the district 30 years, and lived on the Gilmore valley. He grew wheat; had 300 acres of it, averaging 40 bushels per acre. Had a yield of maize from 70 to 80 bus. and as high as 110 bus. Had about 500 sheep and not much experience with them. His holding was under 4000 acres. Had 500 or 600 cows. Milked 300 cows twice a day previously; this year only 200. The last two or three months he had to give them a little green stuff. In November last he was milking 180 cows. He got for the month a return of 78. This time last year they returned him 100 a year. At Christmas time he sent down some trucks of cattle and topped the market. One acre on the western side of the creek was worth 4 or 5 acres on the eastern. You could sink post holes three feet deep on the western side as against 1ft. on the eastern. His land was a fair average of the Gilmore. The flat below the dairy was the best land he had. Had not the slightest doubt the country within a 10-mile radius would be sufficient to supply 40,000 or 50,000 people. Re timber for mining and building purposes, stringy bark was used by Mr. A. D. Shepard - laths 5ft. long, 1 in. thick, and 6in. wide. Had been on Chiltern, the Ovens, and EIdorado, and could say, as regards laths, that those from Sharp's Creek were the best he ever used in his life. The area of the country where the timber was growing was about 20 miles wide by 10 miles in width. Could say that in Adelong floors of stringy bark   boards put down 30 or 40 years ago in dancing rooms were good yet. Mountain ash was a good timber away from the ground; it was light and easily worked, and was good for weatherboards. Urabbi was used for coach-building. He had gates of it, and they stood best. Messmate laths stood well. Red gum was good for coach-building. Would not recommend mountain ash for flooring; would prefer stringy bark, which takes better polish and is closer grained.

In building his hall, Mr. Nixon being, his architect, the lime he got from the Gilmore was very little less hard than the cement. Mr. O'Brien then gave evidence of the longivity of the residents. In 100 families on the Gilmore only two deaths had occurred last year. Mr. and Mrs. Deans had lived on the site for 50 years and with regret left to come to town, and an intimate friend of his from Queensland for years invalided and unable to put on his coat, came there and in a short time was all but restored to his usual health.

Mr. McKeown (of the Wagga Experimental Farm) was appointed to examine the soil as to its depth and fertility in the different parts of the district. At Gundagai he found rich, deep country, but limited. The hill country, on his way from Gundagai via Brungle, struck him as poor; part of it was fair sheep country, and there was some good maize property at Brungle proper. If the foothills were improved they would run one sheep to the acre. The rough country at the back would run one sheep to five   acres. Coming nearer Tumut he found a Considerable area of very rich land suitable for maize and fruits, and potatoes were doing well. The soil seemed admirably adopted for the purposes allotted. The maize crops compared well with those of the Richmond and Clarence. Tumut maize holds a high reputation and generally tops the market by 3d a bushel, as it was firm and free from weevil. He found the wheat crop land very limited. The flats would produce good crops, but would run more straw. For wheat growing, he would, prefer country lower down towards Wagga Wagga. Wheat could be more economically grown outside a 30 mile radius. He had gone   through the Gilmore, where there was excellent land. Maize seemed of an excellent description, second only to that on the river flats. Batlow struck him a good district for fruit and was unsurpassed for the production, of apples and pears; nothing could be wished for better, potatoes irrigated grew well as did all English fruits. On Tumut Plains there was good soil; it was chiefly maize country. He had driven over Gadara. Flowers and fruits would grow well there. He believed the area within a 50 mile radius would grow sufficient for a population of 50,000. They could treble the present production.

At Batlow Barberie's Hill was rich to the top. He believed the hills around were similar. The site was infinitely ahead of Wagga as regards soil and production. He had   been up Goobarragandra for a distance of six miles; the valley was narrower than Tumut Plains, the soil of unusually good quality; maize, potatoes, grapes and pumpkins grew well. The grazing portion was of good quality. Although the season was dry he saw clover. Goobarragandra was a similar district to the best down here, and Gilmore was very little behind. Would think re dairying they could not compete with the coastal districts; feed could be grown, but the coast stood far ahead in that respect - they had a better rainfall there. As regarded the hills of Gadara, they were well adapted for the growth of flowers at villa residences. When referring to Batlow he only spoke of the basaltic soil.

Mr. Spencer Groves had been 32 years in Tumut. Was here when Mr. Oliver was up, but gave no   evidence. Went with him to Gadara and Gilmore. Mr. Oliver was here about a week, most of the time taking, evidence.

Mr. S. C. Morrisett, manager of the Tumut Branch of the Bank of N.S.W., had been in Tumut 11years. Went with Mr. Oliver over Gadara site and Tumut Plains. Tumut was a prosperous and wealthy place, except at the present time. The climate was as near perfection as you could get. He had been over most of the State and Queensland.

Mr. W. H. Eoord [Foord?] was 39 years of age and a native of the place. Had 20 acres of maize. Last year the average yield was 30 bushels per acre. Had grown 60 bushels per acre. Wheat, as per sample he produced, went 20 bushels per acre; may (do.), 3 tons per acre. [He showed samples, of potatoes, Tartarian oats in sheaves, and a quantity of splendid apples from a tree 30 years old.

This closed then things. Mr. R. Donaldson, M.L.A., tendered his thankfulness to the Commission for the courteous and gentlemanly way they had conducted the inquiry. The Chairman said they had only endeavoured to do their duty. He desired to specially thank Constable Bell and Mr. Davie Donaldson for the assistance they had rendered in the court during the inquiry.

At the conclusion of the sitting of the Federal Capital Commission the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Kirkpatrick, with his Secretary (Mr. Furber) went into Mr. Warden Walker, J.P's office at the court-house and thanked him for his kindness and courtesy towards the Commission, and also for the complete arrangements he had made for their comfort.