Footprints of History Lake George and Tumut

The Farmer and Settler

17 November 1922

Having arrived at Tumut (as related in our last issue), they pitched their camp on the bank of the river, and by dint of hard labor, built a slab house fenced a small paddock, and put some land under wheat for their own use, Sydney being their nearest market.

Once a year my father or his brother in company with, some of the few settlers then in the neighbourhood, drove a bullock team down for twelve months' supplies.

Eight bullocks was considered a good team, and if they were fortunate in not losing any bullocks, did the trip down in three or four weeks.

Between 1840 and '50 my father drove his team to Sydney and took two tons of wool, for which he received 10/per cwt., which was considered a good price.

He got loading from stores In George Street; which was all hills and hollows, no forming having been done; and the buildings were low, with shingled roofs. Most of the shop's were kept by Jews who pestered you to buy.

There was a toll-bar on Brickfield Hill und another one on Lansdowne Bridge at Liverpool, where you bad to pay. In the event of' teams being delayed, and running short of flour, those at home put their wheat through a little steel mill and sifted it in a primitive way, but it made good wholesome bread.    

The Gold Fever.

In 1851, my father married, and the same year he started for the diggings at Beechworth; crossing the Murray at Albury, then a very small town. Wodonga was then a cattle station. When he reached Beechworth, there were only about a hundred men there, and a policeman granted the licenses for mining for which the charge was 30/ per month.

The rush started soon after he got there, nine to ten thousand being on the field. Later on he witnessed a big riot, when twelve policemen and two commissioners were run off the field, and pelted with stones, owing to the excessive cost of the license, which was afterwards reduced to 10/per month.

My father remained seven weeks on Beechworth, and decided to go home for Christmas, he, then having, secured nineteen pounds' weight of gold: intending to return after a spell, thinking he would find no trouble in striking another patch us good. He gave his claim to a mate, who told him afterwards he got 600 out of it.

After Christmas he returned to the diggings, but falling to strike gold after sinking a couple of holes, he returned to Yallowin. Before leaving the field, he sold one of his horses for 29, and the buyer lost him and told my father if he overtook him to keep him. To his surprise the horse was at Tumut before he got there. The country was not fenced   then. The old horse was kept on the station till he died of old age, and he was the one al the older members of the family learned to ride on.

Kiandra's Gold Rush.  

The gold rush to Kiandra took place soon after his return from Beechworth; he did not try his luck on that field, but supplied the butchers with a good number of fat cattle. He related that the excitement of the rush was so great that the roadway passing their house was like a busy street. All sorts of conveyances were in use, and packs were carried on horses, cattle and dogs.

He saw one party of father, mother and six children and a Newfoundland dog, each member of the party carrying a swag, and the dog doing his share by bearing a load in saddle bags. Not, long after the rush started snow began to fall, which drove nearly everyone away from the place for the time being.

Fully two thousand people were camped on the creek at the foot of Talbingo, six miles from my father's place, waiting for the winter to pass to permit of them returning to the field.

During their stay, lawlessness was rife there, one murder being committed, and afterwards stills were to be found in almost inaccessible places. When the summer came, fully ten thousand people flocked to Kiandra, and the usual proportion suffered disappointment. Yet there were some very rich deposits found.    

Low Priced Cattle.

Before the discovery of gold, cattle were of little value. My father sent one hundred big aged bullocks to market, most of them fat, and they brought 12/ per head; and that then was considered good value. It was seldom that cattle from Yallowin was sent away for sale. Those that were not used by them for meat, died of old age.      

Father Therry, ex-priest, owned a station near Yass, and he only branded every two years, and then he used to cull out all the weedy ones and kill them; on one occasion he destroyed one thousand head.

Sheep were of equal value.

A man named Caracs purchased 2000 and put them on part of Yallowin in charge of an assigned servant, who acted as shepherd for eighteen months, when his ticket of leave expired. He then left, the sheep having become affected with a scab, and an inspector came along and destroyed the lot. The quotations for cattle my father left:- Before gold was discovered, in Sydney, fat bullocks 20/ per head; three year old 14/, 2 years 10/.