Glance at Old Prices

3 May 1943 Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga)

(By Will Carter)  

Whilst not disposed to justify racketeering in wartime it must be accepted that warfare limits imports and so creates an acute shortage in many lines of merchandise and shortage always increases prices.

It may be interesting to glance at prices current in some of the early settlements not so very far from Wagga in 1860 when the latter town was much less pretentious than it is today Taking Tumut first, we find neither wheat nor oats were available at Christmas time.

Corn sold at 8/ per bushel, bran 2/6 per bushel, flour 4/15/ per bag of 200 lbs., potatoes 20 per ton. bread l/6 per 2lb. loaf, butter 2/. and eggs 1/8 per dozen. 


The prices quoted apply to the gold rush period when goods had to be packed on horses to the wild goldfield.

Flour 6d per lb. or 50 per ton; oats 18/ per bushel, corn 20/ per bushel, bran 12/.

At one period flour was retailed to the diggers at 1/ per pint, whilst one enterprising individual who hailed from Adelong sold hot soup to the freezing miners at 1/ per pint, the same stimulating preparation being made from discarded heads of sheep at the local slaughter yard. 

The prices of all other commodities were relatively high. 


At Gundagai we find beef quoted at 4d per lb., whilst mutton sold at 6d, prices that probably obtained at Tumut and Adelong at the same time.

Butter ruled at 2/,eggs at 1/6, potatoes at 20/ per cwt. We find neither wheat nor corm quoted, these being unobtainable then, as at Tumut. 

The Kiandra Goldfield 

As in many other instances elsewhere, Tumut benefited greatly by reason of the discovery of gold at Kiandra in 1860.

It was known at the time as the Snowy River Rush, and in order to get there the gold-seekers had choice of two routes of approach, one via Eden, on the south coast, and the other by way of the Great Southern Road via Gundagai and Tumut. 

The former suited the Victorian influx whilst men from Sydney side found the latter more to their advantage.

The thousands of hungry miners with appetites sharpened by the bitter winter weather conditions in the Alpine settlement had to be fed, and the Tumut farmers were able to demand and obtain excessive prices for their produce, whilst store keepers plied a wonderful trade.

Many of the Tumut pioneer farmers and others had reason to thank Kiandra for their foundation in the field of fortune.

The only trouble was that the field and its operations did not last long enough. In Adelong the alluvial creme was soon exhausted but reefing came to the rescue, and carried things along successfully for many years after Kiandra lacked the reefing-asset.