Gundagai Floods, Rebuttal of Report
The Sydney Morning Herald
29 January 1853
My mind was very much pained a few days since from the circumstance that a correspondent of yours had made some remarks relative to the loss of my father and family at Gundagai, this was made known to me by some of the inhabitants of Parramatta, and having obtained a copy of your paper of Saturday, the 15th instant, I find their statements were correct, and I certainly feel sorry that a man from mere hear say should give publicity to that which is certainly untrue.
If I were to study my feelings even now I would keep silence, for the bare thought of Gundagai and my bereavements occasioned by its flood pains my heart, apart from writing on the subject.
I think, however, I would not be doing common justice to myself were I not to contradict the assertions made by your Special Reporter.
Your reporter states that there was a Mrs. Hunt, six children, and her husband, perished in the waters, and that Mrs. Hunt made desperate efforts to save some of them, and swam upwards of two miles to do so.
The truth is the body of Mrs. Hunt was not found nigh two miles from Gundagai, and considering that it was about eleven o'clock at night when the family was swept away, no one could give much account of what happened, and indeed all that is known respecting any of the family after they went away together on the roof of the building is, Mrs. Hunt was seen floating on a box with one of the children, that she endeavoured to gain a tree, but the limb of the tree gave way, and she was hurried on; but even those statements were made by a woman who, through the loss of her children and lengthened exposure on a tree was found insensible, and the fact is there were but four children.
But the remark which pains most is, that the reporter states that it is supposed that the body of my father was one that was found on an island in the river, and whose body was left a prey to the fowls of the air, and his bones are still left to bleach, and on this account he imputes shame to someone.
With regard to myself I can only say, that as soon as I heard of the awful affair, I hastened to Gundagai, a distance from my home of 250 miles, and on arriving at the place I found that the most dilligent search had been made for the bodies of the missing.
I could do little more than search over the already searched ground, and as there was then about 40 bodies missing, I concluded from the vast amount of drift stuff, (one of which drifted heaps would conceal a hundred bodies) that it was probable my friends had found a resting place beneath some of it.
I remained some days, but all my hopes of success in finding the bodies was cut off by the waters again rising, which caused it impossible to make a good search without a boat, as the places where most of the bodies were found were little islands, around which the mighty waters of the Murrumbidgee flowed, and I only turned my back on Gundagai when my stay would have been useless, and then with the full assurance of my father's friends there, that all that could be done would be done, to secure the bodies.
Since that time, I heard of the body that was found on the island spoken of by your reporter, (I believe it laid sometime for the want of a boat to secure it) and my brother left for Gundagai about three days after, and on reaching the place, found that the body was buried, but that it was not the body of our parent. My brother has just returned, and he states as far as is known, his remains are not yet found.
I am sorry that I have had to explain in so lengthy a manner, but trust that you will do me the kindness of allowing this letter to appear in your columns, in order that the friends of my dear father may know that those of his family residing here have done what they could in order to secure his body.
I remain, yours, &c., George T. Hunt. Durat,
January 25, 1853.