Gundagai News

The Sydney Morning Herald

27 May 1848

May 20.

The whole of the country to the south and west of Yass, as far as the Hume, has suffered fearfully from drought during the past summer and autumn, and although our winter has nearly half passed by, we have had but a few slight showers to moisten the parched and gaping soil.

All the creeks in the back country are dry, and the stock are forced into the Murrumbidgee to obtain a supply of water. Feed there is none, except in such places as from the absence of water are untenable by cattle or sheep, and few persons have seen the Murrumbidgee country look so thoroughly desert-like as at present.

To make matters worse, catarrh has broken out amongst the sheep on several establishments, and made most serious ravages.

This proverbially healthy sheep country has never before been visited by this fearful scourge, and the disease has been brought amongst us now by contagion.

Several flocks of sheep, the property of Mr. William Faithfull, of Goulburn, and Mr. Rutledge, of Port Fairy, passed through the district a short time since, and being infected to a great extent, have scattered pestilence and death amongst our flocks in all directions.

Messrs. Faithfull and Rutledge were both summoned to appear before the Wagga Wagga Court for breaches of the Sheep Act; for want of special evidence no conviction took place in the first named gentleman's case, but Mr. Rutledge was fined 20.

No language is strong enough to mark the sense which people here entertain of the conduct of those who thus recklessly have contaminated a whole district more or less, and have probably paved the way to the utter ruin of some stockholders.

Mr. Rutledge abundoned his diseased sheep, by selling what the catarrh had spared, (but which were still infected) for one shilling per head, to a party who is now skinning and boiling them down.