The Sydney Morning Herald
22 July 1845
Gundagai. July 12.
As so long a period has elapsed since you were called upon for postage to the debit of "Correspondence" from this interesting portion of Her Majesty's dominions, yourselves and readers had doubtless formed an idea that the fates had consigned the village and its penny-a-liner (meaning myself) to a lasting oblivion beneath the turbid waters of the beautiful but aggravating Murrumbidgee! Not so, however.
A long absence from the district has caused my communications to be "few and far between" latterly; but a passing visit, just now, affords me the opportunity of, convincing my friends that I am still "alive and kicking," and preventing the step you had (as I am confidently informed) adopted, of "coming out" in crape.
The weather just now is serenely beautiful, but much rain has fallen latterly.
The country looks well, and Dame Nature is exhibiting in one of her most interesting passages: placed between gloomy, hoary-headed Winter, and bright, blooming, smiling Spring, she is easting off the old grey garb of the one to adopt the verdant flowery mantle of the other dashing away the icicles with her left hand, and grasping the budding wreathes with the right.
To be plain, Spring smiles in the valleys, and Winter scowls upon the hills. There will doubtless be an abundant supply of grass this summer.
The late rains caused strong symptoms of hydrophobia to exhibit themselves in Gundagai. The river was much swollen, and broke in upon the flat by a creek which intersects the site of the village.
A "city of refuge" is preparing, at the foot of Mount Parnassus, to receive the persons, goods, and chattels, of wise calculating men, who, having been before washed out, and compelled to the necessity of transforming their roof's into wharfs, to which punts were moored to receive them when all else failed-and who, besides, have not the remotest desire to take lessons in navigation at this time of day-are determined, and properly, to profit by experience, and have accordingly erected places of security to fly to when the floods cover the land.
Such is the alarm caused by heavy rain, or a using of the river, that I really should not be surprised if the coming generation of Gundagaians were web-footed-at any rate, they ought to be.
A most distressing occurrence took place within a mile of this a few evenings since, by which Mr. Peter Stuckey, of Long Reach, is a severe sufferer.
The parties on the station had retired to rest only a few minutes, when they were aroused by a crackling sound, as of fire, and on rushing out discovered the barn, which was also a wool-shed, enveloped in flames.
There being a large quantity of wheat within the building, the fire raged with so great fury that no possibility of saving it existed, and ultimately it was reduced to ashes.
The loss is very great to the proprietor. A suspicion exists in the minds of some that it was an act of incendiarism; but, from all the facts I could collect, I consider it attributable to the carelessness of some bullock drivers who were encamped in the neighbourhood, and who went into the barn for straw for their bullocks - doubtless with their never-failing accompaniment, a lighted pipe.
The mill, which we hoped would have been in operation ere this, is not likely to be completed.
The dam has been washed away, and some damage done to other matters, which, combined with limited funds, will prevent the proprietor from completing it.
A mill is badly wanted, and any one understanding the business of a miller could not fail to realise an independency in Gundagai.
The rise in the prices of stock has had the effect of stopping the operations of the boiling establishment in this district. Many parties are up from Port Phillip, purchasing sheep and cattle: for the former 8s. is offered, and for the latter £1. Ewes have been sold at 7s. 6d., but the sellers are now dissatisfied. Good ewes will very soon realise 10s, and mixed cattle 20s. Horses are low.
It is cheering to note the improvement in the value of stock; and, from the competition in this district, prices are likely to rise rapidly here.
Wages do not appear to suffer any change here. £14 to £15 is the highest given, the average being from £13 to £14.
The new Squinting Regulations have caused a universal and extraordinary "sensation" among all classes, and every shepherd's hut is converted into a council chamber, where much more rebellious matter is evaporated than I choose to condense here.
The country is quiet. No robberies or offences of any kind appear to disturb it. Wheat is abundant, mid cheap. Mr. C. O'Brien, of Yass, is about erecting a mill at the Tumut River: pity we cannot persuade him to do it on the Murrumbidgee!
The blackleg has visited the cattle this season, and many calves have fallen victims to it: it has not disappeared entirely.
My budget is exhausted-and here endeth this epistle.