Gundagai at The Turn of The Century

15 February 1977 The Canberra Times

Note:- The following contains captions to photographs that were too poor to reproduce.

Miners have rigged a makeshift hoist from poles and a pulley to rescue a pony from a mine-shaft on the goldfields at Spring Flat near the town.

The photographs reproduced-on this page were, presented to the National Library of Australia in 1971, and are presumed to be the work of amateur photographer Dr G. L. Gabriel, who practised   medicine in Gundagai from about 1889 until   his death in 1927.

The library has published the 'Gundagai Album' to make available a selection of the prints from the A. C. Butcher and O. I. Bell collections, in a form which allows an appreciation of the nature of the original material.

They depict a typical Australian country town at the turn, of the century, and the library regards them as valuable for providing "a perspective in which to see the living community of the present'.  

Gundagai, on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, is a town where a traveller can break his journey along the Hume Highway between Sydney-and Melbourne.    

Since the early days it has been a stopping place for diggers on their way to the goldfields, for teamsters bringing wool from the Riverina stations, for itinerant bush workers in search of a job, a meal, or a town in which to spend their cheques.

Two groups, of Aborigines, from the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee tribes, assembled periodically by the river but by1900 most of them had settled on the Brungle mission, and came into town only for the annual agricultural show.

Gundagai was first settled about 1840 on the alluvial flats on the north side of the river, and by 1850 there were stores, a post office, four hotels, 20 houses, a school and some tents.

In June, 1852, the Murrumbidgee flooded the settlement to a depth of six metres, destroying 71 buildings and drowning 81 inhabitants.

So the township was moved to the lower slopes of Mount Parnassus, and the street formerly the highest in the original town became the main street, and is still so, and forms part of the Hume Highway.

Two of the women of Gundagai, presumably sisters, but unidentified in the album.

Building the railway bridge. This one-way line opened to Tumut in 1903, but a line from Cootamundra served the town from 1886.      

Echoes of a more leisurely age. On Dr Charles Gabriel's verandah, which is cool, shady and pot-planted, sits a friend, Mr Barney Engelen, a jeweller from Holland.  

Polling day at the Gundagai court house. At the top of the steps - is Mr David Bruce, the Clerk of Petty Sessions. Further down, with his hands in his pockets, is Mr Fincham, the police, magistrate.

The old hospital, in spacious grounds, in Otway Street. built in 1858, In the picture are from left, a nurse, Dr Charles Louis Gabriel, and Mrs David. Bruce, whose husband; was the Clerk of Petty Sessions at Gundagai.

A group of Gundagai women in a garden.

The new hospital, which replaced the old one in 1904. This was at the opening ceremony, and mounted troopers can be seen at left. Matron Young is at the top of the steps.  

A nurse relaxing, possibly on the verandah of Gundagai's Family Hotel.