In The Tumut Valley
1 August 1902 The Tumut and Adelong Times
The Sydney correspondent of the 'Folkestone Express' and other British papers writes;-
Amongst the numerous sites proposed for the establishment of the Federal capital is the beautiful and fertile Tumut district, in the south-western portion of New South Wales, the township of Tumut being about 330 miles from Sydney, of which 287 miles are by rail, and the remainder by coach.
The distance, by rail and coach, from Melbourne is about 400 miles.
The railway journey, branching off from the main line at Cootanmndra terminates at Gundagai, the country I traversed being of a picturesque nature, with a background of rugged mountains.
About 22 miles further on is Adelong, with, its many pleasant recollections of the old gold-digging days, which may become revived at any moment, for the auriferous character of the district is far richer than generally supposed.
It has been largely worked, but it will not be worked out this side of the year of Our Lord 2000.
The place is surrounded by mountain ranges, many of the recesses of which remain unexplored to this day, and everywhere the traces of past and present gold mining industry is observable.
A visit to the 'Reefer Battery and Falls is interesting.
The battery, says a visitor, is worked by water-power from a race running from the Adelong Creek, and is situated in a precipitous gorge.
The view with this battery in motion is singularly pretty and romantic.
The water rushes down the gorge with great force, and as the water-wheels are set in motion - with the drooping willow nestling about, and the water tumbling over the rocks and dropping over 100 feet in a few hundred yards - a glimpse of Switzerland is thrown before you.
But to see the gold-mining industry properly, a day or two at the least should be spent in the neighbourhood. Tumut, twelve miles distant, has a thriving appearance.
It is prettily situated on the Tumut River, and boasts of several handsome public buildings and several elegant private residences.
Numerous willow and other trees grow on the riversides, and these, with the numerous gardens surrounding the principal dwellings, enhance the natural charm of the many beautiful surroundings.
The Chinese are strongly in evidence here, being highly successful tobacco-growers in the district.
One of the principal Chinese storekeepers is naturally proud of the fact that one of his daughters passed a Trinity College musical examination.
A readiness to adopt European customs is one of the characteristics of the educated Chinese in Australia.
The district has been described by an American visitor conversant with the details of tobacco cultivation as the Australian Virginia, it strongly resembling the American State as regards soil and climate.
All the available land appears to be under cultivation, golden grain waving in every direction, with here and there broad patches of other crops.
The whole district is more or less auriferous, and with those of Adelong and Gundagai, constitutes portion of the great southern goldfield which the late Rev. W. B. Clark, the eminent geologist, predicted would prove the real Australian El Dorado, and in the early days of the State eager prospectors, tempted by the chances which seemed within their reach, penetrated far into the unexplored wilderness, some to fill their swags with the precious metal, others to return as poor as they came, and few stay and leave bleaching remains in deep gloomy ravines or stony hillsides.
There are now roads, tracks, and villages where formerly the silence of the mountain solitudes was broken only by the pick of the digger or the laughter from the rude tents by the creek.
From Tumut there is a picturesque road to the Yarrangobilly Caves, one of the leading features being the ascent of Talbingo Hill, a lofty peak of the Tumut Range, a spur of the Muniong Range the northern portion of the Australian Alps.
The road from the base of the hill to the summit is about five miles in length, the total fall in that distance being 2,300 feet.
The old road was little more than a bush track, but the new one, the construction of which entailed a loss of £2000 to the contractor, is a really fine one, affording a series of grand panoramic views during the journey.
It sweeps down the sides of the mountain, the roadway in places being supported by heavy masses of masonry.
One of the most remarkable pictures en route is that in which Black Perry figures prominently. This is a large Hill with a black, rocky surface, hance its name.
It overlooks the Jouuama Creek, a picturesque tributary of the Tumut River.
Says a recent visitor:- "It is a terribly wild spot, which from a cursive glance would be thought impenetrable; but into it the herdsman has to go in search of stock, which proves that the seemingly impossible can be done, where the will is present to try."
During the rainy season waterfalls are numerous, but there are always a few, except when the weather is extremely dry.
Among these latter is one to the south of the roadway.
Although its size is dwarfed by the distance, it presents a bold and picturesque appearance when closely approached, resembling several of those which and so largely to the attractiveness of the Blue Mountains.