Inauguration of the Hume Monument, Albury
10 August 1858
A correspondent of the Yass Courier, thus describes the inauguration of the Hume monument.
On the 19th instant, the inauguration of the Hume monument took place.
The following address was delivered on the occasion by Robert Brown, Esq., of Colindina, a gentleman who has interested himself very much in having the testimonial to the worthy and estimable explorer carried to a successful issue:-
"Ladies and Gentlemen:-
We are assembled on this spot where, thirty-four years ago, that intrepid and enterprising gentleman, Mr. Hamilton Hume, was the first to imprint the footsteps of the white man.
He left an evanescent memorial of his arrival on this spot by rudely carving the name of this noble stream on a gum tree, which like all things perishable has passed away: and the honour has fallen on the people of this district to erect this beautiful end imperishable testimonial.
Beautiful in its design and imperishable in its material, it will stand as a record in future ages, to show the spot where the first white man arrived: and it will be the proud boast of the future generations of this town and district to say that their ancestors erected this testimonial in honour of Mr. Hume.
I feel proud that we should be the first people to recognise the manifold benefits conferred on the two colonies by Mr. Hume's early discovery.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that from Mr. Hume's innate modesty and retiring disposition, be would feel sufficiently repaid for the many dangers and privations he sustained on that perilous expedition from Yass to Geelong, by the honour of this noble river continuing to bear his name; and I trust that those present will continue to call it by its name, and to endeavour to correct anyone who may misname it the " Murray."'
It must soothe Mr. Hume's declining years to know the many happy changes that have taken place in a few short years since his discovery of this noble river, then only used by the blackfellow and his frail bark canoe, but now navigated by ten steamers and ten barges, with an aggregate tonnage of 2860 tons, a distance of nearly 2000 miles, the river being still in its natural uncleared state.
This feat was first accomplished by that prince of river navigators, Captain Cadell, who built a steamer at his own expense in Sydney, to test the practicability of entering this river at the sea mouth, an undertaking which he carried out successfully, navigating his steamer to Albury in 1853. T
he first steamer, the Lady Augusta, arrived in the upper river in that year; and in 1856, the value of merchandise that arrived from Adelaide to the Upper Hume amounted to the extraordinary sum of one million and thirty-four thousand pounds.
This town is destined to become, at no distant day, one of the finest inland cities in any of the colonies, from its natural position, situate on the verge of the gold fields, on the bank of a navigable river, and in the centre of one of the finest agricultural districts in the colony.
Look at our vineyards, and our crops of wheat that cannot be surpassed anywhere, as also our cattle.
Our town can boast of buildings, both as to architecture and materials, as good as any town in New South Wales; and I can give no better test of the health and happiness our townspeople enjoy, than when I say that the doctors barely make a living, and the lawyers starve.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have to claim your indulgence for digressing from the object of our assembling here, but all these happy changes and improvements having taken place as it were under my own eye, I feel myself so identified with the place and its interests, that I could dilate upon it for hours, Mr. Hume has promised that, should his health permit, be will pay us a visit in the spring, when we will receive him in a fitting manner, and it will be gratifying to him to see this magnificent testimonial erected to him; a structure that a hero would be proud of, and one that would grace some of the cities of old.
Ladies and Gentlmen, I thank you for your attendance, and I declare this monument opened. We will conclude this inauguration by giving three hearty cheers for Mr. H. Hume."
The ceremony completed, the party adjourned to the Criterion, where luncheon was provided. The health of Hamilton Hume, Esq., to whose honour the monument had been erected, was received with most enthusiastic applause, as were several other toasts of less importance.
Albury has thus been the first township in Australia to erect a public monument in commemoration of the first overland journey from New South Wales to Victoria.