Interesting Recollections of the Early Days

A social gathering of old identities at Adelong. Interesting recollections of the early days.

The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural & Mining Advocate

19 December 1900

A social dinner was held in the large hall at the Royal Hotel, Adelong, on Thursday evening last, the occasion being a gathering of the old identities who had resided in Adelong or the surrounding district for 30 years or over.

There were 31 persons present, and Mr C. Purcell occupied the chair, and Mr C. S. Byrne (Tumut) the vice chair.

After an onslaught on the good things, with which the tables were loaded, the chairman gave the toast of the Queen, which was enthusiastically received.

The chairman then proposed the toast of the evening, which was, "Our Pioneers." The toast was rapturously received.

A happy three hours was then spent smoking pipes and cigars, sipping ales and wines, and relating experiences of the past, from the year 1839 up to date.

The speakers were Messrs C. Purcell (chair), C. S. Byrne (vice-chair), N. Butler, A. W. Crain, R. Luff (Adelong Crossing), W. D. Smith, W, Franklin, J. Beale (Tumut), J. Dunstone, A. Emery (Tumut), John Nides, A. Schafer, C. Brown and George Westphal.

The speakers showed what the district was like before the discovery of gold, and the wonderful change the gold output made. It was shown that before the gold rush wages were 20 per year, and goods were carried from Sydney to Adelong district for 9 per ton; but as soon as the gold rush, occurred wages jumped to 10 per week and carriage of goods to 2 per cwt.

In the drought of 1839, it was stated that John Ferguson, who was tending stock where the town of Adelong now stands, had to take his stock across the Minjary to Tumut River for water; the late Martin Curran shifted his stock to Kiandra, and Mr Wilkinson, now of Yallowin station, had also to shift to the higher mountains, because the Adelong and Gilmore creeks were dry, and some assert that the Murrumbidgee at the Sandhills above Gundagai stopped running.

It was also stated that wheat was bought at 3 15s per bushel. Many interesting reminiscences with different bushrangers were related.

Mr N. Butler was at Walla Walla station when Morgan wounded one man and shot McLean dead. George Westphal knew Morgan well, and being at the Bendigo rush when Morgan was shot, went over to the inquest.

Mr. W. D. Smith said he was in business when the gold rush occurred and before banks were established.

He had dishes of gold under the store counter when the bushrangers stuck up the store, but they did not get any of the gold.

Mr John Nides and others related seeing what is now the town of Adelong when it was a dense apple tree forest, and only two tents were visible where the large Oddfellows' Hall now stands.

Tumut was described as being a stringy bark scrub, and what is now Wynyard Street was a gathering place place for the blacks, and was called "Doomut", which means camping ground.

Mr Luff (Adelong Crossing) and Mr A. W. Crain told of some startling experiences with the blacks in the early days. Songs were sung by Messrs Beale, C. Passlow, W. D. Smith, Collins, A. W. Watson, and T. Smith.

During the progress of the conviviality it was pleasing to see old friends approach one another and grip hands, having been separated for 35 years.

There was an abundance of mirth during the evening, and there is no doubt the function was an immense success, and the parting words of all were "Make it an annual function."

Other toasts honoured were, "Our Visitors," responded to by Messrs Byrne, Luff, Beale and Nides; "Host and Hostess," responded to by Mr Wilkinson; and "The Chairman."

The company then joined hands and sang "Auld Lang Syne", three cheers were given for the Queen, and friends bade adieu to each other until the next merry meeting.

Mr and Mrs Wilkinson deserved all the praise they received for the excellent manner in which the banquet was served.