Lamentable Calamity Overtaken Gundagai

The Sydney Morning Herald

17 July 1852

Goulburn, July 13. - Pursuant to public notice a meeting was held yesterday evening at the Salutation Inn, for the purpose of devising means for the relief of the sufferers at Gundagai and the Murrumbidgee district.

The Rev. William Sowerby was unanimously called to the chair. The object of the meeting having been stated The Rev. W. Ross, in rising to propose the first resolution, said, that it was clearly the duty of this meeting to extend a helping hand to those who survived the late lamentable calamity which had overtaken Gundagai.

It was their duty to send the gift of their charity to supply the pressing wants of the sufferers; but as the Government had come so promptly forward and used such praiseworthy diligence in administering immediate relief to the surviving inhabitants of Gundagai, he did not think the meeting was called upon to interfere, as in other, circumstances they would be; the Government have evinced their charity - they have stepped out nobly to do a most benevolent work, and let them have the praise and the honour. (Cheers.)

It was a most painful event which had brought them together, and they ought to express their sympathy for the sufferers, and to declare their readiness to extend their aid to any case of peculiar distress which might be authenticated at any future time.

There was a gentleman present, Mr, Michael, who was an eye-witness of the desolation at Gundagai, and he would no doubt be able to name parties there who could testify as to peculiar cases of need.

Mr. Ross then read the resolution, which was seconded by Mr. Patterson "That this meeting begs to express its cordial sympathy for those individuals who have suffered from the late unprecedented and awful floods, and pledges itself to use every means in its power to afford relief in cases of extreme suffering and privation, caused by this visitation of Providence."

The resolution was put and carried unanimously.

Mr. E. B. Kitson thought it would be very desirable to get as much information as possible in reference to eases soliciting relief, so as it may be afforded to the really necessitous.

The chairman then read the substance of a letter received by Mr. O'sullivan from Mr. Dawes, in which he is requested to send on supplies from Goulburn on account of the committee formed in Sydney.

Mr. Michael, the gentleman referred to by Mr. Ross, named Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Davison, at Gundagai, as proper persons to testify as to particular cases requiring aid.

Mr. D. H. Thorn delivered a most energetic speech, in which he denounced the government of Sir George Gipps for refusing to act on Mr. Commissioner Bingham's suggestion in 1844, in reference to the state of Gundagai, and thought we ought to testify our disapproval of the government, and its maxim of, "what a man buys, he buys for better and for worse;" but he would put it to the meeting, whether the people at Gundagai had not the worst of it; and having the worst of it, it rested entirely with the government, by the direction of whom a township had been formed on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, within the water mark, subject to floods at almost every fall of rain.

Had Mr. Bingham's suggestion been attended to, Gundagai would have been one of the most flourishing townships in the southern country, but not being attended to, its notoriety consists in being the grave of its own inhabitants, who in a moment when they were not aware, were swept away, buried in its ruins, and called to give in their account before God.

He, Mr. Thorn, thought that the conduct of Government was unfeeling in refusing to exchange allotments for those which had been put up for sale; this very circumstance was a guarantee to the purchasers that they were worth buying-worth building upon; - for what is a town allotment worth if it is not fit for such purposes?

Events which have transpired have shown that the allotments sold by the Government at Gundagai were unfit for the purpose for which they were sold, and the sufferers had a strong claim on the Government for compensation.

Mr. Thorn continued his remarks for some time, and concluded then with a reflection on Sir George Gipps, and hoped that this meeting would not separate without bringing the claim of the occupants of land at Gundagai before the Government, conceiving that this was a most effectual way of showing our sympathy.

Mr. Thom then read his proposition, but the Chairman considered Mr. Thorne had travelled out of the object of the meeting. In most of what had fallen from Mr. Thorn he (Mr. Sowerby) coincided; but as his proposition was, in his estimation, out of order, he did not think it right to put it to the meeting.

Mr. Kitson thought Mr. Thorn had lost sight of the fact that Government had no power to exchange allotments, they did what they were called on to do in 1844, which was to lay out allotments in a more eligible site; they had power to sell, but not to exchange allotments, and he (Mr. K.) thought Mr. Thorn should have modified his observations in reference to the dead.

The Rev. W. Ross thought that Mr. Thorn should have taken his advice, viz, to let the object of the meeting be proceeded with, and then to call a separate meeting to consider his proposition.

When Mr. Thorn then adopted the course proposed by Mr. Ross.

Mr. Kitson begged to propose the second resolution, which was seconded by Mr. D. H. Thorn, "That the following gentlemen be appointed a Committee to carry into effect the wishes of this meeting, viz., the Clergy of the different denominations, Messrs. W. Chatfield, J. O. Sullivan, R. Waugh, F. Oakes, S. Davis, N. Mendleson, R. Craig, and C. A. Dibbin, with power to add to their number, and that Mr. O. Sullivan be requested to act as treasurer, and Mr. Dibdin as secretary."

The usual vote of thanks was proposed to the chairman, and carried by acclamation.

In the course of the meeting the Chairman stated he had received a letter from Mr. O. Sullivan, excusing his attendance at the meeting.

Mr. Patterson was then called to the chair, and Mr. D. H. Thorn begged to propose the following resolution, which Was seconded by Mr. Dibdin:-

"That this meeting desire to record as their deliberate opinion, that the late fearful catastrophe in the town of Gundagai might have been avoided, if the recommendation of Mr. Commissioner Bingham had been attended to in 1844, when it was shown that the present site of Gundagai was unsuited for a township, owing to its being subject to inundation; and that as the Government formed the township, and sold the allotments, it was a guarantee of their fitness for the purpose for which they were sold, and an inducement to parties to purchase such lots and improve them.

Under such circumstances, that the persons who have suffered loss by the late inundation of Gundagai are entitled to compensation from the Government for the same.

And that the chairman of this meeting be requested to forward this resolution, on behalf of this meeting, to the Executive Government."

Which was carried unanimously.

PS.-Three tons of flour and a lot of blankets were sent to Gundagai this day, on account of the Government.

20 a ton is to be paid for the carriage.