Letter from Thomas Boyd

The Sydney Morning Herald

Friday 16 May 1873


I have had my attention drawn to two articles which have appeared quite recently in our columns - one copied from the Yass Courier, headed as above; the other a reply to that article, and entitled, "Historical Statements."

That I accompanied Mr. Hume on his journey of discovery to Port Phillip will in itself, I hope be excuse for my making a brief statement with reference to the two articles in question.

I state that the article which appeared in the, Yass Courier is correct throughout, and the article in reply quite the reverse; and although I am a man in humble life, I am well known as what is termed a good bushman, and am not afraid of appealing to many gentlemen now living, who have had proof of my sagacity as a bushman.

I only mention this to show that I am thoroughly capable (understanding) merits or defects in this respect, and I state boldly as a sharer in the hardships and dangers of the expedition to Port Phillip, in 1824, that no mistiness whatever hovers over the discovery of the River Hume, as implied in "Historical Statements." I was present with Mr. Hume when he discovered that river, and when he named it the Hume, and the writer of "Historical Statements" must pardon me, an eye-witness and competent judge, for contradicting him.

And as to his assertion, that Mr. Hovell, of Minto, is "Mr. Hume's equally distinguished fellow explorer." I solemnly declare, from my own knowledge that Captain Hovell is not entitled to be considered, even a tolerable bushman, and that Mr. Hume led him and the rest of us to Port Phillip and back again; and until I saw it in your column as an "Historical statement " I never in all my life heard the name of Mr. Bradley mentioned in connection with the discovery of Yass Plains.

All the bush talk, and all my bush experiences in early days, point to Mr. Hamilton Hume as the discoverer of those Plains, and to him alone. I also testify that, passing through Mundooran (the sole track then being that know as Hume's track) we did camp as near as possible on the site where the residence of the late Mr. Hume now stands.

I also feel convinced that Mr. Hume's ingenuity converted the cart into a punt, and that he and I did the swimming and the working of the punt to and fro. I am also strongly impressed with the conviction that the cart was Mr. Hume's own.

As to what occured after the crossing of the Tumut River, it was Mr. Hume's sagacity, and not Mr. Hovell's suggestion, which led us away from the Snowy Mountains. A glance at those mountains was enough for Mr. Hume. He steered westerly into more open country, and crossed the Gilmore about five miles above its junction with the Tumut, near where the mill now stands.

I remember on one or two occasions during the journey that the two gentlemen got separated, and I on those occassions went with Mr. Hovell, and as my services have never in any way been recognised, I hope I will be pardoned in my old age for telling the truth, although it may appear a little boastful.

Only for the bush tact of the "lent" servant, as I am termed in “Historical Statements," Captain Hovel would have perished, and had anything happened to Mr. Hume, the sole chance of saving the party rested with your obedient servant, Thomas Boyd.