Mr. Bingham, Murrumbidgee
The Sydney Herald
19 August 1840
The weather during the winter has not been very wet, occasional rains with moist, foggy and damp nights.
The growing wheat crops look healthy and vigorous; and to this period, promise well; indeed, with truth, it may be aserted, that it would be impossible for growing crops to look better.
The frosts have been very severe and sharp during (at intervals) the two last months. The catarrh has been very destructive in the flocks of several sheep proprietors in this quarter lately; so much so, indeed, as to be almost certain ruin to the parties travelling with sheep, if the greatest care be not taken.
Sad and numerous are the complaints made by many against the Border Police, for pressing (as it is ludicrously called) any horses they may require; to hunt the bushrangers? O, no to hunt the blacks? No, why so stupid, the Border Police, like the 10th don't fight. Now I guess it, to hunt up assessments.
We have a Commissioner with a salary taken out of our pockets of £450 per annum; the greater part of whose time is taken up at "Head Quarters, Tumut," filling up assessment notices, and three or four louts from Hyde Park Barracks, ycleped police, to serve them; riding Government horses which we pay for while they last; and when they are knocked up they go to Mr. Barber's station in the vicinity of the Hume River, and press a horse, the property of the late Mr. John Hume, which is likewise knocked up and left at the Oven's River; -and pray what is going on at the "Oven's," all this, assessment serving and writing time ? That shall be answered from an extract of a letter lately received from that quarter – "The blacks have played the very devil with the whites on the Ovens, particularly at Doctor Mackey's; they were twice at my place, but the only actual harm they have done has been the scattering of my cattle. I only saw two head of the lot that went up. I now sincerely wish that I had kept my cattle nearer home. It is a miserable situation men are placed in that quarter - not certain when they may be murdered and cut up by these savages.
Dr. Mackey's loss is not much short of £400." And pray what were Major Nunns's peelers at the Hume and Broken Rivers about all this time. They were left without a Commissioned Officer for months, perhaps years together, 360 miles from Sydney; they might as well, nay better be at Gibraltar, the Colonists would save their expense at any rate.
Mr. Bingham is generally considered by the squatters and settlers to be a man of good intentions, but certainly by no means qualified for his present situation. It requires firm behaviour and decision of character, even to settle the almost continual bickerings and encroachments, more to prevent ligitation than otherwise. Indeed the Colonial Treasury ought to almost groan beneath the burden of the £5 fee system, required by the Act of Council, which this officer is bound to exact of the parties against whom he decides. His quarterly returns must be large on this score. Why was this gentleman removed from "Cassilis" in the name of wonder?
The three or four aborigines he committed for trial could not be identified by the witnesses, at Yass, and after the additional trouble and expense of sending them to Sydney, they were of course discharged by proclamation in the Supreme Court, and all this useless ceremony, required three or four mounted policemen and that too at the very period that Whitton's desperate gang were robbing and plundering all before them, and this very circumstance was made an excuse at the time for not going after them while they were drunk, carousing and fighting among themselves at Papps's public-house. It is very much to be wished, that when the estimates for the year are before the Council that
Messrs. Jones and H. and J. Macarthur will ask the Government before they vote one farthing more, what earthly protection such a force is to the tax-paying people among whom the two latter gentlemen are included, one fault certainly is that the district is by far too large for any one man properly to manage.
If two commissioners were appointed at £225 each, it would be much better for the inhabitants residing in the district called and described by the Governor's proclamation, as the Murrumbidgee, one here and another at the "Ovens," the expense would not be greater.
Annexed is a rough calculation, the Government cannot surely complain of the want of money; clearly there is a credit due to us of £2,480.