News from the Interior, Gundagai
The Sydney Morning Herald
10 October 1844
News from the Interior. (From our various correspondents.) Gundagai.
A short time since, the stores of Mr Taaffe, of this neighbourhood, store plundered of property to the value of £60. Mr. Bingham, our Commissioner, with his usual alacrity and decision in such cases, was early on the spot, accompanied by an aboriginal - they succeeded in striking the trail of the robbers, and after a diligent and careful search, in which my countryman was wide awake, they traced most of the property to various places of concealment, where it was found. Three men, (as the report goes, small settlers) were apprehended, and fully) committed by the Yass Bench - one has been allowed bail.
A stockman of the late Mr Barber's, was drowned a short time since, in an attempt to cross the Murray River, when flooded.
Great complaints are raised against the present mail contractors, for the gross irregularity which pervades their arrangements, with reference to the delivery of the Melbourne mail bags at Gundagai, and our Postmaster has communicated with Mr. Raymond on the subject. The men who drive the mails complain that they can get neither money or rations, and in consequence have, on two occasions, lately, refused to work any longer, and bolted, leaving Her Majesty's quadrupeds to arrange the matter as they best might, as regarded the conveyance of the mail.
One week the Port Phillip bag did not reach Gundagai at all as no person could be found to carry it from Melbourne to the stage where the Yass driver meets it, and which is at Mr. Mates, some fifty miles on the Port Phillip side of Gundagai.
The following week, a policeman was compelled to carry it from Melbourne, the whole stage through, to Mates', where he arrived twelve after his time, and had not the Yass and Gundagai postman (who is an excellent servant) waited that lapse, no mail from Melbourne would have been received in Sydney for three weeks - as it was, the postman already alluded to, had to drive his horses within an ace of their lives to save his employer's credit, and was only just in time to do so. It is astonishing how the man accomplished it at all on such a road, and in s0 short space of time- his hour of starting from Gundagai is 11 to 12 midday of Wednesday, whereas in this case he did not reach the township until 12 o clock on Wednesday night! It is not very likely our esteemed Postmaster General will allow this state of things to exist.
When the Legislative Council is sitting, the most serious delays and inconvenience to the public service may accrue from the negligence of the contractors, and I believe that some des- patches of consequence were detained by the non-arrival of the mail from Melbourne in the first instance to which I have alluded. Who paid the policeman for his jaunt of 280 miles and back, I wonder? It is confidently hoped and anticipated that the contract will again fall into the hands of Mr. Edward Green of Bogolong- should he (as we all trust he may succeed in obtaining the tender, there is no doubt of his carrying it through as he did before, with credit to himself, and satisfaction to the public.
The river and all its tributary streams were flooded to an unparalleled degree, and wholly impassable by Wednesday night, the 18th. The river continued to rise until in many places it overflowed its banks, and so suddenly did its waters increase that sheep and shepherds were completely isolated for several days. On the establishment of G. C. Curlewis Esq., at Kimo, three flocks of sheep were in this way surrounded for the space of eight entire days, on a small piece of land containing only a few acres; and with such an expanse of raging water around them that no force could compel them to cross it. No doubt in places great losses have been sustained. On the establishment in question, had the river risen a few feet higher there would have been no possibility of saving the sheep.
On the 20th the waters subsided a little but were afterwards increased by a heavy thunder storm. On that day (which w as the Sydney mail day) I could not obtain a volunteer to swim with my letters to the Post Office although for a consideration I obtained a Leander on the previous evening to bring your valuable journal, &c. from thence; his "Clarence" like description of the passage, however, awed all others from the attempt. Hence has occurred an unavoidable interval betwixt my communications.
Mr Robinson, Chief Protector of the Aborigines was detained several days at Gundagai and had one of his horses drowned there. Another gentleman of the same name narrowly escaped a watery grave in crossing a creek near the township. I have heard of no loss of human life hitherto.
At the Tumut River numberless persons had to leave their dwellings and "flee to the mountains." I have heard of one individual who, remaining too long by his goods and chattles, was fain to betake himself to the "house top", where he looked in vain for the "dove with the olive branch."
No mail from Port Phillip for the last fortnight. I presume some excuse for this is to be found in the state of the rivers.