Notes on the Tumut District

7 February 1880 The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (By our Travelling Reporter)

Arrived at Gundagai (a description of this place, together with the state of settlement in the neighbourhood, appeared in a former paper), it is necessary, in order to follow up the farming areas belonging to the mountain region, to proceed in a southerly direction for about sixteen miles, and we reach the rich alluvial flats bordering on the Tumut River, the surroundings of which are recognised as being one of the most productive and oldest farming settlements in Riverina.

Two roads lead to the township of Tumut, which are adopted according to the requirements of the traveller, and it is a matter of choice whether the track known as the Mark Tree Line, or the Brungle Bridge route is followed.

 Choosing, however, the latter course, in consequence of the extensive farming settlements passed through and bordering on the Brungle Creek, I crossed the magnificent bridge, three-quarters of a mile in length, which spans the Murrumbidgee River and adjoining flats at Gundagai, and within five miles of the township reached the Tarrabandra estate, owned by Messrs J. and F. M'Evoy.

This property is no exception to the general rule as regards the permanent improvements noticed on almost every station along the Murrumbidgee.

The Tarrabandra country is beautifully undulating, and the grazing capability of the land is seen to the best advantage in consequence of the timber on the hills having been ring-barked many years ago, and a look over the estate tends to show that the river frontages play no unimportant part in fattening the large number of cattle annually forwarded from Messrs. M'Evoy's station to the most profitable market.

As this property on first occupation was formed into a cattle station, it is at the present time worked in a like manner, and as the proprietors devote great attention to the strain of cattle used for breeding purposes, a fair name is obtained for the choice description and appearance of the stock annually bred and fattened at Tarrabandra.

In viewing the homestead, it does not partake of the multitude of buildings that invariably characterise a sheep-breeding station, and the dwelling-house stands, so to speak, alone on an airy-looking height, facing a picturesque bend in the Murrumbidgee River.

Cattle-breeding, although a speciality, is not exclusive, and a number of Merino sheep are here worked with thoroughly profitable results.

In addition to Messrs. M'Evoy's comfortable dwelling-house, improvements are further noticed in the wool-shed, a substantial weatherboard building, capable of accommodating sixteen shearers, and sufficiently large for the requirements of the place.

The Tarrabandra estate extends to the Brungle Creek, and after crossing this point an extensive farming settlement is noticed, where the holdings vary in size from 640 to 2000 acres each, and were selected principally during the working of the '67 Land Act.

In these farms advantage was taken to secure the fiats and creek frontages behind, which is formed by the hilly ridges; and country of this description is found to be admirably suited for either agricultural or grazing purposes.

In consequence of the inconvenience arising from the want of a produce market, grain is grown only in small quantities, and sheep keeping with cattle is here considered to be the most payable undertaking.

A fair idea as to the state of settlement along Brungle Creek may be gained by instancing the names of Messrs. D. and A. M'Gruer, whose property exceeds 2000 acres. 15 acres were cultivated last year, and the remainder of the property is devoted to sheep grazing.

The adjoining property is 1000 acres, belonging to Mr. Dodds, who enters more into cattle-breeding than any of his neighbours, and this class of stock, when worked with sheep-keeping, is considered payable.

In cattle, Mr. Dodds, at some trouble and expense, secured one of the best sires now in the district - Agamemnon's Earl - a fine symmetrical roan bull, bred by Mr. C.B.Fisher, of Victorian fame.

Accompanied by Mr. Dodds, I visited, at the head of the Brungle Creek the neat farm of Mr. D. F. Robertson, com-prising between 700 and 800 acres, and recognised as being one of the best cleared farms in the district. The system here adopted, after the timber in thoroughly dead from being ringed, is to grub out all the dead timber, when the land is subjected to a series of wheat cultivating varying in time from 4 to 7 years, after which artificial grasses are sown for grazing purposes, Wheat-growing, with 20 acres under cultivation last year, and cattle breeding is what Mr. Robertson's property is mainly devoted to.

Proceeding in the direction of Tumut, and after recrossing Mr. Dodds' s property, the country is heavily timbered, with a line of towering precipitous mountains on the one side and stretches of undulating wooded country breaking away on the other.

In the latter direction one or two fairly sized and well-managed farms are passed, including the property of Mr. C. Guy, noted as being the best breeding station for thoroughbred horses in the district.

Here was stationed Rioter, the grand blood horse of former days, but others with pedigrees equally as important have taken his place, including Living-stone (imported) and Young Bylong, bred by Mr. James Lee.

With these two sires, and 8 or 10 blood mares, Mr. Guy owns as nice a stud as one could wish to see.

A mile or two south of this property the head station of Messrs. Rankin, Brothers, is passed through, beyond which the land, of a rich agricultural description, breaks away into the Bombowlee flats, settled with a farming population, whose freeholds were purchased direct from the Crown more than twenty-five years ago.

 "The flats" comprise a number of farms, ranging from 45 to 400 acres in extent, and on these holdings cereal-growing has been followed for more than twenty years, without the land showing any signs of exhaustion.

One of these farms, where agricultural pursuits have received a fair share of attention, may be instanced in Rose Vale, the property of Mr. William Bridle, and situated within a mile of the township of Tumut.

 It is divided into six pad-docks, and devoted in the main towards the growth of cereals - wheat, oats, and maize - with one or two uncultivated paddocks, used for grazing the dairy cattle and working horses.

Wheat for many years past has been grown by Mr. Bridle with fair success, and the crops have escaped the ravages of rust wonderfully well - so much so that twenty-five bushels of wheat to the acre is allowed to be a fair average for the past twenty years.

Notwithstanding the disadvantages that the farmers in the Tumut district are labouring under from isolation and the want of a convenient market, a fair quantity of oats, wheat, maize, and tobacco is grown along the banks of the Tumut and its tributaries, where it is computed that 30,000 acres of arable land are in occupation.

With the view of entering somewhat largely into tobacco culture, Mr. Bridle had recently erected a tobacco shed, 60 x 46 feet, and 20 feet in height, fixed with shelves and plastered throughout, so that the building, when the doors are closed, is thoroughly air-proof.

Having erected a shed, and with every convenience at hand for growing and preparing the leaf, about eight acres of tobacco will be cultivated this year: and should the results prove favourable, the area will be further increased.

Rose Vale is characterized as being the most practically-worked farm in the district, and without doubt the indications, as noticed around the dwelling-house, tend to show that a deal of enterprise has been brought to bear.

The outbuildings are of a most substantial order, including a hay shed and machinery house. Under the latter roof, I noticed a 6 horse power steam engine (Marshall and Son's), a threshing machine (T. Robinson and Co.'s), and a 4-horse power engine (Clayton and Shuttleworth's).

The smaller plant is used, for the ordinary work in connection with the farm, such as chaff-cutting, wood-sawing, &c.

Besides Mr. Bridle's property, large holdings are noticed in Mr. E. G. Brown's property, and Wermatong station, occupied by Messrs. Brown and Harris.

In the former instance the land is leased in farms averaging 20 acres each, where maize-growing is considered to be the most profitable pursuit, while in the latter case the property at Wermatong, embracing a great extent of hilly country, is worked in the main as a cattle fattening station.

The township of Tumut, in the opinion of many, is considered to be the prettiest in Riverina.

Towering away to the south and east are precipitous mountains ranges, while looking across the river from the heights above the township are seen beautifully grassed valleys, and the Bombowlee and Tumut River flats, overspread with rich seas of waving corn.

Tumut is formed of several fine buildings, including the new post and telegraph office, Mechanics' Institute, Oddfellows Hall, Temperance Hall, Bank of New South Wales, Public school, two flour mills, eight hotels, and included in the latter order Mr. Quilty's Commercial Hotel is far-famed as being one of the best-conducted and most comfortable houses in the Southern district.

A large store business is done in Tumut owing to the thickly populated surroundings, and the houses of Messrs. Mendelshon and Co. and Mr. Newman would be a credit to many of the larger provincial towns.

I was afforded an opportunity of visiting, before leaving Tumut, two fairly-sized properties on the western side of the river.

They comprise the Gocup estate of 2000 acres, leased by Mr. Elliot, and worked as a cattle-fattening station; and Mr. James Brennan's Eurobin property, of 2000 acres, and formed chiefly of the rich fiats along the river side.

The whole of the Eurobin estate has been well improved, and now forms one of the tidiest grazing properties in the district, and recognised, for breeding cattle, sheep, and horses, as an estate of more than ordinary merit.

It is worked in conjunction with Mr. Brennan's property on the Yanko Creeks 150 miles distant, where the cattle are at times forwarded to eat off the rich grass in which the plain country at certain times of the year abounds.