Rename the Murray

The Register, Adelaide

15 November 1924

Just a century ago - on November 16, 1824, to be exact - Australia's greatest waterway was discovered by Alexander [sic] Hamilton Hume, a native of Parramatta, who at the time was 27 years of age.

At the instance of Sir Thomas Brisbane, Hume had started from Sydney with a sailor named Hovell, and six convicts, on a journey of exploration southward.

The party set out from Lake George with two carts laden with provisions drawn by teams of bullocks.

On reaching the Murrumbidgee, they found the river to be broad and the current strong. The men and oxen had to swim, and the carts were ferried across in "punts" made of tarpaulins.

Soon afterwards the country became so rough and thickly timbered that the wagons were abandoned and the oxen loaded instead.

For several days the way led through dense forest, but occasionally Hume caught a glimpse of the snowy peaks of mountains on his left.

The expedition at length came to the banks of the river now known as the Murray, and which the leader named 'Hume,' after his father, Andrew Hamilton Hume.

Again, boats were improvised, this time of wickerwork, covered with the tarpaulins, and the water way was safely negotiated.

Holding their course southwards through more open country, Hume struck in turn the Ovens and the Goulburn Rivers.

The fine achievements of the expedition suffered later through an unseemly quarrel between the two leaders. The greatness of Hume as an explorer, however, is unquestioned.

When only 17 years of age, he traversed the Berrima district in company with his brother, John Kennedy Hume, and afterwards made numerous journeys into the interior, during which he opened up the Yass and Goulburn plains districts between 1816 and 1824.

He was chosen in 1828 as second in command of Capt. Sturt's famous expedition to trace the Macquarie River. Writing to the Chief Secretary on March 4, 1829, Sturt referred in high terms of praise to Hume's services.

He said that Hume's intimate acquaintance with the manners and customs of the natives enabled him (Sturt) to enter into intercourse with them, and chiefly contributed to the peaceable manner in which the journey of exploration had been accomplished, while Hume's previous experiences "put it in his power to be of real use to me."

Sturt added, "I cannot but say he has done an essential service to future travelers, and to the colony at large, by his conduct on all occasions since he has been with me." These tributes from a man of Sturt's splendid moral caliber must command for Hume the enduring esteem of his fellow-Australians.

Hume died at Yass on April 19, 1873.

"Unlocke," in his "Education Notes" on Saturday last, forcibly appealed for a better recognition of Hume's memorable expeditions than has yet been accorded them.

Although Sturt traversed the great river from Yass Plains to Lake Alexandrina and gave the waterway the name of Murray (after Sir George Murray, then Secretary of State for the Colonies), it seems, unfair that the first actual discoverer of the stream - despite his ignorance at the time of its real nature - should, be overlooked in connection with the river's designation, especially after he had given it the name of Hume.

 Australians should not fail to do honour to their distinguished countrymen, and the suggestion that the river should be named "the Hume" from its source at Forest Hill to the confluence with the Murrumbidgee has much to recommend it.

The matter; however, rests with the legislators of New South Wales to deal with as may seem desirable to them.