Speech by Gormly in 1906 on the Early Days

2 May 1927 The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural and Mining Advocate 

It was at the monthly meeting of the Australian Historical Society held on Tuesday evening, July 22, 1906 (nearly 21 years ago), at the Royal Society's House, Elizabeth; street, Sydney, that the late Hon . J. Gormly, M.L.C., read a paper on 'The Exploration and Settlement of the Murrumbidgee and Murray River Districts."

Mr Gormly stated that the contents of the paper chiefly related to what had come under his own observation, and to what he had heard from early explorers and old pioneers.

His memory carried him back 66 years.

He was well acquainted with Hamilton Hume and three others of the party who went overland from Appin to Port Phillip, in 1824 - Henry Angel, James Fitzpatrick, and Thomas Boyd.

He had only a slight personal knowledge of Captain Howell, another of the party.

No doubt, Hamilton Hume was, in his youth, the best bushman in Australia at that time, and a man of great determination and energy. 

Hume was fortunate in the expedition of 1824, to have three such men as Boyd, Angel, and Fitzpatrick, each being hardy, abstemious, and reliable. 

Mr. Gormly went on to state that the last time he met Mr. Boyd was in 1883, at Albury, where the demonstration and banquet were held to commemorate the connection of the New South Wales and Victorian railway systems.

On that occasion Boyd had the satisfaction of seeing a train cross the river that he and Hume had swum over 59 years before. Boyd died at Tumut in 1887. 

The paper dealt briefly with Captain Sturt's expedition down the Murrumbidgee and Murray to Lake Alexandria, in the years 1829-30. 

Mr. Gormly paid a high tribute to Major Mitchell (whom he had known) as an explorer, and referred at some length to his explorations in 1836, when he, with a strong party went down the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray to the junction of the Darling, and his further exploration over a considerable part of the Port Phillip district, which he named Australia Felix.

In the paper reference was made to the massacre of Faithfull's men in 1838 on the Broken River, nine out of the party of fourteen being killed by the blacks; and to David Reid, who died in May, 1906, having assisted to bury one of the bodies. 

The names of the most of those who first formed stations on the Murrumbidgee were given.

They included Henry O'Brien, who took up a station at Jugiong; Frank Taaffe, at Muttama; Ben Warby had settled down opposite the junction of the Tumut in 1829, and Peter Stuckey had formed Willie Ploma at South Gundagai, the same year, while his brother Henry settled next to him. 

Further down on the same side of the river came Robert Jenkins at Bangus, then John Vardy at Jellingrove, with Hillas at Yabtree, Alexander at Guningdroo, Best at Wagga Wagga, and Mrs. Bourke at Gumly Gumly.

On the north bank of the river below Gundagai the Thompson family first took up a station at Mickey's Corner, near Kimo Hill. 

This was in 1830. The same family afterwards took up Oura and Eunonyhareenyah.

James and William Mc-Arthur, of Camden Park, took up Nangus, James Thorn stocked Wantabadgery, while his brother put cattle on Gobbagumalin. Jenkins, of Berrima, took up Tooyal, and his sons, John and Frank, settled at Buckinegbong and Gillenbah.

The settlement referred to that took place below Gundagah occurred in 1830-31-32 and '33. 

Mr. Gormly referred to being able to ride a horse and assist to drive stock to the Murrumbidgee in 1844, when his father settled near Gundagai, which was the only town on the river at that time, it being on the overland track from Sydney to Port Phillip and being where a punt had been established.

The flood of 1852 swept the town of Gundagai away and drowned about 100 of the inhabitants; beside Gundagai, the whole valley was devastated.

Flocks and herds perished in thousands.

All the stations along the river bank suffered, some of the people being left destitute. 

Mr. Gormly slightly referred to his own sufferings.

When his father's home was swept away he had to swim a long distance, then to take refuge in the branches of a tree, where he had to remain the whole of a long   winter's night and part of the next day.

The cold was so intense that strong persons who, had climbed trees for safety fell off during the night and were drowned.

Mr. Gormly referred to having taken horses for sale to the goldfields at Bendigo in the spring of1852, and crossing the Edward River where the town of Deniliquin is now situated; on the journey so difficult was it to procure food that he gave nine shillings for 31b. of flour.

This was brought about by the floods.

On that journey he crossed the Mur-ray at Hopwood's punt, three miles below the junction of the Campaspie River.

Hopwood soon after shifted three miles up the river to where the town of Echuca was afterwards built.

There Hopwood placed a pontoon bridge on the river.

The horses Mr. Gormly took over he sold at high prices on the goldfields at Bendigo.