The '52 Flood.
15 June 1915 †
(Per favor of the Hon. J. Gormley).
The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser
†CROSSING THE BILLABONG CREEK.
I fared much better at Nangus that night than I expected.
Before the water reached his house Jim Gallaher got a bullock dray and removed his wife and child, as well as a quantity of the household goods.
Mrs. Gallaher was able to give me a blanket, so I lay on the ground in front of a good fire.
Mrs. Gallaher and her husband tried to persuade me not to continue my journey to Wagga.
Jim stated it was impossible to cross the Billabong Creek, which was running over, the banks.
I have always been so self willed that I would not take advice from anyone, so when the husband and wife found that I determined to go on, Gallaher offered to go with me to Billabong Creek, but I pointed out that Nangus Creek, which we could see from where we stood was in flood, and that as Gallaher could not swim it would be risky for him to attempt to cross the stream.
Mrs. Gallaher, who was an intimate friend of my family actually cried before I star-ted, and said that if I went on I would surely get drowned.
I made a bad beginning, for in crossing Nangus Creek, which was deep and narrow, my horse slipped back when getting up the bank, so I got all my clothes wet.
This was a bad start on a cold winter morning.
I could hear the roaring of the water in the Billabong Creek before I got within a mile of it, and was surprised that the stream could make such a noise.
The roaring was soon accounted for, for as I approached the bank I saw a raft of drift timber that had got jammed against some gum trees that grew in the banks of the creek.
This so much obstructed the flow of the current that the water was going through and over the timber in cataracts:
On seeing the raft of timber, which extended from bank to bank, I decided if possible to crawl over on the logs and to drive the horse across with the saddle and bridle on his back.
I likewise made my boots and coat in to a bundle and strapped them on the saddle, as I knew I would have a tough job to crawl over on the logs, as some of them were swaying up and down from the force of the current.
My horse took the water like a duck, and swam across safely.
If I ever felt nervous it was when getting from one log to another, while crossing that creek, for I did not know the moment the raft might break to pieces, and then I would be smashed between the logs.
However, getting over did not take me two minutes, but those minutes were anxious ones. It is only those who have to depend on a thoroughbred horse in a time of stress and strain that can estimate his true value.
The horse I was riding that day was as purely bred as any horse in Australia. Had he had a weak spot in him, I could not have got through.
WANTABADGERY STATION HOME-STEAD SWEPT AWAY.
It commenced to rain early in the afternoon and poured down all day.
†Every hollow was a running stream, and every creek a roaring torrent.
As I knew all the people at Wantabadgery, I went to the head station, as I thought a meal, if I could get one, would be very acceptable.
†But when I got to the place every vestige of the buildings was gone. All the fences about the house had disappeared, and the only remnant left was two posts of the stockyard.
As I sat on my horse I was wondering if all the people on the station had likewise gone with the flood. The current had evidently struck the station buildings with its full force.
The ground was swept as clean as a billiard table. As the station buildings had been erected on a steep bank of the river and the current lowing towards the channel, every article that would not float was washed into the river bed.
Looking at the total destruction of a station where I had spent many very pleasant days and nights, made me thoroughly depressed.
As I was about to proceed on my way I distinguished smoke rising from a heap of granite rocks that stood on a hillside about half a mile from the river.
When I got to the fire I was surprised to meet an old friend, Mrs. Richard Kelly. She informed me that her husband and three sons were safe, but that nothing at the head station was saved.
There was not even an axe or tomahawk left, so the men on the station could not strip bark to make a gunyah.
She had neither flour, tea, sugar; and no food, except a sheep which her son had slaughtered, the carcase of which was then hanging near the fire from a branch of a tree.
Mrs. Kelly was a kind, hospitable old Irish woman.
She bad a clasp knife, and soon had me strips of the mutton roasted on the coals, What she seemed most to regret was that she had not a pinch of salt to give me with the mutton.
I sometimes now, when I visit Albury, meet this woman's grandsons, and relate to them how their father suffered from the effects of the flood of 1852.
In 1852; Leopold - Fane DeSalis was one of the most extensive holders of station properties on the Murrumbidgee.
He resided at Darbalara, and owned all the stations from Wantabadgery to Eunonyhareenyah, which included Eringoara, Bilda and Oura.
A friend of mine, Denis O'Keefe, was then in charge of those stations. After leaving Wantabadgery I decided to see how O'Keefe, who resided at Oura, had fared in the flood.
OURA STATION BUILDINGS DESTROYED.
When I reached the station I found that all the buildings had disappeared, but some part of the stockyard was left.
I saw smoke in the distance on the hills, but as it was getting late in the evening I rode on until I got to Bomen Lagoon, where I met a wide stretch of water, which my horse was able to wade through without having to swim.
†I did not go down to where the few houses at North Wagga stood, but followed along the bank of the river opposite South Wagga.
FIVE FEET OF WATER IN FITZ-MAURICE STREET.
When I got as near to the riverbank as the height of the water would admit I commenced to coo-ee.
After a time Jim Crow, a blackfellow, came to me in a bark conoe. I then hobbled my horse, and went with the black across the river.
Jim Crow informed me that my sister and her family were all safe.
It was just after dark when I reached my sisterís house, and I was the first one to inform her of the fate of the people in Gundagai.
I found that the water had risen to a height of about five feet in my sister's hotel, which stood at the corner of Fitzmuaurice and Kincaid streets, now known as the 'Crown Corner.'
The old hotel was afterwards known as Forsyth's cottage.
I was informed that my sister, who was a strong, energetic woman, with the assistance of her husband and others, was able to save a considerable quantity of food and clothing.
It was stated by several persons that Mrs. Fox, my sister, waded through the water, removing the goods from the hotel, until she was up to her breasts in the current, and that she was the last to leave on removing her property from destruction. my sister's husband.
Thomas Fox, then owned all the land fronting Kincaid street from the corner of Fitzmaurice street to what is now the Westoe House property, and Fox had some back buildings above, high water mark.
Nearly all the people then in South Wagga took shelter on the sand hill, which included the Westoe land, the whole would contain half an acre.
If it had not been for the food and clothing saved by Thomas Fox and his people, the others, who had saved nothing (for some of them had to run for their lives, the water having risen so fast) would have fared badly, for they had to remain on the sand hill for three days and three nights.
When the flood went down, my sister was able in a week to make her house moderately comfortable, for when I got to Wagga she was then accommodating five or six guests.
The first thing I did the morning after I got to Wagga was to cross back to north side to look after my horse, for I knew he would fare badly on the sodden grass that had been for days under water and most of it still covered with slime.
I was determined to get the horse to the south side, where I knew he would have better grass.
When I got my horse I went to where the Ferry Hotel and a few other houses stood. William Brown (' Tinker ' Brown he was generally called) had erected the Ferry Hotel about three years before this time.
He had likewise built a small punt, but this punt could not be worked when the river was high.
I was well acquainted with Brown and his wife. Mrs. Brown frequently remained a night with my family at Nangus, when she would be travelling with her drays to Yass to purchase goods.