The Gundagai-Tumut Railway

 Adelong and Tumut Express and Tumbarumba Post

 23 October 1900

Enthusiastic reception of  Mr. R. Donaldson, M.P. The hero of the hour. Appreciation of his good work.

Great enthusiasm was aroused in town on Wednesday night last, when our energetic member, in three successive wires, announced that our railway had passed the second reading in the Upper House by 19 votes to 9. Mr. Donaldson promised, when leaving town on Tuesday last, he would wire us early on Wednesday, what chances we had of the construction of the line, as the second rending was expected to come on that evening. Accordingly about 7 o'clock a wire came through announcing that the debate on the same had begun, Mr. J. H. Want having spoken in favor of it, and Mr. Cox argued very strongly against it. Our residents were naturally very anxious as to the result.  

A group hung round our Telegraph Office, and Mr. Woodall, with his   wonted courteousness, kept the office open, and about 10.30 p.m. the welcome news arrived that the bill had passed the second reading as stated. Those present were naturally wild with excitement, but the lateness of the hour prevented the possibility of more than a few knowing. However, an adjournment was made to the Commercial Hotel, where the health of our member was proposed by Mr. C. S. Byrne, whose remarks were heartily endorsed by Mr. W. D. P. O'Brien, who had just returned from Sydney, and he spoke in the greatest praise of our member, who, he said, had not left a stone unturned in Sydney in endeavouring to achieve success in passing the Bill through both Houses..

The toast was drunk with musical honors and cheers. Arrangements were there and then made to give our member a good reception upon his return on Saturday. It was arranged that a cavalcade be formed to journey out a few miles and meet him on the Marked Tree line and escort him in to Madigan's Oriental Hotel - decided by placing names of the different hotels in a hat, the Mayor drawing, with the result stated. He was there to be treated to a glass of wine, and receive the warm congratulations of his friends.  

We cannot say too much in praise of our member, who, from the time of his election, has ever sought to bring our district into prominence, to fulfil his promise made at last election re our railway; and in all matters he has proved himself far and away more successful than any member who preceded him here for the last 25 years, and, in this, his master stroke, he has done more for Tumut in a short time than his most sanguine supporters ever expected.  

On Saturday morning the town was en fete. The streets were gay with flags and bunting, and to the onlooker it was apparent, that something uncommon was to take place. When we consider that a large proportion of our people have for over 25 years been battling, with the aid of successive members, for the right of railway communication, it was only to be expected that the achievement of this purpose, under the able generalship of our present member, would fill the people with jubilation and exultation.

Our "General" had succeeded in breaking down, by his tact and energy, the fortifications of the Upper House, and Tumut, at last, is to have the iron horse screeching through her Valleys, putting us in close communication with the city, and increasing our advantages as an agricultural community in a fourfold degree.

No wonder, then, a goodly number of horsemen turned out, in addition to occupants of 25 vehicles, to welcome the lion of the day. The cavalcade met Mr. Donaldson on the other side of Keefe's creek, where he left Mr. S. Wilkinson's trap and got into the coach so generously provided by Mr. G. Danvers, jun. Through some unexplained cause, the Tumut band failed to put in an appearance, and this fact was very warmly commented upon.

The company assembled in full force at the Oriental Hotel, and about 100 persons adjourned to the spacious room upstairs. Ald. Weeden (Mayor) occupied the chair. He stated it had been arranged there was to be but one toast proposed, and that was the "Health of our esteemed member, Mr. Donaldson." He was sure all would drink it with pleasure; but, while all highly complimented their guest on what he   had achieved, they should also say something of the efforts of members in the past. He believed the railway would be a big benefit.

Mr. Donaldson was of opinion no tax would be imposed. He could scarcely agree with him in this; but to prevent it he would exhort all farmers and others to put their hands to the plough, and make the first year's haulage so large that no further tax would be imposed. He considered it was a grand occasion for Tumut.

The line would be here in about 18 months, and they would then be nearer civilisation than ever they were before. Mr. Newman said nothing gave him greater pleasure than being present to support this toast. All things, it had been said, come to those who wait. Twenty-five years ago. Mr. Hoskins (then our member) promised that he would give us a railway, and all apolitical aspirants since had said "Put me in and I'll give you a railway ;" but Mr. Donaldson, by dint of his indomitable perseverance, had succeeded, as we find. He had done Tumut a greater service than he knew.

Although he (the speaker) had at last election voted for Mr. O'Brien, he found he had made a mistake, and in future would always support Mr. Donaldson, who, he said, in Sydney had been gaining favor in political circles very quickly, where he was   considered a good practical man. He could feel that as a life member for Tumut his future was assured; all should support him, and thus wipe off their past mistakes. He had great pleasure in seconding the toast. Messrs; W. D. P. O'Brien, W. Bridle, R. M. Shelley, G. Clout, sen, A. McGruer, J. Blakeney, A. Davis, S. Groves, and J. D. Walker highly eulogised Mr. Donaldson for his efforts in the direction of securing the railway line. Pressure upon our space compels us to condense the speeches.   The toast was enthusiastically drunk with musical honors.  

Mr. Donaldson, on rising, was heartily cheered. He said he was overpowered by the great meeting that day, and, by the flattering compliments paid him by- the many speakers. The rights and claims of Tumut had only been acknowledged late in the day. He felt the conditions should not have been imposed, but was advised to let matters alone, so he was prepared to let the conditions remain. That day week he had   wired to Mr. Ross, of Culcairn, to come if possible, and that gentleman came for no other reason but to help him through.

The Hon. J. H. Want had rendered him invaluable assistance. The presence of the man with the iron jaw and convincing speech (Mr. Want) had paralyzed the objectors. He took credit for having converted Dr. Cullon (who objected to the tax being imposed) by telling him   that the Tumut people would sooner the tax than no railway. Great credit was due to Mr. Ross, who did his level best, and Mr. Want was a tower of strength.

The latter had promised to be present at the turning of the first sod. The Bill was in this stage at present: it had to come before the Lower House and then be sent by them to the Governor for signature, when it would become the law of the land. In order to expedite matters he had seen Mr. Hixson (the Under secretary for Works), who said there were several lines in hand, but, as this was a small one, he promised no moment would be lost.

The line would be done by day work, and he hoped in 3 or 4 months' time to see the turning of the first sod. In conclusion he was proud of the reception given him; and their generous overlooking of his faults. He was glad to hear their good opinion expressed, and trusted that nothing would occur to mar the harmony existing between them.