Yass, The Late Floods

The Sydney Morning Herald

6 July 1852

Yass, June 29.

Never within the memory of either black or white man has there been such a disastrous and fatal visitation in these unhappy districts, under the fatal effects of which the senses, half-bewildered, as though awakening from a fearful dream, can scarcely comprehend the sad reality.

To give you anything approximating to an adequate idea of its deplorable devastations would require language I more descriptive of things horrible than is at my command, but in a few words I will endeavour to place you in possession of some of the particulars.

Between six and seven o'clock on Thursday morning, the 24th instant, I was aroused from my sleep by the voice of a neighbour, exclaiming in accents of horror. "For God's sake jump up, or you will ill be flooded." I hurriedly I dressed myself - I rushed out, and saw the water within 30 yards of my door! I approached to its edge, and found that it was subsiding, but alas its work of destruction had but commented. Shortly after nine o'clock the rain again set in, and from that hour until 4pm it poured incessantly.

The scene was now frightful, the destruction of property had hitherto been enormous, and was still progressing, but now the lives of families were in the most imminent peril, mid the exertions of the many were in demand to rescue them from impending death. Of individual instances of heroism (and not a few came under my observation) I shall not, on this occasion, speak: every man did his duty, and by the bless

ing of Divine Providence, I believe not a single life was lost. The hospitable doors of the Golden Fleece were thrown open for the temporary reception of many families, until by the retirement of the waters, their own dwellings should be rendered habitable.

The loss of property has been incalculably great, and I will endeavour in my next to ascertain its probable extent. Mr John Watson has lost about 2000 worth. The bakers are unable to procure flour to supply bread to us, and where the misery will end it is hard to say. The Gundagai mail has just arrived and I must meet it.

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Wretched as our lot is, how dare we murmur at the Providence which has spared us from the calamity which has befallen our sister township Gundagai has been swept away! - but four dilapidated houses mark the site where lately it flourished!

Upwards of sixty, or, as I have heard, seventy souls have been swept into eternity, overwhelmed by the engulphing waters, which, without warning, swallowed them, shrieking, in their wild embrace.

Mr. Hunt, saddler, late of Parramatta, and family; Mrs. Lindsey and four children, Mr. and Mrs. M'Kenna and five or six children, are amongst the lost, of whom I cannot now delay to furnish you with a detailed list.

The stores and property of Monsieur Gasse, situated at a great elevation above the river, have all been carried away.

The families of some of the residents escaped with the assistance of a boat, but the many have "gone before us".