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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gundagai

30-12-2012  Stopping at a truck stop for a free shower and finally wash my hair before heading into Gundagai to check out the town.  Driving along when we came upon this wonderful old wood bridge, Des stop so I can get a photo.   What a marvellous bridge, only there were two wooden bridge's that formed a V and meet at the end, thank god for wide angle lens.  We headed to town and walked around this grand old town and had no intentions of staying when we came across a park and stopped an elderly man and asked if he knew of a place to park for free, Ya down at the park no one will mind, not in this town.  Cool so Des and I walked down to check it out and found a great spot amongst the trees and close to the amenities and BBQ, so we decided to stay for a couple of days.

The 1820s saw the first Europeans in the area, in 1824 settlers arrived with their sheep then Sturt’s party passed through in 1829 and the original township of Gundagai began at the crossing of the Murrumbidgee River.  The village continued to develop on the Murrumbidgee floodplain despite repeated warnings by the Wiradjuri people of the risk of large floods to the low-lying muddy flats.

On the night of June 24, 1852 the flooded Murrumbidgee raged through the small township, drowning more than one third of the 250 inhabitants and an unknown number of travellers, and destroying 71 buildings.  The old Mill is the only building of the original town left standing today.


 The Prince Alfred Bridge, She's a Beauty
A downloaded photo of the old historic Prince Alfred Bridge.
Opened in 1865 the bridge had a total length of 314m, consisting of three wrought iron truss spans each of 31.4m across the river.  It was the first iron truss bridge to be built in N.S.W and the trusses were assembled from iron work imported from England.  The pin-jointed Warren truss is the second- oldest metal bridge in Australia.


The old town was built on the flats these bridges now cross.  The bridge in the distance is the Prince Alfread Bridge former Hume Highway.  After the 1896 reconstruction the bridge had a total length of 922 m, and remained the longest bridge in N.SW until the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.


St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
Built in 1885
Court House
Completed in 1859 was one of the first stone buildings to be erected after the floods of 1852.










Criterion Hotel -The hotel features original oil painted murals of early Australian bushrangers and the great flood of 1852 that washed away “Old” Gundagai.

The Great Floods
The severest drought ever known in the colony 1850-51, broke in 1852 & the rains came.  Torrential rains continued through May & June and melting Alpine snows brought the meaning of the black maw’s morning “Mor-un-Beed-Ja”, “A Big Flood”.  This flood was the greatest disaster of its type that has occurred in the history of the Commonwealth.
The heroic action of a number of Wiradjuri men saved many lives.  Yarri & Jacky in particular spent the wild night ferrying men, woman & children to safety from the rooftops & branches of giant river gums.  Forty-nine were rescued by the aboriginal called Yarri in a bark canoe.


Captain Moonlite Bushranger
It was 1879 & the country was in the grip of a devastating drought.  Unemployment was high & food was in very short supply.  Andrew George Scott, born in Island, better known as Captain Moonlite, & five young friends tramped the track from homestead to homestead, begging for sustenance, staying alive as best they could.  
At Wantabadgery Homestead, after twice refused work food & shelter, the group drew their weapons & thus began the siege which would go down in Riverina history. These six bushranger novices took 35 hostages over 3 days. Before the final shootout with the troopers took place, all hostages were released unharmed.  Constable Edward Webb Bowen was shot dead.  Moonlite’s accomplice & friends were also killed.  
 The fore surviving Bushrangers were tried first at Gundagai Courthouse & incarcerated in the old Gundagai Jail then retried in Sydney. The rock wall is what surrounds the old Jail.






 

I managed to creep into someones back yard to steal a photo of the back of the Jail where the Bushrangers were kept for a period of time.
 

All four were sentenced to death, on appeal the sentences of William and Bennet were reduced to hard labour for life but Moonlite age 35 & Roger were hanged & buried at Rookwood cemetery in unmarked graves. In 1880 just before Captain Moonlite faced the hangman’s noose, he wrote “I want to rest in the grave of my friend gratify my last wish if you can”. It took 115 years to grant his last wish, but on the 13th January 1995, his remains were finally laid to rest in the Anglican section of Gundagai Cemetery, metres from the unmarked graves of the outlaw’s friends.



Historic Bakehouse
Believed to be the oldest working bakery in Australia.  In 1864 German immigrant & baker William Bibo built & opened the bakery on this site.  A successful businessman & citizen he later became Mayor of the town.  In 1976 enthusiastic residents of Gundagai rallied following the threatened closure of the bakery, 50 locals became shareholders in a new company, Gundagai Industries Pty Ltd.
Gundagai Theatre built in 1929 but is no longer used as a Theatre, now sells old wares.








 
The Old Mill
 Built in 1848-49 the Old Flour Mill is the oldest building in Gundagai and the only building to survive the great floods of 1852.









31-12-2012  Walking the town when I saw a dress in the shop window that took my fancy, I must come back and check out that cool shop. I walked the town while Des did the washing (his a good boy) on my way back we ran into each other right out the front of the dress shop, what dress did you like, the one in the window so we went in to try it on, I didn't buy the one in the window but I did manage to find another dress which Des was happy to buy for me, see, he can be nice.  Once the washing was complete Des took me to lunch at the R.S.L, Chicken Schnitzel, chips, salad and gravy.  Talk about the worst meal ever, I don't know how anyone can stuff up a simple meal like this one, it had absolutely no flavor what so ever, even the gravy was shit. 

 Daisy the baby Austin was brought by the little old lady in the dress shop who paid $11,000 for her and she is only the third owner, the tyres come from a motor bike and she is in great condition.
Rusconi's Marble Masterpiece
Created by the dexterous handsand of the late Frank Rusconi and represents 28 years of work by this master craftsman.  Born in Australia last century and started the masterpiece in 1910 and finishing late in 1938.  Consisting of 20,948 pieces of Australian marble, each and every piece lovingly hand cut and polished.  





Walking towards the bridge to take some more photos when I spotted this monument in the middle of the golf course, so I jumped the fence to check it out and found yet another sad but interesting story to share.

This is the site of the first building in Gundagai.
The Rose Inn erected by C.Norman.  The hotel survived the Great Flood of 1852 when Thomas Lindley was proprietor but his wife and four children perished in that disaster.






Dad, Dave, Mum and Mabel
Nearby was the legendary home of these famous Snake Gully characters, whose radio series first went to air in 1937 and continued for 16 years.  It was based on Steele Rudd’s book “On Our Selection”.  Australian audiences embraced the radio series with great enthusiasm and the theme song, “On the Road to Gundagai” was popular with all age groups.


01-01-2013  Time to leave so we packed up and drove through the town for one last look and to fill up with water before heading back to the truck stop for another shower.  


After the floods the town was moved to a safer location so Gundagai is now built on a very steep slop.










We then drove onto a camp spot near Coura but not before stopping to check out the dog on the tucker box, is that it, I said to Des, ya what did you expect, something bigger.

The souvenir shop that surrounds the legendary Dog on the Tucker Box. 









 

The Dog on the Tuckerbox
The story is supposedly based on a incident that occurred to a teamster named Bill the Bullocky on the road to Gundagai in the 1850's.  While leading his bullock team & wagon across the creek 5 or 9 miles from Gundagai, Bill's wagon became hopelessly bogged in the creek.  Trying to drag the wagon out of the bog, one of his bullocks broke the wagon's yoke. Thereupon, Bill gave up the job & went to have lunch, but here to top of his run of bad luck, he found his dog sitting - or worse - on his tucker box.  The other bullockies thought the incident a great joke and one of them supposedly wrote a poem about it.  In several version the poem spread the story of Bills bad luck far and wide.  Hence way the memorial is situated 5 miles north of Gundagai. 

Rebuilding took place on the north and south of the floodplain.  Through the mid 1800’s to 1900’s Gundagai boomed, with discovery of gold and a rich agriculture industry.  The many fine heritage buildings throughout town today, stand as a testament to those prosperous times. Gundagai's iconic association with Australian history is reflected in the numerous poems and songs that mention the town, including the work of Banjo Patterson who had a fondness of the town.

There's a track winding back to an old fashioned shack, along the road to Gundagai.  Where the blue gums are growing, the Murrumbidgee's flowing beneath that sunny sky....

I was so glade we decided to stay for a few days this is a fabulous old town which offers an impressive insight into Australia's early history, just don't eat at the RSL club.

1 comment:

  1. First time I've seen that mural. Could I use it for a blog I'm writing about Yarri of Wiradjuri? He's the bloke that saved a lot of the poor fellas drowning?

    ReplyDelete