[Editor: This article was published in The Advocate (Devonport, Tas.), 8 February 1936.]
Along the Hume Highway.
Gundagai’s historical attraction.
Canberra’s alluring beauties.
(No. 1. — By “Tasman.”)
In pursuance of its policy of placing Tasmania’s attractions before mainlanders, with a view of attracting tourists to the Island State, “The Advocate” has arranged through one of its mainland writers “Tasman,” a former resident of Tasmania now residing in Sydney, for the publication of three articles on Tasmania’s unrivalled beauties in each of the leading rural newspapers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia respectively. To reciprocate we are publishing a similar number of articles by the same writer dealing with mainland tourist features, in the hope that they may act as a guide for Tasmanians who plan a holiday “across the Strait,” especially those who contemplate taking their car to the mainland.
“Alexander Hume was a wonderful bushman,” said our guide as we lolled in the bright sunshine on the banks of the beautiful swimming pool on the Cotter River, 13 miles from Canberra. Our informant was Mr. F. Margules, caretaker and supervisor of the Cotter River Reserve, in which is situated the Cotter Dam, which provides the Federal Capital with Australia’s purest water. We had just completed the first “leg” of our overland motor tour from Sydney to Adelaide and were spending a few days in what is often described as the “most perfect camping area in Australia,” a term which we all agreed was correct.
Continuing his story of Hume’s exploits, of which he had a rare fund, our guide told how Hume, on his overland journey from Lake George to Port Phillip in 1824, accompanied by his nautical friend Hovell, pitched his tent on the present site of the men’s dressing shed on the bank of the pool; but, because of traces of aborigines which he and his men noted, the party withdrew a few hundred yards away, leaving the tent uninhabited for the night, and slept under the trees. A strong watch was posted and a night-long vigil kept. Nothing untoward was noted; not an aborigine was heard or seen. But the next morning, when the members of the party went to inspect the tent, they found it riddled with spears, over 50 of which were still transfixed in the canvas.
Canberra — “Garden City.”
Canberra is not on the Hume Highway, and to reach it deviations of about 50 miles have to be made from Goulburn, in the north, and Yass, in the south-west. Both roads are Federal highways, and, like the Hume Highway all the way from Sydney, are constructed wholly of bitumen or concrete. The distance of Canberra from the New South Wales capital is approximately 170 miles. Whatever one might think of the necessity for the building of the city, referred to by one of our party as “a political tragedy,” it must be admitted that the Federal Capital is indeed a beautiful city. The newspaper correspondent sent by his chief to return from Canberra with a fully descriptive and accurate account of its beauties and attractions would require more than mortal assistance. Perhaps Mrs. Lyons, wielder of so facile and descriptive a pen, will some day attempt to describe its allurements! One must leave it at that.
Canberra is, more than any other Australian centre — even more than Ballarat, a garden city. At any time of the year some of its million trees make a never-forgettable sight, especially in spring, when thousands of wattles, almond trees and Japanese cherry trees, stretching for several miles and planted three deep in alternate rows, are radiant with flowers. At other seasons thousands of roses, tulips, or phlox bloom in profusion, contrasting, yet combining in stereoscopic form, with marvellously-kept lawns, shrubberies and sidewalks.
Suburbs nestle beneath groves of trees, being connected to the civic centres and shopping blocks by perfectly constructed concrete roads; the Australian Alps tower in the distance to a height of 6000 feet; magnificent panoramas are obtained of the city and its beautiful surroundings from Red Hill and Mount Stromlo, the latter, with its observatory and forestry plantation, portion of the Federal Capital’s 37,000 acre-scheme; picturesque Duntroon with its historical setting; the Cotter River flowing through its peaceful valley (excellent trout fishing here); the dignified grandeur of Parliament House (“a temporary structure,” we are told); the glistening white beauty of the Federal Government offices; the Institute of Anatomy; swimming baths second to none in the Commonwealth. These are just some of the many attractions of the Garden City.
Where “The Dog sat on the Tuckerbox.”
The “second leg” of our journey, about 250 miles, brought us to Albury, the “New South Wales town with the Victorian influence” on the Murray. The road is excellent throughout, and should be completely bitumenised by the end of the present year. Most of the necessary grading and forming has already been completed, and the “going” is exceptionally good. The route is not nearly so interesting as the Prince’s Highway, which meanders along the coast from Sydney to Eden before crossing into Victoria, but we had planned to return north via this route. Nevertheless, some fine sheep country is passed through between Yass and Gundagai, while from the last-mentioned place to Albury many beautiful farms come into view, the land stretching away to the far horizon on either side as far as the eye can reach.
At Gundagai the residents have “capitalised history and fiction.” Five miles out of the town on the northern side the residents have erected a monument as a tribute to the pioneers of the district. It takes the form of a dog sitting on a tuckerbox, itself mounted high on a pedestal of granite blocks. An inscription on the base of the monument is as follows:—
“Earth’s self upholds this monument
To conquerors who won her when
Wooing was dangerous, and now
Are gathered unto her again.”
Another inscription informs the traveller that the monument was dedicated three years ago by the Prime Minister (Hon. J. A. Lyons). The Gundagai District Hospital has copyrighted the sale of all photographs of the monument and is allowed to collect a royalty of 20 per cent. on all such sales. The revenue thus obtained must be considerable, as postcards, matchbox covers, etc., are readily bought by tourists.
“Bill the Bullocky.”
One here appropriately quotes “Bill the Bullocky,” an Australian ballad written in 1859, in which the chronicler relates somewhat vividly some of the trials of the early settlers, especially those who pioneered the great roadway whose bitumen surface now stretches before the motorist like a never-ending black ribbon. Standing before the monument one could not help wondering what the feelings of some of those old hands would be could they only rise from the cold earth which now encloses them and survey their surroundings for ever so brief a space. This is the brief tale of poor old Bill’s troubles: the writer is not responsible for the metre, though the sentiment is acknowledged:
“As I was coming down Conroy’s Gap,
I heard a maiden cry,
“There goes Bill the Bullocky,
He’s bound for Gundagi.
A better poor old ——
Never cracked an honest crust;
A tougher poor old ——
Never drug a whip through dust.”
His team got bogged at the Five Mile Creek,
Bill lashed and swore and cried:
“If Nobby don’t get me out of this,
I’ll tattoo his —— hide.”
But Nobby strained and broke the yoke
And poked out the leader’s eye,
Then the dog sat on the tuckerbox,
Five miles from Gundagai.”
And there at the seat of poor old Bill’s troubles at Five-Mile Creek on the Hume Highway five miles north of Gundagai the dog, cast in bronze, still sits on the tuckerbox enthroned so high that all may see him as they approach the town down one of Australia’s most famous and most frequently used highways — the pathway that Hume and Hovell followed 112 years ago.
Bushrangers and gold.
The spot on which the monument stands was the famous camping ground of the bullockies, teamsters, and settlers who followed close on the track of Hume. These hardy sons of Australia, facing the unknown, struck this Hume Highway with their caravans whilst passing on to the present great Riverina. In later years the discovery of gold in this district brought thither a rush of many thousands, and this spot, with its hotel (the ruins of which can be seen at the back of the monument) and its racecourse became the rendezvous of all classes, including bushrangers, some of whom danced with the best of the clientele at the hotel and raced their stolen horses at the races.
It was while escorting gold along this road, not far from the monument, that Sergeant Parry, of Gundagai, was shot dead by Gilbert, one of Ben Hall’s gang. Later, “Moonlight” and his gang also exploited this territory and were afterwards captured and tried at the present Gundagai courthouse for the murder of Senior-Constable Bowen, whose remains, together with those of two bushrangers — Nesbitt and Wrenecke — rest in the Gundagai cemetery.
“Those were the days,” ruminated one of our party when entering the car to depart from Gundagai, where the old song tells one “There’s a shack winding back, along an old-fashioned track, along the road to Gundagai.” But if it’s still there we did not see it. We set out for Albury where we arrived just in time for dinner. Victoria was to be entered on the morrow and, as we had been informed that the roads in the Southern State were even better than those of New South Wales, we were anxious to experience this promised delight of deluxe motoring. One might add, also, that we were very sceptical as to the possibility of even better roads. But the morrow would tell.
The Advocate (Devonport, Tas.), 8 February 1936, p. 4
The place of publication of The Advocate is usually given as Burnie (Tas.); however, as it is given in this issue as “Devonport and Burnie” on the masthead (top left) and on the last page (p. 12, bottom right), Devonport (Tas.) is therefore given here as the place of publication, as it is the standard practice for the first-named place of publication to be the one which is used.
—— = two em dashes (or a variant number of em dashes) can be used to indicate swearing, just as “****”, “$#*!”, “#$@&%*!”, or similar, can indicate swearing (a series of typographical symbols used to indicate profanity is called a “grawlix”); an em dash is an extended dash (also known as an “em rule” or a “horizontal bar”), being a dash which is as wide as the height of the font being used (em dashes can also be used in place of a person’s name, so as to ensure anonymity; or used to indicate an unknown word)
Alexander Hume = “Alexander Hume” and “Alexander Hamilton Hume” were variations of a name incorrectly attributed to Hamilton Hume
See: “Alexander Hamilton Hume”, IAC list (on Trove)
allurement = the act, means, or process of being alluring; something which allures (attracts); something which has the quality of being attractive, charming, exciting, fascinating, interesting, and/or tempting, and can therefore attract people or animals
Ben Hall = (1837-1865), an Australian bushranger
bullockies = drivers of bullock teams (plural of bullocky: a driver of a bullock team)
Bullocky = a driver of a bullock team
the Commonwealth = the Commonwealth of Australia; the Australian nation, federated on 1 January 1901
the Garden City = a description or title given to various cities in Australia, including Adelaide, Ballarat, Bendigo, Canberra, and Toowoomba
See: “the Garden City”, IAC list (on Trove)
Hume = [see: Hamilton Hume]
Hume and Hovell = Hamilton Hume (1797-1873) and William Hilton Hovell (1786-1875), explorers
See: 1) Stuart H. Hume, “Hume, Hamilton (1797–1873)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) T. M. Perry, “Hovell, William Hilton (1786–1875)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
3) “Hume and Hovell expedition”, Wikipedia
the Island State = (in the context of Australia) Tasmania
J. A. Lyons = Joseph Aloysius (Joe) Lyons (1879-1939), schoolteacher and politician; Premier of Tasmania (1923-1928), Prime Minister of Australia (1932-1939); he was born in Stanley (Tas.) in 1879 , and died in Darlinghurst (NSW) in 1939
See: 1) P. R. Hart and C. J. Lloyd, “Lyons, Joseph Aloysius (Joe) (1879–1939)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Joseph Lyons”, Wikipedia
loll = to lie down, lounge about, recline, lean, or sit in a lazy or relaxed manner
Lyons = [see: J. A. Lyons]
metre = the rhythmic arrangement or pattern of a poem, song, or piece of music (also spelt: meter)
Moonlight = Andrew George Scott (1842-1880), a bushranger, who was known as Captain Moonlight (also spelt: Captain Moonlite)
See: 1) “Scott, Andrew George (1842–1880)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Captain Moonlite”, Wikipedia
morrow = (archaic) the next day, tomorrow
Nesbitt = James Nesbitt (1858-1879), a member of the gang led by the bushranger “Captain Moonlite” (Andrew George Scott, 1842-1880)
See: “James Nesbitt (bushranger)”, Wikipedia
per cent. = an abbreviation of “per centum” (Latin, meaning “by a hundred”), i.e. an amount, number, or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100; also rendered as “per cent” (without a full stop), “percent”, “pct”, “pc”, “p/c”, or “%” (per cent sign)
phlox = a genus of various species of flowering plants in the family Polemoniaceae
See: “Phlox”, Wikipedia
the Strait = (in the context of Tasmania) Bass Strait
teamster = the driver of a team of animals (such as horses, mules, or oxen), for the purpose of hauling goods (especially as an occupation)
thither = over there, yonder; to or towards that place or point (regarding somewhere which has already been mentioned); in that direction, further away; (archaic) to that end, point, or result
tuckerbox = a box to store food in (as well as cutlery, plates, mugs, napkins, etc.)
Wrenecke = Gustave (Gus) Warnecke (1863-1879), a member of the gang led by the bushranger “Captain Moonlite” (Andrew George Scott, 1842-1880) (Warnecke was incorrectly spelt in contemporary newspapers reports as: Wernicke, Wrenecke, Wreneckie)
[Editor: Changed “riddled with spear” to “riddled with spears”; “To conquerers” to “To conquerors”; “Bill The Bullocky” to “Bill the Bullocky” (in the sub-heading and in the following sentence); “and Australian ballad” to “an Australian ballad”; “clientile” to “clientele”. Placed a closing double quotation mark after “Five miles from Gundagai.”]