Monday, May 19, 2014

The History of Gundagai

We spend day three in Gundagai.  Situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, known colloquially as ‘The Crossing Place’, it is quite an iconic town with an interesting history.  

In 1852, the local aboriginal people sensed this devastation early and warned the white settlers that they should move to higher ground.  They chose to ignore these warnings and more than 89 of the 250 residents lost their lives.  That’s a third of the town.  More people would have died had not local aboriginal men including Yarri and his mates help rescue about 40 people, with the use of their bark canoes.  The aborigines were later recognised for their bravery. 

Where do you run to when flood waters reach these heights?

There are hints of stories about bush rangers and floods.  Of the first Australians and the European settlers who came later.  In the mid 1800’s there were many floods that caused devastation to this frontier town called Gundagai.

Only three houses were left standing after the flood waters receded.  When another flood hit about a year later people finally realised that it was better to move out of the floodplain rather than struggle against nature.  The entire town was then rebuilt on Parnassus Hill and Asbestos Hill.  The Murrumbidgee River has risen over seven metres on nine separate occasions since the 1852 flood.  We find the flood marker downtown and I am amazed to find the marks 
towering above my head.  

The town was also the target of bushrangers from the early 1800s. Later on the infamous Ned Kelly gang also paid them a visit. 

Gundagai is also a town of bridges.  In 1865, the first wrought iron truss bridge of NSW was built in Gundagai spanning 314 m across the river.  More bridges were subsequently built but the old bridges remain a tourist attraction and quite an amazing sight.  

No comments:

Post a Comment