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TUMUT IN 1832.
(BY FLORENCE STAOT.)
On September 8,1832, George Bennett, F.L.S., F.R.C.S., visited the but little-known country about the Tumut River. In his "Wanderings in New South Wales," published in 1834, he describes his long ride of 300 miles, Journey- ing from farm to farm, resting sometimes )n an empty hut, but more often hospitably wel- comed by tho owners of the various properties through which he passed. He writes of the luxuriant country beyond Yass, supporting groat herds of cattle, and having the appear- ance of an extensive park.
Arriving at the Junction of the Tumut River with the Murrumbidgee he Bpent a" night at Darbalara with Mr. Warby, and on December 9 he set out to follow the Tumut River until he arrived at Mr. Rose's cattle station named "Been," after the creek of the same name, which at that place emptied Itself into the
Dr. Bennett states that Murrumbidgee was a namo applied to all big rivers hy the natives, and that the rivers were called by different names derived from loci clrcum ?tances. Thus tho "Tumut" (mealing camp- ing ground) was called "Bewuck" In Its lower portion because of the cod found there, bewuck
also meaning cod.
Between Darbylara (as it was spelt by Dr. Bennett) and the Been were two other stations -BrungUl, occupied by Mr. Kelghern, and Bumboly, owned by Shelley Bros.
His pathway lay between thinly-timbered hills covered with dense herbage; through val- leys with rich vegetation; past swamps with borders of delicate green reeds; through kan- garoo-grass four feet high in places; by the tiver bank whore dark greon Bwnmp-oaks alternated with watergums, above which largo cranes with load-coloured plumage circled slowly. These were called gungaroo by tho blacks. Pressing onward he came to a moun- tainous range called "Mejungbury," upon which were growing large quantities of a species of callitrys called Murrumbidgee pine by tho settlers and "Kara" by the blacks.
Been station Is described as situated In a fertile, picturesque plain, surrounded by ver- dant hills and wooded mountains, with the Tumut river and Been creek running through the estate and uniting to form a heart-shaped plain, excellent for situation, with capabilities for a valuable farm. Here Dr. Bennett rested In "The Old Cottage," built by Mr. Rose and occupied by an overseer.
Aa a frontispiece to his interesting volume of travels, Dr. Bennett has a steel engraving of the lofty table-mountain, which forms the commencement of a mountainous range extend- ing In a south-westerly direction, ond named Bugong Mountain from the multitude of moths (called bugong by the blacks) which congre- gated In the summer months about the masses of granite on thiB and other parts of the range. At that time native blacks assembled from far »nd near to collect the bugong, which were much sought after as a food, and the rugged mountain-top became a place of festivity. The doctor writes thus:-"On December 12, at dawn of day, accompanied by a stockkeeper and lorne blacks, I commenced my excursion In order to investigate the places where these Insects assembled. At the .base of the Bugong mountain we tethered our horses and ascendea on foot by a steep and rugged path, which led to the first summit of the mountain. At this place, called "Gunundery" by the blacks, enormous masses of granite rock, piled ono upon another and situated on the verge of a wooded precipice, excited our attention. An extensive and romantic view was hera ob- tained of a distant, wooded, mountainous country. In-one part of the group of granite rocks were two poolB apparently hollowed naturally from the solid stone, and filled with clear and cool water, so lighting a fire we enjoyed a cup of tea.- ¡Several of the desorted bark huts of the nativos were scattered about temporarily erected^to serve as shelter while collecting and preparing the bugong.
"After walking a few miles to a higher point, we came to another enormous group of rocks of various forms, called 'Warragong'' by the natives, and from here I saw a distant view of the 'Snow mountains.' "
"In the crevices of the rocks the moths congregated in incredible multitudes. The insects are only found in these peculiar masses of granite. To secure the moths the blacks make smothered fires beneath the rocks, and suffacate them with smoke, sweeping them off in bushelsfull. The quan- tity collected at one granite group may amount to five or six bushels.
"They prepare them by clearing a circular space upon the ground, and lighting a fire upon it until It is sufficiently heated. The ashes are cleared away, and the moths placed upon the heated ground, and stirred about until the down and wings are removed from them; they are then placed on ploces of bark and winnowed to separate tho dust and wings mixed with the bodies. They aro then eaten or placed In a wooden vessel called a walbun or calibun, made from tbe knotty protuberance found on the trunk of the eucalyptus. The Insects aro pounded by a piece of wood to a mass, or cakes re- sembling lumps of fat. The bodies of tho moths are largo and filled with yellowish oil, resembling In taste a sweet nut. This will not keep more than a week unless smoked. Tho first time .this diet is used by the natives violent vomiting and other, debilitating effects aro produced, but after a fow days they become accustomod to its use, and then thrive and fatten exceedingly upon
"These InsectB are also appreciated by other hungry creatures.
"ARABUIV THE FAT CROWS.
"Crows congregato for the same purpose as the blacks, and the claimants do not agree about their respective shares, bo the stronger decide the point, for when the crows called "arabul" enter the rock crovlces to food upon the bugong the blacks stand at the en- trance and kill-them with club or waddy as they reappear. Thus the nativo, who never considers any increase in food a misfortune, finds an excellent meal provided by the crow, fat from-feeding upon the rich-bugong. The "arabul" or "fatfellers" are not distinct from the "gundagiar" or "worgan," which are the "poor fellers" of the lowlands. The assemb- lage of so many different tribes of blacks causes frequent skirmishes and sometimes actual battles, the conquered party losing their supply of bugong for the season."
Returning to Beon Station Dr. Bennett made the acquaintance of a wombat In a tame state. Hidden during the day, It emergod at night to seek for the keelers or milk ves- sels, and pushing the cover off, it would bathe In the milk, drinking at the samo time. It would also eat the lettuce growing in the little vegetable garden.
"On December 14," continues the writer, "I left Been. Nature has made It a beau- tiful spot. On tbo banks of the Tumut the shrubs of the genus acacia were profusely In flower; the flax plant grew luxuriantly about the flat; grey cockatoos with red crests, known as gang gang, were seen In flocks. As I left the Tumut country the sky was clear and serene, the rising sun gilded the sum- mits of the picturesque mountains, the spark- ling dew was not yet dispelled, all nature looked refreshed. The birds chanted as it to salute the rising orb with their melody. The dark foliage of the swamp oaks and the giant water-gums denoted the proximity of the rlvor, the murmuring of whoso stream could be heard when not seen. As day advanced It became sultry and vegetation drooped with excessive heat; the feathered songstors ceased their carolling. Only a few herons, magpies,
and crows were visible."
Boen was a Government grant to Mr. Rose. The system ot granting fhnd ceased in 1831, so it was apparently the first and last grant made in the Tumut district. It waB shortly tiftorwards' sold to Shelley Bros., who already owned 'Bumbowly, the adjoining Btation. It became known as Tumut Plains, and tho Been Creek rose to the dignity of tho Goobrngnndra River. In 1849 Mr. George Shelley built, upon the wooded slope overlooking the heart-shaped plain, the first brick house erected in the dis- trict. In this houso, now called "Camelot," a doBcondant of George Shelley Is still liv- ing. The long low verandah Is curtained with honeysuckle, with knnrled and twisted stems, and surrounded with great shrubs of Prunus Japónica and lilac. May, and moss roses. Below the house, on the bnnk of the one-
time Boen, can be seen a mulberry and two I quince troeB, the remains of the Old Cottage
garden where Dr. Bennett sat and sketched! the Bogong Mountain 95 years ago. 1