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View over Tumut and the Tumut Valley

Tumut (including Brungle)
Beautiful town nestled in the Tumut Valley at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.
By any measure Tumut is an exceptionally pretty country town. The Tumut River, which runs for 145 km before joining the Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai, flows along the edge of the town; the plains spread out on either side of the river; and the foothills of the Snowy Mountains rise on all sides. The early settlers planted poplars and willow trees resulting in spectacular displays in summer and autumn. The rainfall ensures that, apart from times of drought, the valley is characteristically green and fertile.

Tumut is located 423 km from Sydney and 180 km from Canberra via the Hume Highway. The main access to the town is via Gundagai (34 km) with roads going through both Gocup and Brungle. The town itself has an elevation of 280 m above sea level which means that it is located so that it has four distinct seasons. There is some confusion about the origins of the town's name. One popular version is that 'doomut' was an Aboriginal word for 'camping ground' or 'quiet resting place by the river' and that over the years this evolved to 'toomut', 'tumat' and eventually Tumut.

The Wiradjuri Aboriginal people lived in the valley for thousands of years prior to European settlement. A small number still live in the tiny village of Brungle some kilometres from the town.

The first Europeans into the area were the explorers Hume and Hovell who, travelling down the Murrumbidgee River in 1824, came across the Tumut River. They subsequently entered the Tumut Valley.

Four years later settlers arrived in the valley. One of the first settlers was an Irishman, Thomas Boyd, who had travelled with Hume and Hovell (he is buried in the town's historic cemetery on Adelong Road). He settled at 'Rosebank' near Gilmore and is honoured by the region of the town known simply as 'Boyd', it was previously known by the more pedestrian 'Railway End'. Another was a Mr Warby who settled at 'Darbalara' near Brungle. It is known that on 27 November, 1828 the explorer Charles Sturt (on one of his many unsuccessful missions to find Australia's 'inland sea') stopped at Warby's house. It was here that Elizabeth Warby was born on 10 May, 1830 - probably the first European to be born in the valley.

The township grew slowly. Squatters were well established in the valley but by 1856 the town was nothing more than a single school building, a few mud and slab huts and three hotels. The town had been surveyed, and laid out in a classic grid pattern, as early as 1848 but it was only a major flood in 1852 which finally persuaded the locals to form some kind of a town.

By 1860 the town had grown to a point where it a local newspaper which eagerly reported that the local cricket club was holding annual meetings and the cricket played on the town's racecourse was so popular that three publicans' booths were provided (the publicans had to pay a guinea for the priviledge) to quench the thirst of the players and spectators. After the game the players headed for the Woolpack Hotel for more drinking.

The goldrush era saw the rapid development of the town. At one stage in 1860 there was a report of over 1200 men passing through Tumut in the space of four days as they headed to the Kiandra goldfields. With gold came the bushrangers. The town's one bushranger was William Brookman, a carpenter by trade, who joined the infamous 'Blue Cap' gang. But the the most famous bushranger to work in the area was James Kelly (brother of Ned) who, in 1877, stole some horses in Wagga which they later tried to sell in Tumut.

The post-goldrush period, which had seen people moving through the area to the Adelong and Kiandra goldfields, saw a small boom in the town's fortunes. By 1866 the number of pubs had grown to eleven and this had expanded to 18 pubs by 1880. Today the town has only six pubs. It became a municipality in 1887 and the Tumut Shire, including Batlow and Adelong was created in 1928.

Around this time the major activity in the valley was dairy farming on the rich river flats. This was hampered by the lack of good transportation. It wasn't until 1867 that there was a bridge, one of the longest in New South Wales, over the Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai (prior to that a ferry service had operated) and the branch railway line from Gundagai to Tumut was authorised as early as 1884 but wasn't completed until 1903.

In the 1950s (when, coincidentally, I was growing up in the town) the town was operating as a successful service centre for the surrounding district. There was a Butter Factory (now the Tourist Information Office), a millet broom factory, an emerging timber industry, some workers were employed on the Snowy Mountains Scheme (it came to Tumut in a major way with the construction of the Blowering Dam and the Talbingo Power Stations) and the area was noted for sheep and both dairy and beef cattle.

Today the town is remarkably prosperous largely due to the success of the timber industry. Long term planting of softwood pine forest by the NSW Forestry Department - there is now more than 5000 hectares of pinus radiata grown within a radius of 25 km of Tumut - has ensured a regular and reliable source of timber (unencumbered by any environmental problems) and this prosperity has seen the town become one of the most attractive medium-sized settlements in rural New South Wales. It is estimated that nearly 20 per cent of the town's population now work either directly or indirectly in the forestry/timber industry.

Things to see:   [Top of page]

Historic Tumut
Tumut has a large number of historic buildings notably its collection of fine hotels, the Court House and the very fine Anglican Church which was built to a design by Edmund Blacket, the architect responsible for the Quadrangle at Sydney University. A brochure relating to a heritage walk of the CBD s available from the visitors' centre, tel: (02) 6947 7025.

This walk starts at the bottom of Wynyard Street (the town's main street) and works its way to the top of Telegraph Hill where the lookout offers the visitor an excellent view over the whole of the town and valley.


Lombardy Poplars
One of the town's most distinctive features is the row of Lombardy poplar which lie across the Tumut River from the Anglican Church. The trees were planted in 1861 and form a distinctive wall which is particularly impressive in summer and autumn.


All Saints Anglican Church

All Saints Anglican Church
In 1847 the Tumut Anglican community decided to build a church. A rough design was drafted by a local citizen, George Shelley. It was ignored and in 1857, as a temporary measure, an 'Episcopalian barn' was constructed to serve the community. A proper church was started in 1875 with the laying of a foundation stone. The architect, although he almost certainly never saw the completed building, was Edmund Blacket who was the leading architect of the time designing, amongst other buildings, the Quadrangle at Sydney University. The nave of the building was completed in 1876, a stone font was designed by Blacket in 1879 and his sons replaced the pews in 1886 and re-roofed the building in 1908. It is regarded as one of Blacket's finest buildings although it is much modified from the original plans. It is also a rare example of a Blacket building constructed out of bricks. Most of his buildings were constructed of stone. It is a Gothic Revival-style church and is designed in a cruciform pattern with two vestries and a square buttressed tower and broach spire.


Tumut Court House and Police Station
A typical and elegant country town centre of law and order the Court House and Police Station (just up Wynyard Street from All Saints) are characterised by a hip roof and timber verandah posts. The Police Station was completed in 1874, the Court House in 1878 and the Stables in 1879. The Court House was designed by the notable Colonial Architect, James Barnet.


Oriental Hotel
The Oriental Hotel was originally known as the Queens Arms. It is a typical goldrush era building showing off its affluence. There was a pub on this site as early as 1850 and the first publican was a man named Madigan. This new hotel was designed and built by Frederick Kinred about 1876. He took up Madigan's license. It has a beautiful cast iron verandah.



Tumut Valley from the Wee Jasper Road

Bank Corner
The corner of Wynyard and Russell Streets is bank corner with the old Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac), which was built in 1891, on one corner and the CBC Bank (now the National) built in 1889 on the other corner. Both have residences above the banks. The old Bank of New South Wales is a late Victorian Free Classical building characterised by a two-storey arcaded verandah and Ionic pilasters. The hipped corrugated iron roof is topped by three large chimneys. The old CBC bank is a Victorian Classical Revival designed by the Mansfield brothers. The verandah is supported by fluted cast-iron columns and there are attractive French windows on the first floor.


Rotary Lookout
Continue up Wynyard Street. At the top there is an excellent view across the town and the Tumut River to Bombowlee.


Tumut Museum
Located in Capper St, the Tumut Museum holds a good display of memorabilia about the local area. It is open Saturdays and Wednesdays from 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. and at other times by arrangement, tel: (02) 6947 2183, (02) 6947 6731 or (02) 6947 1380.


Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception
The town's large Irish population built one of rural New South Wales's most impressive Roman Catholic Churches out of blue granite. It stands impressively on the corner of Capper and Carey Streets.


Pioneer Cemetery
Beyond the Roman Catholic Church, cross over the Highway (Adelong Road), following Gocup Rd for a short distance then turn left into a driveway that leads directly to the town's Pioneer Cemetery. The most notable gravestones are those of Thomas Boyd who travelled from Sydney to the present day site of Melbourne with the explorers Hume and Hovell. Also of interest is the grave of the talented Aboriginal cricketer Johnny Taylor who died of measles in 1875. He worked as a stockman at Blowering and was known as the best cricketer in the district before his untimely death. He was in his 20s when he died.


Pioneer Park
Located opposite the town's swimming pool, and adjacent the Tumut River, this is a beautiful rural retreat with fine displays of European deciduous trees which are shady in the summer months and spectacular during autumn. There are plenty of park benches for picnics and a pleasant stream winds through the centre of the park.


Stockwell Gardens
Situated around the intersection of Richmond and Russell Streets, the trees have botanical nameplates in this award-winning garden.


River Walk
The Visitors' centre has a book available outlining a tree walk. It focuses on the trees from Bungle Rd, along the river to Pioneer Park, taking in Stockwell Gardens.


Elm Drive
Sometimes referred to as the 'Avenue of Elms' this is a spectacular and pleasant walk in any season but is most impressive in spring and autumn when the trees are thick with leaves. It leads down to the old racecourse and further on is the original site of the township which was destroyed by a flood in 1852.


Tumut Broom Factory
Millet brooms are still handmade at the Tumut Broom Factory which is located on Adelong Road (ask at the Visitor Centre for directions) and is open from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on weekdays (closed for lunch). There is no entry fee and no bookings are necessary, except for coaches tel: (02) 6947 2804.


Tumut Valley African Violets Farm
With over 950 named varieties it is reputedly the largest African violet farm in Australia. Located in the grounds of the 120-year-old Tumut Plains School House. It is located 7 km from Tumut on Tumut Plains Rd and offers morning and afternoon teas at the Garden Cafe. In summer, and on school and public holidays, it is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., closing at 4.00 p.m. in winter. There is no entry fee and no bookings are necessary, except for coaches. For more information contact the owners on (02) 6947 2432.


Boonderoo Wines

Situated on Boonderoo Road (off the Snowy Mountain Highway to the south of town), this small winery is open for tastings and cellar door sales most weekends and at other times by arrangement, tel: (02) 6947 2060.


Bonnie B's Shaker Shed
This eccentric collection of over 3000 salt and pepper shakers can be seen by groups or coach groups for an individual entry fee of $2. Located 2.5 km from the main street via the Snowy Mountains Highway (just across Currawong Rd) they are open most days from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6947 2060.


Blowering Dam
Take the Snowy Mountains Highway out of town, heading towards Cooma and follow the signs to the Blowering Dam. The journey is 12 km. The dam is impressive with the wall being over 120 metres high. It has the second largest storage capacity in the whole Snowy Mountains project. The dam was the site where the world's longest water-ski run occurred when someone kept going for 1673 km. It also became the location of the world water-ski record when Ken Warby travelled across it on skis at 510.45 km/hour in 1978.


Snowy Mountains Trout Farm
Located below the Blowering Dam wall, the trout farm, touted as NSW's largest, is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. for fish sales. Self-guided tours are available on weekends for a small fee, tel: (02) 6947 3612.


In 1909 the Aborigines Protection Act became law in New South Wales. One of its conditions was to establish a certain number of 'reserves' or 'stations' for Aborigines which were run by white managers. These managers had enormous control over the Aboriginal residents on their 'reserves'. They inspected their houses for cleanliness, controlled the amount of alcohol coming into the reserve, and could send children away to be institutionalised if they felt the parents were not capable of looking after them. Brungle was one of the first 'reserves' under this plan and as many of the older Aborigines remember quite clearly the manager was such a monster they all headed off within months of his arrival. Other Aborigines were brought in from outlying regions but when the offending manager was moved the original inhabitants moved back to the reserve. Consequently the community, largely known because of the considerable talents of the Bulger and Penrith families, is an active Wiradjuri community.


The Road to Canberra
The fastest way from Tumut to Canberra is via Gundagai and the Hume Highway. The most interesting route is across the mountains via Brindabella. While this road is perfectly adequate for conventional vehicles in dry weather it is not advised in wet weather or after an extended period of wet weather. There is a fairly substantial stretch of dirt road characterised by clay soil which can become difficult. Otherwise the journey is characterised by beautiful scenery and it is an opportunity to experience the isolation which was such a feature of Miles Franklin's 'My Brilliant Career'.


The Tumut River and its tributaries, particularly the Goobragandra, are known throughout Australia as some of the best trout fishing in the country. The brown and rainbow trout are regarded as the great challenges and fly fishermen come to the area to try their luck. The Blowering Dam is now well stocked with cod, yellowbelly and trout but it is the small streams which present the greatest challenge.


There are a large number of tracks in the area many of which are now part of the Hume and Hovell Walking Track. The most impressive is the 18 km Thomas Boyd Track which crosses valleys on swing bridges. Information about the tracks, including detailed topographical maps, can be obtained from the Tumut Visitors Centre, tel: (02) 6947 7025.



Poplars touched by autumn colours in the Tumut Valley

Festival of the Falling Leaf
There is a widely accepted view that autumn in Tumut offers the most spectacular display of 'colours' anywhere in New South Wales. In the 1950s the local headmaster, Alf Woods, instituted the idea of a Festival to celebrate the arrival of autumn and the falling leaves which characterised the town's many parks and gardens. It has become a hugely popular event and is held each year in April-May. Contact (02) 6947 7025 for more information.


Rotay Diary
Visitors can view the 3 p.m. milking at this dairy on Tumut Plains Rd, tel: (02) 6947 1905.


Hang Gliding
Air Escape offer powered hang glider flights from Tumut Aerodrome on Brungle Road. They operate daily and offer a trial introductory half-hour flight,




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