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The Great Northern Railway Extensions

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Tuesday 19 April 1881, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

(Tamworth, News of Friday.)

We write “extensions” advisedly, for there are two large contracts going on at present. As to one of these, from Uralla towards Glen Innes, Mr. D. Proudfoot, a New Zealand railway contractor of some note, has plenty of work in his hands. He is adopting the sub-letting principle chiefly ; and even goes so far as to have his offices, stables, etc., put up by the piece. The clearing on this contract is in hand from its commencement to Ben Lomond ; and most of the cuttings from Uralla to Armidale, are being excavated. The distance that all plant and material have to be brought is a great impediment to the contractor, most of his appliances having to come from either Tamworth or Grafton. The Government have, we understand, recently sent an engineer up to report on the progress Mr. Proudfoot has made.

The Messrs. Amos, in their usual pushing manner, are going ahead with the works on their contract (Tamworth to Uralla) at a great pace. The three remaining brick arches over Jamieson’s Creek are nearly finished ; when these are completed the rails can be laid a further distance of six miles, all the works for that length being sufficiently advanced for the purpose. Cutting 98, at 310¾ miles (measured from Newcastle), a very hard metamorphic shale formation, needing some 70,000 cubic yards of excavation, will probably not be ready by the time the permanent way reaches it ; and it may possibly be the end of July, or the beginning of August, ere it is through. The works from this point to Macdonald River are now nearly done, and it is hoped that the “head of the road” will be at the water’s edge early in October. Before the river can be approached, however, there is yet a considerable quantity of stuff to be taken from cutting 116, – where originally a second tunnel was proposed – only 130,000 cubic yards, out of an estimated 170,000, are at present removed. The lovely banks of the Macdonald River are now the site of an almost perfect, if ephemeral, township. A school-church, police station, hospital, doctor’s residence, contractor’s offices and buildings, three hotels, extensive steam sawmill works, stores, butchers’ and bakers’ shops, aerated water manufactory, brick yards, milliner’s shop, hair cutting saloon, etc., together with well-built wooden cottages, and canvas homes of workmen, make a place which wears a far finer aspect than does Uralla itself. There are, all told, something like 1000 persons congregated at this point; while but a few months ago, the family of Mr. G. D. Smith-the generally respected general purveyor – were, with a shepherd of Mrs. Scott, (the owner of the run), the only inhabitants. The railway is to cross this river on a lattice girder bridge, resting on two substantial piers, built, to all outward appearance, of solid bricks. The fact is that these piers are really built of Portland cement concrete, with outside casings of bricks, and here and there a binding-wall from side to side. The iron work tor this bridge has, we believe, arrived in the colony, and will be put up towards the end of the present year. When the line was designed, it was thought that near this river would have been an excellent site for the Station, for both Bendemeer and Walcha; but subsequent enquiry, and repeated applications on the part of the Walcha residents – who appear to be of a pertinacious disposition – have induced the authorities to make a change, and the station, to be known hereafter as the Walcha Road Station, will be placed at 222 miles, or 4½, miles north of the River, 40 miles from Tamworth.

To get ground upon which to build this station, the side of a hill is to be cut away, the additional earthwork being the nice little amount of 40,000 cubic yards ! Close to this station, the Surveyors’ Creek is crossed on a 20 feet brick arch, now being built, the bricks are made on the spot, and are of excellent character. The works hereabouts look heavy, but the material is mostly granite sand, and easily moved.

Beyond Surveyors’ Creek, to the Congi Creek (a distance of three miles) all the cuttings are in hand ; and further on again, until within 12 miles of Uralla, the excavations have been commenced.

At Congi Creek is another brickyard, the bricks from which are intended to build a 20ft. arch needed by that creek, and the various small culverts thereabouts. The bulk of the waterways, however, between here and Uralla are wooden, the two largest being the bridge over St. Helena Creek, of five 26ft. openings, and that over Chilcott’s Creek of seven openings of the same span : neither of these have been commenced.

The highest point on the line, indeed we believe the highest point on any line in Australia, is near St. Helena Creek, in cutting No. 154, where, at 231 miles 42 chains from Newcastle, the natural ground is 3702½ feet above sea-level ; the formation of the railway being 11¾ feet lower. The height at Clarence siding, on the Western line over the Blue Mountains, is the next nearest to this, being 3658 feet above sea-level ; while the famed Doughboy Hollow, on the Northern line, is only 2070 feet high. It may be interesting to some readers to state that Tamworth is 1246 feet, and Uralla 3585 feet, above the sea level.

The contract for the construction of the station buildings at Uralla will soon be let ; they will consist of passenger and goods stations of considerable size, stationmaster’s house, large sheep and cattle yards, and a gate-keeper’s cottage. It had been intended also to build an engine shed here, but this, we believe, is not yet decided.

We have before remarked on the extensive character of these works, and on the responsibility which rests on the Government local staff in carrying out works which, in magnitude and importance, have rarely, we question, been surpassed in New South Wales. It is certain, at any rate, that no contract has before been let in Australia of an equal extent ; and, as we have explained, the original sum will be increased by perhaps some £200,000 – making the total price to be paid to Messrs. A. and R. Amos about £800,000.

Written by macalba

October 25, 2010 at 8:00 pm

The Postal System in the Interior (or Don’t Ever Complain of The Slow Internet Again)

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Saturday 6 November 1852, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

Sydney News


(From a Correspondent of the Empire.)

That more complaints have been made during the past season, on account of irregular deliveries of letters and newspapers sent by post, is no new theme, but none have entered particularly into the various causes which have occasioned these irregularities. They may be classified as under –

The impaired slate of the highways.
Successive floods.
Country postmasters' negligence.
Remissness of mail contractors.

These have all been assigned singly, severally, or altogether, as incontrovertible reasons why the most unexampled uncertainty prevailed as to the time when her Majesty’s mails would be delivered at their proper places, or whether indeed they would be ever delivered at all.

On the first head, there can be no difference of opinion, that the public roads are annually becoming worse. . By one defect, the want of drainage, they are now so cut up by torrents of water pouring down from the higher grounds that scarcely saddle horses can get over in numerous places, where the trenches are excavated a yard deep, and draymen stand aghast by the sides of the gaping ditches. It is feared that the Internal Communication Committee will have still a harder task before them, ere they can get the public roads in a passable condition for the public accommodation. In fact three fourths of the northern roads are so bad that it is almost impossible that they can get much worse. On the second head, successive flooding of the rivers, much might be said.

This excuse in general for delays ought not to he admitted in the same way as bad roads. The roads cannot be readily or easily repaired, but the delays at flooded rivers ought to be provided for by the Postmaster General or by the Executive Government.

On the Northern Road, we have the Hunter at Singleton and at Aberdeen : why not keep boats there to be ready for emergencies ? Next we are pulled up on our travels inland, by the deep and narrow Peel. A bridge could be laid over this frequently flooded stream at no great expense, sufficient for the conveyance of men and horses at all times and on all occasions, if not drays. When we have waded safely through the Peel, the mighty McDonald, prime source of the Namoi, pulls us up at Bicknell’s. A boat ! a boat ! twenty pounds for a boat.’ has been shouted many a time by travellers in greater haste by far than the post man – but all in vain. A bridge which would span the Peel could not reach more than half-way over the McDonald, so -boat, ahoy ! if you please, Messieurs the Ministry, and we will cheerfully pay sixpence for our passage, yea, a shilling, it you will be quick only, and don’t keep us waiting. The ugly hole at Salisbury, and crossing at Gostwyck on the same creek, could be avoided by sending the mails via Kentucky and Mr. McCrossin’s Inn, on the Rocky River – by-the-bye, a road much nearer, and far better, and with no dangerous interruptions at all until arrival at Armidale, the capital of New England. From thence northward to Warwick and Brisbane the natural impedimenta are small indeed. The miserable, boggy, Boyd’s Creek, at Beardy Plains, and the large Yarrowford (the Sovereign), could be bridged at little cost. In fact from Maitland to Moreton Bay, there are found only four great obstructions from casual floods, and these stand first in the list, viz. : The Hunter’s two crossings, the Peel, and the McDonald. All nations have provided means of communication from head quarters to all parts of their dominions. The Peruvians had their bridges of hide, and, in the Himalaya Mountains, conveyance across furious torrents by means of ropes are said to have been constructed. The Chinese made bridges over gulfs from mountain to mountain. But we Australians are the most lukewarm set of folks on the face of the earth ; and like the squatters, are only famous for grumbling, suffering, and doing nothing towards obtaining redress of our grievances; aye ready to cry, what are the Legislative Council doing ? but do not bestir ourselves to strengthen the hands of our representatives ; so do a precious deal less, and matters drag on, or may stick altogether if they please, and men just wonder what detains the mails and there’s the conclusion – the expression of wonder and a sort of guttural growling byway of mental relief, like a steam-boiler escape valve.

Country postmasters are generally a very respectable body of men. There may be exceptions, extra fines, in all senses of the term ; but it is difficult to please every body – impossible; so more blame is laid to their doors than can be called just or fair on the whole. Without entering into the subject of responsibilities required of them to despatch the mailbags when the contractors fail in their duties, from what they consider perilous adventure, with permission, gentlemen, let us advert to one very common subject of complaint – the non-delivery or too frequent loss of newspapers to country subscribers. In most instances you ought to be exculpated ; the fault usually lies not with you.

Whatever chaffing may be found in the contents or insides of these newspapers amongst themselves, it amounts to nothing compared to the chafing the outsides sustain against one another, when shaken, jolted, rubbed, squeezed, jammed, rough-ridden upon the backs of hard trotting brutes of horses, from Tamworth to Tenterfield, and from thence to Gayndah, or some such outlandish place, at the rate of eight miles an hour; the postboys whistling along, unthinking of the messes they are making ; nor care they a straw about it, their sole anxiety resting on doing their given distance in given times. The consequences may be anticipated.

So much chafing has reduced the frail thin covers, and their superscriptions to chaff, and considerable portions of the newspapers in addition. The distinctions of meum and tuum have become indistinguishable. The Herald fails to announce its rightful owner, nor can the Empire recognise its true subjects. The People’s Advocate cannot advocate its own cause ; and the Freeman’s Journal may be free to any one. A subscriber to the Advocate, residing on the Darling Downs, reported that he had received five papers in three months, and another expressed his satisfaction that he had better luck than many of his neighbours by getting half the numbers of the Maitland Mercury, when others obtained about one-fourth. Many persons must ride twenty, thirty, fifty miles, and back again, in the bush, to their nearest post-offices for letters, &c. A newspaper in the far interior is a god-send, to let the solitaries domiciled there understand what the world is doing, and what are the prices of wool, tallow, sheep, and bullocks, flour, sugar, tea, salt, soap, and labour. Bushmen are not famous for possessing the virtue of patience. When told that there has been no post – no papers for the last month, they anathematise all concerned, from the Printer’s Devil to the Postmaster-General-wish them in warmer quarters than shall be at present expressed, but may be understood, and gallop away, swearing, the vagabonds, that they will give up their newspapers henceforth and for evermore, and many keep their words.

The remedial means in this case are very simple. Besides the usual address on the cover, let the names and residences of the parties interested be written upon the newspapers themselves, in the same way as are done with papers to and from Britain, and there will be little cause of complaint on the score of missing newspapers in future.

Written by macalba

October 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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Water gas generator

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Tuesday 15 December 1931, The Sydney Morning Herald

Water Gas As Fuel for Tractor.

A demonstration of a water gas generator installed on a tractor was given yesterday. The generator, which is the invention of Mr. W. Hart, of Tamworth, is fuelled with charcoal. The inventor claims that a tractor using this appliance can be run at the cost of sixpence per acre, as compared with 3/6 per acre for a kerosene-driven tractor.

Written by macalba

October 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm

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New postal communication routes

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Wednesday 15 January 1851, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser


WE are glad to find that the government are keeping steadily in view the desirableness of extending and improving the postal communication throughout the colony. Each year there are additions, more or less, made to the post stations in the different parts of the colony, and coach mails are being gradually substituted for horse mails.

Amongst the additions and improvements made this year, we observe several in our own division of the colony. From the 1st instant a mail direct has been established from Murrurundi to Carroll; the Tamworth and Wee Waa line has been extended on to the Barwin ; a mail has been established between Walcha and the Macdonald River; and a direct mail be tween Armidale and Grafton has been established. The whole of these extensions will afford to the settlers in the several localities great additional facilities for postal communication.

Coach mails have also this year been substituted on three of our lines for horse mails, viz, between Merriwa and Cassilis, between Murrurundi and Tamworth, and between Tamworth and Armidale. This is a great improvement, particularly on the northern line, where the mails are heavy, and the distance great. When the heavy mail bags on this line were conveyed from Murrurundi on horseback the enclosures were very liable to injury from being so much rubbed together, especially the newspapers, which not unfrequently arrived at the more distant post-offices almost entirely stripped of their envelopes. The establishment of a coach line to Armidale will secure the safer conveyance of the mails thus far, and as the bags from that place onwards are not so heavy, the residents beyond are likely to receive their papers and letters in better condition than formerly. We hope that a mail coach line will at no distant date be extended right through the northern district to Moreton Bay.

We are glad to find, also, from a notice published in the Gazette of the 7th instant, and copied into the Mercury of Saturday last, that the government are at length prepared to extend the benefits of postal communication to the residents of the coast district between Stroud and Port Macquarie. Tenders are called for to convey, from the 1st of April next, a mail once a week from and to Raymond Terrace and Port Macquarie, by way of Stroud, Gloucester, and Wingham, on the Manning River. Hitherto, the residents on the Gloucester and Manning River have been practically shut out from the benefits of postal communication, and the inhabitants of Port Macquarie have received their mails from the metropolis and elsewhere by a very circuitous route. The direct line now about to be established through the coast district will obviate both these disadvantages-much to the satisfaction and benefit, we apprehend, of all the parties interested.

Written by macalba

October 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Hunter River District News

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Tuesday 27 May 1856, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

(From the Armidale Express, May 17.)

CIRCUIT COURTS,-The great inconvenience experienced by the inhabitants of the Northern districts of the colony, from the want of Circuit Courts nearer than Maitland, has a very injurious tendency, inasmuch as serious crimes have repeatedly been overlooked, solely on account of the difficulties and expense of prosecuting them, at Maitland. Maitland is 250 miles from Armidale, and persons accused of criminal offences are often sent there from a much greater distance than Armidale. It is surprising that, although the inhabitants of the Northern districts have complained of this (great grievance.for years past, the Government have remained inert, and little has been done towards removing it. New England is rapidly acquiring an extensive population. At the Rocky River diggings, alone we believe that there are from twelve to fifteen hundred people, and this number is being augmented every day. There is every prospect of such an extensive development of new gold fields in this district, that the population must largely increase. Geologists are of opinion that the greater part of New England will yet be proved a gold- producing country. With such facts before us, it requires no prophet to foretell a large accession to our population – in fact, our present numbers may be trebled within the next year. In whatever different lights, the occupation of gold digging may be viewed, there is one subject on which people generally will agree – that much greater facilities for the commission of prime are presented at diggings than in the midst of well-ordered, settled communities. A vigorous movement has been going on for some time past respecting Circuit Courts at Tamworth. We consider they are necessary there also. Tamworth is 175 miles from Maitland, and is the capital of the Liverpool Plains district. It is consequently, as the centre of a large tract of country, possessing already considerable population. Although only 75 miles from here, there is very little connection between Tamworth and Armidale. Liverpool Plains and New England are separate and distinct from each other; and we think that, instead of any jealousy existing about which should gain the establishment of Circuit Courts – thereby throwing the other out of consideration – the inhabitants of both out to combine their best efforts to obtain assizes for each.

CENSUS FOR ARMIDALE AND THE POLICE DISTRICT.-The following is a comparative statement, based upon the official census returns for the town and police district of Armidale, for which we are indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Bligh, C.P.S. :-

              1856.                   1851
Armidale. -     Males..... 499}  858     Males}  556
                Females... 359}        Females}
Remainder of
police dis-         Males 1971} 3020     Males} 2759
trict of Ar-      Females 1049}        Females}
midale ...                      ----            ----
Total population of police dis. 3878            3315 

From the above statement it will be seen that the increase in the population of this township during the past five years has been – Males, 170; females, 132; in the aggregate 302, or about 52½ per cent. In the remainder of the police district the increase has been – Males, 111; females, 150; in the aggregate 261, or nearly 9½ per cent. We think the above results are nothing more than might be expected to accrue from the influences to which the district has been subjected during the period referred to. The main deduction from these premises are that the number of persons in the township has increased in the ratio of five to one, as compared with those occupied in pastoral pursuits ; and taking into consideration the fact that the occupation of gold digging employs a considerable number of those set down for the district population, it may fairly be assumed that the pastoral interest in this district in the year 1856, employs a smaller number of people than it did in 1851.

GOODS BY THE CLARENCE LINE. – During the past week, four heavily loaded drays have passed the Express Office, from the Clarence. We have also been informed that a dray lately arrived at Hillgrove, from Grafton, bringing up supplies and a family. These are proofs, amongst many others, that the Clarence line might be made a most desirable road for the transit of goods and produce to and from New England.

THE ROADS. – We have been informed by a gentleman who had occasion to travel over the Moonbies lately that the condition of the roads about that locality was scandalous. There were nine drays waiting at the foot of the first pinch until the road should dry – two of the drays having families with them. The road at the time was so extremely bad that our informant believed fifty bullocks could not have taken up a loaded dray. He also stated that he had passed on the road about 150 men, women, and children, bound for the Rocky River diggings.

THE ROCKY RIVER. – The diggings here are going ahead greatly, and the number of fresh arrivals is astonishing. On Tuesday last I saw a specimen of gold in quartz-not one speck only, but completely encompassing the stone. It is a handsome specimen, and I suppose worth about £2. The finder declared he procured it on these diggings. Our population is increasing with extraordinary rapidity : we want population to open up the hitherto undeveloped resources of New England. It is the opinion of most persons that New England is a gold field more or less, throughout. I have heard of several parties who have struck upon fresh discoveries of the precious metal outside the limits of the diggings. All parties appear doing well, a proof of which is the extraordinary demand for buckets, ropes, shovels, calico, and all sorts of digging tools. Two or three accommodation houses have been opened-one, in particular, which deserves that liberal support its enterprising proprietor is sure to receive.

Rocky River, May 14.

Written by macalba

August 23, 2010 at 8:08 pm

New England Electorate

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Tuesday 2 April 1901, The Sydney Morning Herald

Tamworth, Monday.

Great excitement has existed here since Friday night over the New England contest, and much dissatisfaction has been expressed with the way in which the election has been conducted in respect of the returns. Had the results at the various polling stations been wired to the returning officer here it is contended that the final state of the poll would have been known on Saturday morning at the latest, whereas no authentic information could be obtained as to how the contest had resulted until this afternoon, when word came that the returns were complete, and that Mr. Sawers had beaten Mr. Lonsdale by four votes. The numbers given to-day, however, were 50 below the numbers wired on Saturday. On this account uncertainty as to the real state of the poll still exists, and will continue until the returning officer here is in possession of the actual returns from the different polling centres. He hopes to get all returns in by to-morrow. Several instances of alleged informalities in the matter of voting have come to light, and if it is seen when all returns are in that Mr. Lonsdale is beaten by a few votes only, it is stated that a recount will be demanded.

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August 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm

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Whirlwind Damage At Mungindi

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Tuesday 28 December 1954, The Canberra Times


A fierce whirlwind cut a swathe of destruction through Mungindi to-day.

The whirlwind raged for 20 minutes and caused £20 000 damage.

Mungindi (population 1,000) is on the N.S.W.-Queensland border.

The whirlwind ripped off the roof of Tattersall’s Hotel in George Street and flung roofing iron and tree branches about the streets.

More than 26 houses were unroofed and others were damaged.

Dozens of sheds and outbuildings were flattened and heavy wooden fence rails on the border bridge over the Barwon River were whipped into the air.

The storm snapped the town’s power supply and there was no power late to night.

The hotel and the unroofed houses, were covered with temporary canvas canopies. Huge sections of the northwestern, section of the State were blacked out during the storm.

At Tamworth, Radio station 2TM went off the air. Windows were smashed by hail and houses damaged.

Hail smashed windows at Willow Tree and partially unroofed houses.

A Werris Creek police officer said the dust was so bad during the height of the storm that he spent almost 10 minutes attempting to find his way to a building in the short main street of the town.

Hail caused widespread damage to crops throughout the area.

Written by macalba

August 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm