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Trip to Monaro - 1871

The  following transcription was provided by Judy Richards [judy.richards-at-westnet.com.au]

The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 29 May 1871

WE soon began to recognise a system, although natural, in the country through which we passed, after passing the plains about Micalago; alternate wooded hills and plains; and on the latter, the little dwellings of shepherds or stockmen. Water-courses traversed each, with pebbly beds, loose sandy banks and treeless. Some attempt had been made to repair the crossings, but, from the cuttings being too abrupt, the improvements were more than open to question. The plains are undulating and studded by rocks, looking like dusky-coloured sheep at a distance; peculiar rocks on their edges, and in rows. Still the rows, where they did occur, were short and round topped. We could see the mountains rising above the Murrumbidgee, apparently well wooded. A pine grows here of sufficient growth to furnish timber for the sawyer.

The weather was fine and warm, the grass green, and but for the chill evenings we could have fancied it summer instead of March weather. At Codrington (or is it Coolrington!), a plain where there are several settlers, we were shown specimens of copper ore, brought from the mountains, where we were informed some men had been at work for several months ; but the works were then discontinued. There were some pretty samples of green and blue carbonates, sulphuret, &c,, exhibited for our inspection. The yield appeared good.

In that very interesting and valuable work, the Rev. W. B. Clarke's "Southern Goldfields" the presence of copper through these districts is frequently referred to. It is impossible, indeed, to travel through Manaro without feeling this work almost take the place of a guide-book, and its former perusal certainly adds considerably to the interest of the journey. It was pleasurable to see the kindling eye and smile of kindly remembrances on many a face, when we returned to our valued and learned friend, the author. How few of us can hope to be held in such appreciative memory for twenty years! How few deserve it so well, of our country.

The Berudba or Bredbo, a rapidly flowing stream, presented no difficulties when we crossed, although it is evidently much flooded at times, and the course appears to have shifted a good deal. Soon after crossing this, the inferior style of buildings hitherto seen gave place to substantial and pleasant homesteads at the several stations, and a good description of stone cottages for the shepherds. Alter all the days of bad roads, and nights at inferior inns, the presence of refinement, the elegances of life, and the most genial hospitality, came as a pleasant surprise. In fact, we had not reached the "end of the world" or even a very remote corner of it.

Apart from the noble scenery, with all its grand accessories of space, amplitude of rivers, plains, and mountains, the district would have a charm from its kindly, hospitable inhabitants.

The Umaralla, a clear stream like the Bredbo on a larger scale, was the limit of our journey. Very pretty blue and green ground-parrots flew out from their banquet among the tall, dry stems of the thistles, as we drove along, but animal life was not frequent. The hydromys, or water-rat, is found here. Sheep runs do not furnish a promising field for the botanical collector; therefore no disappointment could be felt at the scant supply gathered. The terns were Gymnogramme Australis, Pellcea jalcata, Cheilanthes tenuifolia, and Adiantum affine. The common brake, Pteris esculenta was observed throughout the journey. Several plants of the Ranunculus family was obtained; some two or three of which were marsh plants; a zieria with a delightful perfume claimed attention. Pimelea and Bursaria spinosa were gathered on the stony hills, and some of the commoner orders of asteraceous plants, &c.

Some beds of limestone containing interesting fossils occur, but we had not time to visit them.

When roads and accommodations for travellers have improved, Manaro cannot fail to be frequently visited by tourists, and must afford delight to all who can appreciate fine scenery.

Until we left the town of Queanbeyan the homeward journey presented no diversity from that of a few days previously. Here, however, we accidentally took the wrong road, and after some miles, on meeting a drayman, made the unpleasant discovery that we were on the road to Braidwood; but as we had gone too far to make a return possible by daylight, and the road was very bad, nothing could be done but go forward to Molonglo, where kindness and hospitality turned the mistake from a cause of chagrin into a pleasure.

The forests are here thicker and higher, and there is some undergrowth present - Exorcarpus stricta or dwarf currant is frequent, some species of Epacris, and so forth. A series of low hills lie between Queanbeyan and the Molonglo plains, which stretch for some distance, bounded by wooded hills. Several homesteads, some fine estates, and much fencing, attest the presence of man, and after the previous journeying for miles through unimproved forests, presented a pleasing contrast. The Molonglo River flows through the plain. The road to Bungendore is through a level country, wooded and enclosed, with many little farms breaking the monotony.

The road was far better than that previously traversed. Once again the compact little town of Bungendore met the eye, with its plains and mountains, and then we entered upon that portion of the road which on our upward journey had proved so boggy and trying; but draining, preparatory to macadamising, had done wonders even in one week, and Deep Creek was reached and crossed without difficulty. About a mile or more beyond this, we left the sandy road, which, leading directly up the range, conducts by way of Boro for the new road or cut. This has been constructed along the side of the range, and, although then in a dangerous state in places, will ultimately be a great advantage. It is shorter also.

The vegetation is more diversified. Sandstone and quartz rock formed a detritus favourable to the growth of underwood, and several interesting species of the family of Epacridaea obtained; one or two common to the immediate neighbourhood of Sydney. Acacias were frequent. The locality would probably be of interest to the botanist in spring or summer.

Very good culverts across the numerous watercourses were thoroughly appreciated after the dangerous creeks on the Manaro Plains. The climate, judging from the vegetation, is warmer than the side of the range along which the road by Boro leads and both the choice of a situation and construction of the road reflect credit on whoever have been employed in the selection and work.

Sheep and cattle appear to graze over the country, but there are no dwellings until nearing Tarago; here the hills are higher and open forest, and a marked improvement in the style of country presents itself. As we wound round a cutting overlooking some farms, I observed verdigris — green coloured spots and stripes in the rock — probably green iron earth, or indications of copper, which, we were too hurried to spare time to decide. Before long this new road will be completed, and an inn now building at the junction with the old road by Tarago and Boro opened and the advantage to travellers will be great. There are few journeys better repaying the tourist than that briefly described in these notes of a Trip to the southward. Scenery often grand, often pleasing — changing, wide— now owing much to man; anon nothing — wooded, or plains — abundantly watered — I should say that from some parts of the new road Lake George is visible, with a fresh cool climate, only better roads are wanting, and they are undergoing repair.

L. C.



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