1893 Dec – Description of Tambaroora by a 15 year old.


Selina Sarah Elizabeth Anderson (12 May 1878 – 30 November 1964) was an Australian trade unionist and the first woman to contest a seat in the Australian House of Representatives. Born Selina Charters near Hill End in New South Wales, she changed her surname when her mother remarried in 1892. After finishing school she worked as an artist and photographic retoucher. The 1903 federal election was the first election in which women were entitled to stand for parliament. Anderson decided to contest the Sydney seat of Dalley as an independent protectionist candidate. Although unsuccessful, she polled a respectable 18% of the vote.
The following article was written when she was still at school however it appears that she had a talent even then.


We are in receipt of an essay written by Selina Anderson, a girl aged fifteen years, and a pupil of the Public School, Tambaroora. Senior-Constable Ritchie, offered a prize for the best essay, and it was carried off by Miss Anderson. We have pleasure in reproducing it in our columns, having a desire to encourage young people to place their thoughts on paper.

Location.— Tambaroora is situated at the extreme end of a long flat surrounded by low undulating hills; a creek of considerable dimension runs through the flat, and discharges its waters into Tambaroora Creek; the flow of  water then takes a south-westerly direction on to the Macquarie River. The township is distant about two hundred miles in a north westerly direction from Sydney , forty-five miles south from Mudgee, and forty miles north westerly from Bathurst . The mail route from the latter town is about sixty miles via Wattle Flat and Sofala.

Population. — The approximate population of Tambaroora at present is about four hundred; a few of these are Chinese, but in the past the population has exceeded five thousand, the greater portion being Chinese.

Buildings. — The Government buildings consist of a Public School and an edifice that stands out in bold relief upon an elevation to the west of the town. Its appearance reminds one of the ancient, but necessary requirements for subduing the guilty minds of evil doers. This edifice is the old look-up. There are two churches, viz., the Church of England and the Roman Catholic; the former is a good, substantial building built of stone, with rather an imposing aspect. The Roman Catholic Church is built of brick, and is also a good, substantial building. There are two public houses, four stores, two butcher’s shops, two blacksmith’s shops, one shoemaker, Temperance Hall, Post Office, several dwelling houses, huts and relics of bygone days.

Climate. — The climate is extremely cold in winter, but the people do not appear to suffer from the weather as one might expect, for they happily have an abundance of firewood, so that their homes are kept warm.

Soil. — The soil is very fertile, and nearly all the inhabitants have gardens, which produce most excellent vegetables.

Industries. — The chief, and I may state the only, industry is that of gold-mining, although before the gold-digger put in an appearance pastoral pursuits were the chief occupation. The late W. Cummings, who was for a long time a member of Parliament representing East Macquarie electorate, had sheep depasturing where the town now stands.

Appointment of Commissioners. — After the discovery of gold in N. S. Wales in 1851 Mr. Miller arrived, and was appointed the first commissioner for this goldfield. No doubt he had many difficulties to contend with, for he had no precedents to guide him in his decisions. The mining laws at this early stage of gold mining were not so elaborate as is the case now with all the machinery of a very large department having a minister at its head. Mr. Miller was succeeded by Mr. Broughton, who gave satisfaction to all parties concerned. After this, Mr. Foster, then Mr. Cox, and Mr. McLean, who also officiated at Hargraves. Mr. Scott relieved Mr. McLean; then Mr. Lee came, and was the last of the commissioners. During the time Mr. Lee held office a great change took place with regard to the administration of mining laws. Wardens were appointed to settle all disputes pertaining to gold-mining. They also, in most cases, were appointed police magistrates, and their advent proved a great acquisition to gold-mining in general, for, through the agency of warden’s clerk, miners had no difficulty in having not only their various disputes settled, but also could without any trouble get valuable information relative to the mining laws.

Wardens. — The first person who officiated as warden was Mr. Sharpe, who presided at Hill End, this latter place being a portion of the Tambaroora and Turon gold-mining district. At this time Mr. Hood was Police Magistrate, and after Mr. Sharpe left Mr. Hood was appointed warden. Mr. Flood was succeeded by Messrs. Morrissett, Steel and Watton; the latter gentleman still holds office.

Police. — The first person at the head of the police after the discovery of gold was Mr. Flanagan, who was relieved by Sergeant Cassidy. After this Mr. Bowman was appointed, and he had some very arduous duties to per form, as disputes were frequent among the diggers. It was during Mr. Bowman’s time that the Riot Act was read; this was the only instance of such an extreme measure being resorted to. Mr. Bowman was succeeded in rotation by Messrs’ Robinson. Burkleman, Ford, Purcell, and Ritchie. The latter is still in charge, and makes himself popular by endeavoring to advance the minds of children attending the various schools in the district by giving competitive prizes, and also takes great interest in carrying out his official duties as Warden’s Clerk.

Scholastic. — The first school at Tambaroora was opened on what is now known as Hayes Flat by a Mr. Morgan, who was a local resident. Some of the pupils who attended this school are still residing in the district. Some time afterwards the Government appointed Mr. Morgan as teacher under the old National School system. The school and residence were attached, and situated where the Cricket Ground now is. This appointment was made in the year 1860. After this the department bought a building from the Protestant Alliance Society; also a teacher’s residence from a Mr. Webb. These buildings are still occupied by the department. Mr. Lewis succeeded Mr. Morgan in the year 1878, and remained till the year 1884, when Mr. Langlands arrived, and taught till the end of the year 1892, when Mr. Stevens then took charge, and is the present teacher.

Social. — Although the population of Tambaroora is not great, the people have a happy knack of passing their time in a friendly and social manner, the principal amusements consisting of dancing, surprise parties, cricket, Band of Hope; and various other means are adopted to fill up their leisure hours. In fact, the latest Sydney fashions are to be found in the ball-room.

Early Reminiscences.— Shortly after the discovery of gold in New South Wales , it was found at Tambaroora, in the year 1851. A person named Ned Campbell was trying his luck in what is now known as the famous Golden Gully, distant about half a mile from where the township now is. The comical manner in which Campbell sunk and worked his first shaft would rather astonish any of our modern miners, and certainly would surprise the fossickers now being sent from Sydney, more especially an old Tambaroora fossicker. The shaft was sunk by stops, similar to a stair case, thereby dispensing with a windlass. The excavation at the bottom of the shaft was made sufficiently large to admit of two or three men working below, and using the cradle, which was done. It may appear strange, but it is never- the-less true, that the richest gold was found under the first road formed in Tambaroora, and but a short distance from where Campbell made his discovery. The township in those days was about half a mile long, but some rich patches have been found in various places other than the spot described. In those times if a digger was asked to do a days’ work under twelve or fifteen shillings he would laugh at the employer and ask if he was suspected of being a new chum. The diggers were in the habit of raffling a one pound note for twenty-five shillings, money being no object, reconstruction being an unknown word in connection with finance. The diggers under the old laws were compelled to pay thirty shillings per month for a license to dig for gold, the area allowed for each license being twenty square feet, but a miner could hold ten such claims by holding as many licenses. In the year 1857 some hitch must have taken place, for no licenses were required till the following year, when miners’ rights were issued.

Crushing  Batteries.— The first crushing machine erected on this ground was, at the place now known as the Fighting Ground. An English Company took the matter in hand, but did not meet with the success that should have rewarded them, for their plucky enterprise as they were the pioneers, of what has since proved to be of such benefit in the production of gold. Most of the men employed were Cornishmen. After the company failed the machinery was taken down, and a part of it still remains on the same site, the portion taken away went to Summer Hill in the Orange district, this was in the year 1854. The same company afterwards erected a Chillian mill, at the Dirt Holes near Mr. Coles’ public house, this venture also proved a failure. The Victoria battery at Foreman’s Gully came next, after which the Excelsior battery was erected by Mrs. Board close to the junction of Newman’s Gully, with Tambaroora Creek. A Mr. Long who was storekeeper here took great interest in mining and was the first person to sink on what is now called the Red Hill, but did not meet with success. This hill has since been proved the richest in gold of any hill in the district, with the exception of Hawkin’s Hill. Mr. Long about this time was robbed of £1300 in cash and about 40 ounces of gold, the gold was found by Mr. Willard who is still a resident of Tambaroora Mr. Willard found the gold lying round where the iron safe which contained the gold was discovered, this was close to where Mr. Smith’s slaughter yard now is.

Reefs. — The first payable reef worked at Tambaroora is now known as the Old Red Hill reef. This reef was worked in the year 1860, by Hugh Morrow and party. Other claims were worked by Pat Gayon and party, George Falkner and party, Victor and party, and Tanner and party. Some of these persons are still living, but are scattered, the last named is still working on Hayes’ Flat.

Puddling Machines. — Poor Man’s Gully was the scene of the first puddling machine. This was erected by a man named Barry in the year 1852. Some four years later puddling machines became general, in one case a father and two sons erected a puddling machine at the lower end of Golden Gully, this machine was worked by manual labor, thus dispensing with a horse.

Disturbance. — There was a great disturbance among the Chinese in the year 1858. This happened at Bryant’s Flat Golden Gully; it was thought at the time that gambling was the chief cause of the row. Firearms were not used, but picks, shovels, bamboos, &c. were in great request; this took place in Commissioner Cox’s time.

Cereals. — Vegetables at this time were excessively dear, a Mr. Wade was the first person that cultivated a garden on Tambaroora Creek. About one mile lower than Tambaroora he disposed of onions at 1s. per pound, potatoes 6d. per pound and other vegetables equally as dear.

Public Houses. — Public-house keeping must have been very remunerative from the time gold was discovered to the year 1869, there being no less than 10 between Golden Gully and the Dirt Holes, Those houses were built of wood, but not so with other business places, for calico and sheets of bark were used extensively. The various public houses were occupied by Messrs. Golding, Palmer, Jones, Withes, Foreman, Hughson, Court, O’Brien, Brighton, Barry, McCann, Knox, Long, McEwan, Wallace, Cole, McNamarra, Hayes, and May.

Stores. — The first store was built and occupied by a Mr. Rutledge, a person of the Jewish persuasion. This store, being of a very primitive nature, would not bear favorable comparison with those now in existence, though the owner must have done well, for two shillings per pound for biscuits, and so on, should certainly turn out very lucrative. Other stores followed this in quick succession. The first birth on Tambaroora was in the year 1851. A Mrs. Hicks was confined of a daughter, Mrs. Hicks remained for some length of time after this before she took her departure from the district.

Transit. — Means of transit was in the early days very difficult to accomplish, there being no macadamized roads, etc., the first bullock team arrived here after the gold discovery was driven by a woman, who, to judge by her style was no amateur in the art of driving, for it is said her vocabulary in adjectives was inexhaustable; this person died in Sydney about eight or nine years ago. The lock-up previously described was built by contract, a person named Redmond Farrington being the contractor.

It is my desire before closing this essay to inform the reader that I have spared neither time or trouble in endeavoring to get authentic facts, but at the same time must apologise for the absence of dates relative to certain important appointments with regard to commissioners, and other officials, the records of which I applied for, but from some unknown cause or reason was unable to procure. As this is my first attempt in writing an essay I will deem it a favor of the readers to bear this in mind, and request them to make due allowance for any discrepancies. The education I have received is due to our Public School system, and for which I am very thankful.

[ Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal Thursday 14 December 1893 p 2]

 Selina Anderson went on to have a public career earning a significant place in Australian political history. For more details read her biography in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.