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History of Tocumwal


In the very early days a large English syndicate owned all the land in this district from somewhere near Deniliquin to Mulwala.

In the early 1850’s a regular crossing place had been established somewhere in the vicinity of the town and it is thought the first buildings were built in or near the present town site about 1857 or 1858 but unfortunately only very sparse details are available. It is believed that Patrick Hennessey owned half the land at this time, and a Mr Boyd was the owner of the other half, having purchased it from the Hennessy’s.

A letter from the Lands Department in 1852 states “One section at Tucumival, (spelt correctly) bounded on the west by a line bearing north one mile distant 10 chains west from Mr Boyd’s sheep station, on the north by a line east 1 mile, on the east by a line south 1 mile. This is on Mr Boyd’s run at the point where the Tuppal Creek bursts into the Murray”.

Edward Hillson arrived in Tocumwal in 1860 and purchased about 5,000 acres from Patrick Hennessey, which included the town area.
Tocumwal was notified as a village on the 18th July 1862.

Information sourced from Back to Tocumwal Centenary 1857 - 1957. Photo from State Library NSW

Cobram-Barooga Golf Club


The first competition was held at Barooga Golf Course on land purchased from the Police Department of New South Wales and the Lands Department on 18th April 1928.

Players journeyed from surrounding Clubs for the opening of the new nine hole course. The following year the Annual Meeting unanimously decided to engage the services of a Golf Architect to design an additional nine holes of land owned by Mr Boyd of Barooga Station called the “Barooga Paddock”.

The Golf Club went on to be a multi-million dollar complex with poker machines and a restaurant, bowling greens, pro-shop and a twenty-seven hold course before being bought out by the Barooga Sporties.

 More recently it has undergone a major refurbishment and now is a luxurious resort with high ratings on accomodation sites.

 Information sourced from “Barooga and Districts, Yesterday and Today”

International Children’s Games


As our Berrigan Shire team is flying out on Sunday to participate in the International Children’s Games we thought we would feature their last competition and the history of the International Children’s Games in our Flashback Friday.

A Slovenian sports instructor Metod Klemenc founded the International Children's Games in 1968, with the aim of promoting peace and friendship through sports to the world's youth. He organised the first International Children's Games and Cultural Festival in Celje, Slovenia, in 1968, with the participation of teams from nine European cities.

Since that time, 37,000 children aged 12 to 15 have competed at 47 Summer Games and 6 Winter Games. 411 different cities, 86 countries and all 5 continents have participated. The International Children's Games and Cultural Festival has become the world's largest international multi-sport youth games, and is a recognised member of the International Olympic Committee.

The Berrigan Shire were invited by Lake Macquarie, to participate when they hosted the games in 2014, and 15 local youths competed. Of 23 individual events, not including relays, 15 personal best times were recorded.

Vale Ian Fuzzard, OAM


This week is a special post to honour one of our main sources for the weekly Flashback Friday posts, Mr Ian Fuzzard, OAM. Mr Fuzzard passed away last Friday.

Born 30th September 1928, Mr Fuzzard was renowned as a local historian, and published a book "Berrigan, Today and Yesterday" in 1965, which has been a primary source of information for Flashback Friday... posts regarding Berrigan and beyond. Mr Fuzzard was always amiable to answering questions about historical facts when required.

Mr Fuzzard was a very active community member and will be missed by many. He was a Councillor with the Berrigan Shire for almost thirty years, including sitting as Shire President in 1977, 1978 and 1979.

He was a life member of the Berrigan Football Club, and was president in 1957, 1966, 1975, 1976 and 1977. He also served as vice-president and secretary, and outside of the executive positions, he served as a chauffeur to players, club historian, groundskeeper, selector and goal umpire.

Mr Fuzzard was also a life member of the Berrigan Cricket Club where he served as a committeeman for many years, holding the positions of president and secretary and worked long hours preparing the grounds for teams to play on.

He was also a stalwart of the Berrigan Anglican Church and could often be seen tending to the grounds or ringing the bell. He will be sorely missed by the parishioners.

Mr Fuzzard was presented with the Order of Australia Medal on 8 June 1998, for service to the Berrigan Community through Local Government, Service Groups, Sporting Clubs and Church Committees. He was also presented with the 15th Annual Sports Association of Australian Services to Sport Award in 2012.

Information and photo sourced from the Southern Riverina News, March 7th 2012.

Finley Hospital


The first hospital at Finley was privately built and administered. In the Finley Mail of 15th January 1915 it was noted that Messrs O’Callaghan Bros. of Deniliquin secured a block of land on the corner of Murray Street and the Berrigan Road on which they erected a private hospital. This building was erected to enable two sisters, the Misses ...Russell, who were trained to operate a private hospital and this venture was eminently successful. However the service closed down in August 1919.

“An attempt was made to retain this nursing facility, as twenty citizens pledged the necessary funds to pay the rent until another Sister could be installed, however this was not successful. The next few years witnessed a succession of private nursing hospitals, in premises often ill designed for the purpose yet fulfilling an urgent need. Then World War I revolutionised the motor industry to the stage where the sick could be transported to hospitals at a distance and interest in a local hospital sank to a low ebb.

“The Finley Mail of 22nd November 1927 contains a report of the formation of a branch of the Bush Nursing Association of Finley, and perhaps one of the highlights of this report was the scale of fees to be charged for financial members when the service was in operation… Obstetrics cases (10 days) $6.30, nursing per day 60 cents, consultation 25 cents, First visits 30 cents and subsequent visits 15 cents.”

In May 1934 a public meeting authorised the committee to call tenders. The site for the new hospital on the corner of Murray and Tuppal Streets was donated by Mr S Howe and a generous offer from Mr JT Close was gladly accepted to build the hospital without profit, supplying all the materials at cost. The Finley Mail of 4th February 1935 carried headlines ‘New Hospital Opened’”

By 1939 it was evident that a larger hospital was required but the project was put on hold with the eruption of World War II. In 1953 the need for an X-ray unit was identified and Arthur Koschel indicated he would donate $100 if 49 other citizens or groups would do the same. This was far surpassed and plans for a new hospital were again considered, but it wasn’t until 1961 that a tender was approved for a new hospital, to be located in Dawe Avenue, at $422,000 by ARP Crowe and Sons.

Information sourced from "Looking Back on Finley" by Norman McAllister and photos sourced from State Library of NSW.

The early days of Chanter St Berrigan, where the Council Chambers now sit.


This block, bounded by Cobram, Budd, Mitchell and Chanter Streets, has a very interesting history and could be described as the hub of the early days in the village of Berrigan....

The north /south lane between Chanter and Budd Streets, was the western boundary of the Riddle and Pretty store (later McLeod's) built in 1894, with the shop front on Chanter Street, and a large shed at the rear. The shop was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1896, when it was taken over by Robert Gardiner 1896-1907. A small cottage fronted Cobram Street, later Ernie Gedye bought the building.

In all eight shops facing Chanter Street were destroyed by fire on the night of 10th January 1894.

The Commercial Bank first opened on the western portion of the Riddle and Pretty Store, in 1892. H R Lysaght was manager, 1891-1895, then J W Nicholas, 1895-1902, when the bank moved across the street. Nicholas was manager for almost fifty years.

There was a well for water on the vacant corner block, where in, 1958 the Commercial Bank was built.

In the early 1900s the town crier, Jack McGuigan, would walk up and down the street, ringing a bell and then proclaiming "a closer settlement meeting was on or a circus coming to town".

West of the Riddle and Pretty's store, (later McLeods) in 1902, was a small shop owned by Phaff a watchmaker, who died in 1933. Mrs Flecknot had a little dress shop and Jimmy Lee had a bicycle repair shop, prior to demolition in 1999 the building was owned by Robert Congdon. Next were two shops, one was a green grocer run by Bert and Vera Merryfull and a barber shop where Frank Bush was the apprentice in 1927 to Col Donnelly. Frank later moved to the north side of Chanter Street.

Three dentists Drs Alan Sheldon, Campling and Gary Burns had rooms here in the early days. Next was the garage, first owner was Bill Black Motors, followed by Lloyd Bros, Baxter, Jim Curtin and Young, Hany Baxter (agent), then in the 1930s Dick Daly and Gordon Allen's garage, (a caterpillar agent), Gordon Anderson, Tom Good's Garage. 1950's saw Good and Burley motors, Bruce Burley, later Harry Grant and then Frank Rennick. H P Whitty later Trask and Whitty Solicitors and Merv Barnett dry cleaning business were next to the Federal Hotel.
In 1961 both buildings, the dry cleaner and by then the CWA rooms since 1946, were destroyed by fire.

The Sale yards sited along the western comer of Chanter Street, extended along Mitchell and Budd Streets. In the l950's five commission houses were built along the Budd Street area by Mick O'Malley. Later the motel was built backing Mitchell Street.

The Tocumwal Methodist Church – now Uniting Church


"The first record of a Methodist service is one held in the old Court House by a visiting Minister in May 1880, but it is understood irregular services were held much earlier in the Hillsons first hotel.

In 1889 Mr Hillson donated land behind the Public School for the erection of a Methodist Church, tenders were accepted and the building was completed about September 1890. The Dedication Ceremony was conducted early in October 1890. By 1896 regular weekly services were held, clergy from Numurkah and Deniliquin officiating on alternate Sundays.

During Rev. Oakleys time the church was moved to its present site."

The Methodist Church congregation of Tocumwal became Uniting Church in 1977 in line with other congregations of Australia and the church still stands today in this capacity.

Information sourced from Back to Tcoumwal Centenary 1857 - 1957

Postal Delivery between Corowa and Tocumwal 1896


Looking through the National Archives, regarding another matter, I found correspondence relating to the Barooga Post Office 1896 - 1907. I have attached some interesting photos of correspondence relating to the request, including the original petition, by Barooga residents, to be included in the mail run from Corowa to Tocumwal via Mulwala.

Apparently, for the mail courier, the deviation of two miles each way, was four miles too many. The courier protested he was not earning enough to make the trip already, and felt the extra miles to be the straw that could break the camel’s back. Two letters from J P Kennedy arguing against him being compelled to travel via Barooga dated 28 April 1896, and 8 May 1896 are featured here.

I have also included a letter, including hand drawn map, of what is being requested and noting tenders are to be sought for the new route, and although Kennedy had since stipulated that he would change his route to prevent the tender being raised, that recommendation was to go ahead “as we are glad to get rid of him”. The final item is the schedule of tenders stating that Henry Shaw was the successful tender.

The original letters can all be viewed on the National Archives website:…/SearchScr…/BasicSearch.aspx

Federal Hotel, Berrigan


Shortly after proclamation of Berrigan as a village, Paddy Gleeson, an exuberant character to say the least, built the original Federal Hotel. He was also the licencee of the Nangunia Hotel south of Berrigan that has been the subject of a previous post.

This first hotel was a wooden structure with a wide veranda at the front, as was the style of the time. It soon became the focal part of town. The Union Bank opened in a portion of the Federal Hotel in 1896 and then later moved further down Chanter Street.

The original hotel was destroyed by fire in 1897 and then rebuilt later in the same year. This building was added to over the years and had become quite illustrious, but was once again destroyed by fire around 1915.

Some of the proprietors over the early years included Mr Howard Arundel, and Mr GR Rintoule.

It was rebuilt in 1915, as it stands today, and although limited to only one storey it is a very spacious building, and for many years held the title of the longest bar in the region.

The hotel was refurbished early this century but still retains its historic features and charm.

Finley Memorial Obelisk


As we have just enjoyed another wonderful Anzac Day we thought it might be appropriate to talk about the history of the obelisk which is our current cover photo. This article has been extracted from "Looking Back on Finley" written by respected Finley identity, the late Norman McAllister, back in 1978.

"Shortly after the conclusion of the 1914-1918 War the question of erecting a Memorial, to those who had served with the fighting forces abroad, exercised the minds of district citizens and there was a division of opinion as to whether a conventional type of Memorial should be selected or one of a utilitarian nature; some amenity which the town needed.

The reasoning behind a conventional ‘granite’ memorial was that a ‘Cenotaph’ was relatively inexpensive to erect, it was maintenance free for all times, it was specifically a Memorial to those who served, whereas utilitarian memorials were very expensive, usually involving long term finance, raffles etc., and eventually became a divisive factor as their life and usefulness diminished and the cost of repairs and maintenance increased.

Some further discussion took place on the matter of the location for the Obelisk; one section of opinion favoured the intersection of Warmatta and Denison Street, near the Post Office, but it was felt that this would become a traffic hazard and that a Parkland Setting would be more suitable, hence the present site was selected and the area developed as a Memorial Park.

The Memorial was unveiled by Colonel William McKenzie MC on 24th May 1923 in the presence of the very large and representative district gathering.

After World War II the Finley Memorial School of Arts was erected and later again a War Memorial Swimming Pool. However, the names of the fallen were engraved on the World War I Obelisk and for all Commemorative occasions this Monument still seems to be regarded as the accepted memorial."

Page 150 "Looking Back on Finley", 1978, Norman McAllister.

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