Snowy Mountains - Tumbarumba
Delightful small country town which is largely untouched by the modern world.
Located 504 km south west of Sydney and 701 metres above sea level, Tumbarumba is situated on the southern slopes of the Snowy Mountains. By any measure it is a sleepy little town (having been by-passed by the major road and rail routes between Sydney and Melbourne) and consequently it has a kind of old-style charm, and a number of beautifully preserved old buildings, which make it an attractive destination.
This was part of the Wiradjuri country before European settlement. It is from Wiradjuri language that the word 'tumbarumba', probably meaning 'sounding ground', is derived. It has been suggested that there are places in the district where if you hit the ground it has a hollow sound.
The first Europeans into the area were Hume and Hovell who passed through (see Hume and Hovell track in Things To See) in 1824. They were followed by settlers who moved into the area in the 1830s. The first town settler arrived around the early 1840s. Settlement was sparse until the 1850s when gold was discovered
Gold was discovered in the Tumbarumba district in 1855 and the Tumbarumba Gold Field was proclaimed in 1866. The township was surveyed in 1859 and lots were officially sold in 1860.
The Tumbarumba goldfields were still operating as recently as the 1930s. In the early days they attracted large numbers of Chinese who worked the goldfields and established elaborate sluices and water races to assist their labours.
A brief moment of infamy occurred on 24 July 1864 when the bushranger 'Mad Dog' Morgan shot Sergeant David Maginnity near the town. The incident occurred on the road between Tumbarumba and Coppabella. Morgan simply approached two policemen and shot one of them. The other, Trooper Churchley fled and was later dismissed for cowardice although he insisted his horse bolted when the shot rang out. The event was widely reported in Sydney and did much to establish Morgan as Public Enemy No. 1. After the killing the government put a reward of £1000 on Morgan's head.
The railway didn't arrive until 1919 and it was closed by the 1970s. Consequently it never really made an impact on the town's prosperity.
Today Tumbarumba is sustained by the agriculture which surrounds it. It is still central to an area where timber, apples, tobacco, sheep and cattle have proved to be profitable.
Tumbafest is an annual festival featuring country music and local foods and wines. It is held in February.