In June 1864 the Governor of NSW, Sir John Young, and some members of the government undertook a trip from Sydney to Wingello. They travelled by train to Picton, where the Southern Line then terminated, and thence by the Great Southern Road.
The party made a stop at Nattai (Mittagong) and visited the Fitzroy Iron Works. Next day they proceeded to Berrima, inspecting the gaol and court house. Travelling on to Wingello, they stayed overnight to attend a sale of alpacas. The Governor and the Colonial Secretary then made an excursion to the Shoalhaven gullies near Bungonia, and returned to Picton via the old south road.
This vice-regal trip was extensively covered in the Sydney and Goulburn papers. The story is of local historical interest in that it evokes the period just prior to the railway opening through the district in 1867, and also details an early attempt to acclimatise and breed alpacas, smuggled from Peru, for wool and meat. An account follows here.
Sir John Young, NSW Governor 1861-1867, was born in 1807 in Bombay, India. The Australian Dictionary of Biography notes that he was the eldest son of Sir William Young, first baronet and East India Company director, and his wife Lucy. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and called to the Bar in 1834. He married Adelaide Dalton at Dublin in 1835. He represented County Cavan in the House of Commons in 1831-55, generally supporting Sir Robert Peel. He was chief secretary for a united Ireland in 1852-55. With his wife, he arrived in Sydney on March 21, 1861; because of inter-colonial jealousy he was not given the title governor-general, borne by his two predecessors.
Regarding His Excellencys visit in June 1864, the Goulburn Herald of June 29 noted that a rumour prevailed on Monday last, from a message received by telegram by the sub-inspector of police in Berrima, that the Governor, to be accompanied by some members of the ministry, would attend the sale of alpacas at Wingello on June 24, and for that purpose would leave Sydney by special train for Picton early on Tuesday, June 21; but as nothing further was heard, few, if any, in the district were aware of the Governors intentions; and as it was furthermore not ascertained whether His Excellency would proceed through Berrima, or, as was reported, down the line of railway now in course of construction, little or no preparations were made to receive him. The weather here, moreover, was so sadly unpropitious that no one dreamt His Excellency would carry his project into execution.
The Governor did, however, make the journey attended by Lord John Taylour and accompanied by the Hon James Martin, Colonial Secretary, and the Hon J B Wilson, Minister for Lands, and a detachment of mounted police. Having breakfasted at Picton, the party proceeded to Nattai, where they arrived at Rush's hotel to lunch. In the afternoon they visited the Fitzroy Iron Works, and returned to Rush's for dinner.
On arriving at the Iron Works, the party was met by the chairman and directors of the company. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the day was very unpropitious for affording a full opportunity to inspect the whole works, especially the coal shafts and adits; nevertheless, his Excellency and suite visited the rolling-mills that were producing merchant bar-iron. They were next shown the foundry, and were present at the casting of the heavy channel for running the liquid metal from the top of the blast-furnace, thence to the pattern department and the fire-brick manufactory.
The visitors then inspected the blast-furnace, which is a lofty building of ashlar stones, braced together with bands of iron; these, with the machinery attached, having been manufactured at the works. His Excellency manifested deep interest in this important part of the works, as being the first blast-furnace erected in the Australian colonies, and many questions were put to the managing engineer of the company. The anthracite coal and rich calcined ore also excited admiration.
After partaking of refreshment at the hotel in course of erection on the works, during which his Excellency wished the enterprise every success, the distinguished visitors left highly satisfied with the advanced progress.
- Berrima District Historical & Family History Society compiled by PD Morton. Part 1 of a 3-part series. To be continued.
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