FLOODS AT THE HUNTER.....Journal, Volume 19, Part 2 By New South Wales. Parliament. Legislative Council -
1870 - Memo, from Mr. John Wyndham to the Hunter Miner Flood Commission. Floods In The Hunter River -
1. It is a fact that the flood of 1826 was higher than is stated by the Maitland Mercury. (See the tabular list printed with the heights given by my father, Mr. Wyndham, senior.)
2. Mr. G. B. White witnessed this flood, and marked the height of the water on the hill at East Maitland, near Mr. Day's old house, and he stated to me that this fact is recorded in his old journal, &c.; and I understand that this evidence some time ago was that the 1826 flood was 11 perpendicular feet higher than the highest 1857 flood, i.e., about 10 feet higher than the great flood of April, 1870. Mr. White stated to me that in 1826 there were six consecutive days' heavy rain such as he has never before or since seen during his residence in this Colony.
3. Mr. John Crane witnessed the flood of 1826; he was at Corinda at the time, and saw the waters at Maitland also. He stated to the Rev. Mr. Glennie, of Lochinvar, the other day, that the flood-waters very nearly met across the Great Northern Road (then a track) at the dip in Campbell's Hill, where Turner and King's Tannery now stands.
4. At Maitland agricultural meeting this month, Mr. Carmichael stated to Mr. Nowlan, M.L.A., Mr. Keene, myself and others, that there is an old man now residing up on the Williams River who also witnessed the 1826 flood at Raymond Terrace, and that he states that the flood-waters were high up on the hill where Holdstock's public-house now stands, that the ground where this inn now stands was all under water; and Mr. Keene then said that at that rate his cottage at Raymond Terrace would be entirely under water. (I believe 1857 flood was only 2 feet deep in this cottage.)
5. Lastly, at this place Dalwood, the levels taken in 1831, by Mr. Wyndham, senior, of fresh drift in a tree, evidently of 1826 flood, and this is some 7 or 8 feet higher than any flood since seen. There is also other evidence given of the great height of 1826 flood,* but this is not all, for there is evidence of another of still greater magnitude.
6. The late Mr. Cunningham, botanist, camped upon the East Maitland Hill in the year 1819 (where Mr. G. B. White afterwards camped in 1820), and witnessed a most terrible flood. He told Mr. White it was far above the 1826 flood, when they were speaking together about it; now we may gather the terrible height of this flood from marks found at other places.
7. Old Mr. Singleton, when he came over from the Hawkesbury, about the year 1819, and before 1826, settled upon Patrick's Plains (now Singleton), and he found fresh drift, logs, &c, up a tree, in the hollow near where Halstead's old inn now stands; and he measured, and found the drift 16 (sixteen) feet above the ground. Young Mr. Singleton told Dr. Glennie and others this as a fact, when taking refuge on Flowerbank Hill, in the high flood of 1857. Arthur Glennie, now at Australian Joint Stock Bank, Newcastle, and others, were present and heard this stated. I was at Flowerbank immediately after this flood in 1857, and hearing this report at once measured the marks in this hollow, about Halstead's (also Holcombe's) old inn, and found that the water did not exceed 18 to 20 inches in depth anywhere, say 2 feet, and this would make the 1819 flood full 14 feet higher than the highest flood of 1857.
8. Many old residents - the late Mr. Larnach of Rosemount for one, and I believe old Mr. Howe and others—have been heard to say that when they came to Singleton there were drift and flood marks round the trees on the tops of both McDougall's and Howe's Hills at Singleton, as if the water had been several feet over the highest part of both of them, and see Mr. James Glennie's letter also, the log shown to him by Mr. Dangar at Neotsfield, 11 feet above 1826 flood.
9. The old blacks also bore the same testimony, and it is well known that some of the old blacks of Singleton have stated that they were camped upon these two hills (part of the tribe on each), and that they had to take refuge up the trees on the top of these hills, and that they had to remain in the trees for several days. This was before the white man came there.
10. The blacks also told the late Mr. Robert Scott and others, that before the white man came they saw a terrible flood that ran over all the river banks, and the high terrace on which Glendon House and stables were built, and that there was only a small little spot out of water. The river drift sand in front of the old stable at Glendon is a witness and further proof of this.
11. Lower down the river, near Corinda, was a drift log up in a large dead gum-tree, which Mr. Bell, M.L.A, tells of, and he says this drift he is sure was about 15 feet above the highest 1857 flood. We have lately looked for this drift-log and tree, but it appears to have been long since burnt down and destroyed, which is unfortunate.
12. The river-marks at Dalwood, at the back of our tenants farms (Campbell's and Russell's), show that the river has run strong over the high terrace there and down the hollow, within the last sixty years, to all appearance, judging from the age of the trees that must have been bent when saplings.
13. Lastly, there is the blacks' testimony that before the white man came, or thereabouts, there was a terrible flood at Maitland, which drowned all the kangaroos and emus that had been shut in upon the high ground where Wolfe & Gorrick's, and Owen & Beckett's stores are built; and this is evidence that the waters must have been 3 or 4 feet deep at this spot at least, for both kangaroos and emus can still manage to move about in water 2 or 3 feet deep. The very cuts through the high land at back of Baldwin's cottage, near the railway station at Elgin-street, show a deposit or several deposits of alluvial upon the top of the highest point of this hitherto considered dry ridge at Maitland, and such deposits are seldom made except where there are many feet of flood water.
14. I would suggest that before the Commissioners' Report is sent in, that it would be well to try and see old Mr. White, the man Mr. Carmichael mentions, and also that pains be taken to get Mr. Singleton's evidence, and Crane's evidence, that the Flood Commission may have the benefit of their actual testimony. JOHN WYNDHAM. Dalwood, 15th June, 1870
FLOODS AT THE HUNTER -
Memo, from Rev. Alfred Glennie to the Hunter Miner Flood Commission.
The Parsonage, Lochinvar, 26 July, 1870.
Sir, At the request of Mr. John Wyndham, I beg to send you a few particulars of the Hunter River flood of 1826, which I have gathered from three persons who were eye-witnesses of that great flood.
(1.) The first is the testimony of my brother James (now in Queensland), who was then living at Dulwich, on Falbrook, about 8 miles beyond Singleton. In the month of March last I wrote to ask him if he could give me any particulars, from recollection, of that flood. On the 17th April he wrote to me in reply, as follows - "I do not recollect much about the great flood of 1826. I was at Glendon at the time. The ground the cottage stood on, and along as far as the terrace cottage, and the garden and stables, was an island. Corinda, and all the country on tho other side, was under water; and after I got away, and went over to Mr. Dangar's, I found the water had been up to the verandah of the hut Mr. William Dangar lived in, and had been all round it; and Mr. Dangar showed me drift wood in a gum-tree in front of his door 11 feet higher than the water had been then. The water was all over Singleton, and the people living there moved off to Mr. A. M'Dougal's hill."
(2.) In reply to a similar inquiry I made of Mr. Helenus Scott, Police Magistrate of Newcastle, he kindly gave me the following information, in a letter dated the 20th May last - "The first thing we observed about the floods, and which I recollect distinctly, was seeing, on the first year of our arrival, drift from the river on a small tree 15 to 20 feet high, lodged between the branch and the stem; and I have never seen the flood to the butt of that tree, say within 5 to 6 feet. This was perhaps in a flood in '19 or '20. The drift consisted of dried reeds, leaves, and the roots of a rush, when cut resembling coarse cork. The wind soon carried this drift away. The flood must of course have been higher than the fork of the tree, and probably 20 to 25 feet higher than any flood I have seen. I do not recollect much of the flood of 1826, but I think your brother James' account to be correct, except that Glendon homestead was not an island, but a point; the river forming a boundary, and on the other side the Wattle-ponds extending far up."
I may here mention that I believe the Messrs. Scott settled at Glendon about the year 1822.
(3.) My third informant is Mr. John Crane, a settler now residing on what is commonly termed " the old line of road," near Black Creek. He also was an eye-witness of the flood of 1826, at Maitland. On Wednesday last, the 20th instant, he repeated to me what he had told me on a former occasion, namely, that at the dip in the road on Campbell's Hill, where Turner and King's tannery now stands, the flood-waters nearly met across the road. On asking him what I was to understand by this word nearly he replied that the distance from the road to the water on either side was about the width of the road itself, thus making the whole distance between the waters equal to about three times the breadth of the road. He said, moreover, that if he were on the spot he could point out, within a foot or two, the exact height to which the waters rose. I am, etc., ALFRED GLENNIE.