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IFHAA Local History Library
Adelong, New South Wales
Parts of this page are from AnyPoint Australia
Historians and Gold fossickers alike find Adelong a place of great interest. Located on the Snowy Mountain Highway in the south west slopes of the Great Dividing Range, Adelong nestles in the hills between Gundagai to the north, Batlow to the south, Tumut to the east and Wagga Wagga to the west. Adelong has a rich heritage extending back over 170 years. Hume and Hovell made the first western recording of the area as they passed by the creek on their way back to Sydney Town, completing their historic expedition of 1824-25. The word 'Adelong' contains a sense of older contact with the area, being the local Aboriginal word for 'river of plain'.
The explorers Hume and Hovell described Adelong and surrounds as "rough and difficult country", and white settlement of the area proved a slow affair. By the 1830s, 12,000-13,000 sheep were grazed along the Murrumbidgee River. David Johnson established Adelong Creek station there in 1848. Likewise, Thomas Hill Bardwell's "Adelong Station" was founded in late 1825, shortly after the Hume and Hovell expedition passed though the region, and covered an area in those early days extending from Tumblong to Batlow.
The first discovery of Gold at Adelong was reportedly by the Rev. B Clarke in 1841. Albeit it was not until around 1852 that the rush to Adelong commenced. These early arrivals mostly engaged in alluvial mining along the Adelong Creek and in the gullies opposite. The accommodation for these hopeful prospectors consisted of tents which flanked the banks of the creek and the gully opposite throughout the 1850s. During this decade some 20,000 prospectors passed through Adelong, and the area yielded over 20,000 tonnes of Gold. At one stage Adelong had a tent (or canvas) city of upwards of 10,000 people.
Adelong attracted prospectors from all over the world. In fact, so many were from Cornwell in England that a section of Adelong became known as 'Cornishtown'. Some of the successful prospectors set up enterprises in the town, and remained in Adelong after the rush. Much of the township's current population can boast links to fossickers, publicans and storekeepers from the Gold Rush days. My ancestors were attracted to the region for a number of reasons - the Schintlers came as miners, Thomas Matthews (my Great-Great Grandfather) was a Carter who carried supplies from Sydney to Adelong in the 1850's. He liked the area and, on his third trip to the region, took his family with him and they took up farm land there.
A prominent pioneer of Adelong was William Williams. He discovered reef gold at Old Hill Reef, also known as Mount Charcoal. This site alone yielded over 4 tonnes of gold. He reinvested his finds into the town commercially. By the 1860s he owned a number of the local businesses including the Adelong brewery.
William Williams was part owner of two fossicking companies; Williams Gold Mining Company, and North Williams Gold Mining Company. He earned the nickname 'Gold Dust', and it was known that he carried gold on his person regularly. Once when he was prospecting in a gully north of Adelong, the bushranger Hawthorne planned to rob him. Mistaken identity is said to have led Hawthorne to attack and kill a man named Grant. Hawthorne murdered again before his capture near Goulburn.
Adelong's economy no longer depends upon gold finds. Its chief industries are beef and dairy cattle, wool, fat lambs, orcharding, and the local cattle sale yards. It is mostly visited today out of historical interest. The main street from Campbell to Neil Streets has been classified for preservation by the National Trust. The Adelong Falls reserve which was established in 1971 covers 27 hectares, and includes the picturesque `Cascade Falls'. Offering picnicking and BBQ facilities, the walking tracks of the reserve lead to the sites of two early homesteads, 'Campsie' and 'Ferndale', as well as an area specially designated by the New South Wales government as a "Fossicking Area".
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