On the River to Gundagai – Yarri, Jacky and the Great Flood of 1852

Statue of Yarri at Gundagai in southern New South Wales.  Photo: Stephen Gapps.

Statue of Yarri at Gundagai in southern New South Wales.  Photo: Stephen Gapps.

On Friday June 25 1852 the small township of Gundagai, nestled on the river flats of the Murrumbidgee River, was completely destroyed when the flooded river burst its banks. Previous floods had not been this devastating and the early settlers ignored the advice of local Aboriginal people not to build on the low lying ground. Over two days around 80 people drowned from the 250 European residents then living in the township that had grown up around the river crossing. Nearly a third of the population were killed in what still remains as one of Australia’s greatest natural disasters. However another third of the township were rescued – plucked from rooftops or trees and ferried through the raging current to safety in bark canoes.

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