11 April, 2021
Over 110-year-old essay found
Local historian Shirley Marks has come across a hand written essay when packing up at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre, that dates back almost 110 years.
The essay is titled ‘Gilgandra in the past, present and future,’ and holds many hopes and ideas for the progression of Gilgandra. On the rear of one of the pages is written ‘Gilgandra Show entry, either 1912 or 1913, written by Nytha Simon’. “It was great to read that the progress Nytha wished to see in Gilgandra eventually came to fruition,” said Mrs Marks. Nytha was the daughter of John D Simon, who was headmaster at the Gilgandra Public School for 14-years; firstly at the school situated on the recreation ground (McGrane Oval) and then at the school which was erected at its present position.
He was transferred to Goulburn where he continued to live into retirement and died on January 21, 1943 aged 77 years. Below is the full version of the essay.
Gilgandra in the past, present and future.
When Oxley discovered the Castlereagh, it was in flood. When he reported the land as fertile, settlers came and commenced cattle breeding. They preferred sheep to cattle, but as there was no railway, or means of conveyance, or even roads, it cost more to send the wool to Sydney than it was worth, therefore they engaged in cattle rearing. When the railway was brought further west, the settlers sold their cattle, and bought sheep. But when the railway extended further wheat-growing became profitable. This caused an influx of farmers from southern NSW and the other states.
Another factor in the growth of the town was the extensive surrounding forests of cypress pine and iron bark which the advent of the railway, enabled to be profitably worked. The value of the timber industry to this district may be estimated, by the fact that for some years an annual output of 150,000 sleepers, was maintained, valued at over £30,000 a year. In addition there were a number of sawmills working, which gave employment to many cutters, teamsters, and mill hands, this substantially increased the ready money available for circulation. The falling off of the timber supply, by the thinning out of the forests and the longer distances which logs have to be carted, has been more than compensated by the larger area put under wheat and an increasing number of permanent settlers. The consequent increase in business has necessitated the enlargement and the increase in number of stores and other business places, giving the town the appearance of permanent prosperity and makes the outlook for the future very hopeful.
Already under the care of the energetic shire councillors, the roads are being made and metalled. We hope that the streets will be better lighted and planted with shade trees.
In the course of time we wish to have an up to date water supply, which I am sure will greatly alter the condition of most of our gardens. Perhaps we shall have garden beds in the park and fountains similar to those of Dubbo and Bathurst. I should also like to see a portion of the park used as a children’s playground, with swings and see-saws erected.
It is almost too much to hope for, but if practicable, public swimming baths would add much to the pleasure of residents and visitors. A nice roomy building must be erected for a school of arts and public library to form a social centre, where friends may congregate in pleasant reunions.
In a dry climate such as this, where there is so much risk of a serious outbreak of fire, and up to date fire station will be necessary, with a permanent staff of firemen.
These are a few of the improvements which I foretell must come to a town, which is the centre of such a large and flourishing district.