On this day …….. 27th September 1990
The town of Gundagai is located on the Murrumbidgee River 390 km south-west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Australian explorer Hamilton Hume, together with immigrant William Hovell, were the first Europeans to visit when they passed through the area in 1824, and their expedition subsequently opened up the area for farming land. Explorer Charles Sturt identified a spot near Gundagai as the best crossing point of the river for coaches and drovers. A settlement gradually grew up along the Murrumbidgee River at the river crossing, and by 1852, there were around 300 people living along the river flats. The flats had already shown they were prone to flooding, but people ignored the warnings and stayed in close proximity to the water. Torrential rain had been falling in the Snowy Mountains for most of the month of June 1852. Despite the rising river, many people chose to wait out the floods in the lofts of their houses rather than evacuate, as they were familiar with floods. However, in the early hours of 25 June 1852, a torrent swept down the Murrumbidgee valley. Houses collapsed and people were swept away. A punt sent out to rescue people capsized, its occupants thrown into the raging waters. Two Aborigines, Yarri and Jackey Jackey, showed great courage and heroism as they took their canoes out into the torrent to rescue people stranded in trees and the water. Although they rescued 49, another 89 were killed in the Gundagai flood. After another, higher flood in 1853, the town was relocated at its current site on the hill, Mount Parnassus, above the river. Yarri, who led the rescue, has been honoured through the years with various small monuments around the town. On 27 September 1990, NSW Premier Nick Greiner formally unveiled a headstone for Yarri’s grave, which had lain unmarked for a century.