Tumut is a town and a shire 120 km. west of Canberra. It is situated in the Tumut River valley which, while close to the Snowy Mountains, is 280 m. above sea level. The Tumut River enters the Murrumbidgee about 40 km. northwards, near Gundagai.
The valley was explored by Hume and Hovell in 1824. Settlers came in the late 1920s, probably from Yass to the north. The name Tumut is supposedly derived from an Aboriginal word meaning resting place by the river.
By 1852 a town existed on the site of Tumut, but being situated on a river it was inundated in a severe flood in that year. Rebuilding on higher ground followed. The discovery of gold at Kiandra,about 80 km. south-east of Tumut, in 1859 provided a market for Tumut’s primary products. In 1875 The Australian Handbook described Tumutas –
In 1887 the Tumut town council was created, within boundaries smaller than the present township. The outer parts were not under local government until the creation of Gadara shire in 1906. By 1903 the area of farmland under cultivation around Tumut was 11,000 acres and a railway connection to Gundagai was opened. The town had a mechanics’ institute andlibrary, an Agricultural and Pastoral Association and several friendly societies.The Tumut district’s tourism potential was promoted in the early 1900s when the nearby Buddong Falls and Yarrangobilly Caves were depicted at an international exhibition. Another industry was started in 1921 with softwood plantings in the Tumut State Forest. A trout hatchery was constructed in 1928, thesame year as when the town and shire council were united to become Tumut Shire. By the outbreak of the second world war Tumut had a caravan park,golf links, reticulated electricity and a sewerage scheme.
The shire contains the townships of Adelong, Batlow, Cabramurra and Talbingo. In the south-east is Yarrrongabilly and (just outside the shire), the place whereKiandra was situated. The Tumut township was described in The Australian Blue Book, 1948, as –
The postwar period saw the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme inject prosperity and development into Tumut. Upstream on the Tumut River is the Blowering Dam, Talbingo Dam and Tumut Ponds Dam. There are four power-generation stations in the Tumut Valley, using the controlled waters of the Eucumbene,Tooma, Tumut and upper Murrumbidgee Rivers. Any deficiency in water flow is made up by water carried by tunnel from Lake Eucumbene to Tumut Pond Dam. The power station furthest down the valley is at the bottom of the Blowering Dam, the largest of the three storages on the Tumut River. Water from Blowering Dam is also used for irrigation.
The scenic attractions of Tumut were made accessible by the Snowy Mountains Scheme’s roads. Orchards and exotic trees around Tumut add to its scenic attraction. Tumut shire has 119,000 ha. of farmland, of which 83,000 are pasture. In 1994 there were 149,000 sheep and lambs and 65,000 cattle. Little cereals are grown, although high-grade millet is grown for a broom factory(also a tourist attraction).
Large softwood plantations and saw mills are a mainstay of the district’s economy.
Tumut’s census population have been 2,274 (1911), 3,012(1954), 5531 (1971) and 5955 (1966). Tumut shire’s census population have been 7848 (1933) and 10951 (1996).
Postcard, c. 1920