Mountain Identities, Plague and Concerts – from 25 July, 1914


Shire-wide news extracts from the Moruya Examiner of this time in 1914, provided by the Moruya & District Historical Society:

John Riley at his mountain hut
John Riley at his mountain hut

JOHN RILEY, an old mountain identity, said to be the original of Patterson’s “The Man from Snowy River,” died on the way from Groggen on Wednesday night (says Friday’s Melbourne “Argus”). He was carried on a stretcher most of the distance, and died on the road from heart failure. Groggen is 50 miles up the Murray from Corryong. Although the pace was lacking, Riley’s last journey over the rough mountain tracks must have recalled to his mates the lines he inspire: –

Through the stringy-bark and saplings on the rough unbroken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew his bridle till he landed safe and sound
At the bottom of that perilous descent. 25/7/1914

Banjo Patterson

THE FEDERAL DIRECTOR of Quarantines has given a warning regarding the possibility re the introduction of bubonic plague. Cumpton says that rats are again becoming a menace. He advocates strong measures for their extermination. 25/7/1914

BATEMAN’S BAY (From our Correspondent). – The greatest assemblage of people that has been seen in the Bay for years attended the public hall here on Wednesday night at a concert in connection with the Presbyterian Church. Mrs. R.J. Brookes some months ago took a number of local children in hand and trained them for this entertainment, and although many hours have been spent in their tuition, she was amply repaid on Wednesday night, both with a liberal patronage and an appreciative audience.

Batemans Bay before the bridge over the Clyde River was built
Batemans Bay before the bridge over the Clyde River was built

Dozens were deprived of a seat, yet it did not in any way interfere with their enthusiasm or their wholehearted applause. Much lustre was added to the evening’s entertainment by a number of ladies from Moruya who were kind enough and travel all the distance to assist the cause. The chairman, Rev. G.A. MacDonald, was a host in himself, in fact some were heard to remark he has mistaken his calling, he should be before the footlights. He can be confidently recommended to the chair (at any entertainment), and especially if there is a probability of it going flat in any way…

The first part of the programme concluded with the song “Carry me back to old Virginny” in character, in which Master Jack Duffy scored a big success, his makeup as the old negro being exceptionally good, the charm of this was also enhanced by a good chorus. The wig worn by Master Jack, and of which he is very proud, was kindly made by Mrs. H. Thomson, of Moruya.

The second part of the programme was opened by a pianoforte duet by Miss Kennedy (Moruya), and a small pupil of this lady named Olive Thomson. The performance of this little mite excited great admiration and reflects much credit on her teacher….
One of the crowning jokes of the evening was a “pitched musical battle” between six little girls by Aggie, Ella and Rita Latta, and the Duffy Family called “You shan’t play in our yard,” the applause and laughter was long and loud… The evening’s amusement concluded with a screaming musical comicality in character entitled “Bunk-a-Doodle” by the children.
Master Snowy Ison’s get-up as a Highlander baffled description, as also Jack Duffy’s bookmaker’s costume (Barney Allen). The girls appeared as old ladies in Noah’s Ark costumes also causing much amusement, especially in the dance… 25/7/1914

Sixteen 100 years ago booklets containing articles for the years 1899 to 1913 are available ($5 ea) from the society’s rooms. Copies of local newspapers from the 1860s to date can be viewed at the society’s Family History Research Centre (Ph 4474 3224) situated at the rear of the Pioneer Museum in Campbell St. Moruya (

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