Numeralla is said to be Aboriginal for “where the waters meet”. The village stands at the junction of the Big Badja and the Numeralla Rivers. Four Kms south the Kybean River joins the Numeralla (changed from Umeralla in 1974).
A collection of historic photos is on permanent display at the Numeralla Diggers Memorial Hall. Unfortunately they have been fading a little. The photos have been preserved in digital form by the Numeralla and District Community History Group, and are available for viewing online here; https://www.flickr.com/photos/154908099@N04/
Local History Book “In Those Days”
“In Those Days” The Numeralla History Group’s book was first published in 1996. Over 40 descendants of the early pioneering families from the Numeralla, Countegany, Peak View and surrounding areas were interviewed and their stories used to produce “In Those Days”.
Proceeds from the sale of this book have been used in a community project at the Numeralla Memorial Hall in memory of our early pioneers.
If you’d like more information about the book, its current availability, and/or have some more stories to tell, you can contact Elaine Schofield on 02 6452 5925
First squatters date from 1833 – Stanton, Robinson, Peppard.
Evidence of early occupation by Aboriginal and European settlers can be found throughout the area. Most obvious are the remains of old earthen buildings and yards. Less obvious are the scattering of Aboriginal artefacts and traces left by early gold miners. Early explorers into the Monaro report encountering large groups of Aborigines moving throughout the area (Oven & Currie) Archaeologists have undertaken some research in the area and traces of Aboriginal usage can still be found throughout the area.
1858 – 1868 The first report of gold deposits on the Monaro was in 1858, on the Numeralla River. The Big Badja diggings were not worked until 1861. In 1866 there were diggings extending about three kilometres north of Numeralla along the river but neight area had gold in large deposits, and by 1868 mining numbers had dropped; the only fossickers left there were reported to be Chinese.
1885 Numeralla was proclaimed a village
1892 – 1897 In 1892 the Big Badja Sluicing Company started operations and mining again became an important part of the local economy. The activity lasted until 1897, and evidence of the old diggings can still be seen.
1897 Gold was discovered at Bushy Hill, only a few kilometres east of Cooma. There were numerous claims but only a few of the large operators were consistently successful. (That field was reworked between 1927 – 29.)
The name of the Umaralla River was changed to Numeralla River on 2 June 1972.
Numeralla proclaimed a village in 1885. Mud Huts “pise” in the area were built between 1860 and 1910. Some of the early buildings are built of mud bricks and some are poured walls with mud and grass. The stone house on the corner in the village built in 1868 for Hugh Agnew – coming to the area in 1866.
The first post office opened by Hugh Agnew opened in 1863 – the first post consisted of two papers and one letter. He occupied this position until 1908 at the stone cottage on the corner., then his daughter Mary McDonald continued to operate it. The post office continued to operate until 1982.
In 1866 two men armed and with faces covered committee a robbery at the store and dwelling house of Mr Hugh Agnew, Umeralla. SMH 1866. The robbers helped themselves to a large quantity of tea, sugar, tweed and clothing, as well as a double barrelled gun – goods estimated to be worth 50 pounds. The bushrangers were captured in 1867 – on the Braidwood Road. They also took Mrs Agnew’s wedding ring and bridal veil – the veil was so fine, it could be pulled through the wedding ring.
The mountain to the East now known as Mt Numeralla was called Clarke Mountain – named for the Clark brothers – bushrangers in the area. It is the highest peak off the main range (Great Divide) at 4,350 ft or 1,234 mtrs.
In the old days (1890s) people would go Cooma once every three months or a couple of times a year for their supplies of flour, tea, sugar and other requirements they could not produce themselves. In those days a trip would take 3 days, one to get there, a day to purchase and probably socialise, and a day home.
Numeralla Diggers Memorial Hall
The Hall in Mclean Street was built in 1920/21 by Ted Thomas, as a memorial to the soldiers of the First World War. The supper room was added on in 1926. Other extensions and upgrades have been done over the years as necessary, and funding has allowed.
Known as the Numeralla Diggers Memorial Hall, it has been, and is, the hub of social activity in our village. Meetings, parties, dances and card nights are held here, as well as the Numeralla Folk Festival which has been held annually since 1974. Some of the proceeds from the festival, as well as hiring fees, go towards new extensions such as the new kitchen, verandah, store room, lining of the hall, plus equipment.
The crockery cupboard was donated by local people in 1947 as a memorial to Mrs. Carrie Ross who was the midwife in the area for many years.
First building was a stone structure built by Henry Brae in 1894 costing $480. Built free of debt.
The building was sold in 1927 for $106 to be demolished and carted away.
The present church All Saints built by A Mawson, cost more than $4,000. Foundation stone laid on 1 Feb 1914 and opened on 19 September 1915. The bricks were made on Buenawatha – on the King’s Creek south of the village, and on a site on the Numeralla River.
The first church was built on land dedicated on 3 May 1865. It was built of packing cases given by Denny Roche, the store keeper in 1872. In 1898 a church school, St Aiden’s was opened believed to be on the block behind the existing church.
The existing church was started in 1914 and was completed in 1917. The timber came from the Badja sawmill, a shingle roof, built by Ted Thomas.
1898 Monaro Mercury reported of the Umeralla Cricketers – Leahy, Agnew, McDonald, Ward, Goodwin, Lloyd, Scullin, Collins.
Mrs Hilda Freebody born in 1907 reported that she was in the ladies cricket team. In the 1930s – Scullin, Alexander, Koppman, Collins, Murphy, Warren and Tracey.
The gold digging on the Big Badja River lay 5 kms east upstream on the south side of the river.
First arrival reported in 1858 – worked by 20 men.
1861 mining supported 30 men growing to 50 men, getting between one and four ounces per man per week.
1868 it was reported that the diggers were nearly all Chinese. By 1871 all the Chinese had left Umeralla as the gold no longer paid.
1881 Letter by William Forster “I am on the Umeralla, I am working the old diggings, but they are very poor.”
In the Second World War people started growing vegetables all along the river flats. Mr Ward grew potatoes down from Gold Dale.
Most of the others grew a few potatoes and pumpkins but when the war broke out a lot of people went in for growing carrots and peas for the army. Irrigation plants used to pump water out from the river and when you were coming down from Mine Hill – you could see these beautiful sprays of water going out over the flats.
Of course there were hawkers too.
The potatoes were dug with a big fork and young men would pick them up. They had big lucerne paddocks too and used to make those big haystacks. They used to pit the potatoes and carrots by piling them up in a big heap and covering them with dirt and they would keep for two to three years.
Mr Agnew was the first man to have a potato digger at The Corner up the Kybean river.
Dairy at The Point, making butter to sell in Cooma.
Rivers and Bridge
The river was a series of billabongs and rushes, and it didn’t have all that sand and high banks and erosion that is there today. It flowed fully when it rained. It was deeper, much deeper, no silt.
Suspension bridge across the Numeralla River up to the 1920s.
The Badja bridge built in 1930s.
Cooma Express 1913 – bridge over the Umeralla – due to frequent flooding took longer to complete. Mr R McDonald, who had the ferry, had the misfortune to lose the boat in the “big flood” and nothing seems to have been heard of since. In 1922 there was a big flood.
David Orr had a boat shed and a boat where a few old quince trees are at Peter Jackson’s – he used to row the people across and take supplies across for the people who were isolated on the other side of the river. This was mainly in flood time.
There was a well at the old post office on the hill
Mrs Maria Ward was the midwife in the early 1900s. Mrs Ross had a hospital. Caroline Ross was the district nurse – she died in 1947.
A provisional school was granted and in 1877 it moved from the temporary building – operating since 1876 – and had about 48 students. In 1885 the new school was ready for occupation.
The school was converted into a full time Provisional school in 1902.
Around the turn of the century Annie Collins reported about 73 kids at the school. The new school was built in 1914.
In the 1920-30s there were 43 kids at the school.
Unfortunately the School closed at the end of the 2015 School year due to a lack of enrolments. Children mostly now travel to Cooma for school.