The Upper Murray
“The Man From Snowy River” country
of North-Eastern Victoria & Southern NSW
© Copyright 2017  The Upper Murray Business Directory  All rights reserved.

Early History of the

Upper Murray

The towns, villages and localities of the Upper Murray all have a story which has led to their existence. The first people of the Upper Murray Prior to the 1830s, the Upper Murray was inhabited by native fauna and flora living in natural balance. This balance was slightly altered with the seasonal visitation of generations of indigenous people, who came to the mountain country to hold traditional ceremonies and to feast on the Bogong moths and other native foods during the summer months. The first people to enter this region are thought to have arrived over 10,000 years ago. On arrival of the European pioneers, there were three main indigenous language groups represented in the Upper Murray, the Jaitmathang people of the Victorian Alpine region, the Wiradjuri people, who occupied the immediate lands north of the Murray River and the Wolgal people of the western side of the Snowy Mountains high country. Although each group lived in a particular area, distinct boundaries never existed and it is known that they met together at different times to hold traditional ceremonies. Within each of these family groups, there were smaller family groups, or hordes. The Dhudhuroa  horde of the Jaitmathang people, for example, lived beside the Murray River near Pine Mountain.
Pine Mountain is regarded as a sacred place to descendants of this group. The indigenous Aboriginal way of life did not recognise land ownership as the pioneer Europeans knew it. Had the friendly native guides, who led the early pioneers along their tracks into this region, realised the short and long term consequences for their people, they may have changed their minds. Tragically, the indigenous people quickly disappeared from the Upper Murray landscape. A successful culture for thousands of generations disappeared within three. The last full blooded aboriginal from the Upper Murray died around the late 1860s or early 1870s. Several other full blooded indigenous people from other regions did live in the area, the last was a woman known as Black Mag. The Man From Snowy River Museum, located in Hanson Street in Corryong, has a small collection of indigenous artifacts for public viewing. The names of most of our Upper Murray towns and localities, indigenous words first used to distinguish the early squatter runs, are the most vivid reminders of our local indigenous history. The era of the squatter In the mid 1830s, south-eastern Australia experienced severe and prolonged drought.  By then the early ‘squatters', wealthy and connected people of European descent who had taken possession of grazing lands to the north of the Upper Murray were desperate to find additional quality grazing country and water for their livestock.
Upon discovering the existence of the Upper Murray, the first grazing pioneers quickly took up 'runs' of enormous acreage along the Murray River and its many tributaries. With little or no fencing to contain their cattle, sheep and horses, these first pioneers (many of whom did not bring their own families to live in the Upper Murray) employed whatever labour they could find, including ex- convicts, bounty immigrants and ticket of leave men, to manage their new outstation properties. It was a lonely existence with few comforts and little companionship. Amongst their many attributes, these men, the first cattlemen of the Upper Murray high country, needed to have excellent horsemanship skills in order to manage the animals in their charge. The era of land selection In the 1850s and 1860s the discovery of significant gold deposits in Victoria and New South Wales brought many people to Australia from all over the world, most notably Britain. Some were successful finding gold, while others were successful supplying goods and services to the miners but, it would be fair to say, many struggled without success, only to fall back on their former trades to support their families. As gold discoveries became less frequent, the colonial governments introduced legislation for land ownership to encourage permanent settlement. From the 1860s onwards more families arrived in the Upper Murray and small communities began to develop into the towns and villages of the Upper Murray