Smith’s Crossing, Yea River, Toolangi, John Henry Harvey (photographer), circa 1875-1938, transparency : toned glass lantern slide ; 8.5 x 8.5 cm.Contributors
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For colonists, the movement of mail, stock and goods was vital.
When rivers were low, they could be forded. When rivers flooded and the water level got too high, Aboriginal people would often be employed to ferry goods by canoe. This offered an efficient and safe mode of river pilotage, particularly in remote areas where no other means of transportation was available.
Godfrey described in about 1851 how rivers such as the Loddon, in central Victoria, were prone to flooding and how one year ‘All the country on both sides of the Loddon was flooded, and the wagons could get no nearer than four miles from the homestead, so supplies had to be brought in by bark canoe.’
In 1859 when the waters of Joyce’s Creek at Avenel, near Seymour, rose 20 feet after a flood of the Goulburn River, the Argus reported that ‘passengers had to be ferried across one at a time in a native canoe.’
Quoted in F Stevens Smoke from the Hill, (Bendigo, Cambridge Press 1969) p.28.
The Argus, Tuesday 1 February 1859, p.5.