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Page history last edited by Mcgooley 10 years, 1 month ago

James Maiden got a free ride to N.S.W. in 1834, courtesy of His Maj. William 4th, after taking a fancy to someone else’s silverware. He received his ticket-of leave in 1839, but he still had to be a good boy for at least another 18 months to be be allowed to pay for his pardon. The mail service being what it was, he wouldn’t have got his piece of paper for probably a couple of years which meant that he could not own property, or operate a business in his name without it.

It’s known that he landed a job as superintendent on John Clarke’s “Long Swamp” station, which was about 20 km downstream, to the west of present-day Moama, around 1843. At this time, wool from the area was being taken directly to Sydney by bullock-wagons. Maiden organized a punt to be built at Seymour and brought downstream to him via the Goulburn and Murray rivers.

The gamble paid off when some of the 1844 clip went to Sydney by way of Maiden’s first punt down to Melbourne, and then by ship. The time saved was well over half that taken by the overland route.

A year later, Maiden had a punt built which could accommodate a team of 6 to 8 bullocks with their dray, and set it up about 1 km east of the centre of today’s Moama. Just for good measure, he established the “Junction Inn” with a large stables on high ground above the punt. ‘Maiden’s Punt’ was born.

Ham’s 1847 map shows an inn on the site, but it is unnamed, possibly because at that time it was unlicensed. What Ham’s map does show that apart from the Sydney road, the site at Maiden’s Punt was the only other crossing place over the Murray at that time.

When James Maiden became Postmaster at Maiden’s Punt in 1848, he was handling ALL the mails from Melbourne and Sydney into the south-west corner of N.S.W. On the front page of the Port Phillip Government Gazette, Wednesday 11th September 1850, among the list of tenders called for contracts for the "Conveyance of Mails"; there is a contract "From and to Maiden's Punt, Deniliquin, and Moulamein, once a week." Following on from this were two other contracts which spread out further into the hinterland.


The township of Moama was proclaimed in 1851, and it is generally accepted that James Maiden is its father. The picture below was taken at the height of his success;

There is a theory that Maiden’s Gully near Bendigo was the site of his cattle abbatoir, an enterprise to cater for the diggers desire for something other than mutton.


It is known that in 1855, the year that the Post Office was brought under the control of N.S.W., Maiden bought Long Swamp station which had been since renamed Pericoota Station. The town of Moama went backwards for a time after Maiden sold out.




To the Editor of the Argus.

Sir, - I beg leave, through the medium of your influential journal, to call the attention of the Government to the useless and disgraceful state of the Government punt at this place. This very day, the weather being fine, the current of the Murray river moderate, the water more than ten feet lower than the top of the bank, drays cannot pass over the river, and pedestrians have to perform various difficult and hazardous feats of agility in order to escape a ducking.

There is now no windlass to the punt, so that the haulage-rope can neither be taken up nor let down. The same rope is literally a mass of splices from one end to the other and the arrival of a mob of sheep to be crossed necessitates the punt to be stopped for hours in order that the most doubtful places in the rope should be new spliced.

Travellers arriving unfortunately a few minutes after sundown at either side of the river, have to pay the most exorbitant rates to induce the puntman to cross them, - a proceeding which if not encouraged by the Government, is certainly connived at.

The Government forced me upwards of five years ago to sell them the punt, at their own price. It was then in an efficient state, and gave satisfaction to all passers; but I very much doubt now if there can be found a punt, public or private, in either Victoria or New South Wales, in such a state of disrepair. So long as the Government can find any one to pay the rent, the rights of this part of the country are totally disregarded. The puntman is bound by contract to keep the punt in repair, which is considered as done should he leave it floating for his successor. The result is that no one acquainted with the locality will have anything to do with it, (although it is evident that it would be more lucrative to a resident,) and from year to year the charge of the main-crossing of the Murray River is handed over to needy strangers, who care neither for the accommodation of the neighborhood nor the safety of the public.

The centralisation of the various Governments of Australia has had nowhere more withering effects than in the Murray district, and the need of local improvements effected by local funds (if the Government will let us have the use of our own money) is nowhere more strongly felt.

Hoping that the crowded state of your columns will allow of the insertion of the above few lines, the publicity thus attained being our only chance of redress,

I remain, Sir,

Your most obedient servant.



Moama, 21st August.

Argus, Friday 29th August 1856



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