Mudgee History

Waters Rising: There was a great flood in Mudgee in 1856, in which L’Estrange was washed from his horse crossing the Cudgegong River at Mudgee.
Waters Rising: There was a great flood in Mudgee in 1856, in which L’Estrange was washed from his horse crossing the Cudgegong River at Mudgee.

John Bax – Mendooran Mail Coach Driver 

Part 2 Further Activities  in Mudgee

When his Mendooran Cobb and Co. engagement expired he returned to his wife and family at Mudgee. 

After a time he entered the service of  the Mudgee Borough Council. 

His duties were being the custodian of the town hall, rate collector, and inspector of nuisances, ie. forerunner of a later health inspector.  

These duties together with his employment also with the local Gas Company he carried out honestly and without fear or favour for 15 years. 

He then resigned from the Council and shortly after from the Gas company.

Mr Bax, unfortunately was among the many who suffered from the bank failures in the early nineties.  

At the same time he experienced a still greater misfortune by the death of his wife in November, 1898.  

In the year 1903, when he had reached 80 years he was residing with his two unmarried daughters in Mudgee.

I now desire to transgress back to the year 1906 and let the correspondent of the Western Post inform you of the drowning of James Gorman and L’Estrange in the river at Mudgee and the part played by John Bax in the recovery of  the bodies.

“There was a great flood in Mudgee in 1856, in which L’Estrange was washed from his horse crossing the Cudgegong River at Mudgee.  

Mr Gorman in attempting to save his friend also perished. At the time both persons were partners in a store and hotel business in Mudgee.  

The river  was in flood, and L’Strange asked Gorman to cross the river to Lawson’s paddock for a horse. Gorman demurred.

Thereupon L’Estrange, who was wearing high jigger boats, set off himself on horse back, endearouring to negotiate the crossing which in those days was near Bleak House. 

As L’Estrange neared the river Gorman was seen running after him, throwing off his clothes as he ran, but only got partly stripped.

The two men plunged into the flooded stream, and were next seen by an young woman clutched in each other’s arms. 

They both sank, but it was not until ten days afterwards that their bodies were recovered, through a party of six of which John Bax, who constructed a raft for the purpose, were searching almost continuously.

L’Estrange’s body was  found in the river opposite the old Court House, or what was generally known as Bayly’s old place. 

Gorman’s copse was discovered near where the men were seen to sink. The water hole there, at the time, was estimated to be almost 30 feet deep. 

When the bodies were recovered a public collection was made, a total of almost nine pounds being raised.    

Bronze medals were struck and later presented to the recoverers of the two bodies including John Bax.”

James Gorman’s brother John Valentine Gorman was a government surveyor who was posted to Tamworth in 1848 to carry out surveys on the Liverpool Plains. 

In March, 1849 with a gang of seven men he commenced the location survey of Coxs Creek from south of Boggabri, past Mullaley to  the Coolah Tops.   

Coxs Creek was originally named Bowen Creek by the explorer John Oxley. 

However, this name was corrupted to Bone and Boan. and fell into disuse. 

Coxs Creek finally derived its name from Richard Cox of Mudgee, who held at least two pastoral runs in the area.

John Bax died in Mudgee in September, 1909, age 85 years, and was buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery, Mudgee.  He left five children aged 43 to 54 years. 

Four children had predeceased him. In his obituary the Mudgee Guardian said of him ,” there was no husband more faithful, no father as kind, no citizen as conscientious, no worker so tireless, no friend so true.

Roy Cameron,   OAM