Black-Allan Line finally recognised

AFTER a wait of more than 130 years, the eastern straight-line portion of the NSW and Victorian border was formally recognised at an exciting historical ceremony held in Delegate River last Thursday, February 16.

A crowd of over 300 people gathered at a site known as Allan's Peg on the Bonang Highway for the occasion, with the Governor of Victoria, Mr John Landy, and Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir officiating.

Master of Ceremonies for the important occasion was Surveyor General of Victoria, Mr John Tulloch, who began proceedings with an official acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land, the Bidawal and Ngarigo people.

Clearly pleased to be part of the historical moment, both Governor Landy and Bashir spoke to the gathering on the fascinating history of the 180 kilometre stretch of the border, which has become known as the Black-Allan Line.

As was explained throughout the ceremony, the Black-Allan Line is the line surveyed by Alexander Black and Alexander Allan from 1870 to 1872 to determine and mark the eastern straight-line portion of the NSW-Victorian border.

The line stretches between Cape Howe and Indi Springs at the headwaters of the Murray River, and was named the Black-Allan Line to commemorate their significant contribution to colonial surveying.

After the Governors spoke of the tremendous efforts of Black and Allan in notoriously difficult terrain, the ceremony moved onto the official naming of the western terminal of the line.

Here Parliamentary Secretary to the Victorian Premier, Bruce Mildenhall completed a dedication to Townsend Corner, which was named after early explorer, Thomas Scott Townsend who found the source of the Murray River nearest to Cape Howe.

Officially naming Indi Springs of the upper reaches of the Murray, NSW Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly then explained the Aboriginal origins of the title, with 'Indi' meaning ‘something far away, or belonging to the past'.

At this point Governors Landy and Bashir were invited unveil the commemorative plaque of the occasion, with the NSW and Victorian flags being pulled back to reveal the official acknowledgment of the Black-Allan Line.

Concluding the formal proceedings, the Governors then shook hands over the line that now crosses the Bonang Highway to mark the newly acknowledged border, while the Surveyor Generals of both states drank a toast at Allan's Peg, where Black and Allan began the monumental surveying project.

Some time was also spent looking over a fascinating display of old surveying gear that had been set up for the occasion, but it was a surprise last minute arrival that stole all of the attention, particularly that of the Surveyor Generals.

Here a James Black of Goongerah introduced himself as a direct descendant of Alexander Black, and humbly produced a telescope which he believes to be an actual piece of equipment used by Black to survey the line.

Naturally this was an astonishing addition to the day that added even more sparkle to an already memorable occasion, with the gathering then moving onto the Delegate Country Club to enjoy a Civic Reception.

Bombala Council Mayor, Bob Stewart welcomed the 100 or so guests who attended the reception, with East Gippsland Shire Mayor, Jane Rowe joining him to present the visiting Governors with Claire Schofield's local history, ‘Bombala - Hub of the Southern Monaro'.

The Mayors themselves were also given a special presentation, with the Surveyor Generals passing on satellite photographs of the border area for both Councils to keep.

Although Professor Bashir then went on to visit the Delegate Public School, the earlier ceremony and Civic Reception could be said to have brought this wonderful surveying chapter of Black and Allan to a close, with all who attended agreeing that the occasion was given appropriate honour and reflection on Thursday.

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