Heart-breaking drowning near Yaamba (1918)
Tuesday 19th February 1918
RIVERS FALLING RAPIDLY
THE Fitzroy River here yesterday fell much faster than for several days past and in two or three days it should reach its normal level. The reading at eight o'clock yesterday morning was 21 ft. 6 in. above low-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
The Dawson River at Boolburra was reported last evening to be once more at its ordinary summer level.
Further particulars of the drowning of Bernard Linden near Yaamba, as contained in a report from Constable M. Cumming, were made available by Inspector McGrath yesterday.
Linden was employed on R. Daley's selection at Milman, four miles from Yaamba.
Daley had inquired about the safety of Linden, and Constable Cumming endeavoured to get two boatmen, Stephen Hughes and William Ludkin, who had previously assisted him in rescue work, to take him to Linden's camp, on the opposite side of the Fitzroy.
Owing to the scrubby nature of the country and the flooded sate of the river, which was then 50 ft. 9 in. above summer level and rising, they considered it too risky, but decided to go when the water commenced to recede.
Early on Tuesday morning last Constable Cumming and Hughes proceeded up the river for about five miles in a boat, and, crossing successfully, found Linden, who informed them that he had had a very bad time, having been isolated in a tree for three nights and four days, and asked the constable to take him to Yaamba, as he wanted to see Daley.
Linden, together with his dog and belongings, was saved and the party went down the river in the boat for about 500 yards. Hughes, who was then in charge, attempted to cross the river, but found it more difficult, and his right-hand oar slipped from his grasp.
Linden caught the oar, but before it could be got into position again, the boat collided about the centre of the stream with a big gum tree and immediately filled with water. Constable Cumming, Hughes, and Linden jumped out of the boat.
The constable swam to a tree a few yards away, as the current was running very rapidly, and, on looking round, saw Hughes swimming in front of the boat and Linden's swag and portmanteau going downstream.
He could not, however, see any sign of Linden. He called out, but received no reply except from Hughes.
About an hour later Hughes came back with the boat very much exhausted.
Hughes thought he had seen Linden in the water, but was not sure; it might have been the dog, which had been placed in the boat.
Finding no trace of Linden, the constable and Hughes returned to Yaamba; but in company with Constable Hayes and Mr. Peter Swanson, they continued the search and found Linden's body floating face downward against a heap of debris about 150 yards from where the accident occurred.
At his right-hand side and close to the body was one of the oars lost from the boat.
The body was conveyed to Daley's hut.
Two matchboxes, one containing cigarette papers and the other matches, were found on the deceased.
Linden was forty-five years of age and a single man.
He was a recent arrival in the district.
All he possessed was in the boat.