Immaculate Conception Parish, Tumut
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39 Capper Street, Tumut, NSW, 2720
Fr Joseph Neonbasu
(02) 6947 4599
Tuesday and Thursday 9.00am to 2pm


Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception

Tumut town nestles along the Tumut River, a tributary of the Murrumbidgee which it joins in Gundagai. Hamilton Hume discovered the Tumut River in 1824 and the first white squatter Benjamin Warby arrived in 1828 at Darbalara although he and the ones who followed him only became licensed leaseholders from 1839. They included George and William Shelley of Been (Tumut Plains) station. Shelley senior was a missionary, and they are credited with making sure there were no Aboriginal deaths or massacres near Tumut. More settlers arrived in the 1840s when land leasing was legal. A courthouse was established in 1845. The town was laid out in 1848 and a police constable was appointed. But by 1856 few buildings were more than mere slab huts. The first Post Office in 1849 operated from the Courthouse. Like Gundagai the original town site moved up the hill after the 1852 Tumut River floods. In 1860 thousands passed through the small town on their way to the goldfields at Kiandra (1859) in the Snowy Mountains and later to Adelong on the plains. Tumut emerged as a solid town. With gold came bushrangers and Ned Kelly’s brother operated in this district in the 1870s. By 1866 there were eleven hotels in the town and the town population was around 400; in 1887 Tumut became a municipality; and in 1903 the branch railway line from Gundagai reached the town. Dairying and forestry became major district industries in the 20th century and the Tumut River became a major site for hydroelectric power. Blowering Dam was built just above the town with Tumut 1, 2 and 3 power stations on the Tumut River. In autumn the Lombardy Poplars along the Tumut River display great colour. They were planted in 1861. More autumn colour can be found in the Avenue of Elms which leads to the racecourse; thus it is not surprising that Tumut established the Festival of the Falling Leaf in the 1950s.


The parish of Tumut began in 1858, prior to that date Tumut was in the parish of Yass and the sparsely scattered parishioners were visited only on rare occasions and masses were celebrated in the homesteads.

It is interesting to note that at this time the Tumut Parish embraced Wagga, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Adelong, Batlow, Bargo, Shepardstown and Grahamstown - the population numbered 1000.

Reverend Dean Hanley is understood to have been the first resident priest in a cottage on Fitzroy Street owned by John Madigan.  The site is now a medical centre.  From 1846 - 1849 masses were held in the Court House, but the Catholics were anxious to build a church.

In 1858, His Lordship Bishop Polding, the Bishop of Sydney, visited Tumut and laid the foundation stone for the first Catholic Church of St Mary's of the Immaculate Conception.

This building is still standing today having once been used as the Sacred Heart School and presently being used as our parish hall.  Construction took fourteen months to complete at a cost of 1454/17/- the whole of which was donated by the Catholic population!              In 1863, Tumut was established as a parochial district and the first priest was Reverend Father T. O'Neill.  In 1887, Tumut became a permanent Rectorate.

Eighteen years after the completion of the first church, it was found to be inadequate to contain the congregation who attended Mass.  Reverend Father C. Twomey, the then Parish Priest, arranged for the building of the present Church of the Immaculate Conception, in blue trachyte rock, at a cost of 3,200 pounds and it was officially opened by The Right Reverend O. Lanigan, Bishop of Goulburn on the 24th of November 1878.

In 1883 the Sisters of Mercy came to Tumut and took up residence in a cottage, still standing, at the south-eastern corner of Simpson and Carey Streets.  They conducted their school  in the old church building and moved into thier present convent when it was completed in 1886.

After the turn of the century, masses were also celebrated in the outlying areas and are still celebrated at St Paul's non-denominational church at Talbingo and in the Community Hall at Brungle on alternate Sundays.

St Michael's Infants School was the first school to be built in Capper Street and then on the 22nd of April 1923, the foundation stone of St. Bridgid's School was laid by His Lordship, The Right Reverend Dr Gallagher, Bishop of Goulburn.  Since then, we have seen additions to this old building, the housing of St. Bridgids primary school in a new building across the road, new buildings for the Tumut Catholic High School and in 1991, the amalgamation of these two schools giving us the McAuley Catholic Central School. 

We are very proud of those pioneering priests and people who handed down this Catholic heritage.

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