The nation’s loss seems to have been Dalgety’s gain, as the town that was almost our capital remains a quiet, historic spot on the Snowy.

Story By Chris Pritchard

Seldom is being an also-ran a cause for celebration. But little Dalgety, in the Snowy Mountains’ rain shadow, revels in almost becoming Australia’s capital. The accepted version of history is that Dalgety, though gazetted for the starring role in 1902, lost out to purpose-built Canberra, which occupied a location officialdom deemed better suited.

Mind you, many locals prefer a different take on history – blaming the water. As this argument runs, the Snowy River’s temperature triggered Canberra’s construction. “Visiting politicians went swimming and declared the river and town too cold – though they thought Dalgety was an otherwise ideal site,” says Richard Cusbert, owner of Buckley’s Crossing Hotel, Dalgety’s pub. He echoes a tale oft-heard in these parts. But the decision to build Canberra allowed Dalgety’s delightful somnolence to endure.

This story excerpt is from Issue #105

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2016