SILK TRADE: A sketch of Charles Brady's silkworm farm in 1881/State Library of Queensland.
SILK TRADE: A sketch of Charles Brady's silkworm farm in 1881/State Library of Queensland. Contributed

Silk worms at heart of Tumbulgum's rich history

AS TUMBULGUM gets ready to celebrate its 150th anniversary next Saturday, some of the town's more interesting characters are coming out of the woodworks.

A silkworm farm isn't the first thing Tumbulgum is associated with but back in the 1880s, Charles Brady's property was a hive of activity.

Now owned by Trish and Robert Budd, the silkworm farm was a pioneering concept created by Mr Brady to solve the problems of the silk trade in Asia and Europe.

"The silk trade was dying off because they were inbreeding the silk worms which created diseases," Mr Budd said.

Born in England, Mr Brady was gifted the land by the government to foster employment within the community and to help solve the silk crisis.

Mrs Budd said they started looking into the history of the property after purchasing it in 2012 and Mr Brady's story quickly captured their imagination.

"Brady saw an opportunity but he never planned, as far as we know, to produce silk," Mrs Budd said.

"He was producing the grain and the cocoons and would ship the grain overseas.

"Silkworms only hatch once a year, so I was excited to find documentation of Brady's silk worming process which showed he was able to get a couple of hatchings a year to increase production."

Mrs Budd said as they researched Mr Brady's history, it turned out he was highly influential within the Tumbulgum community and was elected as the village spokesperson.

"The folks here at the junction, which was obviously a river port, were concerned about getting their goods to market because there was a change in the location to where the ferry would go across," she said. "In some of the newspaper reports he actually gave testimony to the government when they were looking at rail roads, and suggested there should be a rail road from Murwillumbah to Brisbane."

But Mr Brady's political agenda proved too much for the community.

"He became much maligned for being so outspoken," she said.

To celebrate the town's 150th anniversary, Tumbulgum is hosting a street party on Saturday, November 12, with the Tweed River Festival and lantern parade to be held to coincide with celebrations.


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