Saturday, 16 February 2013 close the gate.

G’day  Possums,

I came upon another “Blog” recently  which had some local information which was curiously familiar…

…I, in fact had written it. 

So I have decided to re-print it in full and….re-claim it!

Shane and solar protection
Shane in's sunny and we're going Solar....

Originally a smaller version was started by then local, Greta Beveridge and expanded by me to be used in a local directory for the Greendale CFA Brigade.

When a group of local business’ wanted to produce a similar directory for the Ballan Traders Assoc. I “got-the-gig” and many hours were then spent in the Ballarat library poring over old newspapers and Council records to provide new locals with a fuller story of the area.


In1833 Edward Henty landed in Portland, John Batman in Port Philip in 1834 to be followed by John Pascoe Fawkner who settled in 1835.

Following the route of the Moorabool River from Geelong in 1838 Robert Von Stieglitz, Cowie and Stead, attracted by the good grasslands and the presence of permanent water established pastoral holdings in the home of the Wurunjeri, Kurung and Wathourung tribes.

Sheep on a Hill
Gordon, Landscape

The extensive pasturelands and good soils meant that by 1850 most districts of the State were settled, if only sparsely by the white settlers, at which time the Victorian population was estimated at some 76,000.

On August 13, 1851 a small girl found a gold nugget in Swanton St. Melbourne and others commenced to dig.
 It was not reported if any more was found in the vicinity but the new Victorian Government offered a reward for the first person discovering substantial gold deposits so that the population drift to the developing goldfields in New South Wales might be curtailed offered a reward.

A farmer in the Clunes area asked a Melbourne friend to check some Pyrite deposits he had located in one of his creeks and when it was reported as being gold-bearing the farmer decided "..that it wouldn’t be worth reporting as I don’t want hundreds of people arriving to dig up my land....”  Unfortunately, the Melbourne friend mentioned the deposits to a fellow named Esmond who knew the locality, as he made deliveries there. In his explorations, Esmond discovered considerable amounts of alluvial gold and the “rush” was on!

It’s worth noting that although Esmond struck many claims, the most substantial monies he made was from that Government reward paid, some years later.

Clunes, then Buninyong in 1851; with gold throughout the district the first licenses were issued in that September at a cost of £18/0/0 per annum and raised again in December to  £ 3/0/0  per  month.

The costs of the license fees for a 12’ x 12’ piece of dirt and the constant harassment of the prospectors by the police to account for them, led to many discoveries in other areas as the “diggers” attempted to evade the authorities by seeking gold away from prying eyes and eventually to the “Eureka” Rebellion.

In Blackwood, Gordon, Mt Egerton, Morrisons, Tea Tree Creek and Greendale the population exploded, Blackwood having some 13,000 people and Egerton with 6,000 supporting nine hotels, five churches and a State School.

Victoria’s population had increased by 80,000 in just twelve months.

Old colonial building
The old Royal Mail Hotel, Blackwood

Some groups of miners were taking £10,000 per week and it was not unknown for a prospector to leave ship in Melbourne, obtain a license and a fortune in time enough to board the same ship for return passage to England.

As the alluvial gold became less available and mining commenced. The Wombat Forest around Blakeville delivered the thousands of feet of wood for pit props and it became the centre of this industry, with Ballan becoming the major rail link to Ballarat for its product. Cordial and Mineral water was also being commercially produced along with abundant agricultural and pastoral produce of many varieties of vegetable and meat.

Some idea of the wealth available in the district in indicated in the expenditure for the rail extension from Ballan to Bacchus Marsh in 1889; the seventeen miles of rail, bridge and earthworks costing some £ 173,993/10/0.

Ballan Old Building
Post and telegraph Office, Ballan

 By 1855 Cobb and Co coaches were operating throughout the district. One service advertised its departure from Blackwood at 10.00am and arrival in Ballarat, 5.00pm. George Flack’s Ballan Hotel becoming a vital link in the chain of communication as one of Cobb and Co’s changing stations when it was constructed in 1860. The Plough Inn, Myrniong, also began the first of its incarnations in 1861.

Post and telegraph Office, Ballan

The character of the Shire, proclaimed in 1864, was defined by its agricultural and mining pursuits, the original Shire Offices being built in 1870 to service a community of 7,000 people. 

Captain Moonlight's Churcxh
Greendale Church  now being renovated...

Visitors to the Victorian goldfields like Anthony Trollope, were impressed by the industry of the people and their generally law abiding behaviour which they contrasted with the mayhem they had witnessed on the Californian goldfields and attributed this to the fact that ...”Queen Victoria was on the throne and that we were British in law and attitude....”

Unfortunately this Victorian morality didn’t bother a certain Mr Scott, lay preacher, who, apart from collecting alms for the still incomplete church in Greendale also raised arms as “Captain Moonlight”, bushranger.

When he was eventually captured by troopers in New South Wales in 1879 he was apprehended wearing a woman’s dress and was reported as being more upset at his long term compatriot-in-arms being shot and killed than by his own capture and fate.

He was, after sentencing by Magistrate Shuter of La Cote homestead, hanged.

Around this time the 1700 miners in the area had in a years work, obtained yields of 130 ozs in alluvial gold and 7,635 ozs from quartz crushing.

Mechanics Institute and Library

August 31, 1887 saw the opening of the Mechanics Institute and Library, the land purchase costing  £27/10/0. Some of the discussions taking place in its rooms no doubt similar to one topic debated by the Golden Point Y.M.C. Around this time on...” The advisability of opening free libraries and museums on Sundays”.

Mechanic Institute, Ballan
Mechanics Institute and Library with Peter Blizzard Sculpture

Land values at this time were £8-12 per acre or £20/0/0 for 40 acres.

Bushfire was an ever-present summer danger: “Black Thursday” in 1859 had destroyed a huge area of the State including a swathe from Ballarat through to Myrniong and again in 1902, 30,000 acres in the Kilmore region was burnt by a fire which had started from a spark in a mine engine. This vulnerability to fire led the Greendale schoolmaster, Mr Grant to set up, with help from local farmers an unofficial group to fight fires when they occurred locally and by 1914 the Greendale Fire League had been formed. This brigade can probably now claim to be the oldest and longest operating fire service in the State.

The spirit of self help and mutual co-operation was also evident in the number of clubs, sporting teams of various codes, the balls held in different towns and the celebration of local produce at farm days, flower shows and race days held regularly down through the years.

The 1890, the discovery of gold in Coolgardie W.A. meant that many of the Victorian miners decamped to seek more fortune there. Towns, which were founded primarily on gold mining, began to falter. Mine shafts once left, filled with water and although there may have been substantial deposits remaining, the costs and efforts in pumping out and re-habilitating the mines were far outweighed by the now smaller returns.

Pykes Creek and Korweinguboora reservoirs had been completed by 1911 and provided water to Bacchus Marsh and Geelong respectively, the latter works costing £11,000/0/0.

Ballan water
Pykes Creek

Following the First World War, Ballan had a small influx of soldier settlers and its predominately agricultural and logging activities were the mainstays of its economy though gold was still being mined but with much smaller returns.

By 1919 the Shires population had fallen to 4200 and Egerton had only enough people for two of its churches to maintain services.

post office Ballan
Post Office Ballan

The radio transmitter at Fiskville and the electricity generation plant were in operation by 1927 and this was to continue till 1935 when the S.E.C. supply became available.

The population continued declining and by 1951 Ballan Shire could list only 2600 residents and Gordon is mentioned as the only place gold mining was still in operation. Blackwood was by now considered a holiday resort and all other parishes are treated as pastoral and agricultural.

bluestone church, Ballan
Anglican Church, Ballan

 The population began to increase again by the 1970’s, with subdivisions being opened up throughout the district.
The quicker access to Melbourne by the expanded Western Highway and the attractiveness of the country and its potential lifestyle saw more rural-commuter living with a consequent expansion in business and industry to support the growing community and its needs.

With these services developing and increasing and being surrounded by the natural beauty of the countryside we can consider ourselves fortunate to inherit a part of Wurunjeri land and in our own fashion become a productive new part of its history.


Wombat Droppings

Oi… has this been a week !

Some of this has been sourced from

1/ We have discovered that it seems our footy heroes may be as high as Lance Armstrong and consorting with crims. Well, well… what a surprise…. although the McCarthy-ist tactics displayed by those ranting seem to auger returns similar to that horrid piece of American work.

2/ “Mr Rabbott” doesn’t know the difference between a “motherhood” statement and a policy.

But we knew that anyway… it’s just that his tune has changed for the time being and looks like he’s had a facelift,pity about his moral stance!

3/ The Pope has quit which means Cardinal George Pell gets to go O/S for a while…how convenient! Just when the “Tardis State (where-all-goes-backward) has just started its investigations into the abuse of children.

4/ A candidate from Katter's Australia Party had to be reprimanded for comparing gay marriage to paedophilia.

5/ A dusky complexioned ABC journalist and his two year old daughter were hurled racist vitriol for twenty minutes while travelling on a Sydney bus. Seems no-one intervened except the driver who suggested he move to the front of the bus. Hmmm.

6/ Then the launch of a new political party, "Rise Up", a group whose leader once publicly stated that the Black Saturday bushfires were caused by laws that allow abortion and that is waging a war against multiculturalism, marriage equality, climate action, being sane, rational, humane and intelligent!

7/ Cringe-worthy climate denier (neither Lord nor qualified) Lord (Loopy) Monckton is touring our country again, probably being funded by Gina (The Largest Miner)Rinehart but fronted by the (Coots- with-Queer-Ideas) IPA… one of whom, ( James (Pollyanna) Paterson )seemed ‘tother night on Q&A, to have lost his script by A/ praising the even-handed policies of The ABC and B/ the research done by CSIRO, both of which the IPA wish to destroy by privatisation. Even his smugly sleazy, fellow traveller Brandis seemed surprised.

8/  Past-it pollies Michael(Ghengis Head Kicker) Kroger and Jeff (Bully-Boy) Kennett, (the Dorian Gray of Tardis State)  have been out and about sticking the knife into Big Bird Baillieu (Genus: Silvertail Incompetens) ‘cause his government is incompetent and they have been sounding like the Fifth Form brat Bullies they probably were! 

What we're witnessing is a rise in conservative forces and policies that threaten much of what we've fought for. There’s a new Medievalism in the air .

I think we’re in for a mongrel few months…… then an Armageddon of Hubris and as I said last post, the end of Civility.

Cheers Petals,


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