Bushfires have again devastated the mountains of North Eastern Victoria around Harrietville. Many historic mining sites that were revealed in 2003 have again been laid bare of vegetation. Extreme rain events have however caused a great deal of damage to many fragile historic features. A rare brief opportunity now exists for mining history enthusiasts to discover the mining history of the Victorian Alps. Happy exploring and take only photographs!
|Beyond Hotham - 14th - 24th March 2013|
Unfortunately due to the Harrietville bushfires, this years event has been cancelled. Stay tuned next year will be even bigger, with more mining history!
|Harrietville Chinese History Celebrations - October 12th - 14th 2012|
October 12th to 14th 2012 will see Harrietville host a celebration of Chinese history on the Upper Ovens Goldfields. A full program includes Chinese family history display, gold panning, re-enactments, film night, Chinese artefact displays, guided tours and much more. Organised by the Harrietville Historical Society.
Keep this weekend free for the whole family.
|The Cobungra Township - Cobungra Diggings|
With the rush to the Cobungra River diggings and the Brandy Creek deep lead in 1882, and the subsequent large investment by the Cobungra GMCo, a population of about 400 moved into the area. Many were nvolved in the construction of this water race, others worked various claims on Swindler's Creek and the Cobungra River - while others saw an opportunity to open businesses.
Immediately below the Brandy Creek workings a small commercial center evolved around the growing mining camp.
The township of Cobungra proper is built on the north side of a ridge from the main range leading down to the river, and is about as uninviting a spot as could be well determined upon in the ranges. A four-roomed house of galvanized iron does the duty of hotel, three stores, a bakery, a butcher's
establishment, and the huts and the tents of the
miners comprise the hamlet. Similar in surroundings to the mining camps of the pioneers of the western wilds of California is this young settlement in our
Australian Alps, but lacking that element of ribaldry and excitement that characterized the earlier days of gold-seeking both in Victoria and America. No bowie-knives, six-shooters projecting from gaudy-coloured waistbelts; no nights rendered hideous by scenes of drunken
dissipation. The Argus, Monday 2nd February 1885
Today nothing is left of the township, which has become a true mountain ghost town!
|The Cobungra Ditch Protest|
In November 1884 the Cobungra GMCo. suddenly dismissed the majority of hands employed in the construction of the water race that was to provide water for the hydraulic sluicing operations of the company. In protest the workers held a march.
Reference courtesy Luke Steehuis (Ghost Towns of the High Country)
|Bright P12- Freeburgh School|
The Freeburgh School opened in 1865 but didn't become a State school until 1st July 1867. The school committee built a 24ft x 18ft timber school room and two room residence. The school was extended by 20ft in 1870. A new 36ft x 20ft timber school was completed in May 1878. The old shcool building was sold for one pound and used to build the Freeburgh Public Library. In 1948 enrolments at the school dropped from 5 to 4 and the school was closed in April 1948. The building was moved to the Myrtleford School in May 1951 by the Dept. of Public Works.
|Bright P12 - Buckland Riot|
The main leader of the Buckland riot was Jonathan Thomas Bell. His words at the end of the meeting on the morning of the riot out the front of Tanswell's hotel below the Buckland Junction were, "Either the whites or the Chinese will have to go".
|Bright P12 - The White Star Mine, Wandiligong|
Advert from the White Star Co. calling for tenders to continue their main prospecting tunnel. Such tenders were good opportunities for unemployed miners to get a bit of extra work. This was published in the Alpine Observer, 2nd September 1910.
|Bright P12 - The White Star Mine, Wandiligong|
Advert from the White Star Co. calling for capital to do further prospecting work at the mine. This was published in the Alpine Observer, 2nd September 1910.
|Bright P12 - The Oriental, Wandiligong|
High on the eastern range over looking the township of Wandiligong slumbers an ancient giant, one of the largest goldmines on the Upper Ovens Goldfields, the great Oriental goldmine.
A short time after the discovery of the Pioneer reef in Bright, rich specimens of gold in quartz were found on the hill overlooking the Growler's Creek diggings. George Holstein, later mill owner at Freeburgh and Bright Shire councillor, was said to have been the first to make these discoveries, though was doing so well in alluvial mining at the time that he didn't bother pursuing it. Dick Wood, George Butler and Edward Cotsworth were known as the official discoverers of this reef in about mid 1858 and took up claims along the reef that was christened the Oriental. Among the first crushings a parcel of 16 tons carted to Rossiter's mill at the Pioneer mine in early October 1859 by Butler and company yielded an inspiring 142 ounces of gold. Arrangements were rapidly being made in every direction to open up the reef.
The Oriental reef was solid quartz and in places was up to 50 feet wide and extended for a distance of 1300 feet, the biggest such formation in the district. The first two years on the Oriental were the most dynamic and rich, and a host of partnerships and arrangement of claims took place, with some nine claims taken out along the reef during this period. A complex web of individuals, shares, claims and machines existed, with partnerships and shares regularly changing hands, leaving a layer of jumbled facts looking like an upturned bowl of spaghetti on the kitchen floor.
During the heydays a small settlement sprang up about the hillside workings with each of the claim holders erecting their own buildings.
The most impressive building would have been that of Henry Teed, an enterprising businessman and restaurant keeper who was close on the heels of the first prospecting parties.
The only death associated with the Oriental, that I am aware of, was associated with the incline tramway network that brought the gold bearing ore down the hillside to the stamp batteries situated within the township. The accident that occurred on the Oriental tramway in 1869, happened on the top section of the line. Four men, F Crabbe, R Pascoe, W Smith and J Barnett were riding up in an empty truck for afternoon shift when at the steepest part of the incline the rope or coupling broke and the truck bolted back down the hill at terrific speed. All the men were thrown out; Barnett was killed instantly while the other three were seriously injured.
In the mine's earliest days upwards of 200 men were employed on the Oriental. Their jobs were numerous; including underground mining, quarrying, trucking, blacksmithing, cutting firewood &c.