20 September, 2016
September 20 #OnThisDay in #Dunolly & District #History
1856 The Main Road in the new township of Dunolly is a continuation of that from Maryborough to old Dunolly, crossing the main lead. The road has been marked out by the Government, and a broad well-defined thoroughfare upwards of a mile and a half long. Like all the mushroom townships on the goldfields, this consists of a row of canvas dwellings on each side of the main street. The only thing which was studied in the erection was rapidity, and grog might be seen vended from counters over which the canvas covering was being placed.
The first street which was formed was narrow, parallel to the main street for some distance, until it joined it. At this junction of the streets the chief business has been done, but it is expected if the wet diggings turn out well that the business will become more brisk further down. It is of course unnecessary to enumerate the sort of shops and tents which line the main street. One rush is very like another in the motley array which, follows every body of diggers, and one half of which might well be dispensed with. All the German bands and tambourine girls in the colony seem to have honored Dunolly with a visit, not to speak of the innumerable loafers who have gone thither, Micawber-like, in the hope that "something might turn up." Then casinos, shooting galleries, billiard tables, bowling galleries, Rainer's Serenaders, Jacob's magic, and Coleman's Masks and Faces, offer every variety of amusement the diggers, who would seem to be more plentifully and solicitously supplied in this respect, than the first nobility in the world. We will not take upon us to decide whether it is owing to the want of money, or to an uncommon seriousness of disposition on the part of the miners of Dunolly, but truth compels us to say that they do not largely patronise these various amusements. It is, no doubt, very likely that the diggers of Victoria are beginning to ac- quire wisdom, and are finding out that there is something better to which to apply their gains than the indulgence in frivolous and dissipated pursuits. But at all great rushes.that we have seen, when gold was plentiful, we are sorry to say that drunkenness and dissipation were general.
We therefore are inclined to think that the sobriety of Dunolly is rather a proof of general poverty than of general prudence and moderation.
Some of our Bendigo dealers have speculated in conveying goods to the new rush, but with very unsatisfactory result, having had, in many instances, to bring back the goods they took there. This, however, may be explained by the fact, that the dealers at Maryborough and Avoca have had very large stocks on hand during the last few months, which were rushed over to the new diggings on the first intelligence being received. As Maryborough is only sixteen miles, and Avoca eighteen from Dunolly, it will be seen that we, who are forty miles distant, had very little chance with the traders in those places There is strong reason to suspect that the exaggerated reports which have been spread of the Dunolly diggings have their origin to the laudable efforts of these worthy storekeepers to push a good trade. Not that, we believe they, wilfully propagated false reports, but, beyond question, the wish with them has, in a very great measure, been father to the brilliant statements, which they have circulated respecting the richness of the new field. The gold produced is not by any means in proportion to the number of persons employed in digging. On our visit we made various attempts to get a sight of some Dunolly gold, and it will hardly be be- lieved that we had very great difficulty in doing so.
The most remarkable feature in the diggings is the vast amount of "shepherding" that is car- ried on. Everywhere adjacent to the holes, in courso of being marked, are numberless claims marked out, and the holes taken down a few feet to secure possession. There are many, however, whose energy, or whose necessities induce them fairly to try the ground in various places, and a good deal of this is seen in the higher portion of the lead, where the Bendigo road comes in. Those who are at work here are chiefly from this district, and if there is any gold in the place they will find it. As the upper part of the flat lies between au riferous ranges, we are disposed to think that their energy will be rewarded by hitting on a few patches, unless the place is very poor indeed.
The diggers at Dunolly are remarkably orderly, and scarcely seem to require the presence of the two or three policemen who saunter up and down the main street. There have been rumours of some cases of sticking up, and vague reports of a mur- der. Cases of shoplifting are pretty com- mon, an offence which the unprotected state of the stores affords great facilities for. The restaurant keeper where we got our meals was robbed of five pounds on Friday last, by some sneak who cut the blind close to the window, and reached in his hand. On Saturday night some store in the main portion of the street was robbed. Petty larcenies are of course com- mon, and it is by no means safe to allow horses to wander about. Still I should think that there is less crime and disorder at Dunolly than in any other important district in the Colony. On Satur- day evening last thousands of men in blue shirts were walking in groups through the streets and we did not notice one disorderly occurrence. Now and then a respectably dressed woman would be met, who made her way through the crowds of men without meeting with the slightest rudeness or interruption; a display of courteous respect on the part of the diggers which the fair sex would in vain look for from the puppies who frequent the streets of Melbourne.
At the point where the lead crosses the main street the ground as I have stated is thought with good reason to be very rich. It is said that the claim holders on either side have tunnelled well under it, so that not much remains to be sunk for. Of course the diggers have been very anxious to rush this road, but they have been dissuaded from any such proceeding. Last Friday a Surveyor was seen with his chain measuring the ground at this place, and some diggers attracted by curiosity came round. The little crowd attracted attention —the diggers near at hand raised the shout "rush oh !" and one fellow with stentorian lungs, with his hands at each side of his mouth, continued to bawl out the words up the lead. The cry was taken up on all sides, and the scene that ensued baffles description. The "fiery cross" on the Highland hills never caused a more tumultuous gathering of excited stalwart, fellows, who armed with pick and shovel came rushing into the spot in hundreds. The road for several hundred feet was soon marked out, and two or three fights of course ensued. The excitement was so contagious that several storekeepers in the vicinity rushed out too, and marked their claims out. It was estimated that there were ten thousand persons collected to the spot in ten minutes. They did not however do more than mark the ground and take a spit 0r two in it to signify possession. They were induced to leave peaceably, on the understanding that steps would be taken to have the road worked under a proper arrangement. It is in contemplation to allow the diggers to work one half of the width of the road at a time, the owners of claims depositing a sum of money as security that, they will fill up the shafts when they have finished.
The newly opened goldfields are not long left without the requirements of civilized society. The zeal of religious preachers has already led to active exertions at Dunolly. A very neat Wesleyan chapel has been erected, and a Catholic Priest rides over from Castlemaine to perform service in some temporary place suitable for the purpose. The inhabitants are however still left without adequate postal arrangements, and there is as yet no escort established. The old township of Dunolly is too far distant for the inhabitants to go to post letters, or to attend at the Warden's resi- dence on any business connected with gold mining. In grog selling Dunolly is ahead of us all in the practice of free-trade. There anybody and every body sells spirits without leave or licenseand so openly is the traffic carried on that decanters full of liquor stand on the counters at the service of customers. , The result is decidedly an argument in favor of free trade in liquor, for there is in- finitely less drunkenness than we have seen on Bendigo when the sale of liquor was totally pro- hibited, and was punished with a fine of £60, and not seldom of three months imprisonment. There is already a newspaper at Dunolly - an advertising sheet, published by Mr. Nuthall, called the Dunolly Adoertiser - a modest, unpretending sheet, we hope the precursor of better things. There,is some talk of another advertising sheet being brought out by Messrs. Cook and Sherbon, of Sandhurst, who have a branch job printing office at Dunolly.
With respect to the position, which must be as- signed to the new diggings, we look upon it as a portion of a very extensive gold-field, by no means, however, rich in proportion to its extent. It will be a permanent field, affording employ- ment to a large number of diggers, and as it is in the midst of an auriferous country, and is well situated, it will doubtless become a place of some commercial importance, as a goldfields township. The extensive flat on which the diggings are situated will constantly develop new patches of golden ground to the enterprising prospector. The ranges in the vicinity, we under stand, contain a few quartz reefs of a promising description, and the gullies will, like Sandy and Ironbark Creeks, give employment to a few pud- dling mills. But the place can never sustain a very large population. It can never aspire to rank with the earlier goldlields of the colony. Com- pared with Bendigo or Forest Creek in the earlier days of those fields, Dunolly is but a miserable aflair after all. On those, with comparatively a very small number of diggers, the yields were enormous. Government and private escorts groaned under the 20,000 and 40,000 weekly con- signment of ounces. Dunolly has now been wrought for a considerable time - a long enough time to develop its richness, if it is rich. An es- timated population of 30,000, with unquestionably the most enterprising diggers in the colony engaged in testing the value of these diggings should certainly produce some respectable result. Yet what is the fact. The escort from Maryborough last week amounted only to 5,474 ozs. 10 dwts., of which 4000 may be placed to the account of Dunolly and the diggings in the vicinity. Such a return is insignificant enough from a place concern- ing which such brilliant accounts have been cir- culated; and it should induce those who are smit- ten with such accounts to consider whether their sanguine expectations are not based upon illusions.
Should the summer be dry, water must become very scarce. As it is, it is dear enough, and the water holes from which the supply is taken cannot last long. The water in the wet sinking may be of ser- vice in gold-washing, but we were informed by a man on the spot, that it was as salt as sea-water, and, entirely unfit for domestic use. It is likely enough, however, that the summer will be charac- terised by thunderstorms; and if the gold was more plentiful, there might not be much apprehen- sion on account of the supply of water. But a placc where there is only a moderate yield of gold, - where the chances are against striking any at all, - and where there is a population five times as numerous as it can afford profitable employment to, - is no place for any man to betake himself to unless it be the desperate gambler, whose luck has been against him at all other places.
We understand, from parties who came in from Dunolly yesterday, that there is great doubt and uncertainty among the population as to the future. Some holes bottomed in the wet sinking had turned out favorably, and had inspired some hopes. There was talk of new ground being opened among the ranges, between Dunolly and Jones's Creek. Numbers are still pouring in from Melbourne and Ballaarat. The returns for Bendigo exceed the arrivals, according to the testimony of the publicans at Jones's Creek.
Mr. George Simpson, formerly of the American Boarding-house in Sandhurst, has a hotel at Dun- olly and he has recently added a concert-room, where the old company of the Shamrock are singing.
1864 Bet Bet was proclaimed a shire.
1906 THE DRINK QUESTION.
The charity carnival committee has decided that there shall be no bar for the sale of intoxicating liquors at the carnival sports to be held on 9th November in aid of the Dunolly Hospital.
1915 DUNOLLY. Monday. Steady rain, accompanied bu strong wind, commenced late on Saturday night and continued almost without cessation until morning, two hundred and sixteen points being registered. All dams, tanks, and reservoirs are overflowing; the creeks are flooded, and the Maldon mailman was unable to get through this morning with the mails. The crops in numerous places are blown down, sheets of iron blown off houses, and chimneys and fences demolished, the damage done being extensive.
1937 The Bet Bet Shire was 73 years old on Monday last the shire having been proclaimed on September 20. The first meeting of the council was held at Laidlaws Hotel Jones Creek (now Waanyarra) on Sept 27 1864 .
1937 At a social of the Dunolly Football Club cups for the best and fairest players on votes of the umpires donated by Mr L Williams and Mr A C McRae were presented to A Downs and J Hogan who each received an equal number of votes