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BLACKWOOD JOTTINGS (1)

Journal by itellya

BLACKWOOD RESERVOIR.
Cr Millyard was handed a letter written by Mr Williams who wished to speak to the council about the Blackwood reservoir.(Note, this has not been corrected on trove.)

Mr. Williams being called upon, said-I am acting for the public of Blackwood in this matter. The Chairman: Do I understand you rightly to say that you represent the public of Blackwood at this Council today ? Mr. Williams: Well, perhaps that is saying too much; but I am here to request, on behalf of the public interest of Blackwood, that this Council will interfere between Messrs. Walker and Armstrong obtaining a lease of the Blackwood Reservoir, or permission to cut a race therefrom. Mr. Walker has applied to the Board of Lands and Works for the lease of the race, and he also states that this Council has no power in the matter; whereas I am informed that the Council holds a lease of the reservoir, which is the exclusive property of this Council, I also wish permission to be allowed to peruse that lease. - Should Messrs. Walker and Armstrong attain their object, it will create a private interest detrimental to the public interest of Blackwood.

Councillor Mairs: It is important that this Council should take some steps in the matter, and it is also important that Messrs. Walker and Co. should not be put in possession of the property which they are now applying for. I will move-"That the Secretary write to the Minister of Mines, in reference to the application of Messrs. Walker and Armstrong, of Blackwood, for the right to cut a race in connection with the Blackwood Reservoir, and request that such right be not granted, as this Council is of opinion that the right to construct watercourses in connection with the above reservoir should be vested in this Council alone. And that, to create private interests in connection therewith, would be highly detrimental to the interests of this Council, and to the interests of the people of Blackwood." Councillor Graham would second the motion,
believing that it would serve the best interest of Blackwood. Carried.
(P.3,Bacchus Marsh Express, 25-5-1867.)

GREENDALE.
A letter from D.Ryan, which discussed Greendale originally being part of the Bacchus Marsh Road District and the possibility of having to join the Bacchus Marsh Shire, gives much detail about the formation of the Ballan Road District Board. Ryan (the letter is signed D.R.)stated in another letter that David Mairs nominated Blackwood's first rep. and as he was unlikely to forget the Mairs name, the typesetter was most likely responsible for Main. Only part of the letter is shown here and the paragraphing is mine.

In 1862 a few men met at Flack's hotel, Ballan, and petitioned to have Ballan constituted a Road District. The boundary towards Blackwood was fixed by the petitioners at the northern boundary of allotments near Long Gully, owned by Mr. Andrew. But when the boundaries were gazetted no one was more surprised than myself to find that the more important part of Blackwood was brought within the Ballan Shire. Mr. Steavenson did this work by a stroke of the pen.

The residents of Blackwood in those days were both numerous and prosperous. They, however, never stirred to come under the Act, and thereby committed a grievous blunder, as they might easily have formed a respectable municipality themselves, being then the most important centre in West Bourke. Instead, however,the inhabitants of the various townships of which Blackwood is composed were very jealous that any particular little township would be better served than the other three. It would be amusing reading to publish the details of the various improvement com mittees formed at Blackwood from time to time.

For a great number of years past- perhaps from the beginning, the inclusion of the agricultural portion with the mining portion as one Riding has been immensely unsatisfactory. Our interests tend Marsh wards. Some years ago, in accordance with the wish of my neighbours, Mr. Standfield and myself drafted a petition, the purport of which was the annexation of our territory to the town where we transact our business, viz., Bacchus Marsh. Before the necessary signatures were .attached some person gave out that "if you join the Marsh you will have to pay the ordinary rate, a water rate for Messrs. Pearce Bros., and another for the Water Trust." This story travelled quickly amongst my neighbours, and they would believe nothing else. Hence, from that day I became very indifferent as to the disposition of the Shire funds. Three years ago another friend drew a like memorial for the same purpose, and surely enough another story upset this proposal.

No one here grudges the Blackwood people to vote en bloc, as they did at the last election, but a good many criticised the act of 16 voters here who always vote against any neighbour; which, if added to - the other 20 ratepayers who refrained from voting gave this side a big pull back. - Mr. Hamilton is a native of this neigh bourhood-a live man, full of zeal and vigor, and a son of one of the very best men who ever resided here; still, the 16 true men of Greendale voted against him.

To show the cruel wrong Blackwood is inflicting on this part of the Riding I have to go back a long, long road to the first election of the Ballan Road Board District. Election day was a big event for Ballan, yet Blackwood showed the utmost indifference. About a dozen Blackwood people came over on a pilgrimage to Ballan. Among those I now remember were George Moore (a talented man, who died in his native city, Bristol); William Vigor (a favourite); and J. B. Garland, " Bozzy." All now with the majority.

I need not say how Blackwood had no show of electing anyone on that day ; yet, through the good offices of Messrs. Mairs, Fox, and others, we supported Moore, and had him elected the first representative for Blackwood; but entered into a solemn compact with Mr. Moore that none of the money raised on the agricultural portion should be expended in the forest till our roads were made in the agricultural portion. This proposition was ratified; and as a matter of positive certainty Mr. Moore obeyed it to the letter. So did Cr. Mill yard, who succeeded him, except if he saw the Council in good humour he'd ask for 5 or 10 " to cut a dangerous sideling," &c. He used to superintend the execution of this work himself, and the Council was the gainer, as he always had full value from the best men he employed.

Barry's Reef at this time was growing strong, and not being on the best of terms with the Golden Point people put forward a resident of their own as candidate at a Shire election. The result surprised everyone as the Barry's reef man went within two of being elected. Barry's Reef people were jubilant, as they knew their strength, which kept rapidly increasing till another surprise was sprung upon the ratepayers. This was an additional Riding, necessitating all the members coming out of office. For the new Council Barry's Reef nomi- nated three of its best men, who were easily elected, thereby taking all the representation. And taking our share of the "Municipal fund, or a great portion of it, to make a forest road which we do not require, and our own roads neglected, and disregarding the compact entered into.etc. (P.1, BME, 3-10-1896.)

DAVID MAIRS.
David Mairs seems to have had a soft spot for Blackwood. This might be because at the time of his marriage in 1857 his address was 35 Roslyn Rd, North Blackwood (according to a genealogical website!) I have had no luck finding any mention on trove of Roslyn Road in Blackwood, Greendale or Ballan. However my search turned up this beauty.
EUREKA!
BALLAN. On a recent visit to our much esteemed friend, Mr. Denis Ryan, J.P., I was favored by the brief but interesting intelligence that the East Riding of Ballan Shire in the first Road Board was represented by Messrs. David Mairs, Denis Ryan, and George Moore. (P.3, Bacchus Marsh Express, 10-4-1909.)

DENIS RYAN, HARRY ATHORN AND GEORGE JACKSON.
Ryan's story certainly differs in some respects from that given in ASPECTS OF EARLY BLACKWOOD.Only a part of Ryan's letter is reproduced here.

MOUNT BLACKWOOD. To the Editor. SIR,-George Jackson would, I think make a good living anywhere. I was present at his wedding at Leahy an Egan's, Bacchus Marsh. He, Tom Spice(r?) (Ballan), and Black Charlie, would surprise any mob of wild bullocks in the Pyrete scrub or anywhere else that they were commissioned to muster. Jackson picked up with Harry Athorn, East Ballan hotel, an expert horseman, Bill and Jim Keating (Keating's swamp, Mount Cotterell), Tom Gregory, Disher, and George Whale of Ballan, joined the party, who started in January, '55, on a pilgrimage through the Blackwood ranges, and fixed their tent on the site of Peter Jensen's property, at Golden Point, Blackwood. They worked on with great success, opened up Jackson's gully, and got heaps of gold. Jackson let me know, so one morning early in March John Leahy, John Edols, myself, and Sergeant Roberts, started for Blackwood Towards evening we came to the camp of our acquaintances, and it was a sight to see the immense quantity of gold in pickle bottles (a pickle bottle held about 12 lbs troy). After getting lost a few times we got back next evening late, jaded and careworn. As soon as I could discharge my obligations I made up my mind to try Blackwood.(P.3, Bacchus Marsh Express, 9-7-1898.)

By the way, George Jackson was living in poverty later and Harry Athorn,(in 1854, a publican at East Ballan who also owned two team of bullocks) later became a butcher and was declared insolvent.

AND NOW THE SOURCE USED IN ASPECTS OF EARLY BLACKWOOD.(The part about Blackwood's name is not included.)
James H.Walsh of Ballan was far too kind to G.B. whose "legend" included not one name.
BLACKWOOD DIGGINGS.
To THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS
Sir,- G B' s interesting article on Blackwood on August 20th recalled a version of the first discovery of gold there, given to me by Harry Densley, a resident of the Ballan district from 1853 to his death in 1919. His version does not differ materially from that of GB but it is more circumstantial and it contains intimate details of the occurrence only to be expected from one who played a part in it. Densley was a native of Van Diemen's Land. He arrived in Victoria with his father in December, l851, his father having been attracted by the gold discoveries. His eldest brother Charles had come to Bacchus Marsh with Captain Bacchus in 1838, and another brother Thomas, came later, so after landing Harry and his father made for there on foot. Immediately after their arrival they started with a party for the Forest Creek diggings but having no success there they moved on to Bendigo, and later to Ballarat where Densley senior, died towards the end of 1852. Harry who was then between 14 and 15 years was brought to Bacchus Marsh, and after a time he obtained employment as a bullock driver from one Harry Athorn, a well known identity of that place at that time. In 1853 Athorn came to East Ballan, and built an hotel there, at the top of the hill to the east of the valley which he named the Travellers Rest. Densley and another bullock driver named Crockett came with him. In addition to the hotel business he had two bullock teams carting on the roads. His account of the discovery of gold at Blackwood given by Densley to me is as follows - "Harry Athorn and Harry Hider were the first to discover gold at Blackwood. They made the discovery in the latter part of I854. Six bullocks that had got away from earlier carters were generally known to be in there on the Laradoc (as the Lerderderg was colloquially, and perhaps correctly, styled by the early settlers), and previous attempts to get them had proved unsuccessful. Athorn and Hider went on three different Sundays to seek them and on the last occasion when in the vicinity of where they were supposed to be running they stopped about mid day to have lunch on the bank of the creek where Golden Point now is. The water was clear. While eating their lunch they saw water worn gold at the bottom of the stream. They collected as much of it as was visible. Overjoyed with their discovery they returned with the gold, and with two of the bullocks, blazing a track out to make sure of finding the place again.

As soon as they returned to East Ballan a party was made up to prospect the discovery composed of Athorn, Hider and three others named Jackson, Dungey and Bellinger, the arrangements being that all were to share equally in any gold discovered. Jackson, Dungey and Bellinger were to do the prospecting while Athorn and Hider found them in food and other requisites. The prospectors begun work in Jackson's Gully (named after one of them) and they camped on the far side of the creek about where the Golden Point bridge is. In some of the holes put down good gold was obtained and in others none but on trying along the course of the creek the party found that gold could be got anywhere in it. I took the first lot of provisions out to them on horseback being guided to them by the trees blazed by Athorn and Hider, and afterwards a man named Matt Cook and I took out a larger supply and some mining equipment. Cook having half a ton on a two horse dray and a like weight on a dray drawn by six bullocks. After leaving Athorn's we went down by Pyke's homestead and crossing Doctors Creek below it followed the eastern bank of that stream through what is now Mr Lidgett's paddock until we reached about where the present road is. We then turned in an easterly direction and kept on until we arrived at the site where Greendale now stands, where we camped for the night near where Mr George Henry Roberts's latest store afterwards stood close to a large pool in which a servant woman in the employ of the Dale's had drowned herself a short time previously. In consequence of this tragedy the pool had received the name of the Lady's Waterhole and I did not like camping near it . On mentioning my doubts to Cook he did not seem to be perturbed and remarked philosophically 'She will not hurt you'

The creek was not then washed out as it is now and it could be crossed easily any where. After starting next morning we kept along the left bank of the creek, over the big hill and on until what is now called the Junction was reached where we again camped for the night. Next night we made for where the prospectors were working at what is now called Golden Point above which Jackson and Dungey met us and cut a track for us through the heavy heath and undergrowth which enabled us to reach the tent at the foot of the hill close to the creek. Throughout the journey we followed the trees blazed by Athorn and Hider but as trees had to be cut and fallen timber removed to give the dray passage our progress was necessarily very slow. The news of the party's operations was soon bruited about, and a considerable rush set in in which a good many early Ballannites took part "
Yours &c.,
JAMES H. WALSH. Ballan, Sept. 12. (P.9, Argus,17-9-1927.)

Surnames: ARMSTRONG GRAHAM MAIRS MILLYARD MOORE WALKER WILLIAMS
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by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-03-08 03:48:15

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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Comments

by itellya on 2013-03-08 07:52:56

by benhelenv on 2013-07-20 10:08:32

We were told that the MAIRS property including the homestead was situated where the Pykes Creek Reservoir now is located as you pass along the Western Freeway. The Marriage certificate had David as 35 years of age living in Roslyn Road, Pentland Hills (not Blackwood). Maybe Roslyn Road was flooded when the Reservoir was built. It would be interesting if there are any land records that might show this.

by itellya on 2013-07-21 00:44:49

The use of Blackwood to describe the location of Roslyn Rd on the marriage certificate probably came about because Blackwood was an official place name and Pykes Flat (in the PARISH of Blackwood)was not.

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