RHYMES OF OLD TIMES IN BLACKWOOD,VIC., AUST.
Margot Hitchcock's history of Blackwood is going to be a corker. Even though she has corrected trove digitisation anonymously, it is plain that she has gathered an incredible amount of information.I had intended to add a Blackwood chronology and some information about pioneers to my previous Blackwood journal,but I will put this on hold until Margot's book is published. I will write no background notes for most of the following verses because this information will probably be in Margot's book. If you can't wait until then, search for a combination of key words, including Blackwood, on trove and you will find my sources.
Years ago, I read of a connection with Blackwood of the family of Albert Thurgood, the greatest footballer of his time, and I was reminded of this when exploring the roads (on a google map)that I used to run (never thinking how the Sultan Track got its name). Discovering Thurgood St,I tried unsuccessfully to find a Thurgood/Blackwood connection on trove but discovered the correction of the digitisation mentioned previously,which prompted this journal.
None of the poems will be finished until I am. Look for additions.
THE FIRST TWO PARTIES.(From pages 3-5 of "Aspects of Early Blackwood".)
Edward Hill and Isaac Povey tried a colonial stint
In 1854, and laid bricks for the Sydney mint.
The West Bromwich Wanderers decided to seek
Gold in the vicinity of Wombat Creek.
In October 1854, Edward set off for the Mount Blackwood ranges,
But his mate twice pulled out, too aware of the dangers.
Meanwhile Harry Athorn of East Ballan's "Traveller's Rest"
And neighbour, Harry Hider, decided to test
Reports of bullocks on the Laradoc* astray
And had some luck on their third Sunday.
They counted themselves lucky finding two of the strays
But the next thing they found did truly amaze.
Near Jackson's Gully they stopped for a feed
And filling the billy saw the glint that begets greed
And to East Ballan blazed a track
That Dungey, Bellinger and Jackson followed back.
George Jackson saw gold in the gully that bears his name,
The other two prospectors soon doing the same.
To provide supplies, Athorn and Hider undertook
And they came by Harry Densley, later helped by Matt Cook.
Meanwhile Hill,disappointments did scorn
And found three companions through Harry Athorn.
They too would desert him; he didn't know that,
But he made his big find at Hill's Tent, Ballan Flat.
The Golden Point crew had kept their find hush;
Hill, through the lost Maplestone, started the rush
So Jackson summoned his mate Matthew Sweet
And this made the Golden Point party complete.
Ballan Flat was called Red Hill, the Estaffette's destination,
Frederick Boys' disappearance soon after caused great consternation.
Lerderderg was the new name for the Laradoc
And soon they had to get gold out of the rock.
N.B. It was John Hill who caused the rush, was on the 1856 electoral roll and was buried in the Blackwood cemetery. By 1861, Henry Athorn was a butcher at East Ballan and had become insolvent (P.2, The Star,Ballarat, 14-3-1861.) See the January 1855 entry in the annals at the end of my other Blackwood journal for D.Ryan's recollection of George Jackson's companions.
The information about Jackson's companions in ASPECTS OF EARLY BLACKWOOD come from the recollections of Harry Densley as told in this letter.
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 Baccchus 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 Gullv (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 Athom 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 I a like weight on a dray drawn bv 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 easterley 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 "
What is the origin of Blackwood's name? J G Saxton says ('Victoria Place Names and Their Origin") -Blackwood - Captain Blackwood of the Fly 1842 to 45.
Whether this refers to the mining settlement I am unable to say. It was undoubtedly called the Mount Blackwood diggings at the outset, being named after the mountain of that name, situated some miles to the south-east of it. The mountain seems to have been or originally named Mount Solomon by John Batman, in 1835. At the time he also named Mounts Cotterell and Connolly near Rockbank. It was subsequently called Clarke's Big Hill after Ken neth Clarke who as representative of the Great Lake Company of Van Diemen's Land came to Bacchus Marsh with sheep in 1836 and subsequently moved up to the Pentland Hills, which he named. Neither of these names held permanently. My opinion is that its present name was given to it after the Captain Blackwood mentioned by Saxton, but when, or in what circumstances, I am unable to say. Perhaps some readers may know. - Yours &c.,
JAMES H. WALSH. Ballan, Sept. 12.
BLACKWOOD IN THE BEGINNING.
Charles Shuter took charge of the funds for the C. of E. church and school
But in the Reid case against Chapman for wages, justly failed to rule.
The miners here at Blackwood displayed great propriety;
The lawless learned to fear the Mutual Protection Society.
Parcels sent daily from Melbourne, miners could expect to get
Thanks to Davies of the Southern Cross, Crossman and the "Estaffette".
Gold not extracted by batteries and amalgamation
Was for the miners a major frustration;
Gold not extracted was the miners' loss
So they were excited by the scheme of Bryce Ross. (P.2, Argus, 15-11-1855.)
Fifty odd Chinese came to Blackwood in late 1855,
Advance guard of many more to arrive. (1)
Another posse came on the fifth of October;
They were busy as bees so they must have stayed sober.(2)
"Look at those Chinese, with cradle and dish
They work the old stuff; find as much as they wish.
An Englishman claims he is equal to half a dozen Chinese;
If he works like them,we'll need no immigration decrees." (3)
By legislation with the effect of a picket:
Ten pounds to get in, a Chinese Protection Ticket.(4)
Some ship masters had another thought,
"Why not dump them at Westernport?"(5)
"Oh,ye oblique-eyed, sober, grinning exiles from the flowery land,
The consternation you cause Teutons, you fail to understand." (6)
The new English Bogy the writer thought dumb;
The Mt Blackwood correspondent just said they had come.
By May '61, 250 Chinese were on the Blackwood alluvial,(7)
But relations were not always convivial;
Ah Slang was charged with stealing copper plates at Simmons Reef.
Found not guilty, he said he knew the thief.(8)
At Kangaroo Flat, the Chinese cut away a dam that Europeans built
In 1857. Did it rob them of water? Did they feel no guilt?
A battle royal ensued; cuts, bruises, a broken hand the worst fate
And the matter would go to the magistrate. (9)
1.P6,Argus,12-12-1855. 2. P.4, Argus, 16-10-1856. 3.P.7,Argus, 23-11-1855. 4.P.5, Argus,9-10-1855.
5. Lime Land Leisure. Finding that it was too far to the diggings,many became the first fishermen at Flinders and burnt lime near Sorrento. The Captain would make 10 pounds per Celestial dumped because the landing fee would have been included in the fare. The Government increased its scrutiny of Westernport to stop this practice. 6. P.5,Argus,5-9-1856. 7. P.6,Argus,7-5-1861. 8. P.6,Argus,18-8-1863.
William Happer Fleming, a small provision store at Mt Blackwood did hold,
After two or three years searching for gold;
He had a 6 roomed cottage and a half acre of land
But the deeds were now in his creditor's hand.(P.6, Argus, 11-3-1856.)
R.S.Agnew & Co. of Williamstown was financially unsound;
G.F.Agnew and Eades had a branch store at Blackwood and lost over 400 pound. (P.7, Argus, 18-4-1856.)
Charles and Frederick Long, merchants and storekeepers of Blackwood St, Melbourne North,
To try their luck on the Blackwood diggings boldly ventured forth.
But their hopes of a fortune were soon to fade,
Due to losses in mining and depression in trade.(P.5, Argus,8-1-1859.)
John Martin,confident,athletic and strong,
Despite his mates' advice, saw nothing wrong
With risky stunts being flirty.
He had a wife and child and was aged about 30.
At Ure's 200 foot deep shaft
At Simmon's Reef, he was being daft.
He swung on a rope down ten feet;
Climbed hand over hand his trick to complete.
Then he swung down 50 feet, death to defy,
But suddenly there came a cry.
That was the end of the dare-devil's life;
John made a widow of his wife. (P.4, Argus, 5-4-1860.)
Was he the son of the inventor,
John Stanworth Martin, who was the centre
Of attention at Simmon's Reef when first was seen
"The Nonpareil" his quartz- crushing machine? (P.6, Argus, 14-5-1861.)
Was Christopher Martin related to either John?
Due to Philip Marello his life was gone,
Murdered at Mount Blackwood in 1855;
The villain at Tarrengower or Jim Crow thought to arrive. (P.5, Argus, 14-11-1855.)
(Tarrengower=Maldon, Jim Crow=Franklinford. The dare-devil's family was Irish and another Martin family at Blackwood was from Cornwall.)
STOREKEEPERS TOOK RISKS TOO.
When a correspondent said that Blackwood's population was less
Another would claim it was more.
The first would ask the second to confess
That he was the owner of a store.
If Blackwood was seen to be losing its gloss
Storekeepers faced a gigantic loss.
Buyers for their goods would never be found;
After paying for cartage 2000 pounds.
It was Solomon who'd so spent 2000 quid;
He was slandered by Moss who flipped his lid
When Solomon tried to sell his Blackwood store
To Moss's brother with debts of this amount or more.(P.5, Argus, 25-9-1855.)
(Some other storekeepers will appear in "INSOLVENCY".)
Fred Willett and Rob Woolland ran stores at Golden Point.
Thomas Jones and Caesar Kaiser healed ills internal or in a joint.
There were five hotels: Scheele's Lergederg, the Great Britain (Holland and Forder),
Gregory's, Edward's Bull and Mouth, and the Golden Point with Levy keeping order.
on 2013-02-24 20:13:34
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.