A BRIEF HISTORY OF ELDORADO
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Captain William Baker, a Royal Navy man, was borne in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, arrived in Australia at Sydney in 1837. Captain Baker purchased land at Goulburne, but in 1840 moved south to the Ovens District and settlrd on a run. He successfully applied for the name of his run to be ElDorado.
The name ElDorado relates to a fictitious country abounding in gold, believed by the Spaniards and Sir Walter Raleigh to exist upon the upper reaches of the Amazon.
Gold was not discovered in the region until 1852, so Captain Baker was either a fortune teller, or believed he had found his own pot of gold with has farm.
Charles Cropper when droving his sheep from Manaroo to Laceby on the King River in 1838, camped by a stream, (Reedy Creek), and as his sheep were in very poor condition, he was compelled to rest up and to shear them. Cropper erected a temporary wooden structure, a woolshed. Later on the Reid Brothers used it. the whole valley was referred to as the Woolshed, and the name stayed to this day.
In 1854 when gold was discovered, a miner called John Barton pulled the woolshed apart and used the wood to secure the sides of his claim. He earnt the name of Woolshed Jack, which stuck fast.
About a year after the woolshed had been erected, a well was sunk close to the end of the building for the purpose of obtaining cool water. The well was only three metres deep. After the woolshed diggings broke out, a claim was taken out on the well and the surrounds, and at a depth of 4.5 metres, 180 ounces of gold was found.
When William Baker settled in 1840, he found he had a neighbour to the south called David Reid.
David Reid's father , also David, was a ships surgeon on his majesty's ships, and had travelled to New South Wales on the ship Baring in 1819. David junior was born in England in 1820. Doctor Reid migrated to Australia in 1824 and took up residence on acreage at Argyle.
In 1838 young David, at age 18, set south from Manaroo with 500 head of cattle and 6 servants, and travelled south past Queenbeyan and Yass, and arrived at the Murray River,(Albury), in August 1838.He headed along the Major Mitchell route to the Ovens River. Here he turned upstream and started the Carraragarmungee Run.
In 1844 David married and went to live in the Yackandandah district, 41 kilometres upstream along the same creek. He took posession of all country above Reids Woolshed. This included Beechworth and Stanley. He built the Hermatage at Barnawartha, now one of Australia's treasured homesteads, and finally moved to Moorwartha near Howlong. David became the successful candidate for the Murray District of the Victorian Parliament in 1859.
David and his wife Mary both lived to be 86 years old, and were married over 60 years. David is burried in the Howlong Cemetery.
Born 1st May 1838 at Maldon, near Penzance in County Cornwell. His father Mathew visited Australia in 1852, returned to England and emigrated to Australia with his wife and son in 1854. Firstly they went to Ballarat. They left Ballarat after the Eureka Stockade, and eventually established at ElDorado in 1859. Mathew died in ElDorado in 1865.
John became the manager of the Ovens Gold and Tin Mining Company at only 23 years of age. For more than 50 years his name was to grow and many companies in the various mining districts were eager to have his services.
John Cock was married at ElDorado to Mary, a Cornish girl. They lived near the Catholic Church, had a large family and spent 60 years of married life. At the end of the boom period, John Cock left ElDorado for Chiltern in 1879. Here he worked for the Stockyard Mine, Chiltern Valley Mine, Chiltern No1 and Chiltern No2. About this time all mines were included under one banner, the Wallace Group of Mines. John was to be the superintendant of these mines until he retired at 70 years of age.
Upon retirement he took over the manager of Chiltern No2, and whilst in the mine collapsed. He then had a prolonged illness and lived a further 13 years at his home, Maldon, in Barkley St Chiltern.
A short distance down Woolshed Road from the Beechworth - Yackandandah road, there are some old peartrees on the right., with Mt Sugarloaf in the Background. On this spot William Cropper built his woolshed in 1840. Opposite lived the Duane family, and in the creek behind was the mine of the famous Daniel Cameron, who died in 1906. It is said that the gold for the famous golden horseshoes came from here. Cameron, a storekeeper from the Woolshed, was elected by the miners to the 1st Victorian Legislative Council in 1855. With his miners he jubilantly led a procession into Beechworth on that day. Each Golden Horseshoe weighed 7 ounces and 4 dwts.
Soon you cross the Bagnell Bridge over Walls Gully Creek, after which you come to the old state school site. Opposite the state school the road takes a left turn down to the creek around the corner where stood the Catholic Chapel, about centre of the highest point of the block. Below the Chapel lived George Knowles, his wife was the daughter of Antonio Wicks, who was forced by Dan Kelly to call out to Arron Sherrit. A couple of shallow shafts now mark the spot where stood the fireplace of Arron Sherrits hut, approximately 1 km towards Eldorado on the right hand side.
The road now rises and you can see Sebastopol Flat.In 1857 there were 20 restaurants here. Among the 8 hotels, the Hibernian and the Britanica were the leading ones.Entertainment was great. On three nights a week you could attend a ball, and on the other three nights there were concerts. There were three breweries and 30 storekeepers. Ashton's Circuis visited the town regularly.
The last hotel to go was the Reidford, burnt in 1899. Opposite the Reidford, a track runs down to the creek to Wicks Crossing, a solid granite crossing. In the distant hills across Byrne Gully you can pick out the Kelly Caves.
Further towards Eldorado you come across a mamoth rock. A Bushranger named Buttrey hid behind the rock on his horse and sprang out as the stage came, robbing the inhabitants of a large amount of gold.
Unfortunately for Buttrey he was caught shortly after, but he had hidden his gold in a hollow log. It has never been recovered. The large rock is now known as Buttrey's Rock.
THE DEPARTMENT OF MINES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF VICTORIA
THE WOOLSHED, REIDS CREEK, UPPER AND LOWER WOOLSHED, SEBASTOPOL & NAPOLEON'S FLAT.
"One of the richest alluvial goldfields in Victoria. Opened in 1852, and not exhausted in 1856 when there were 6000 - 7000 persons digging between Reids Creek Falls and Sebastopol. The Woolshed township was 21/2 miles long.
Many beautiful stones as well as gold occurred in the washed dirt, rock crystal, citrine, morion, amethyst, jasper, corundum, lydionite, agates, quartzites, diamonds, saphire, topaz, garnet and zircon."
SCRAPS FROM THE OVENS, MADE MENTION OF THE WOOLSHED
Saturday 8th May 1852
At Reids Creek miners miners were leaving because of the non protective system, and demand for licences.
October 16th 1855
Of the diggings the Woolshed is perhaps the chief attraction. Claims of 80 yards and upwards are laid out. It does seem fabulous that as much as 20 pounds weight has been washed from a single sluice. Eight miles below Old Woolshed is a new rush, ElDorado. Races up to one mile and a half have been constructed. A large amount of labour will be required to work the claims.
October 23rd 1855
Last week one of the claim holders of the Woolshed took out 50 pounds weight in the course of a week.
November 20th 1855
Electors on the role number 1,311 from Beechworth, Woolshed, Yackandandah and Buckland. 839 came up to vote, a very fair proportion. Cameron received 584 votes, Lyons received 255 votes, Majority to Cameron, 329.
March 7th 1856
The Woolshed Creek, several miles long, is the richest spot yet discovered. The ground is too wet to be washed out without machinery. The creek has fallen into the hands of capitalists and combined parties of miners. There are 12 steam engines at the Woolshed. The breadth of the creek varies. In some places it is 200 yards across. The sinking is from 20 to 30 feet in depth. The miners 'take down paddocks' by stripping the whole of the earthfrom the granite. Because of the superfluidity of the water, claims have to be worked as quickly as possible.
At least 40 men are working in each 80 yard claim. Wages are about 7Pounds a week, the highest wage in the colony. The gold is small mixed with black sand, but there is plenty of it. A steady yeild has been ket up for 10 months. The population at the Woolshed is 1000 persons.
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, OVENS AND MURRAY ADVERTISER
Saturday 5th May 1855
The Office of Commissioner is now being replaced by a high Government official called a Warden. The Licence Fee is abolished. Each miner who pays one pound a year will be entitled to a Miner's Right.
Without a Miner's Right no digger can claim protection in the event of gold being taken from him. The right to vote at elections is to be regulated by posession of this document.
June 25th 1855
No Post Office in Woolshed. Letters and papers addressed C/- Mooney's Hotel, Sebastopol, will be delivered free by Mr Mooney immediately after the arrival of the mail in Beechworth.
July 2nd 1855
The Woolshed is experiencing a large and sudden inflow of people making it necessary to have a more adequate Police Force. Robberies are a likely occurrance among the population of about 8000. There are only 6 constables and one sergeant. Even the inhabitants have formed themselves into a night patrol. Two on watch every night.
January 9th 1857
Public Baths have been opened at the Woolshed, near the Sunbury Hotel. A constant stream of clear water runs all year. Charges will be moderate.
February 15th 1858
A patent has been taken out for splitting rocks with heat but without explosion.
The mixture used for the purpose is said to be composed of 100 parts sulphur, 100 salt petre, 50 sawdust, 50 horse manure and 10 common salt.
The salt petre and common salt are disolved in hot water and mixed with molasses. The other ingredients are then added, the whole stired until thoroughly incorporated, and the mass thus produced rendered fit for use by being dried at a gentle heat.
The composition produced in this manner is introduced into the holes drilled into the rock in the same manner as blasting powder, and is ignighted by means of a fuse. It does not explode like gunpowder, but generates heat of sufficient intensity to split the rock.
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