Muckleford South Primary School

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is a vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of a child.” Carl Jung

What a find! Akari (the car with a mind of its own that leads mystery tours) talked me into going to Newstead via the Yapeen/Muckleford Road. It was a Eureka moment when we arrived at the Napson and Timmins oval. Arch and Neeky loved exploring this well kept oval and Muckford State School grounds.

This photograph was not taken at the Muckleford School House but the photograph is representative of the time when classes operated here.

Old School House is a stone school erected in 1871 as the South Muckleford State School No 1124. Rectangular in plan the structure is constructed in random course masonry with brick quoins, window and door surrounds. There is a gabled porch non-axially located. The gabled roofs are clad in corrugated iron and there is a finial. A chimnmey, roundel, plinth and multi-pane sashes are other features.

Old School House, Muckleford South, is a fairly typical building in overall form, but is of importance in the history of the district and notable architecturally for the use of stone and unrendered brick details and also for the unusual location of the porch. Stylistically the former school is in a vernacular style typical of much school architecture during the nineteenth century. Old School House is in good condition and is reasonably intact.

School Days Exhibition

The Local – Camp Reserve

 

Within minutes from our home the Camp Reserve, our local, has been well mapped!

The first small village was developed at Chewton, today a suburb of Castlemaine. It  included the Commissioners tent, stores, an office for The Argus newspaper, and an office for the Mount Alexander goldfields own newspaper the Daily Mail.

On 28 January 1852, Gold Commissioner William Henry Wright was one of nearly 200 men who were assigned or affirmed as Territorial Magistrates for Victoria. Not long after, he took control of the Mount Alexander diggings and set up a government camp on Forest Street near the junction of Barker and Forest Creeks (today’s Camp Reserve).

It briefly served as the administrative centre for all the Central Victorian goldfields. By mid-1852, his staff numbered 300. This camp provided the impetus for the emergence of a settlement which served as a supply centre for the local goldfields as they continued to spread out in all directions.

The Mount Alexander Gold Rush Started Here

Hargraves revealed his discovery in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 May, 1851. There were extraordinary scenes. Young men tossed aside their clerks’ pens and crossed the Blue Mountains in their hundreds.

The first gold from the Mount Alexander Diggings was found in this gully by Christopher John Peters on the 20th July 1851

Gold was discovered by Christopher Thomas Peters, a shepherd and hut-keeper on the Barker’s Creek, in the service of Dr William Barker on his Mount Alexander run. When the gold was shown in the men’s quarters, Peters was ridiculed for finding fool’s gold, and the gold was thrown away. Barker did not want his workmen to abandon his sheep, but in August they did just that. John Worley, George Robinson and Robert Keen, also in the employ of Barker as shepherds and a bullock driver, immediately teamed with Peters in working the deposits by panning in Specimen Gully where the gold had been found, which they did in relative privacy during the next month.

When Barker sacked them and ran them off his land for trespass, Worley, on behalf of the party “to prevent them getting in trouble”, mailed a letter to The Argus (Melbourne) dated 1 September 1851 announcing this new goldfield with the precise location of their workings. This letter was published on 8 September 1851. This relatively obscure notice ushered to the world the inexhaustible treasures of Mount Alexander, also to become known as the Forest Creek diggings. Within a month there were about 8,000 diggers working the alluvial beds of the creeks near the present day town of Castlemaine, and particularly Forest Creek which runs through Chewton where the first small village was established. By the end of the year there were about 25,000 on the field.

A slate obelisk erected in 1931 commemorates the discovery of gold here. The monument is known as the Mount Alexander Goldfields Monument.

The night too quickly passes
And we are growing old,
So let us fill our glasses
And toast the Days of Gold;
When finds of wondrous treasure
Set all the South ablaze,
And you and I were faithful mates
All through the roaring days.
Henry Lawson,The Roaring Days, 1889

The silence filling this major historic site is almost eerie! There is little to indicate the impact of finding gold at this spot. This discovery shaped Australian history! Few people come this way now! Apart from a kangaroo, who bounded off upon seeing us arrive, we had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed exploring the remnants of the old stone cottage that housed the shepherd who, while working on the original sheep station, owned by Dr Barker, found the gold that heralded the Victorian Gold Rush.

Sniff mapping at St John’s Chewton

This lovely, original old church has a distinctive old bell tower behind it! Services are held at 6pm each Saturday.

Historic Chewton streetscape!

It is a short drive, along the Midland Highway, from Castlemaine to Chewton! Although much has been collected and documented since the gold rush, Chewton’s early history is a story that has never really been told. Edward Stone Parker (Assistant Protector of Aborigines) kept detailed records of how the protectorate worked but that was in the 1850’s and 1860’s after the Europeans arrived and gold had been found. The lives of the local Jaara people, and the natural environment, were reshaped by this contact.

Major Mitchell led an expedition that camped in the Golden Point area (naming Expedition Pass) in September 1836, and his diary describes this area as he explored Expedition Pass to Mt Byng (now Mt Alexander) and to Mt Macedon.

Following Mitchell’s Australia Felix Expedition squatters moved in to the area and established large stations. Dr Barker established a large run covering the Harcourt, Barkers Creek and Faraday areas, including Specimen Gully where early gold discoveries were made in 1851. Reports of these sparked an explosion of activity in the local creeks and gullies with the initial focus on Forest Creek at Golden Point below Expedition Pass. Downstream was a shepherd’s hut, an outstation of the huge Strathloddon Run. This hut was to become a reference point for several early reports, maps and histories of the gold rushes.

Conversations Trees Have Overheard

Scar trees like the one shown here are precious remnants of the past practices of the Djadjawurrung a people whose land we now live upon. While Arch and Neeks potter I may stop to have a conversation with these trees and learn a little of what they have overheard – the grief they have felt, the losses they have witnessed, right back to the time when the Djadjawurrung people flourished here.

Gold Fever Grief

I like the diggings very well I have washed myself about a pennyweight [2 grams] of gold besides a match box full of specimens [gold in quartz]. The other day I went with Mamma and Papa over to the quarry reef. There we saw a gentleman of the name of B Farrell he has one of the richest claimes in the reef He has made thousands of pounds […] You will laugh when I tell you what I have been doing today, making a kennel for a puppy I have not yet got it is a very nice one made of latice. Mr Sundy is going to give me the puppy this week We began school today.

– Lucy Birchall

In 1852, on a barren piece of land that was of no use to gold miners or fossickers, a cemetery for the deceased children of the Castlemaine goldfields was set aside. Located within the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery. A pennyweight is a very small measure of gold.

Surrounded by grey box gums in a tranquil setting, the Children’s Cemetery tells a silent story about some realities of the goldfields during the 1850s. Many families travelled to the Castlemaine diggings in the early 1850s as word spread about alluvial (surface) gold to be found. Babies and young children were particularly vulnerable to disease and harsh conditions such as a serious lack of clean drinking water, and many died.

The children stir from their slumber! We come here often! I am confident that those children who lie here are happy to have some dogs come to visit them!

“During 1852, as the Victorian gold rushes began, children started dying from typhoid and dysentery after drinking tainted creek water during their first goldfields summer. So a cemetery was established on a rocky hill overlooking the area. They were buried on what must have been a sad and exposed hilltop below which locust swarms of new arrivals jostled, blinded to the truth on the hill above them.

In that gold hunting clamour parents would have sat beside those tiny graves mourning a child and wondering whether their decision to come out to this dusty outpost was wise. They, being poor, had placed their children in shallow graves, then piled rocks up to mark the place. Now, one hundred and fifty years later the scene is different and very quiet. The gravestones are scattered and most of the graves are hard to discern, mere mounds, barely visible under the leaf litter. Just a few weathered headstones, fallen or falling suggest the place is a cemetery.

In the eighteenth century Thomas Grey, the English poet, wrote his famous Elegy.Written in a Country Church-yard, a meditation on the life and death of poor people whose graves are forgotten over time. It is also a reminder that death gets everyone and that although the rich may have grander tombs we’re all equal in the end. ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave,’ he says.

The Pennyweight Flat Children’s cemetery, in a corner of Castlemaine, is plain, very Australian, hard to discern, at risk of vanishing, and valuable. Like most things that ask for quiet and patience, it rewards. (Source: Inside a Dog).”

More about Pennyweight Cemetery

Pennyweight Cemetery

Pennyweight Flat

The Lost Children of Pennyweight

 

Remembering Margaret Scott

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
Emily Dickinson

Archie and Neeky do love to add new places to their sniffing GPS! Cemeteries like this give rare, personal glimpses into other ages.

In memory of John Scott the beloved husband of Margaret Scott who died 1879 aged 57. Margaret died 25 years later in 1904

I stopped to talk to Margaret Scott who survived her husband. I explained that my husband had died at 58 and that I wanted to know how her life changed after John’s death at 57! Had she forged a completely different life for herself? Had it been as tough living in this region at this time as I imagined it might be? What did she do while she waited for Godot?

Margaret’s silence suggested that I should talk to the living about such matters.

While We Wait

I was intrigued by Draw and Travel! Maybe I will draw! Maybe I won’t! Maybe I will simply take photos with my iPhone! Whatever! While I wait for Godot, wait to be illuminated about what to do with my golden years, my faithful companions and I will go out each day and map our favourite walking, sniffing places and watering holes.

The woodland area of the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens is full of natural magic. Old sages like this have stories to tell if we just stop and listen.

Who looks outside dreams: Who looks inside awakes: C.J. Jung

Routine is everything to my sniffing companions! Come late afternoon we revisit a favourite local haunt!

As a child the long abandoned sugar beet factory was my playground. In my mind treasure lay behind the barred doors while the brick walls provided a space to practice my tennis swing.

As a young girl I loved to explore the spaces behind buildings and my dogs share my passion for such poetic space. They love the space behind the clubhouse!