Last modified on 20 November 2015, at 22:00

Alexandra Times at KellyGang 23/9/1876

(full text transcription)

WOOD'S POINT PAST AND PRESENT

By J E

Not only had we at this time (1867) a large influx of the legal fraternity, but we could also boast of about seventeen public houses, and twice that number of grog shanties - in fact, in the early days few places of business were to be found in which the everlasting nobbler could not be obtained for a shilling. Gradually, however, as things became less mercurial, and the reefs were found nor to be means of fortune and independence, spectators began to leave us, and a stranger now visiting Wood's Point would scarcely believe it was a flourishing township supporting a large population, and in which two newspapers were published, The Times and Mountaineer, under the management of Mr John Whitelaw, now of Alexandra. and The Leader, carried on I believe by a joint-stock company, and did'nt "the rival editors write some nice articles one against the other? "rather !"

These are gone, and some few years later a paper was started, but the spec ended in failure. In those days such reports ? to be ? is ? ? of the local journals, as the following, taken from an old number of The Mountaineer:-

"Spring Hill is situated about two miles from Matlock, on the dividing range, towards the Springs. The scenery around is very pretty, commanding a fine view of the Waverly range and numerous other spurs, gorges, and gullies. It is surrounded by the Columbia, Magenta, Alhambra, Hibernia, Rising Sun, and Ophir reefs, all of which are looking well, good specimens of gold having been got out of numerous leaders, all evidently pointing to larger lodes of quartz beneath. Shares in these claims bring a good price in the market." What, I wonder, would the writer of the above say were he now to visit the lovely spot known as Spring Hill? I was through that township the other day, when in addition to seven goats, two dogs, and a pig or two, I saw but one woman and four children.

That the palmy days of Spring Hil1 have departed no one can deny. The claims too, what shall I say of them? Why their names are now forgotten - perhaps not by some of the shareholders - for the most part, and for the outlay, nothing is now to be seen but hillocks of dirt and stone, some on one side and some on the other of the road as one passes along. The township now consists of three or four ricketty houses, and one or two huts are all that mark the spot where once stood the hamlet of Spring Hill. Nearer Matlock is Toorak, or rather was. This is what the pipers said of Toorak at the time I speak of:- “Toorak, which is about half-way between Spring Hill and Matlock, is also on the dividing range, and resembles Spring Hill very much, but the population is not so large. This place is also surrounded by reefs of considerable note - the Perseverance, Britannia, Royal Saxon, and several other claims adjoining the All Nations No. 1, 2, and 3 west, all of which are being vigorously worked with a certainty of success in most of them.

The inhabitants of these township complain that they have no postal accommodation. All along from Sprint Hill, Toorak, Matlock to Jericho on the top of the range will be one continued and connected street. The Loch Fyce Garibaldi, and other important reefs are close to this line of road."

I may state that even now one part of the above is true, and that is, that Toorak certainly resembles Spring Hill in so far as it is all but completely deserted - there are I think, two people who still reside there, miners in some of the creeks near by - but reefing is a thing of the past, and it will be a very long time I am afraid before the street will reach from Spring Hill to Jericho. In fact, I do not think in the whole of Victoria any mining district has experienced so complete a collapse.

In Wood's Point at this period there were five places of public worship all well attended, now we have only the Bible Christian and Catholic chapels, the latter open once a month, and in the former a lay reader does duty to a small congregation. The Church of England has been closed for a long time past; another place of worship is now the Foresters' Hall, and the church built by the Presbyterian denomination does duty as a "grog and grocery store." Even Gooley's Creek, with its payable reefs has also gone to the bad, consisting now only of a post-office store, one public house, and about six dwelling houses. On one side of the creek stands a portion of a stone chimney, where once stood the cottage in which Cusack murdered his wife, and for which brutal crime the unfortunate man forfeited his life on the gallows. This man at one time was well known in the district as a quite, hard-working miner until he took to the shanty business, when the house became the scene of frequent drunken rows, ending at last as stated above. The neighbours heard the cries of the poor woman for hours, in fact nearly the whole of the night through, but as they afterwards stated, “It was such a common occurrence that they took no notice." There was a fellow living next door to whom the victim of her husband's brutality appealed for help more. than once, who, had he obtained his deserts, should have received a severe sentence at the hands of the law; but he by some means escaped what he so richly deserved for his hinaus conduct. - Mansfield Guardian."


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