Last modified on 20 November 2015, at 23:50


An old gold mining area in the Kelly Country

Nearest towns

History at the Woolshed before the KellyGang

The Woolshed settlement was the up stream one of three settlements on Reedy Creek (the others were Devils Elbow and Sebastopol). The Woolshed valley consisted of a number of creeks. Up stream there was Spring Creek which plunges into Reid's Creek and later becomes Reedy Creek.

The Woolshed was opened in 1853. Within two years, it was the richest and busiest locality on the field and was renowned throughout the colony of Victoria. The Woolshed township extended along the creek for 4 km, serving a mining population of thousands. By the mid-1860s, Chinese miners predominated: working in large parties, they were able to profitably work ground that others had given up as worthless.

Both Aaron Sherritt and Joe Byrne went to the Woolshed school. James Doherty was the teacher

Where did the name Woolshed come from

There was a woolshed near the spot where gold was found in 1853. The place was first used by William Cropper of Laceby to shear his sheep dip. Later his structure was used by the Reid Bros for shearing

The original aboriginal owners

The discovery of gold

Gold was first discovered on Spring and Reid Creeks in 1852. At the height of the gold rush there were about 4,000 people in the area. They lived in tents and bark huts on both sides of the Sunbury Bridge over the Reedy Creek. The settlements of Sebastopol, Lazzarino, - , and - also had about 150 businesses that included 10 hotels, 17 restaurants, 2 breweries, blacksmiths, bakers, butchers, boot makers, several ginger beer and cordial factories and even a professor of music and many others. The real boom ended in about 1855. By 1871 the population had shrunk to about 700 residents. (I Jones Friendship) One of the great characters from those days was, the shanty keeper, Mother Morrell.

In the begining the rich aluvial gold made some people wealthy very quickly and the area has stories of parties with Chanpagne at £1 a bottle. Later they needed steam engines to keep out the water as they chased the deeper gold deposits. In that world of capital and miners on wages the workers had the name of 'Monkeys'. Perhaps because they wore white tie and tails at parties. (Tom Griffiths) See also (Argus8/2/64) (Argus15/8/64)

Sons of Freedom was a famous gold field in the Woolshed, Reids Creek area (Argus22/1/76)



Rivers Creeks and Hills near the Woolshed

The Woolshed valley consisted of a number of creeks. Up stream there was Spring Creek which plunges into Reid's Creek and later becomes Reedy Creek. London or Byrne's gully joins Reedy Creek

Lack of water was often a problem in the area (Argus12/3/62)

What was the Woolshed like in the late 1870's

By the 1870's the gold rush to the Woolshed valley had ended. The other settlements at Reids Creek and down stream at Devils Elow, Sebastopol Flat and The Napoleon had been rolled into the Woolshed. A few of the old timers were still around the district and the gold was being worked over again by the Chinese miners. See also (Argus8/2/64)

There was postal route between Beechworth and Tarawingee Station via Reid's Creek, Woolshed, Reidford, and Eldorado

Murder at the Woolshed. Inquest held at the Shamrock Hotel (Argus7/5/74)

Links to the KellyGang

Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt attended O'Donoghue's Catholic School at the Woolshed. Aaron Sherritt was a fellow student.

Anton Wicks and his family lived near the Woolshed school

In January 1877 Joe Byrne was charged over an incident when he was swimming in the Woolshed dam.

The KellyGang moved horses and cattle from Victoria and New South Wales through the area of the Woolshed (BWC)

On the 29th August 1878, Det Ward reported about a citing of Ned Kelly by a Woolshed blacksmith about 3 weeks earlier. This is what the report said.

"I have the honor to report, for the information of the officer in charge, I have received information that the above-named offender, Edward Kelly, was seen about three weeks ago between the Woolshed and Sebastopol, in the Ovens district, by a Mr.-, a blacksmith at the Woolshed; he was riding and carried a gun under his arm, and had a revolver strapped on his saddle. Kelly is well known to -. If Kelly was seen there, he would be most likely making for Joe Byrne's mother's place, as she lives at the Sebast14-sep-11forwarded to Mr. Inspector Smith for careful enquiries. Mr. - is a very respectable man, and will give every information to the police, providing it is kept secret. The person who makes the enquiry would do well to call on of the Woolshed before calling on -, as he may be able to give some information on the subject, has a good many cattle running on the common, between the Woolshed and Sebastopol, and if it was known by Byrne or Sherritt that he would give any information relative to Kelly's whereabouts, his cattle would not be safe." (RC3109)

Aaron Sherritt told the police that he had recieved a threatening letter from a man, Jack Fox, who was a particular friend of Joe Byrne. He received a sentence of nine months, some six years ago, for stealing a horse from Mr. Kennedy, of the Woolshed. (RC14791)

Aaron Sherritt's selection was 107 acres on the Woolshed Creek (Argus8/7/80)

The Royal Commission concluded that the KellyGang had camp sites in the area of the Woolshed that they used from time to time (RC2ndreportStoryX)

Aaron Sherritt and his family went to the Hurdy Gurdy at the Woolshed on the night in January 1880 when a saddle was stolen. Likely that Joe Byrne was also present

At the start of Ned Kellys committal there was a large gathering of sympathisers at the Woolshed (Age6/8/1880)

People living at the Woolshed

In 1857 the Woolshed had an amasing range of businesses

Auctioneers, Thomas Smith & Co Cordial Manufactory, Alles & Bruckner Restaurant, Simon McDonald
Baker, Charles W Bryant Ginger Beer Factory, William Gardiner Restaurant, John McSweeney
Baker, Charles Gow Ginger Beer Factory, John Hattersley Restaurant, Wm Middleton
Baker, George Johnstone Ginger Beer Factory, Phillipson Restaurant, Thomas Murson
Baker, Henry Liebtraut Ginger Beer Factory, James Stirling Restaurant, Nott & Susbe
Baker, David Murdock Gold Smelter, James Shackwell Restaurant, Charles Springer
Baker, Scott & Morris Greengrocer, Ash & Hood Restaurant, Martin Stack
Barber, Louis Brown Greengrocer, Charles Clark Restaurant, August Stabenau
Barber, Henry Kent Greengrocer, Carl Kaerath Shamrock Hotel

Saddler, Robert Thomson

Blacksmith, Evan Cozens Greengrocer, Abraham Levy Stationers, Nathan & Solomons
Blacksmith, Andrew Kilgour Greengrocer, Davies Levy Storekeeper, Thomas Bradstreet
Blacksmith, Adolph Pane Greengrocer, George Zaplin Storekeeper, Brown & Kosniksky
Blacksmith, Thomas Rath Alliance Hotel, George H Mayhew Storekeeper, Frederick Bray
Blacksmith, Alexander Silver Britannia Hotel Wm Hill & Co Storekeeper, Brydie & Fergurson
Boot & Shoemaker, James Bain Eagle Hotel, Edward Price Storekeeper, George Bunton
Boot & Shoemaker, John F Farquharson Gap Inn, David Jones Storekeeper, Henry Clemenger & Co
Boot & Shoemaker, Patrick Hall Hit or Miss Hotel, Samuel Mayor Storekeeper, Hendy de Loney
Boot & Shoemaker, Sigmund Marcus Miners Right Hotel, John Rhodes Storekeeper, Eccles & Co
Boot & Shoemaker, John McKenzie Smithville Hotel, William V Smith Storekeeper, Wm M Glass
Boot & Shoemaker, Carstan Westphalen Union Hotel, Charles Osborne Storekeeper, Edmund Heap
Brewer, Robert Curry & Co Washington Hotel, William Payne Storekeeper, Alfred Holland
Brewer, Wm Middleton Hotel ?, Jeremiah H Bergan Storekeeper, Wm Joseph Holland
Butcher, James Barker Hotel ?, Mary Clark Storekeeper, Aylim Hughes
Butcher, Henry Brown Hotel ?, William Ewing Storekeeper, Levy & Benjamin
Butcher, George Fowle Hotel ?, John Hayes Storekeeper, H&J Littlewood
Butcher, Charles Huhd Hotel ?, Henry Johnson Storekeeper, Lumley & Co
Butcher,Charles King Horse Repositary, Joseph W Fossberg Storekeeper, Lyon & De Jorlais
Butcher, Frederick Koch Jeweller, Alfred Williams Storekeeper, Masterton
Butcher, John Mimhan Mine Warden WH Gaunt Storekeeper, Alex McKinley
Butcher, CT Smith & Co Music Prof. George Griffith Storekeeper, McLean & Nixon
Butcher, James Stanley Painter, Henry Hainsselin Storekeeper, Marks Munchhanson
Carpenter, Henry Fridrechy Police, Sub-Insp John Sadleir Storekeeper, Wm Nicolson
Carpenter, Simon M Tulley Const James Lynch Storekeeper, Nordon & Frank
Carpenter, William Williams Const John Scott Storekeeper, Aaron Pinkus
Chemist, John H Matthews Const Henry Casey Storekeeper, Wm Potter & Co
Cooking Stove Depot, Daniel A Osborne & Co Const Kennedy McIntyre Storekeeper, Heyman Raphel
Dairyman, Thomas Draper Const John Assip Storekeeper, Robertson & Moffatt
Dairyman, James Feeley Refreshments, John Galvin Storekeeper, Abraham S Snell
Dairyman, John Murray Refreshments, Hinman Vorbes Storekeeper, Christopher Tidyman
Doctor, Alex Beckett MD Restaurant, Charles Britnell Storekeeper, R Whittingham & Co
Surgeon, Charles Dixon Restaurant, John Brock Tent maker, Jacob V de Burge
Surgeon, Frederick Homan Restaurant, Ellen Brown Tent maker, Wm Nealy
Surgeon, Richard Lee BA Restaurant, George Bury Tent maker, Francis S Stageman
Drapery Store, John Manson Restaurant, Timothy Collins Tin man, Erasmus Hanson
Dressmaker, Letitia Dorman Restaurant, Thomas Drenning Tobacconist, Buschmann, Hicks & Co
Dressmaker, Mary Gibbs Restaurant, John Eason Tobacconist, Edward Newman
Dressmaker, Mary Morgan Restaurant, Henry Engel Tobacconist, Schreier & King
Dressmaker, Mary Ann Willis Restaurant, John Hands Tobacconist, Charles Schwenssell
Fancy Sore, Alfred Ladson Restaurant, Joseph Hartley Watchmaker, Samuel Lasker

This list shows a very active community. Most of the miners lived in tents and would eat in the restaurants and of course they drank in the Hotels. The hotels were pleasure centres with dance halls and large card schools etc.

In early 1856 Cornelius O'Donoghue ' came to the Woolshed and set up a Catholic school.

Mtd. Constable Edward Graham and Constables: John Scott; were stationed at the Woolshed at other times

In 1974 Ah Fook had a disagreement with Ah On.

What is happening at the Woolshed today

The Woolshed valley is now visited by many who take a short drive out of Beechworth. Some of the old places are sign posted to help the visitor but very litte is left of this once active settlement