Information courtesy Margot Hitchcock from her unpublished book ‘History and Pioneers of Blackwood’ and her published book ‘Aspects of Early Blackwood’.
Gold was first found at Jacksons Creek, Golden Point, Mt Blackwood, Victoria, on Sunday 14th November 1854 by Harry Athorn and Harry Hider while filling their ‘billy’ with water to make a cup of tea.
Monument can be seen at Jackson’s Gully on the left hand side going to Golden Point before the bend in the road. (courtesy Margot Hitchcock)
In 1855, four years after gold was first discovered in Ballarat, Edward Hill found gold at Blackwood on January 4th 1855 at Ballan Flat which is on the Lerderderg River near the present day Blackwood Sports Ground. By the end of that year, the goldmining village of Blackwood, 85 km north-west of Melbourne, had 13 000 prospectors panning the creeks and sluicing the river banks and hillsides.
Historical marker can be seen at the top of the car park before the Sports Ground, Blackwood. Erected by the Ballan Shire. (courtesy Margot Hitchcock)
After much gold was found, miners turned their attention to digging large holes and shafts where they discovered gold in some of the rich quartz-reefs. Initially discovered by James Simmons to the west of the town, at Simmons Reef, this area was to produce much gold by various mining companies. This was followed up by the discovery of the extension of the line of quartz reef at Barrys Reef where the rich Sultan mine and others yielded tons of gold. The Sultan mine was reported to have yielded 65,801 ozs of gold from 1869-1880 to a depth of 900 feet.
‘Amongst a large number of reefs discovered in later years, the chief ones were Barrys Reef, and Trewhella’s Reef opened about two miles NW of Blackwood in 1858. The prospectors of Trewhella’s Reef were brothers, Benjamin, John, Matthew and Christopher Trewhella and Tobias Uren. The large mining village at Barrys Reef was later surveyed as Bayup.’
Blackwood was originally called Mt.Blackwood with townships of Red Hill, Golden Point, Barry’s Reef and Simmons’ Reef.
An historic goldmining village
Blackwood today, with its timber cottages, is situated amidst the eucalyptus-covered hills which attracted the earliest settlers with their promise of instant riches.
Above shows an existing old log cabin of a past era in Simmons Reef. (courtesy Margot Hitchcock)
Today Blackwood is now little more than a memory of the thriving settlement which existed, in the late 1850s. It is mostly a small township made of some approximately 200 residents plus many houses that are used as holiday homes, plus cottages which are available to rent. Of interest is the Blackwood Hotel, dating back to when it was built in 1868, where old photos can be viewed, and good meals can be served and where you can met some locals in the bar.
Blackwood Hotel and post office, Martin street, Blackwood. (courtesy Margot Hitchcock)
An early photo of the Blackwood Hotel (Cann’s Family Hotel) with the Rapid Coach C. 1890, before the verandah had been added. (courtesy Margot Hitchcock B.D.H.S.)