-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, February 23, 2004

History of the area

I mentioned in an earlier post about our property being near where gold was found in Australia. Well, here's some more information about it that my Mum sent me. She's really into family history and funnily enough, it turns out my great great great grandfather and co were from the area nearby to Amherst! We only found that out recently. Anyway, it means that she's on all these mailing lists and she forwards on to me whatever she comes across about Amherst and surrounding areas

(Late January, early February 2004)

Ref: Flett: 'Gold Discoveries', and 'Maryborough'. Amherst was originally Daisy Hill, where Thomas Chapman found gold in 1848, and where the troopers dispersed the diggers because gold seeking was still illegal. The modern Daisy Hill is a few kms to the north east, on the Maryborough-Ballarat Road. The first real discovery at Amherst was in May 1852, by a party on the way from Adelaide to Bendigo. The early overland road from South Australia to Bendigo-Mt. Alexander (Castlemaine) passed close to the Amherst diggings, which may be relevant if you find that your ancestors from the SA colony first searched for Victorian gold in this area. Land sales in the town began in May 1855.

Talbot was originally one of the many places named Back Creek. Digging there began in about January 1854. Amherst and Talbot, only three miles apart, were subject to some rivalry. The early land survey for Talbot was cancelled, perhaps to encourage Amherst to develop, although Talbot had the better natural water supply. In 1874 Talbot received the Bendigo - Ballarat Railway, on the side of the town away from Amherst. The Amherst Hospital served a wide area including Lexton and Avoca, and from 1904, served as a TB sanatorium for a wide area of Victoria, but closed in 1933 and was demolished in 1937-8. The State School closed in 1946.

The Sands and McDougall 1864 Gazetteer and 'Vision and Realisation', between
them, have this
1. Amherst: Church of England School, est. 1856 - Sampson, Presbyterian,
est. 1860 - McLauchlin; Hospital, est. 1859, - Dr Rose. There is also
evidence of a Catholic School, est.1859, but it's not clear whether it was
in Talbot or Amherst.

2. Talbot: Church of England, est. 1857 James Quinlan, master, National,
est. 1858, C.P. Lawson, master.

Here's a summary of Sands and McDougall 1879 Gazetteer entry for 1. 'Amherst or Old Daisy Hill ..about 900 persons, small, well built, neat and pleasant appearance, A coach runs to Talbot and Avoca and Maryborough, and to Lamplough and Lexton via Avoca. .. An excellent hospital, court of petty sessions, mechanic's institute'.

2. 'Talbot or Back Creek, about 2000 persons, a postal, telegraphic and
money-order borough township, situated on Back Creek, two flour mills, two
breweries - one worked with steam power and one by water - one soap and
candle works (Viney and Busch Bros), one quartz crushing machine. fine
agricultural lands. dairy farms. Alluvial mining at Amherst, Mt Greenock,
Rocky Flat, Kangaroo Flat, Emu, Mia Mia, Cockatoo, and other diggings nearly
continuous from Talbot for miles in every direction. There is a free
library, fire brigade, court of petty sessions, county court, warden's
court, sub treasury, State School and newspaper (Talbot Leader), Church of
England, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Primitive Methodist, and Weslyan
Churches, annual races.

Municipal Directory 1957: Talbot Shire created a district 1860, a Shire
1865, Talbot Borough united with Shire 1915. Pop. 810, Dwellings 342. (When
Amherst was absorbed isn't listed).

Localities: Amherst, Caralulup, Dunach, Mount Beckworth, Red Lion
(Eglinton), and Talbot, which then had four churches, a technical museum, a
free library (3500 vols) , newspaper, and two hotels.

Parishes: Amherst, Eglinton, Bung Bong, Lillicur, Beckworth, Talbot, part
Craigie, Glengower, Rodborough, Clunes, Smeaton and Tourello.

Much of the Amherst -Talbot area was burnt in the 1985 bushfire, and many
historic buildings were destroyed. At Amherst, only the shell of the school
(now restored), the magnificent gutters and bridges, and a handful of modern
houses survived, so, without photographs or a guide, it's hard to see where
a thriving town used to be.

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