Dunolly Bicycle Tracks
Bealiba Track Track information
The ride to Bealiba is an extension of the ride to Goldsborough. To Bealiba, the track surface is unmade and gently undulates through box ironbark forest. The section to the Bealiba Reservoir is sealed and then unmade road. From the reservoir, the section along Boundary track is rougher and there are some short steeper rises before rejoining Ponderosa track. This track passes trough two gates which should be left as you find them either open or (normally) closed.
Alternatively you can retrace your wheel tracks from Bealiba or take the relatively quiet sealed road back to Dunolly.
The first settlers arrived in the 1840's, their early homesteads were made from 'daub and wattle' with shingle roofs. Bealiba derived its name from the Aboriginal language meaning 'Redgum Creek', and Redgum along with the other timbers of the Box-Ironbark forests have been a major influence on the town. Logging has been an active industry for over 120 years and at one stage there were six sawmills operating. Redgum has traditionally been used as a building timber, whereas the Yellow Gum, Grey Box and Ironbark have been used for fuel and fencing materials.
It's hard to imagine that only a century ago there was barely any bush left in much of the Dunolly district due to clearing for mining and later for farming. One new arrival commented that on getting off the train at Dunolly Station in 1920, she thought she had arrived in hell, 'a more barren scape she could not imagine with barely a tree, shrub, or even a blade of grass as far as the eye could see'. That is why in the 1890's new regulations were enforced to protect the larger trees. Even though logging still continues today, as you will see along your bike ride, restrictions are still maintained and some areas have been earmarked to be fully protected.
Flora & Fauna of the Box-Ironbark forests.
The Box-Ironbark forests once covered an area of 3 million hectares, however 85% of the original forests have been destroyed since European settlement. Few ecosystems can compare to the rich biodiversity of this forest, with over 1300 plant species, 300 animal and 3000 bird species calling it home. However the Box-Ironbark forests are now classified as one of the most threatened in Australia, with around 200 species of bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, insect and plant, listed as threatened with extinction.
On your ride keep your eye open for:
Reptiles such as Lace Monitors, the venomous Tiger or Brown Snakes, Bearded Dragons, Jackie, Blue Tongue and Stumpy tailed lizards.
Birds such as Honey Eaters, Magpies, Kookaburras, Rosellas, Cockatoos, Corellas, Galahs, Ibis, Pelicans, Coots, Blue Wrens, Finches, Owls, or the rare Swift Parrots and Grey-crowned abblers. (re, Brenda & Gary Cheers list in previous Golden Triangle Cycle Rides).
Mammals such as Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Black Wallaby, Possums, Sugar Gliders, Brushtailed Phascogales, Fat tailed Dunnarts, Echidnas.
Plants to be seen on your ride through the Box-Ironbark forest, List in Golden Triangle Bicycle Rides), include the various wattles, flame heath, everlasting, flax lillies, bushpeas, yam daisies, grevilleas, buloke, she oak trees and many rare orchids. To appreciate the variety of wildflowers in these areas it is best to come during the months of August/September.
Betley Track information
The Betley ride is reasonably easy and is through farmland rather than forest. The section from Dunolly to Betley is a quiet sealed road and then the the road is unmade along Howards Lane and Middle Road. This path takes you past what once were the thriving communities of Bromley and Burnt Creek plus a number of sites of commercial goldmining of the 1890s and 1900s.
has its source around Mt. Moliagul and was auriferous throughout its 17 mile length, passing through the gold towns of Moliagul, Inkerman, Goldsborough and Dunolly before joining up with the Bet Bet Creek in Betley. Where there once was the thriving town of Burnt Creek, the remnants of alluvial mining and Reef Mining are still obvious. As you cross the bridge on the Betley road you pass along the main street that boasted a population of 4000 to 6000 and shops, dance halls and businesses stretching out to almost a mile.
Chinese at Burnt Creek.
Burnt Creek already had a large Chinese population, which increased dramatically in 1858 with 2000 arriving in one huge group and smaller groups up to three hundred arriving from time to time often from China. By 1861 they had opened a Joss House and later a Chinese Theatre that was enjoyed by all. Chinese planted many of the orchards and vineyards that are still evident along the ride, during the goldrush. Although the Chinese at Burnt Creek seemed to have amicable relations with their European neighbours, it was not so in many of the diggings, with conflicts and violence often forcing the Chinese out. The Chinese were noted for their meticulous methods of working what was considered 'poor ground' by Europeans and reaping just rewards. While Europeans sank rectangular holes, the Chinese opted for circular shafts claiming they were safer and less prone to cave ins. Examples of these differences are still evident in Wild Dog Diggings just off the bike track (beware of shafts).
Deep Lead Mining.
As you pass through Betley you will notice in the distance the enormous mullock heaps of the Burnt Creek Deep Lead Mines. Only the lone old gum tree growing upon the top alludes to the age of these mullock heaps. This is the only spot in the district to have Deep Lead Mining due to numerous waterways past and present ending up in this basin. The Deep Leads are formed over centuries of earth movements and lava flows, causing old streams to be buried deep under the surface. At the peak of the Burnt Creek Mining company they sunk a shaft 247 feet deep to work a gutter about 250 feet wide existing between the two Deep Lead Mines you pass on the ride, (one on Betley road the other just off Howards Lane). In the 22 years of the mines, 47,230 ounces of gold were obtained. To do this the company had to sink numerous shafts, excavate tunnels, lay tramways down to transport rock, erect batteries to crush the rock and continually run pumps to be rid of water from pockets in the rock. Deep Lead Mining was extremely dangerous work, especially for the unlucky sod who had to make the final break into the old stream, as the design was to sink a shaft next to the lead, then cut across under the old creek bed and finally up into its base. Burnt Creek Mine finally closed due to the pump not being able to match the amount of water filling the shafts.
Goldsborough Track information
Goldsborough is a small community with some interesting relics of commercial goldming of 100 years ago including features marked on the cycle track map. The ride is gently undulating over unmade bush tracks through box ironbark forest. The Bealiba range offers a great walking opportunities with impressive views of the surounding countryside.
Subdivided by H.N.Simson in 1855 in hope to make quick money from land hungry miners from the 1852 Goldsborough rush, it was not consolidated as a permanent settlement until the opening of the Queens Birthday Mine in 1865. One shaft was 800 feet deep, the other 600 feet, and employed 100 men per shaft working day and night. Soon several companies were working the Queens Birthday Reef, providing a thriving community of 16,000, remnants of which can still be seen today with the enormous mullock heaps, school, dam wall and powder magazine.
The first Martin was James who fought in the Eureka Stockade in 1854, managing to escape with life and limb. On hearing of their father's existence in Australia, his son William and daughter-in-law applied to immigrate. Unwanted by Australia they jumped ship in New Zealand and made their way to Australia via Steamboat, then caught a bullock train up to the Goldsborough Goldfields, starting a connection with the area that has spanned four generations and continues today. Local resident Nin Martin still recalls playing with his brothers in the wash water from the Queens Birthday Mine, as they lived across the street and their father and uncles worked down the mines. He recalls the frightful noise of the 40 head battery crushing the rock and the deep well pumps running day and night; watching his father being whinched down the 800 foot shaft, not to return to the surface till the end of the day, with many a wild adventure to share. Tragedy down the shafts was common and Nin lost his Grandfather when timber collapsed striking him at the bottom of the shaft. According to family legend on the last day the mine operated, his father and a work mate decided to cut a drive into the side of the shaft and hit a golden reef. But before they had the chance to remove the gold they were winched to the surface and the mine closed, due to a decision made in the mines head office in London. That was in 1886 and the towns decline was rapid.
Selling off Goldsborough
Goldsborough, like most gold towns was based on making money wherever the opportunity might arise. Two such opportunities did arise; · At the close of the mines the large quantity of steel machinery that was used to run the mine, was exploded with dynamite and the metal sold to a German company to produce weapons. · Much later in the 1970's the foundations of the old Goldsborough Railway Station were bought by a company and crushed in search of gold, as the stone that built the foundations were all local. Sure enough gold was found and that is why today as you pass the site of the Railway Station there is only a swamp to mark the site. One of the Martins on Goldsborough Station.
Old Powder Magazine.
One of the few remaining buildings of the gold rush era is the Powder Magazine (seen on the walk). Its simple design ensured safety for the multitudes of people living and working in the vicinity. The double brick walls were sturdy enough to hold together in an explosion, as the detachable roof would fly off into the sky, giving the explosion its necessary outlet. Just hope you're not in the way when the roof comes back down! Old Powder Magazine.
Laanecoorie Track information
The Laanecoorie ride is for the more fit and experienced riders and mountain bikes are advised. The first rise is not far from Dunolly as you climb past the water supply above the town, then its up and down following the pipeline which brings water to the town from Laanecoorie. Along Brundells track there is quite a steep rocky pinch to a high point with a great view. Alternatives are to walk up this short climb of take the signed alternative route.
Once on the bitumen on the Eddington Laanecoorie road there is a great barbeque site signed and indicated on the map which overlooks the Loddon River. Back on the ride, you'll pass more barbeque facilities and toilets at Anchors Causeway and there's a kiosk at the Caravan Park just up the road at the Reservoir.
Raymon Parade is an unmade road but when you get back in the bush on Jude Track the going can get a bit rough again with short steep rises and rocky sections. From here the green signs take you to the Waanyarra Recreation area with toilets, shelter, barbeque and a camping area. From here you can follow the blue (Waanyarra signs) back to Dunolly or continue up to the Dunolly Tarnagulla Road to either continue on the Tarnagulla Track or ride back to Dunolly on the bitumen.
Along Blundells' track you pass by Banks Reef where during the 1880's horses were used to transport rock down into the mine. The practice of using horses was common in many mining areas. The animal was lowered into the shaft often hundreds of feet, in a sling with their hind legs drawn close to their bodies, sent down tail first. Stables were built in the shaft and horses could expected to live down there with only candle light for years, even foaling while down there. One local who lived nearby recalls the animals being blind by the time they returned to the surface, yet newspaper reports claim the horses were happy living in the mine.
One of the earliest sub divisions of the Charlotte Plains (the name given by the first graziers to the whole district), the name Laanecoorie is Aboriginal for 'the meeting place of the old man kangaroo'. As far back as 1864, when the first state school was opened, Laanecoorie was a lively community with dances on moonlit nights so people in gigs and buggies could see their way home. Laanecoorie Weir started in 1889 and took three years to build, but the great flood of 1909 burst the weir sending 18.3 million cubic metres of water down stream, causing sever damage to all towns down stream. Even as far away as Timor the hotel had water flowing straight through the bar. The weirs capacity has diminished over the years, due to Cairn Curran and Tullaroop being built upstream, however it still supplies water to most of the district's towns and is a great spot to relax, swim, or canoe.
On the way to Waanyarra you will pass the Mortons' Old Hotel. The Mortons were one of the earliest pioneering families to settle at Jones' Creek. It is believed that Michael Morton was transported to Australia (Van Diemens Land) as a convict in 1847. It is not known how they ended up at Jones Creek, but they lived here at the hotel/general store until 1921, when they moved a short distance up the road. In Lynne Douthat's book 'The Footsteps Echo', she relays a story of Christmas at the Mortons, which gives a wonderful impression of life for the districts pioneering families. 'My brother and I always went to our Grandparents a few days before Christmas to help with the preparations…..we helped grandad trim the 'Old Man' bush along the path….and Grandma whitewash the cellar which housed… wonderful homemade Hop Beer, Ginger Beer and cordials which had been brewing sometime and were offered to all from far and wide that came visiting….One of our favourite pre-Christmas tasks was papering the 'Dunny'...cutting out pictures of cows, sheep, bulls and show girls….we delighted in making the place a show place. The task was not complete until extra squares were cut and hung up on string. (Recollections of Norma Dickson).
Moliagul Track information
Follow the Waanyarra signs (Blue) to the Old Lead Reservoir and then head along the Dunolly Orville road following the red signs. After Salvation Track this ride is a great ride through box ironbark forest to Moliagul. There is a short section of sealed highway from the Moliagul Cemetery to the town. The only service here is the Mt Moliagul Hotel which is a real country pub with character. Well worth a visit. Moliagul is of particular significance because this is the site of the discovery of the Welcome Stranger - the largest gold nugget in the world. The site is a short distance out of town and is on the route. Follow the signs back through the forest to where you meet the returning Bealiba track and then Goldsborough track as indicated on the map.
The Welcome Stranger Nugget
Moliagul went into the annals of history with the discovery of the 'Welcome Stranger Nugget' on the 5h February, 1869. The world's biggest nugget weighing approximately 319 kilos it had to be broken into pieces to be weighed. So big was the nugget it was said that discoverer John Deason broke his pick trying to free the nugget from under tree roots. He then covered it over and returned later with friend Oates to help him remove it.
Moliagul is also famous as the birthplace of Rev. John Flynn, who later set up the Royal Flying Doctors Service, providing medical care to the remote areas of Australia.
Bushranger Gipsy Smith.
Another famous character of Moliagul district was Bushranger Gipsy Smith. A man of immense strength, he had escaped from prison or on route to prison four times and chose Mt. Moliagul as his field of operation after his gang shot and killed a policeman. At one stage he held up no less than 16 people who passed along the Korong road, tied them to trees, then laid bets with them that he could shoot the braid off of Warden Thompson's cap as he passed. Eventually caught while planning another robbery, Gipsy was sentenced to 15 years gaol, the first two in chains.
If one chooses to stay at Mt. Moliagul Hotel, as well as great country hospitality, keep a look out for the reported ghost who haunts the hotel. No less than three suspicious deaths have been reported to have occurred in the hotel throughout its history. Which one is the ghost you can decide for yourself - IF YOU DARE! Moliagul still has evidence of the wonderful Cherry Orchards planted by Chinese diggers over a century ago and still supplying local today.
On route between Moliagul and Tarnagulla you will pass Scarred Trees, bushfoods and rock formations the only evidence of the Jaara peoples long connection with this district. Similar evidence is also seen along the Bealiba/Golsdborough tracks and Nin Martins' father told how he had to flatten large middens on their property to farm the paddocks. Historically portrayed as people who kept to the perimeter of the gold diggings and who were either frightened by events or drunk and violent; it is now believed they were actively involved in the Gold rushes as guides, diggers, farmers, and skin traders. In the Ballarat region they patrolled the goldfields with the controversial Native Police Corp. Later they were forced onto Mission Stations where they suffered from disease and alcohol abuse. The last full blood Djadja Wurrung to live in the district was King Tommy, who died in 1892 and is buried in one of the unmarked graves in the Dunolly Cemetery.
The story of Tommy Dunolly is typical for Aboriginals in the late 1800's. Bom in Dunolly in 1856 to an Aboriginal mother, European father, he was orphaned at an early age and sent to live at Franklinford Mission with many other orphans. At age 7 he was moved to the Government station 'Coranderrk' at Healesville, where he was educated. With the introduction of 'assimilation policy' (half bloods not allowed to mix with full bloods) he was no longer allowed to live at Corandeffk and was forced to move to New South Wales. Eventually the land he was farming was confiscated by the Government and as policies had again changed, he returned to Corandeffk where he lived out his days, dying in 1923. Tommy Dunolly will be remembered for his tireless activism for Aboriginal Rights.
Tarnagulla Track information
The Tarnagulla ride is an extension of the Waanyarra or Laanecoorie ride, or can be started after riding from Dunolly on the sealed Dunolly Tarngulla Road. Look out for the track sign indicating left at Weed Track as indicated on the cycle track map.. This ride is reasonably easy with good track surfaces and gentle undulations. Tarnagulla is a pretty town and well worth exploring, but carry food etc with you because there are few shops left here. The ride along Laurie Track takes you along side the Green Range and through the Waanyarra Conservation Reserve a wonderful area for wildflowers in spring. The track takes you to the Old Lead Reservoir where the sealed road takes you south, back to Dunolly
Originally named Sandy Creek, due to gold being first discovered in the creek sand, Tarnagulla soon had an estimated 5000 miners along a 5km stretch. As with many other places the town was not actually established until the Poverty Reef was discovered in 1853-54. It was reported that by 1865, an area of 92 square metres had yielded 2.5 million dollars. The town now had a population of 20,000 and boasted banks, breweries, hotels, tobacconists, chemists, a theatre and churches, with the school opening in the 1870's. Still today Tarnagulla boasts many of its original landmarks like the majestic Victoria Theatre and Hotel (c-1861), the Courthouse (c-1863), Churches, Poppet Head at the Poverty Mine (c-1860) and the Football Grandstand (c-1872).
The madness of gold.
The deceitfulness of the goldrush was evident the day a local digger named Watson found a 1.4 kilo nugget. Not only did he not inform his mining partner- a huge Negro named Ruby, but then set about celebrating and sleeping with Ruby's woman. Watson soon found himself hit on the head with a lump of quartz and thrown down a mining shaft, Ruby was hung at the Melbourne gaol for his deed.
On another occasion during the Petty Sessions at the Sandy Creek Court, the Warden delivered judgement on a disputed claim. As soon as he announced the land belonged to neither quarrelling party, everyone in the court, including council and clerks, jumped up and ran the mile to get their pegs in first, leaving the Warden in an empty courtroom.
Early settlers soon found it was more profitable to grow wheat and sheep, once the gold bonanza was over. The flourmill started in 1882 and by 1901 up to 60,000 bags of wheat were being handled weekly. It was a common sight during the wheat season to see the street lined with wagons.
Flora and fauna.
Indicated on the Cycle Track map is the Waanyarra Nature Conservation Reserve. Here you have a wonderful opportunity to see many of the wildflowers, shrubs and trees that make the Box-Ironbark forests so unique. The views on Laurie Track looking across the farmland, surrounded by bush, with the ranges as a backdrop, are some of the loveliest views in the district.
The Chinese at Sandy Creek.
Throughout the goldfields there was great animosity towards the Chinese. They were arriving in droves, generally working the areas already mined by the Europeans and kept to themselves. The Goldfields had people from more than half the countries of the world, including Greeks, Italians, Dutch, Indian, Swiss, Canadian, French and Afghans to name but a few. All the nationalities cohabitated well, except with the Chinese. The State Government was suspicious of the Chinese claims that women could not come as their duty was to care for elderly relatives. The Government also did not like the fact that the Chinese took their gold back home and refused to buy land and settle in Australia. To stem the influx, the Government charged the Chinese a 10 pound tax to enter the country. In Sandy Creek the welcome for the Chinese was even less friendly, with pitched battles using picks and shovels reported throughout the 1950's. In September, 1857, 250 miners signed a petition to have the Chinese removed, claiming they were spoiling the towns clean water supply needed for drinking and washing. This resulted in most of the Chinese moving to Burnt Creek, with the few left behind sinking into alcohol abuse and suicide. In March 1902 the State Government passed a bill outlawing any Chinese from working in gold or silver mining.
Waanyarra Track information
This is a wonderful ride with a variety of features including the old gold mining site of Waanyarra. The ride out of town follows a bush track beside the railway line to a quiet sealed road leading to the Old Lead Reservoir. This was at one time the water supply for Dunolly. Follow the blue signs over the railway line to Sporting Flat Road, a bush track through the forest to the Dunolly Tarnagulla Road. A hundred metres along here you turn into the bush and then take a signed track that runs parallel to the main road all the way to Waanyarra up over Murders Hill. At Waanyarra there is a wonderful cemetery cared for by the "Friends of Waanyarra" (See the link to their website). There's also the Waanyarra Recreation Site with barbeque, shelter, water, camping area and toilets. Its a great spot to camp overnight. The ride back involves continuing up the Waanyarra Road to the sign taking you right just a short distance from the campsite. Then its back along a series of tracks including Wet Gully Track with a long gentle up then rewarding down slope to meet the Dunolly Eddington sealed (Oh that feels so smooth!) and back to Dunolly.
The Old Lead
Early in the ride stop at the Old Lead Reservoir to appreciate that during the 1856 Dunolly rush 35,000 people fought for space along this one strip. The Reservoir supplied water via horse and cart to the Dunolly township until pipes were laid in 1887. The catchment channel that you will cross numerous times during the ride, run for approximately 8 kilometres and was dug using horse and scoop.
On route to Waanyarra you will pass an area once the scene of deeds of darkness - Murderers Hill. For it was in a gully near here on a gloomy day in November 1857,that miner William Dean happened upon an old mining hole surrounded by Green Fly. On closer inspection he found a boot….with leg still attached. In fact he had discovered the rotting corpses of McLean and Dunlop, two kindly gentlemen who had been brutally murdered by pick axe to the back of the skull several weeks earlier. Not quite the giant nugget of gold Dean would have been hoping for! This gruesome discovery was the beginning of a tale that stretched over 18 months; involved countless characters the likes of which we would only see in the movies today. After 18 months and numerous innocent people falsely accused and imprisoned, the seemingly mild mannered Dunbar handed himself in to police, stating that he had been an unwilling assistant in a supposed robbery that became double murder at the hands of Job Neil and Bill Brown. After many lively court cases where the public gallery (packed full from early morning till late in the evenings) booed, hissed and threw objects at Neil's' defense lawyers, it was discovered that Neil and Brown had not even been in the state at the time of the murders. Dunbar, full of hatred towards Neil who had just absconded with Dunbars long suffering partner Mary Dodd, concocted the whole elaborate story finding plenty of willing witnesses. The actual murders had been carried out by Dunbar and Dodd themselves, upon their Jones' Creek neighbours McClean and Dunlop, then proceeded to visit the Dunlop widow with condolences for her and her young babes. Dodd who had six children herself (one died under suspicious circumstances) served only a few months at the Castlemaine gaol, but on her release passed Dunbar in the hall. He asked if they might speak and on his approach bit her nose off.
(Link to contemporary newspaper and court reports)
The land surrounding Waanyarra (previously known as Jones Creek) paints a rugged landscape with thousands of mounds, holes and gullies; the result of Alluvial mining, the mainstay of diggers during the 1850's and 60's. Alluvial gold originates from rock breaking away from auriferous quartz reefs and being washed down into streams. The larger nuggets sink to the bottom, whereas the finer particles can be transported considerable distances, until they collect in crevices. All of the goldfields started with alluvial mining, then move into sinking shallow shafts upon reefs. Most diggers worked in small groups of 3 or 4 men on a shaft of between 1-6 metres in depth. Over each shaft they erected a pole bearing a windlass or pulley, enabling them to bring buckets of rock to the surface. While some had only a puddling tub to wash the dirt, others built horse drawn puddlers to speed up the process of separating the dirt from the rock and minerals. Then with a technique that only great experience (and the loss of a lot of gold) can give, the miners would pan out the rest of the dirt leaving just he gold on the lip of the pan. The remnants of one of these puddlers can be seen at the start of the walking track'. The timber that lined the puddler would have been removed and used on another site, as it along with everything else in the goldrush was designed for a transient existence.
The hardship of life in areas such as these is evident with a visit to the Waanyarra Cemetery. The countless unmarked graves, particularly of children was common in the district, with recent research uncovering more sites at both the Old Lead Reservoir and Old Dunolly Cemetery, containing unknown numbers of children's bodies. It would have been particularly hard for women, still caught up in the restrictive regimes of the Victorian Era, wearing corsets, girdles, petticoats and other undergarments under their dresses, in the searing summer conditions. There was no sanitation and diseases were rife. Bringing up a large number of children in a lean-to shack or canvas tent, having to transport water from as far as the Loddon River at times, and most of this was done without husband/father, as they had to travel to where ever the next rush might have been. As with the Dunlop family, it was common for the women and children to be left alone for long periods, not knowing if their partner was ever to return.
Life after the rush.
Although rushes in this area continued for a 50-year period, enthusiasm had dwindled by the end of the 1860's. The 1869 Land Act finally enabled ordinary folk to purchase land and pursue self-sufficiency farming. During the 1930's Depression the Government encouraged men to head back to these areas in search of gold or work in the forests, as fuel timber was in great demand. During World War II many Prisoners of War or interned 'aliens' were put to work in the forests to combat the demands for fuel and industry timber. During these times the abundance of canvas tents popping up through out the forest was a reminder of times past.
State of Victoria Time Zone
Eastern Standard Time
1st. Saturday in April to last Saturday in October
Eastern Standard Time = UTC/GMT plus 10 hours
Daylight Saving Time
1st. Saturday in November to last Saturday in March
Eastern Daylight Saving Time = UTC/GMT plus 11 hours
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