Walking in their footsteps

Not those of the Kelly Gang, but of a similar era, along the Ovens River, flowing quickly from the Alps, at Bright. 

It’s a beautiful spot, with lots of birds, including brightly covered parrots. Sadly I didn’t spot a platypus that are said to be in the river. A family said they saw one but I missed out. 

The same spot at night:

The park alongside the river in town has lots of adventure play equipment for kids and two water slides! Two! Into a fast flowing river! They weren’t open. Maybe the river is not as fast in summer? There were also broad steps into the river, like a public bathing area. And little beach areas. Definitely too cold in winter though a young whippersnapper fellow jumped in. And this dog. 

But with these depth markings, much more water comes this way. 

As we got out of town, along the Canyon Walk, we found ourselves in the footsteps of the past. The Gold Rush era. The information signs transformed a lovely walk into a fascinating walk. 

Seemingly random piles of river stones are actually tailings from the gold diggings. Who knew! Who’da realised wihout the signs!

Once spotted, you see them everywhere. 

The piles are not the only transformation in the environment by the gold miners. 

The course of the river was changed from the dredging. 

And then the gaps in the stone on the side of the river:

Nope. Not natural weathering. Hand cut tail races to channel the water to wash away the dirt to find the alluvial gold. 

And there were lots and lots of these tail races. Some still flowing with water, some dry, some filling up with trees and plants. It must have been so crowded here during the gold rush. Walking at night would have been dangerous. All the holes and racings and trip hazards and the steep cliffs to the river. Death traps a plenty. 

There is no evidence of any dwellings. The miners lived in tents and tiny shacks. And they wouldn’t have had as sturdy, healthy and safety approved bridges to cross that we have now. 

The whole thing smacked of wet, cold, hard work. Walking off the job wet, they wouldn’t have had more than one change of clothes so they would have been continually damp.  

What is it about the allure of gold that men for centuries have risked life, have worked in horrendous conditions? Why is gold so valued by so many societies?

The gold I like is the gold reflection of the sun set on the mountains. Next stop: ski fields. 


8 thoughts on “Walking in their footsteps

    • Haven’t skied yet. Stormy today and the lifts were closed anyway so Mr S couldn’t go up either. Will be snowing hard tonight and tomorrow. I think I’ll ski on Thursday and Friday.

      • My bookclub book. The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. It’s annoying me and a friend with whom I text. But we’re both persevering. I’ve finished The Postcard by Leah Fleming. And I’m half way through an Australian novel set in WWII. Which all three are, coincidentally. All low brow stuff. I am also reading a really interesting non-fiction on portrayal of Aborigines in history. Very eye opening. Stay tuned for a review.

  1. Very illuminating! I’m enjoying your insightful history lessons. Very observant of your surroundings, as per usual.
    I look forward to reading your post about your skiing days.

  2. I love how all this gold rush history is right there under our feet in the bush. No need to go to expensive historical mock-ups and theme parks (but admittedly, those are very fun, too.) That is such a good collection of primary source photographs.

    It must have been such an incredibly different landscape if you could turn back the clock a century and a half. Interesting to imagine so many places that are basically ghost-towns now or returned-to-the-wild that were once thriving towns with a population in the thousands.

    I love that part of Victoria. Go just a little further out of the towns and up into that Alpine region and you can almost find true wilderness again: off the grid, out of the range of wifi and google. But it’s getting harder to reach those pockets. I kind of think it’s sad not being able to ‘explore’ anymore. Google has mapped such a large percentage of land.

    • Not only mapped but photographed at street view.

      Mr S and I loved imagining we were in a different era. And yes, the real is interesting but I still want to see Sovereign Hill one day.

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