Once a bustling, noisy place

Mr S loves going to the same place for holidays. I don’t. So three years ago I agreed to go to the same ski resort only if we spent a couple of days exploring Kelly Country. That’s Ned Kelly. 

I had read a host of books on Ned – it was my Summer of Ned. I wanted to retrace Ned’s journey. 

Did I tell you an amazing coincidence? It will only make sense if you know the importance of Room 101 in 1984. The cell Ned was placed in Beechworth Prison was number 101!!! And a sign of the penal attitudes, while most people lived in dirt floor shacks, the prison is huge and imposing. I don’t think most visitors to the prison get it. Anyway that was the winter of 2015.

For the last three winters, I have explored different parts of Kelly country for a few days before we head off to Mr S’s favourite holiday.  This year, despite being bedridden with flu (in a lovely BnB) I managed to get out for a morning drive through Woolshed Valley. 

Fireplace in the lounge room of our lovely BnB


I wanted to go to the Woolshed Valley because it used to be a thriving place of gold diggings, Chinese market gardens, schools, pubs, small holdings. And because it was in this valley that Ned’s lieutenant lived and learnt Chinese from the Chinese gold miners, and apparently adopted their love of opium. 

You have gold diggings and deserted roads, you have bushrangers. You have a large rock, you have a place for a bushranger to hide behind, and jump out at passing coaches. “Bail up!!!”


It was also where Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly shot Aaron Sherritt with the police hiding under the bed in the two room shack. This precipitated the siege. 

It is hard to believe that there were two story hotels, restaurants, pubs and a public bath along this road. Now there are saplings, scrub and bush. There are signs along the road which describe was once was; some pointing out features left in the landscape. I couldn’t see them. 

Sebastopol Flat, a thriving town in the late 1850s


The cold, wet day made it all the more possible to imagine the miserable lives they led in Kelly’s time. Wet. Cold. Without an insulated, centrally heated house. With little furniture and limited clothing.  Just hard work all round. 

While we in the comfort of a heated car with heated seats, Ned and his gang traversed the area by foot and on horse back. 

The ford across the creek. It would flood after rains.


Totally unrelated to Ned’s time, the world’s biggest dredge, or some similar claim to fame, anyway it was damn big is in Eldorado, the village at the start of the road to Beechworth through the Woolshed Valley. It was eerie walking in this industrial relic. Again, it harked to an harder era. 

Seats from an old roller coaster? No, scopes from the dredge.

Not a shed. This is a massive floating dredge. Yes, it floats on the creek.

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2 thoughts on “Once a bustling, noisy place

    • There were apparently some ditches and mounds, signs of the Chinese market gardens. But I couldn’t see them among the trees. Mr S could see them. But then I was sick. There were also bulbs sprouting in an flat place where a hotel had been. They’re not native so there must have been a garden. It’s easier to see the effects of the actual mining. Traces and channels dug.

      Mr S has an injury once. He hurt his back doing a jump onto a bus that had been placed in a section for tricks. He attempted to ski onto the roof of the half buried bus and edge along the roof and drop off the other end. Didn’t quite work. But otherwise. No injuries. Then again, he is fit and strong.

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