From Hotels of Ballarat

Blackwood is a small community about 40kms west of Ballarat.

The main street of Blackwood, 2007

Background[edit | edit source]

The Blackwood goldfields were alluvial fields stretching for about 23 kms along the valleys and gullies in a steep mountain setting. There were a number of smaller settlements scattered through the goldfield, which can be regarded as suburbs of Blackwood. These settlements included:

  • Golden Point, location of the Government Camp. Described in November 1874:

Golden Point is the oldest portion of Blackwood, and has a more settled appearance than any other portion of the immediate district. It has the benefit of good streets, too, while the buildings have a more aristocratic appearance than elsewhere. There is not much doing in mining about here, the alluvial having been the chief resource in days gone by, and the old workings are now almost monopolised by the Chinese, whose camp is situated at the lower portion of the township. Golden Point is about a mile and a half from Red Hill.[1]

  • Red Hill
  • Simmons' Reef. described in November 1874:

"...while in the valley in front and on the sides of the hills lies the township of Simmons’ Reef, consisting of about fifty or sixty, substantial-looking cottages scattered here and there, nearly all of which are neat and clean looking, with flower and fruit gardens round about. The Wesleyan chapel is a substantial brick edifice, and Mr Rogers has just completed the erection of a handsome residence of freestone obtained from the locality, while close by is the State school, which is apparently well attended."[1]

  • Yankee Reef, also known as Connellsville
  • Barrys' Reef

History[edit | edit source]

Gold was first discovered in 1851, but the main gold rush was in 1855 with 13,000 miners.[2] By the end of 1856 about 90% of the miners had moved to new fields. Most of the population lived in the villages of Golden Point and Red Hill, about 1.5kms apart.[3]

A description of Blackwood written in August 1855, describes a town of tents, poor roads, lack of water, and lack of basic facilities such as a Post Office. The mining areas were deep in the valleys and gullies, and the unofficial villages were on the high ground above. The Government Camp was in Golden Point.[4]

These diggings are very extensive, there being along the creek, alone, miners at work for the distance of 17 miles. Besides those who are digging at the creek, and in the various gullies branching out of it, there is a large population at the quartz reefs, the principal of which are Simmons's Reef, and the Yankee Reef, the former being situated about two miles from Golden Point (where the Camp is) and the latter about double the distance...There are two places here where the business population is centered, viz., the Red Hill and Golden Point, which are about three-quarters of a mile apart...[5]

Another report, written September 1855, describes the squalor of the mining camps:

Golden Point, where the Government Camp is located, and where a township is in process of being surveyed in allotments, is situated on a large sloping bank, close upon the main creek. On either side it is hemmed in, east and west, by very steep ranges. Further up the main creek, about a mile or so, is the celebrated Red Hill, where a considerable quantity of gold has been obtained. Both at the Red Hill and Golden Point, from the want or utter absence of any thing in the shape of sanitary regulations or preconcerted arrangements for that important object, an intolerable stench salutes the nostrils of the passers by , and from the same unfortunate cause, one may easily predicate that when summer comes on death and the doctor will be actively engaged among the inhabitants of those two abominably filthy spots.[6]

In November 1855 a severe storm struck the town. Two people were killed, and many buildings damaged. The Golden Point Hotel and Brigg's Hotel organized concerts to raise funds to support two children left orphaned after their parents were killed by a falling tree.[7]

The Anglican Church opened in 1855, and a concert at Brigg's Hotel in November helped to pay the cost of its construction:

The Church of England is now open here, but it seems, that the committee are £57 in debt to the contractors ; with a view of making up the deficiency, a musical and dramatic entertainment is to be given at Brigg's hotel. This is certainly a novel mode of raising money to pay for building a church, but most likely the committee think that the end justifies the means.[7]

Hotels in Blackwood[edit | edit source]

The rush of 1855 saw new hotels being built:

There is a daily coach to and from Melbourne and Mount Blackwood, charge £4, which deposits you either among the filth at Golden Point or Red Hill, according to your desire or fancy. Many hotels are now open, and I believe the passing traveller can get every satisfactory personal accommodation, except wholesome air : for the latter you must go higher up the ranges and bush it.[6]

HOTELS.-Whoever may choose to pay a visit to Mount Blackwood will find now no lack of accommodation for himself and horse. Besides numerous hotels already opened, another hotel has just commenced business, viz., Levy's Golden Point Hotel. It has a fine concert-room, which is handsomely fitted up, and is excellently well attended. Rogers's Hotel at Simmons's Reef is also just opened, and another at Acre's, or Yankee, Reef is in course of erection.[8]

Entertainment was provided at many of the Blackwood Hotels:

With regard to amusements, I would mention that the system of erecting concert rooms in connection with every public house that is built, is being universally adopted here. At Golden Point there are at present four hotels (all of which, by-the-bye, are very inferior buildings) that have concert rooms attached to them, which are thrown open to the public free, the landlord hoping to pay the professionals employed, and to make a profit for himself out of the quantity of "brandy hot, &c." consumed. At the Red Hill there is one public house, the Eastern Exchange, where free concerts take place, and also bal masques. To go to the latter entertainment you have, however, to pay. In my opinion this system of free concerts, besides being decidedly a low kind of amusement, is injurious, inasmuch the diggers here have got imbued with a notion that all amusements ought to be free; and I believe that even the best theatrical, vocal, or instrumental talent would be very badly supported if any charge were made for admission.[9]

List of hotels[edit | edit source]

People[edit | edit source]

Lists of people[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1874 'THE BLACKWOOD MINES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 28 November, p. 3. , viewed 01 Jan 2018,
  2. Blackwood Publishing: History of Blackwood, Victoria. | Blackwood Publishing, accessdate: December 20, 2017
  3. Blackwood Victoria: Blackwood Victoria, accessdate: December 20, 2017
  4. 1855 'MOUNT BLACKWOOD.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 24 August, p. 5. , viewed 25 Dec 2017,
  5. 1855 'MOUNT BLACKWOOD.', Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 26 September, p. 2. , viewed 26 Dec 2017,
  6. 6.0 6.1 1855 'MOUNT BLACKWOOD DIGGINGS.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 25 September, p. 6. , viewed 26 Dec 2017,
  7. 7.0 7.1 1855 'MINING INTELLIGENCE.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 22 November, p. 7. , viewed 24 Dec 2017,
  8. 1855 'MOUNT BLACKWOOD DIGGINGS.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 9 October, p. 6. , viewed 24 Dec 2017,
  9. 1855 'MOUNT BLACKWOOD.', Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 26 September, p. 2. , viewed 26 Dec 2017,

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]