From Hotels of Ballarat

Smythesdale is a small town 17kms south west of Ballarat. It was first settled during the gold rush, and the Post Office opened in 1854. The area was also known as Smythe's Creek until 1864, but now Smythe's Creek refers to an area 10kms north east on the way to Ballarat.

Loading map...

It is named for John Smythe, who took up a pastoral run here in 1849.[1]

Gold was discovered at Warren's Flat, just north of Smythesdale in 1853.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

A brief description of the town in April 1858:

Arrived at Smythe's Creek, the scene that presented itself was a pleasing and animated one. The people were all alert and bustling, and there were unmistakable signs of prosperity observable. The narrow, little street in which the business of the place centres, has well-filled and orderly-looking stores ; the hotels have a clean and inviting appearance ; there are bank offices and a printing office to be seen ; and on Warren's Lead adjoining whims and other deep-sinking apparatus are being erected, all of which give an air of substantiality to the place, while the frequent spectacle of a newly arrived family squatting by the way side seated upon their property, while the males of the party are busily engaged improvising a house for the night, gave proof of progress and increase.[3]

This description of the Government Camp was written in July, 1860:

The Camp consists of a substantially built brick building as barracks for the police; at the back is the old camp oven or lock-up, at the back of which is the new lock-up : it is built of logs, consists of two cells. To the right is the inspector's office, an iron building. Then comes three or four wooden cottages belonging to those of the force that are benedicts. To the left of the barracks is the Court House. Higher up are the new stables, built of brick, with slate roof. At the back of these buildings is a good sized portion of ground laid out with walks, with here and there the gum tree is preserved and cleared all around. Then right on the top of the hill stands the Inspectors Bachelor's Hall The whole about 20 acres is well fenced with posts and rail and palings. To the left of the present court house is a spare piece of ground for the new court-house, the contract for which has been taken. Then farther north is the Warden's office built of brick, the roof is of slate. It has two rooms, and a space of ground of about half an acre enclosed, the same as the other. At the back of this and on higher ground is the residence of the Warden, with about an acre of ground fenced in.[4]

The rest of the town was also described in 1860:

On the other side of the street stands the Court House and Commercial Hotels, with an attorneys office edged in between. Passing on I come to the labyrinth I mentioned before; in the line of the street stands the Eldorado Hotel and two or three stores, which block up the whole, also the engine and shaft of old Twenty Six, Warren's, stands right in its course unless a deviation be made. The flat below No. 26 is even now very bad, should much rain fall during the remainder of the season the traffic to Brown's, Italian, Linton westward, will (if not entirely blocked up) be much interfered with ; the thick sludge is of a good depth. Below this is the residence of the District Mining Surveyor, or as they term themselves now Registrars but who gave gare them the appointment nobody knows. At the back is old Warren's ; this party having changed the sluicing boxes to the north side of the shaft, the water and sludge is allowed to go any way they like, and in consequence ran all over the road. If it is not looked after, about a hundred yards will be made impassable. Next is the shaft of old 40 (abandoned). The sluice boxes are used by some Chinese in sluicing the headings, &c., the sludge of which is allowed to accumulate so as to overrun a piece of mended road on both sides of the watercourse. Passing this we come to the prospecting claim of the celebrated Red White and Blue ; this party has already received a very handsome reward for their time and labor. Next come the Free Trade Store of Messers Tennant, and the one of Messrs Bell, Bruce and Co, on the opposite side of the road At the back of this, stands old 48. From here to Smythes Creek Hotel (kept by the" Old Pilgrim") is a flat over which the mud, water and sludge of 48 is allowed to overrun. At the back of this hotel is the cricket ground it is about six acres in extent, fenced in with a two-rail fence. On the hill between here and the German Lead, stands the Presbyterian Church - a very neatly built weatherboard building. After going so far, I retraced my steps, and cut across the creek to see the sluicing business on Frazer's Hill. On the east side of the hill is a portable engine, fixed with I what I would call a double-action forcing pump, the pipes having been laid with the surface of the hill and reaching the top, where there is a small reservoir from which they can obtain water to any part of the hill. Passing a brickyard, I came to the old street, on which is built Campbell's and Abbott's hotels, the Union Bank and that of Australasia, a barber's shop, two blacksmiths, two shoemakers, one boarding house, two or three stores, a tinsmith's, butcher's and a saddler's. Near the Bank of Australasia is the old claim of No. 14 Norfolk Lead, the only one at present (of the old parties) at work. On the other, side of the bridge there are two whim parties at work The bridge has been lately raised and enlarged, (by subscriptions), but by present appearances it will not be long before another rise will be requisite; the sludge of both the Hibernian end the Young Pioneer is allowed to run all over. Further up is the ironmongery stores of Messrs Kerr & Co, in the front of which I was rather surprised to see that a good number of claims had been allowed to be sunk on the road. My surprise was the more as I remember when working here, when the rush on this flat took place, of being stopped.[4]

In February 1860 there was considerable discussion about forming the main road through the town. There were three streets which were possible, but all had mines operating in them, and would need considerable realignment:

A very curious kind of a meeting took place yesterday at Dent's Hotel between 2 and 3 o'clock p.m. I enclose the report as it appeared in your contemporary here, the Dispatch, this morning. It was not very manly in Mr Fynmore to take such a course, when he was desired to proceed to the spot and report thereon, whatever he may send in as his opinion, will be seen is not his own, and therefore can not have, or should not have any weight whatever. In deciding on which of the three streets is to be the Main Road, the following among other things should be taken into consideration: First, what outlay has, been expended on each of the three streets, on the faith of its being made a government road. I take the one that was first stated to be the Main road, which is called Argyle street, which has about twenty tenements, the value of which may be about £3000. Clyde street has thirty-six, valued at about £4500. Camp street has four, valued at £150. There are mining companies interfering with the several streets. Argyle street has the Britannia company only which had commenced operations previous to the laying out of the proposed road. In Clyde street there are three companies; one with a whim, the others with steam engines, commenced operations many months after the marking out of the street. In Camp street one whim party have their shaft about the middle of the line of the street. Of the engineering difficulties all are much alike. In the proposed survey of Camp street, so as to bring it out to Clyde street line, opposite to Eldorado Hotel, it must break on the original plan and line of the streets of the township, and make a curve near the Nugget Hotel, both streets part in a V style. By taking the objection of the miners to the proclamation of a road, neither of the three can be proclaimed, so that the meeting of yesterday proving a boisterous one, cannot be wondered at, and I believe the adjourned one this evening will be even more so. When, there are so many conflicting interests at war, the residents of each street naturally wish that theirs be the favored one, then comes the miners in each street in opposition to such wish. To take the most straight of the three streets, Clyde street should be selected, and would have been, had Mr Warden Hamilton done his duty.
THE TOWNSHIP MAIN ROAD.-On Thursday mid-day an intimation was left desiring our attendance at Dent's Royal Hotel, at two o'clock, to meet Mr Fynmore, from Ballarat, respecting where the main road should be. At two o'clock we attended, those who had already arrived (about 15) were in the parlor; and after a short conversation Mr Kelland was voted to the chair. But before any business was transacted, it was stated there were about thirty outside, when it was decided to adjourn to the concert room. On silence being restored, the Chairman stated the object of the meeting. Some of the miners present appeared to view the whole as a hole and corner affair. Dr Crossen in few remarks suggested the propriety of adjournment, so as to allow time for consideration, the present notice being so short. Mr Montgomery mistook the suggestion of the doctor as being a motion, and begged leave to second. The Chairman then suggested to the Doctor to put it to the meeting as a motion, which he did accordingly, when Mr Harris, entered appearing rather confused as to what was going on; and when the mover read the resolution, Mr Harris seconded, upon which Mr Montgomery retorted his colleague for seconding a motion after he (Mr M.) had done so before. Mr Harris replied that the present remarks were made for some other purpose than that being before the meeting. Dr Saenger then moved an amendment, seconded by Mr Jones-" That there was no necessity to give an opinion, but leave the matter to the judgment of the surveyor." The amendment was put first, when about a dozen hands were raised ; and for the motion about 24. Then, amidst spleen and retort, the following came out:-That Mr Rowan, of Geelong, the road engineer, and Mr Taylor, of Ballarat, the district surveyor, had been here inspecting the locality, to report which would be the most eligible to be the main road. On their several reports being received, it was seen that they did not agree ; and Mr Taylor, the day before desired Mr Fynmore (who is not a government officer, nor has he any interest in Smythesdale) to come so far, and make a report. The first part he performed but as to the second, instead of inspecting the ground himself, he goes and gets up a meeting, for the inhabitants to do what he was desired to do himself. Then came the question of Mr Fynmore's expenses, but nothing was done. After some more cross retorting the meeting separated.-Dispatch.[5]

Hotels[edit | edit source]

A list of hotels in Smythesdale.

People[edit | edit source]

A list of people living and working in Smythesdale.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Victorian Places: Smythesdale | Victorian Places, accessdate: January 6, 2017
  2. 1992 'Ballarat Mines and Deep Leads', I. S. Finlay and P. M. Douglas, Geological Report, Department of Manufacturing and Industry Development
  3. 1858 'CARNGHAM.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 7 April, p. 6. , viewed 29 Sep 2017,
  4. 4.0 4.1 1860 'JOURNEY TO SMYTHESDALE.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 18 July, p. 2. , viewed 06 Jan 2017,
  5. 1860 'SMYTHESDALE.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 20 February, p. 4. , viewed 05 Jul 2017,