Castlemaine – Chewton – Golden Point – Castlemaine
Recently I went walking in the Castlemaine and Chewton area in Central Victoria. This area is only about half an hour by car from where I live, but it’s a walk that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, due to its historical significance. As a keen lover of goldfields history, the walk really appealed to me. So what more could I ask for than to spend a day combining fitness, bushwalking and Australian history.
The walk as I planned it out,was circular, starting and ending in Chewton, passing through Golden Point, the area of the Mount Alexander Diggings. In the 19th century, these diggings were said to be the world’s richest shallow alluvial goldfields. People came from all over the world to try their luck here. Many fortunes were made in the goldfieds of Central Victoria, and there were also many who left the diggings disappointed at their lack of luck.
After a couple of hours walking, I came to a clearing that on 15 December 1851, was the site of the Monster Meeting. Over 14000 diggers attended a huge protest meeting on this site. The gathering was to become known as the Monster Meeting, and was the first protest meeting of this size to be held in Australia.
The Monster Meeting was held to protest the outrageous gold mining licence system, and the intention of the Australian Government to double the monthly licence fee, from 30 shillings to 3 pounds. This led to the Red Ribbon Rebellion, which was held in Bendigo in 1853 and the much more well known Eureka Rebellion in 1854.
From a plaque at the site: “There are few people who properly understand what a Government is, or what it ought to be.
It should be the chosen servants of a free people” – Mr. Booley, a speaker at The Great Meeting, 1851
Walking on from the site of the Monster Meeting, I came to Chinaman’s Point in the Golden Point area. The Chinese came to this area in 1854. Where alluvial gold was becoming more difficult to find and many of the Australian and European diggers were moving on to other diggings. The Chinese soon outnumbered those of European origin, as they worked hard over the areas that had been abandoned by the Europeans. They were incredibly successful, and this caused a huge amount of resentment among the European diggers.
At Golden Point a camp was established to give much needed protection to the Chinese diggers. After many scuffles, a full scale confrontation took place between the Europeans and the Chinese. There were accusations made of the Chinese encroaching on the land of the Europeans. Attracted by the disturbance, numbers grew, with many coming to the aid of the Chinese. A public meeting was held at The Red Hill Music Hall , attended by 650 people to discuss the issue of the Chinese miners. Many felt that with the numbers of Chinese diggers rising, they would outnumber Europeans in the Colony. It was felt that the government should limit the influx of Chinese migrants but also that they should protect those that were already here.
Many of the Chinese diggers returned home to China after the gold rush but many did stay in the area, and today there are many descendants of these miners still living in Central Victoria.
This 18k walk was a huge highlight, with its constant changes to the environment I was walking through. I also loved the pointers to historical sites and events along the way. There seemed to be so much to look at and think about other than the usual contryside. I hope you enjoyed reading about this walk and weren’t bored by the historical references. This avid historian couldn’t help herself.
More Walk Photos
If you would like to read more of my historical and genealogical posts you can find and follow me at my other blog Tracking Down The Family. If you visit, do say hello. I would love to catch up with you there.