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  • Writer's pictureKinglake Historical Society

Did You Know ...... ?

Did you know that the Kinglake ridge of the Great Dividing Range was once the meeting place for indigenous people, the Taungurung from the north and the Wurundjeri from the south? Aboriginal stone tools have been found in the area and the bush on the ridge provided' bush tucker', like the soft pith of tree fern fronds, and bush medicine, like bracken fern roots to be rubbed on stings.
Did you know that gold was discovered on the Kinglake ridge in 1861 and a goldfield called 'Mountain Rush' operated there for two years? In July 1861, there were 300 men, including a number of Chinese miners, working on the field, and gold was mined at Kinglake, Kinglake Central and Pheasant Creek until 1900.


Did you know that a brewer supplying 'refreshments' to the goldfield was shot and his cash and horse stolen on the road from Kinglake to St Andrews? The horse was later found but the robber never was.
Did you know that a notorious local bushranger, called 'French Joe,' was pursued and located by police in bush near Kinglake East? He was killed in a struggle over a firearm and is buried in the Yarra Glen cemetery.
Did you know that Kinglake once had a railway running to the Whittlesea railway station? The rails were cut from hardwood trees and laid on wooden sleepers, and teams of up to 8 horses pulled trolleys loaded with timber and farm produce down the mountain to the railway.
Did you know that the Kinglake Railway League campaigned for over 40 years to get a real railway to Kinglake from Melbourne, through Hurstbridge or Whittlesea? A route up the mountain was surveyed but, sadly, the railway never came to pass.
Did you know that the pioneer Kinglake farmers grew the choicest raspberries in the State of Victoria? The fruit-growers of the Wandin district might disagree but that's our story, and later Kinglake produced the best quality potatoes in Victoria, which cannot be disputed.
Did you know that Kinglake once had a jam factory, located at Kinglake Central, operated by a local farmers' co-operative and producing the first stage of jam from local fruit for the Australasian Jam Company (AJC)? Leggo's of Bendigo later established two 'fruit preserving' factories and took advantage of the choice fruit produced here.
Did you know that Kinglake also 'produced' a world wood-chop champion who won the championship titles in every State in Australia and also in New Zealand and the USA? Bill Johnston was born at Pheasant Creek, went to school at Kinglake West and had a distinguished career in wood-chopping for over 30 years including being a championship judge at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
I could go on all day and I must say that I agree with the Garden Fairy, whose letter appeared in the August MM, that history is delicious. Kinglake's history is unique - there is no other place with the same set of circumstances - and the Kinglake stories are particularly 'tasty'.
You can read the stories mentioned here, and so many more, in much more detail in 'Kinglake - A Collected History' 1861 - 2011' - $40 per copy, over 300 A4 pages of information and photographs - and copies are available from our good friend, Tom, at the Kinglake Post Office.

The Kinglake Historical Society produced the book with funding after the 2009 bushfires and we are pleased to have been able to make available in it the information we have collected over the last 30 years. We venture to say that your purchase of a book will be a good investment for you and your family and it will also help us to continue to collect, preserve and present Kinglake's delicious history.


Deidre Hawkins
Kinglake Historical Society

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