A Brief Review of the Victoria Goldfield, Andersons Creek (Warrandyte)
In 1839, the first white settler, James Anderson, established his cattle station in an area just west of the present Warrandyte towsnship. He erected a hut and stockyard near where the creek (Anderson’s Creek) joined the Yarra. In 1841, James Dawson established a second station to the east of the township, about 1 mile (1.6km) Gold Cairnfrom the bridge. By the mid 1840’s, Anderson had sold his holding to a Major Newman, a former officer of the Indian army.
After two earlier unsucessful attempts, Louis Michel, in company with William Habberlin, succeeded in discovering gold at the end of June 1851, on the banks of Anderson’s Creek in the then newly created Colony of Victoria.
Gold had earlier been discovered in the Bathurst area of New South Wales, and this had led to many of Melbourne’s population leaving the colony to seek their fortune on the new gold fields.
In an endevour to stop people leaving Melbourne, the Mayor and citizens of the City formed a Gold Committee, that offered a 200 guinea reward for payable gold found within 100 miles of Melbourne.
Michel claimed the reward (the original gold committee never paid anyone). On July 17th, it was announced in the Argus: “The Committee appointed to promote the discovery of a gold field in the Colony of Victoria, have the satisfaction of announcing that unquestionable evidence has been adduced to them, showing the existance of Gold, in considerable quantity, both at Deep Creek on the Yarra, near Major Newman’s run, and also on the Pyranees near Mr. Donald Cameron’s house”. The Committees’ report said Deep Creek, because the area was relatively unknown. This of-course was incorrect as the find was actually on Anderson’s Creek, as the later reward to Michel proved.
Michel led some government officials and prospectors to his newly found gold field on August 6th, and his find was named the Victoria Field, in honour of the new colony. Within a few days, almost 200 miners were working along the banks of Anderson’s Creek, but the tremendously rich gold fields of Ballarat, Bendigo, etc. lured many miners away from Anderson’s Creek, and by December, 1851, the area was almost deserted.
When in 1854, Michel was rewarded with £1,000 by the Victorian Government for finding Victoria’s first gold field, interest in the area was revived. By 1855, two stores, an Inn, and an accomodation tent helped supply the needs of the 200-odd miners now working in the area again.
Most of these miners were working alluvial gold in the creeks, and the Yarra river, and though quartz with gold in it was being found, there was no efficient method of crushing the rock to obtain the gold. Again, towards the end of the 1850’s and into the early 1860’s, Anderson’s Creeks became largely deserted as a result of the opening of the Caledonian diggings at Queenstown (St. Andrews). The school and the police station closed, and only a few miners remained.