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Glengower Pioneers Memorial Grave

  • 20180314 200822
  • 20180314 200849
  • 20180314 200752
  • 20180314 200731
  • 20180314 200700
Strathlea Road, Campbelltown VIC 3364

Features

  • Pioneer memorial
  • Gruesome history
  • Lone grave
This pioneers' memorial grave is tucked away in a field alongside Strathlea Road, Campbelltown. The memorial was erected in 1949 to commemorate the burial site of three people associated with the Glengower station who died in the early 1840s. The first man buried at this site, a cook at Glengower station, was murdered - the story associated with his death is quite gruesome. The second man was savaged to death at Glengower station by dogs, and the third was an employee who died of natural causes.

The memorial is on private property but can be viewed and appreciated from the roadside.        

The memorial features a concrete base surrounded by a low steep pipe and wire fence. A metal plaque displays the following text:

HERE LIE THREE UNKNOWN PIONEERS OF THIS DISTRICT
A cook on Glengower station
Killed by the aborigines in 1840
A traveller killed by misadventure by the station dogs in 1841
& a young employee
Died from natural causes in 1841
May they rest in peace
Erected by T Anderson & A Cumming 1949

Information about the graves alongside Strathlea Road has been handed down by old residents. Most of the information is said to have come from a Peter Smith of Sandon who knew a shepherd named Donald McDonnel, an employee on the Glengower run. (source).

The three people buried at the Pioneer Memorial's location are all associated with the Glengower run. It appears that this spot was first used as a burial ground following a grisly incident in spring, 1840. There are several versions of the story, some of which are more gruesome than others. 

The following account was published in the Shire of Mount Alexander's Heritage Study of the Shire of Newstead in 2004 (revised 2012):

The general account is that a cook at the Glengower station was killed by a band of Aborigines returning to the Grampians after obtaining stone axes from Mt William, near Lancefield. The Aborigines are said to have called at the station for food when McLachlan and the stockmen were away mustering sheep for shearing, and only the cook was present in the cook house. An altercation occurred and the Aborigines murdered the cook. When McLachlan returned he immediately organised a punitive expedition comprised of Glengower and neighbouring Smeaton Hill stockmen. The Aborigines were tracked down with dogs and, when they hid in the waterholes in Middle Creek, McLachlan and his men shot them when they came up for air. The place is still known as 'The Blood Hole'. 

McLachlan buried the cook, whose name is not known, about 800 yards north-east of the homestead at the present site. In expectation of a reprisal raid, he kept savage dogs that he released into the station grounds after nightfall. About a year after the cook's murder the dogs savaged to death a visiting itinerant traveller, who was buried beside the cook. The third grave is of George McDonnell, the son of shepherd Donald McDonnell, who died of natural causes in 1841. No further graves were added. 

The graves were originally enclosed with a post-and-rail and brush fence that in time rotted away. The present enclosure was created in 1949 on the initiative of Colonel Tom Anderson, of Ballarat, and Alec Cumming, of Campbelltown. They took on the task of identifying the location of the graves, which they are said to have easily located as the ground had never been plowed. One local historian held that 'for more than a century the graves were marked only by three tiny mounds disturbing the smooth grasslands'. The plaque was donated by a Captain Baldwin.

Local historian, Glenn Braybrook has shared the following account:

This is a very good story from 1840, way before the Gold rushes in Victoria. Its a sad one too, but it should be told and told without embellishment. 

Glengower station is on Joyces or Deep Creek at what is now Campbelltown, South West of Newstead. On the Strathlea road, about 2 km North of Campbelltown is a lonely grave site where the bodies of 3 very early arrived to this area European men lay. One man died of natural causes, another man wandered into the Homestead grounds at night, probably to ask for shelter and work at the station, but was torn to pieces by the station dogs and the other was the station cook, whose story as I know it follows:

The Glengower station had a kitchen that was built in hand made bricks way back in 1838/9, it was probably the very first brick building in Central Victoria (and yes i have some of those bricks in my collection). 

The station cooks body was found hanging in the kitchen from a meat hook by the station hands after they had returned to the station in the Winter of 1840. It was obvious he had been murdered and as Aboriginal people had been camping there who had come from the Grampians on a trip to Mt William to trade and bring back with them Greenstone blanks to be fashioned into stone axes, they were suspected to be the culprits.They had fled the scene and were heading back to the Grampians when the station hands had caught up to them on "Middle Creek", a small Creek about 4 miles West of the Glengower station. 

On seeing the approaching men on horseback with guns, the Aboriginal men jumped into the creek to swim to the other side or hide under water. The mounted men from the station fired on the Aborigines in the water, some had hollow reeds to breath through while submerged, which in fact still grow at the site today. By the time the firing stopped at least 12 men were dead and floating in the red tinged water. This water hole is known to me and was shown to me by John Tully some 10 years ago. We may be the only living people who know its whereabouts today.

WHY? Why did this happen! Nobody really knows the truth, it died with the cook and the Aboriginal men all those years back. There has been suggestions the cook had added Plaster of Paris to a damper he had cooked for the Aborigines, which once inside their bellies would of set, causing a horrible painful death, but then why did he do that, there is no evidence he did, and if he did, he would of been signing his own death warrant, as the remaining Aboriginal people would have killed him! Maybe this is how it went down! Nobody really know for sure, but what is known that this really did happen and its a story that should be told. I should mention this water hole on the Middle Creek was and still is called "The Blood Hole".

An article mentioning the Blood Hole Massacre was published in The Courier on 6th July, 2017, titled Ballarat region Aboriginal massacres investigated. The article offers the following information:

national project to map the sites where Aboriginal people were massacred during colonisation has shed light on three mass murders in the Ballarat region during the 19th century ... The third is known as the Blood Hole massacre, which saw farmers hunt a group of indigenous men near north of Clunes in response to the death of a cook at their property ... During the Blood Hole murder, a group of Aboriginal men were given plaster of Paris instead of flour in an effort to poison them by the cook in December 1839. The men were killed while trying to escape into the waterhole, with each man shot as they were forced to surface for air.

You can read the full article here.

Also of interest is the nearby Glengower (Campbelltown) Cemetery.




DID YOU KNOW...

  • Many cemeteries in the goldfields were established in the early-mid 19th century. Walking through the historic cemeteries of the area is like taking a walk through time.
 

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