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Specimen Gully Ruins and Gold Memorial

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Specimen Gully Road, Barkers Creek VIC 3451

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  • Stone cottage ruins
  • Monument commemorating the first gold unearthed in the Mount Alexander District
  • Information sign
The remarkable remains of a cottage stand along Specimen Gully Road, constructed of Specimen Gully slate. 

Visitors can get a close look at these ruins, as well as check out a monument commemorating the first gold discovery in the Mount Alexander District. 

Gold discovery nearby

The discovery occurred on Dr William Barker's pastoral run in 1851, in a nearby area but not at this site

This was a life-changing discovery which sparked the Mount Alexander gold rush and transformed the region from a quiet pastoral area into one of the most famous goldfields on earth!

The gold was discovered on 20th July 1851 by Christopher John Peters, a hutkeeper working for William Barker. 

His work mates, John Worley, George Robinson and Robert Keen, immediately set to work with him on the surrounding gold deposits. 

A stone cairn was erected alongside the ruins in 1931 to commemorate the discovery, which occurred in a nearby area. The gold discovery was not at this site. 

The memorial cairn displays the following text:

The first gold from the Mount Alexander goldfields was discovered in this gully by Christopher John Peters on 20th July 1851. Associated with him were John Worley, Robert Keen, and George Robinson. This cairn is the gift of R. Owen Owens and was unveiled by him on 10th October 1931.

An article published in The Argus on the 8th September 1851 reads:


We have received the following letter announcing the discovery of a new gold field at Western Port:-

DEAR SIR.- I wish you to publish these few lines in your valuable paper, that the public may know that there is gold found in these ranges, about four miles from Doctor Barker's home station, and about a mile from the Melbourne Road; at the southernmost point of Mount Alexander, where three men and myself are working. I do this to prevent parties from getting us into trouble, as we have been threatened to have the Constables fetched for being on the ground. If you will have the kindness to insert this in your paper, that we are prepared to pay anything that is just when the Commissioner in the name of the party comes.

Mount Alexander Ranges.

A wall-mounted information sign within the stone cottage displays the following text:


Gold was first discovered in the Mount Alexander district on 20th July, 1851. The site of the original discovery was described by John Worley as being situate about four miles from Dr. Barker's home station, and about one mile from the Melbourne Road, at the southernmost point of Mount Alexander. The site was part of Dr. Barker's pastoral run, granted in 1848.. The exact spot where the gold was first found has not been determined, but was near this site. 

Christopher John Peters, hutkeeper in the service of William Barker, found the gold at Specimen Gully. John Worley, George Robinson and Robert Keen, all in the same employment, were immediately associated with him in working the deposits. 

On the 1st September, 1851, John Worley wrote to "The Argus" indicating the precise situation of their workings with this obscure notice, rendered still more so by the locality being described as at Western Port, and ushered into the world the inexhaustible pastures of Mount Alexander. (See Report of Select Committee of Legislative Council on Gold Discovery Claims, 10/3/1854.)

Diggers rushed to Specimen Gully, thence to Golden Point, and soon the whole district was invaded by thousands searching for gold. Thus began the era of gold mining which laid the foundations for the closer settlement and development of the Castlemaine district. 

Subsequently Messrs. Peters, Worley Robinson and Keen were granted a reward of £250 each from the Government for their discovery.

This site has been preserved as an historic relic. The cairn hereon has been erected under the auspices of "The Old Castlemaine Schoolboys' Association." The generosity of Mr. R. Owen Owens, and old Barker's Creek schoolboy, and resident, has enabled the site and building to be acquired and the cairn built.

This building, of Specimen Gully slate, was built by the late Mr. D. Reilly, an early resident of Barker's Creek, subsequently occupied by Mr. Worley, later acquired and enlarged by Mr. and Mrs. William Smith and later still by Mr. John Smith, who sold the same in 1931 for memorial purposes.

The house is to be preserved for its sentimental and historic interest. 

The site is vested in The Castlemaine Association of Pioneers and Old Residents. 

The public are requested to recognise its interest and value, and to co-operate with the Trustees in its care and protection. 


Map of the Castlemaine Mining District which shows historical features in superb detail, including mining divisions, reefs, gullies, and gold workings. Mining Department, Melbourne, 1860. High quality, durable A1 print in a satin finish. Large, 594 x 891 mm. Go to online shop.


Established in 1980, the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria is a voluntary body created to protect the rights and opportunities of those who wish to prospect, fossick or mine in the State of Victoria, Australia.

You can support the PMAV in their fight to uphold these rights by becoming a member. You'll also gain access to exclusive publications, field days, prospecting tips, discounts and competitions.

Check out the PMAV website for more information.




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