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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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Features

  • Stone cottage ruins
  • Discovery site of the first gold unearthed in the Mount Alexander District
  • Information sign
  • Gold memorial monument
The first gold found in the Mount Alexander district was unearthed here in Specimen Gully, 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 here 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. 

The stone cairn at this site was erected in 1931 to commemorate the discovery, which occurred in the gully close by. 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.

The remarkable remains of a cottage stand alongside the monument, constructed of Specimen Gully slate. The cottage was built by Mr. D. Reilly, an early resident of Barker's Creek. It was then occupied by Mr. Worley, then Mr. and Mrs. William Smith, then Mr. John Smith, who sold it in 1931 for the purpose of this memorial. 

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

DISCOVERY OF GOLD

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. 

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