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Mountain Hut Pioneer Cemetery

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Cemetery Track, Amphitheatre VIC 3468

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Features

  • Pioneer Cemetery
  • Surrounded by old gold diggings
The picturesque Mountain Hut Pioneer Cemetery lies to the south of Cemetery Track in Amphitheatre, and sits surrounded by bushland and old gold diggings. 

Many graves are visible, and lots are marked with stone rings. The cemetery is enclosed by wooden posts and is marked with a sign which reads "Mountain Hut Pioneer Cemetery".

This area above Amphitheatre is very scenic and well worth a drive around, with views of bushland, fields and the edge of the Pyrenees Ranges. 

The Mountain Hut area was rushed by gold miners in 1859.
 
This account of the Mountain Hut Diggings was published in The Argus, 27th April 1859:

...The survey finished, we started homewards, by the way of the new diggings at the Mountain Hut, which are situated about seven or eight miles from Avoca, lying at the base of the Pyrenees. The road was first-rate, and we soon came upon the scene of operations. We were quite surprised to see the number of tents in this out-of-the-way mountainous retreat. From the number of tents counted, we estimated the population at about 600, and there was every appearance of an increase, judging by the tents and stores in course of erection, and by the loaded drays we met on the road as we returned. These diggings are chiefly in hill sinking, depth from 3 to 45 feet, yielding from 4 dwt to 1 1/2 oz to the load. The gold is coarse, and the sinking very hard, being through a thick strata of cement. The stuff has to be carted two or three miles, to the Bulldog Creek ; but when the rainy season sets in there will, no doubt, be a sufficiency of water in the neighborhood. The scenery here is beautiful and romantic, and there is an extensive and well-timbered flat skirting the base of the mountains, with good feed, and apparently first-rate soil for cultivation. 

The Mountain Hut Diggings were rushed in 1859, and were described by R. Brough Smyth: 

"The Amphitheatre and Mountain Hut diggings are on the sources of the River Avoca, and lie immediately north of a basin, having the western spur of the Great Dividing Range for its southern rim. The basin is composed off granite, and the dividing ranges follow nearly the lines of the rock formations. ... At Mountain Hut the washdirt varied from three inches to twelve inches in thickness, and the yield was on the average 1/2 oz. to the load. The depth of sinking is from four to twelve feet in the shallow parts, and in others as much as forty feet. In the deeper ground, where there is much shingle and water-worn quartz, the washdirt gave 1 oz. to the load." - The Gold Fields and Mineral Districts of Victoria, R. Brough Smyth, 1869. p 99.

The Mountain Hut Diggings are also described in the Avoca Shire Heritage Study (1993/94):

The main rush to Mountain Hut occurred in 1859. 

The alluvial workings consist of a narrow band of very intensive deep sinkings (filled shafts and pipe clay heaps) and open cutting along an old cemented lead. The alluvial workings run along a forested ridge that crosses Anderson's Road. 

Some of the open cuts have mounds of washed pebbles, suggesting that sluicing was also carried out. 

The Mountain Hut Diggings, located north of the Amphitheatre goldfield, were opened up in January 1859 and in September 1859 the Mining Surveyor estimated that there were 1,330 miners on the field. In June 1860 he wrote that the washdirt on the Mountain Hut diggings was of an inferior description but since the mining was nearly all surfacing and there was a plentiful supply of water, the diggers were able to make good wages.

Two months later a quartz vein situated on a spur of the Pyrenees at Mountain Hut was opened up and from one of its first crushings yielded 1 oz 1 dwts to a ton. Alluvial mining in the area during this period was confined principally to horse puddling. 

In March 1864 there were 185 miners at work at Mountain Hut but by 1865 this had been reduced to just 95. It rose temporarily to 106 in 1866, but fell to 56 in 1867. 

Also of interest

Many similar pioneer cemeteries can be found across the goldfields, including beneath Bristol Hill in Maryborough, at Pennyweight Flat in Castlemaine, the early burial ground at Waanyarra, and the Chinese Cemetery at Vaughan. 






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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