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Blanche Barkly Gold Nugget Monument

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Inglewood-Rheola Rd, Kingower VIC 3517

Between Kingower-Brenanah Road and Gap Road

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Features

  • Monument commemorating the Blanche Barkly nugget, discovered nearby
  • Roadside feature
The incredible Blanche Barkly nugget was discovered in Kingower in 1857, and at that time was the largest gold nugget ever discovered! Named after the Governor's daughter, the Blanche Barkly was described as being "about as large as an average sized fore-quarter of mutton, and bears some resemblance to that joint". This monster gold nugget was found thirteen feet from the surface by two sets of brothers, Samuel Napier, Charles Napier, Robert Ambrose, and James Ambrose.

"With great precautions the brothers got it into their tent at night, and buried it six feet deep in the middle of the floor, where it lay for three months . Then, with some £400 in hand, as the result of their work, the brothers bought a cart, and took the wonderful nugget to Melbourne, and lodged it safely in a bank. All necessity for secrecy was now past, the news once told spread like magic, and while the lucky finders of the nugget were sailing with their treasure for England, thousands were rushing the Kingower field in the hope of repeating their success." - The Mercury, 12 Nov 1902
 

Melbourne Punch, 3rd December 1857. Source: Trove

A stone monument commemorating the discovery stands alongside the main road through Kingower. This monument is not located on the exact discovery site, which is close by on private land. A plaque displays the following text: 

Blanche Barkly Nugget
Weight 1743 ozs.
Found August 27, 1857 by 
Samuel & Charles Napier
Robert & James Ambrose

Upon the death of Samuel Napier, the following account was published in The Mercury, 12th November 1902:

A GOLD FINDERS END.
THE FLEETING SHOW.

The body of the man who found the Blanche Barkly nugget in Australia was recently found half eaten by rats, in a lonely part of the Ontario woods. He was once the " lion " of a brief period of a London season. At the time of his death he was in charge of a base for the supplies for a Canadian lumber camp, and he had travelled the whole range between affluence and direst poverty. 

Samuel Hawkins Napier, a Canadian by birth, left the sea to join his brother at the Kingower diggings, and one day when he was working in their claim his pick struck something hard, when he recognised at once by the sound was not a boulder. A little scraping gave a glimpse of the colour of gold. For fear some one should come along and see it, the brothers tried to keep their find covered up, while in a fever of excitement, they toiled with pick and shovel. When at last they got it free, they found it was a solid mass of gold, almost as much as one man could lift. It measured 2ft. 4in. in length by 10 inches wide, and was from an inch and a half to three and a half inches in thickness. It weighed a little over 146lbs., and was altogether as pretty a sight as ever digger could wish to see. 

With great precautions the brothers got it into their tent at night, and buried it six feet deep in the middle of the floor, where it lay for three months . Then, with some £400 in hand, as the result of their work, the brothers bought a cart, and took the wonderful nugget to Melbourne, and lodged it safely in a bank. All necessity for secrecy was now past, the news once told spread like magic, and while the lucky finders of the nugget were sailing with their treasure for England, thousands were rushing the Kingower field in the hope of repeating their success. 

Arrived in London they became, so Napier told a Canadian friend some years ago, the lions of the hour. "The Queen sent for us, and we dined at Buckingham Palace. We drove down from the Bank of England under a heavy escort, taking the nugget with us. Her Majesty and the Prince Consort received us most graciously, and the Prince of Wales, who was a lad of fifteen, showed a very deep interest in the nugget. It was 23. 7 carats fine, or as near absolutely pure gold as it is possible to get it. Then the nugget was put on exhibition at the Crystal Palace for three months, for which privilege we were paid 250dols. a week. We lived at a swell hotel on the Surrey side, and had a great time. " A cast was made of the great nugget for the British Museum, and the original was sold for £12,000, though when the Bank of England had it smelted down it only yielded 10,000 sovereigns. 

Napier returned to Canada, and for a time was a member of the New Brunswick Legislature, and engaged in business as a merchant and ship-owner. But his money soon went, and he was glad to earn bread by work as a labourer, dying at last a lonely death in the solitudes of the great woods. - The Mercury, 12 Nov 1902

The following accounts were published in newspapers in 1857:

Another monster nugget

Messrs. Willliam Clarke and Sons report the arrival in town of one of the finest nuggets that have been discovered among the auriferous fields of Victoria - a mass of nearly solid gold, of 1743 oz., from the celebrated lead of Kingower nuggets. This nugget is of exactly the same appearance as those from Kingower which have at intervals, during the last twelve months, made their appearance at Clarke's gold office, and in fact has been found within a few yards of the spot where the first one was taken from. This extraordinary lead of nuggets has now produced upwards of 10,000 oz. of gold. The fortunate finders are four in number, - two brothers named Ambrose, and two named Napier. It was discovered thirteen feet from the surface, on the 27th August last. We believe, like all nugget finders, they are about to take the usual voyage to London and back. - The Age, 14 Nov 1857

The "Blanche Barkly" Nugget

His excellency Sir Henry Barkly, at the invitation of the fortunate finders of the splendid Kingower nugget (supposed to be the largest ever found), yesterday honored them by a visit of inspection at the counting house of Messrs Jordan and Cooke, Swanston-street. His excellency expressed himself highly pleased with this gratifying display of our hidden wealth ; and by his permission, the treasure was then and there christened the "Blanche Barkly nugget," in honor of Miss Barkly. The proprietors intend to exhibit their prize publicly for a few days, prior to its removal on shipboard, and they have consented to present one-half the gross receipts of the exhibition to the Religious Trust Society of Victoria. The Star, 21 Nov 1857

The Blanche Barkly Nugget

The word "nugget," when employed in a quantitative sense, is as vague as the expression "about the size of a lump of chalk." It may therefore assist our readers to form an accurate estimate of the mass of gold which has been named in honor of Sir Henry Barkly's daughter, and which is now being exhibited at the Mechanics' Institute in this city, to state that the nugget is about as large as an average sized fore-quarter of mutton, and bears some resemblance to that joint. The gold is very bright in color, and remarkably free from admixture with quartzose or earthy matter; and no such ponderous mass of the precious metal has been hitherto discovered in Australia. As the nugget will shortly be shipped for England, we recommend all who are desirous of inspecting this bountiful gift of capricious fortune to the lucky exhibitors to pay an early visit to the Mechanics' Institute. The Argus, 26 Nov 1857

A monument commemorating the discovery of the famous Hand of Faith gold nugget is located in the bush nearby, over the other side of the main road through Kingower. 


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ACCOMMODATION NEARBY


Inglewood Motel and Caravan Park


Inglewood Motel and Caravan Park is a 10 acre bush park privately owned and managed by Jerry and Pauline Wellman in the gorgeous gold-rush town of Inglewood, Victoria. The park is within walking distance to cafes, shops and hotel entertainment, and is surrounded by State Forests. Inglewood Motel and Caravan Park is a popular destination for tourists and is located within the renowned Golden Triangle - a region of the Victorian Goldfields which is world famous for the size, purity, and quantity of gold nuggets found in the area. 

Wedderburn Goldseeker Motel


Wedderburn Goldseeker Motel offers classic country hospitality in the heart of Wedderburn, providing the perfect base for visitors to explore the beautiful Loddon Valley, the region's significant historical goldfields, and the surrounding towns of Inglewood, Bridgewater and Boort. Located two and a half hours from Melbourne and one hour from Bendigo, Wedderburn Goldseeker Motel is the perfect destination for your next getaway.


 

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