On a lonely road in Victoria’s Golden Triangle there stands an old stone building. It once provided a warm welcome to the diggers in the Waanyarra gold field.
Michael Morton was 19 years old when he was found guilty of cow stealing in 1847 in Tipperary, Ireland. He was sentenced to be transported. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall with brown hair and a fresh complexion. He was single, a labourer and couldn’t read or write. The journey took him via Bermuda and the Cape of Good Hope eventually fetching up in Van Dieman’s Land in April 1850 where he and almost all of the convicts coming off the good ship Neptune were given a pardon on the condition that they not return to the old country.
In 1852 he crossed Bass Strait and joined the gold rush. And soon after he built a pub that also served as a store. It held a license from 1866 – 1883 which doesn’t mean it wasn’t in business before that!
It was not a large space. It had to house his growing family, eventually eight strong as well as his patrons. Since the last digger was fleeced the building has at some time done duty as a wool shed.
Imagine it on a cold winter’s night after a hard day’s yacker, a fire in the hearth, good company and a beer.