The miners of Waanyarra didn’t have far to go to Morton’s Welcome Inn. Nor did they have far to go to the cemetery.
Most of the gold rush era graves were marked with wooden memorials. They have fared badly, most are gone and with one exception the remainder are illegible. Three plaques at the gate list the names and ages of the people known to be buried here although the exact locations are unknown. Very young children figure prominently.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:44 – King James Bible
Among the few headstones there is one for Michael Morton. This is likely the man who built the old Welcome Inn. The name is right, the place is right, the era is right. There is an inconsistency in the age however. What I know of Mr Morton was gleaned from a descendant writing <HERE> which gives him as 19 years of age in 1847 therefore 77 in 1905.
Kangaroos tend to lay up during the day, often in a wooded area, and move to their grazing area late in the afternoon. Evening and early morning are the times when drivers have to be particularly careful. The road sense of a kangaroo is fairly minimal although natural selection is working on it.
A mob of about a dozen adults plus pouch young came across my little farm the other evening. They were grazing as they came. I was accurate in my prediction of the route they would take. I hid in a large bush and they slowly made their way up to me.
They are shy. They compete directly with the local sheep for the currently scanty grass – they have no friends among the farming community.
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.
There are two members of the Kangaroo family that are fairly common around the country estate and I encountered both of them on my morning walk. Swamp Wallabies are always around. Eastern Grey Kangaroos come and go. They’re present in fair numbers presently. Brought in, I suspect, by the water that’s available.
You can see the claws on this big male. One recent night the trail camera caught a couple of roos in a dispute. Thick fur is a useful asset on such occasions …
This is the view through the skylight in Melville’s Cave in the Kooyoora State Park in western Victoria.
Captain Melville was a notorious bushranger. He rates his own entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Born Francis McNeiss McNiel McCallum he was well known to police, as they say, back in Scotland where they finally sentenced him to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for burglary at 15 years of age.
He arrived on 29 September 1838 and in October was placed at Port Arthur in the Point Puer institution for juvenile convicts. In 1839-48 he came before the police magistrate twenty-five times. In 1841 his sentence was extended by two years for felony in February and to life for burglary in July; in September he was sent to Port Arthur for five years. Recommended in 1846 for a year’s probation, he absconded and lived with the Aboriginals for a year. After recapture he was given nine months’ hard labour in chains, an experience repeated in January and August 1850.
Quite how he got to Victoria I don’t know but he arrived in the goldfields in about October 1851 posing as a gentleman and calling himself Captain Melville. Gold was attractive but wielding a pick and shovel wasn’t. He became a bushranger and eventually sufficiently notorious for a reward of £100 to be offered for his capture.
Our Francis boasted of this during a visit to a Geelong brothel and a lady turned him in. Astounding what a woman will do for money. Back to jail.
It was the old Melbourne jail this time where on 12 August 1857 a warder found him strangled by a red-spotted blue scarf. It was never determined if it was murder or suicide.
Plenty of gold came out of the Kooyoora district, Melville’s caves have a commanding view and are surrounded by dense bush, excellent habitat for a bushranger. Whether he spent time here or not though is open to debate. He is known to have made use of a cave on Mt. Arapiles further west.
I spent a little time in the park yesterday evening chasing the landscape. It has been dry and windy and there was a lot of dust in the atmosphere. I found myself on a granite tor up behind the Crystal Mine.
The dust haze is quite obvious. Late in the afternoon someone off to the east was lucky enough to see a drop of rain.
Over in the west there was a fair bit of cloud but the horizon was clear. The dust had detracted from the photography during the day but I hoped it would make up for it as the sun went down. Would the sky catch? Oh, yes.