Bendigo, Victoria, Australia - Brief But Rich History

By: Jamie Horne

The area was originally known as Bendigo's Creek and named after an employee on a local property who was nicknamed "Bendigo" after the famous English prize fighter William "Bendigo" Thompson. The area was settled in 1851and proclaimed a municipality in 1855, a borough in 1863 and a city in 1871. Originally the town was known as Sandhurst but in 1891 was restored to Bendigo.

The region is the tradition home to the Dja Dja Wrung (Jaara people) and takes in Loddon, Campaspe and Avoca Rivers in the Riverine region of central western Victoria. Bendigo is the largest city in Dja Dja Wrung country. Other cities and towns are Wedderburn, Castlemaine, St Arnaud, Maryborough, Boort, Heathcote and Maldon. Today Bendigo is still the cultural centre of Dja Dja Wrung territory. The two moiety totems of the Jaara people are Bunjil the Eaglehawk and Waang the Crow.

Some of the Dja Dja Wrung clans include: Wangaro-bulluk, Beal-bulluk , Burong-bulluk, Terack-bulluk, Learka-bulluk (Liarga-balug) - near Mt Tarrengower and Maldon, Kalkalgoondeet, Konangara balluk, Gal Gal Bulluk (Galgal Balug) - Mt Mitchell and Burnbank, Wornbulluk, Turingbulluk and Yongbulluk

It is generally acknowledged that Mrs John Kennedy and Mrs Patrick Farrell, wives of workmen on the Ravenswood run, found gold at 'The Rocks' - now an identified location that can be visited at the junction of Bendigo Creek and Maple Street. The discoverers are honoured nearby in Golden Square through a steel sculpture to our pioneer women, erected 150 years later in 2001.

The first Bendigo gold rush occurred in November 1851 when miners at nearby Castlemaine (Forest Creek) heard of the new discovery. Alluvial gold was found in the area which is presently known as Golden Square and then the miners followed the gold down the creek to what is now Epsom and up the creek to the present suburb of Kangaroo Flat. Further discoveries were soon made in the tributary creeks at Eaglehawk and Diamond Hill.

As a result of the gold rush and influx of people to the area, the Gold Commissioner's Office, the Police Barracks and the courts were erected on Camp Hill, now the present Rosalind Park in central Bendigo. The "diggers", as the miners were called, reached thirty thousand and came from all over the world, but predominantly from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and the Americans. The Chinese population reached many thousands in the early gold rush period but their numbers dropped rapidly as the nineteenth century progressed. The Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo celebrates the contribution of the Chinese to the goldmining, cultural and commercial life of the growing city.

With the discovery of gold, Gold Commissioners were appointed in 1852 to administer Victorian colonial law and, from the Government Camp, Commissioner Panton dealt with matters primarily arising from the Gold License. In addition to the imposition of the gold license of thirty shillings a month the diggers also objected to the method of collection by the police of the time. Between June and August 1853, Bendigo diggers took to wearing a red ribbon as a symbol of their objection to the license and to arbitrary government. On August 28th 1853, ten thousand diggers marched on the government camp and offered ten shillings for their September license; Commissioners Panton and Wright could not accept this gesture but did not collect licenses for September. The day passed without anger or bloodshed. The diggers were eventually to succeed in having the license replaced by a Miner's Right.

The angry Red Ribbon protests by miners against the goldfields authorities in 1853 were orderly by comparison with the later Eureka episode at Ballarat. However, the earlier Red Ribbon Movement on the Bendigo field is increasingly viewed as being significant in the development of the democratic process in Australia

The City of Greater www.bendigo.ws Victoria Australia is located about 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. The City is bounded by the Shire of Campaspe in the north, Strathbogie Shire and Mitchell Shire in the east, the Mount Alexander Shire in the south and the Loddon Shire in the west. It covers an area of 299,897 hectares (2,998.97 km2 ) and according to the 2006 census had a population of 97,774 people. It's rich history, architecture and relaxed rural lifestyle attracts many tourists each year and is a must see for people visiting or touring Victoria, Australia

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