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Monday, September 08, 2008

Smith's Gullly Gold Heritage Trail

The historically important Smiths Gully to St. Andrews Heritage Trail is located about 50 km northeast of Melbourne, near the Kinglake National Park.

The Trail is 3 km (return) following the Old Caledonia Creek Gully, a former gold mining region.

It is reached from the Kangaroo Ground-Kinglake Rd, turn-off at Clinton's Rd, then into Smith's Gully Rd, in the district of Smith's Creek. The main entrance to the Trail is at the Peter Franke Reserve, opposite the historical Queenstown Cemetery, closed in 1981. Queenstown was the original name for the town of St Andrews.

Interpretative signs describe the various artifacts, botanical, geographical and historical features along the Trail, with fascinating explanations of how the gold was mined, using alluvial and reef extractions.

The first gold was discovered in 1854, and alluvial mining occurred until the early 1900s and was revived during the depression. Quartz reef mining started in the 1900s, and the State Battery and Weir were constructed in 1919. The Weir is now used for fire management purposes by the Country Fire Authority and as an emergency water supply for nearby towns.

The vegetation seen today is regrowth from the extensive bushfire of 1962, even though most old forest growth prior to then had been cleared for mining and timber for Melbourne.

The gully is an important link in the wildlife corridor between Watson's Creek and the Kinglake National Park, and the diversity of fauna and flora includes several rare and endangered species.

The Trail was developed in 1995 by a team of local unmemployed youth and the Kangan Institute College of TAFE.

Relics of the mining era seen on the Trail include the water race, sluicing channels, creek diversion, the foundations of the Battery and remains of the cyanide vat.

My trip was on September 7, 2008.

Full set of Photos

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