(Copy of a posting sent to various E-mail lists during 1998 and 1999)

From time to time I have seen puzzled researchers trying to obtain a lead on Amherst or Talbot so I will put down what I have found out over the years in the hope that it will go into the ROOTSWEB archives and others will not have to 're-invent the wheel'.

For a start, Amherst was once known as Daisy Hill and Talbot was known as Back Creek (as were a thousand other places ... similar to 'Nine Mile Creek', 'Seven Mile Creek' and so on but you need to be careful e.g. TARADALE was also known as Back Creek in those days.) You need to look under ALL these names in any book indexes etc.

I am not *aware* of any published studies of the early days in either place but I could be wrong. Their gold mining history is inertwined with places such as Avoca, even Maryborough and so, for example, you will find occasional references to Amherst in the Book "Avoca The Early Years" by Margery and Betty Beavis, ISBN 0 9590279 1 2.

This tourist website contains a potted history of the area and also some current information:

Look also in the Flett books, Serle's book, and other major studies of the Victorian gold discovery years. If you read my article about the Lamplough rush of 1859-60 at this Web address:
you will soon realise that goldminers of those days tended to follow the rushes and you can pick up references to them all over the place. If I was trying to 'flesh out' the story about someone who was at Amherst or Talbot in the gold discovery days I would also look at records covering: Avoca, Maryborough, Ballarat, Bendigo, Carisbrook, Castlemaine, Lexton, Ararat etc.

I have identified in my Article source notes at the above Website the contemporary newspapers that were helpful for this period.

I believe that the bushfires some years ago destroyed most of what remained of Amherst although I can recall in the past driving off the main road to see some brick remains, possibly of the school or hospital. There are many reminders of the past at Talbot with early buildings still standing and occupied.

Now, I'm a little biased because I maintain the website for the nearby Avoca and District Historical Society Inc :-) but the ADHS has substantial records covering the general area, including Amherst and Talbot. You should check out the ADHS site at:
and see if it might be worth a name search or membership (only $2 extra in addition to membership).

I have an interest in Talbot because I am trying to follow the career of goldfields lawyer and cheerful rogue MAURICE TRAVERS McDONOUGH, who died there in 1861.

While researching recently at the Vic PRO I came across an 1865 petition with the names of some Talbot residents and I have placed these names on this webpage:
I am still corresponding with the PRO about copying another similar petition from Talbot. Because of the relationship between Amherst and Talbot you might find relevant names there.

I have not publicised this Petition webpage too widely because I anticipated it might prompt follow-up enquiries so I contacted the Talbot Historical Museum people and recently received this response from Wilma Bond: "I would be happy to answer any queries (about the petition names) but I do not have a computer and neither does the museum". Wilma can be contacted at: c/- Talbot Historical Museum, Talbot Vic 3371. I know that their group also has a copy of the early rate books. I cannot recall their research fees but you should not expect them or any other Historical Society to do research for free.

You can also search the on-line Index for holdings at the Vic PRO at:

and this is what they have for Amherst:

2.11.0 AMHERST COURTS [VA 1480]

: Court of Petty Sessions Cause List Books
1859-1867 2 volumes Open LAV VPRS 1389

: County Court Plaint Summons Files
1859-1889 1 box Open BAL VPRS 5804

: County Court Records
1859-1891 2 volumes Open LAV VPRS 1392

: Plaint Summons Files
1860-1870 1 box Open BAL VPRS 5791

: Court of Mines Register
1862-1863 1 volume Open BAL VPRS 5790

: Court of Mines Register and Petty Sessions Fee Book
1862-1865 1 volume Open LAV VPRS 1390

: Register of Claims
1869-1880 1 volume Open BAL VPRS 1649

: Register of Applications for Mining Leases
1892-1902 1 volume Open BAL VPRS 1624

: Police Journal
1857-1858 1 volume Open BAL VPRS 1015
Note that LAV means it is held at Laverton, and BAL means it is held at the Ballarat Repository.

I hope this helps someone. Now, who can help me with information about MAURICE TRAVERS McDONOUGH!


Denis Strangman

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