APRIL 2001 Reg. No. A0030085Y

Our next meeting will take place on Thursday, 19 April , at 8.00 p.m., at the court House History Centre. The speaker will be our President, Beth Ritchie, who will speak on a subject of interest relating to early Buninyong.


At our February meeting, we farewelled Rosemary Cumming Balfour, who was married in January and is leaving us soon to settle in her husband's locality in Inverness Shire, at the very top of Scotland. We shall miss her very much, but wish her well in her new life. Some of our members who are keen travellers might like to call - she will be living close to the battle site of Culloden.

The Ballarat Heritage Study is proceeding, and we were able to supply a long list of sites which have special significance for Buninyong and district to the study. This list arose from a brain-storming session at our December meeting.

Anne Beggs Sunter's article on the life of the Rev. Thomas Hastie has been published in the Journal of the Uniting Church Historical Society.

The 26th Buninyong Gold King Festival was celebrated on a very hot summer Sunday, 18th February. Our Society managed to open our three historic buildings for most of the day, and provide three historical tours - one of the Cemetery, one of the town, and one of local mining sites. Thanks to all those who helped on the roster.

We had many interesting visitors, including the grandson of the noted Ballarat character, "Billy Butterfly". Errol Gough was visiting from Fremantle, and wanted to find out about Durham Lead, where Billy's mother, an Irish Catholic named Bridget Heaphy, had lived in the 1870s. One of our members, Frank Loudon of Sebastopol, was able to give Errol much helpful information about Billy. Frank often gave Billy a lift in his truck, as he was walking from his hut near the Llanberris Oval to St. Joseph's Home (now Blythwood Grange.) Frank recalls that Billy walked to Sebastopol to get his breakfast from the nuns at the Orphanage, then to the Wendouree Monastery for his tea with the priests. His father was Joseph Ah Lung, a butcher, who used to make lanterns in the shape of a butterfly. Hence Billy's unusual last name.

The theme of this year's procession was, understandably, Federation. The local Primary School did a great job of interpreting the theme, with a large model of Sir Henry Parkes, Father of Federation, and lots of flags and children and teachers in 1901 costume. They won the Fisken Perpetual Trophy as best entry in the procession for their entry.

Dr. John Le Marshall called in to our rooms on Sunday 1 April, enquiring about the Hiscock gold monument. He turned out to be a Hiscock descendent, keen to organise a family reunion in Buninyong to co-incide with the 150th anniversary. It will be great to have a number of members of the Hiscock family in Buninyong for the celebrations.

Heritage Week turned on beautiful Autumn weather, ideal for walking. On Sunday 1 April Derick Leather conducted about 20 people around the cemetery for an enjoyable excursion.

On Friday 6 April Anne and Beth led a small but enthusiastic group in a tour "In the Footsteps of Queen Victoria", visiting sites with an association with royalty or Vice-Royalty. Hence we explored the old Court House, Royal Park, Bowen Hill, Holy Trinity, and the Botanical Gardens. The highlight, of course, was the Queen Victoria Rotunda in the Botanical Gardens, unveiled on 13 December 1901, the first monument completed to the late Queen, who died on 22 January 1901.


Two wonderful photos of gold mining, courtesy of Neil Skewes of Ballarat. Both illustrate the Natives Mine near Buninyong in 1893, where Neil's grandfather worked as a miner.

Copies have been added to our collection, and will be excellent material for our 150th Anniversary of Gold exhibition.


Thomas Hiscock, the Buninyong blacksmith, discovered gold near the Buninyong Cemetery on 8 August 1951, thus causing a rush to Buninyong which led directly to the discovery of Ballarat.

19 year old John Stoker Thomas was with Thomas Hiscock when he discovered gold in August 1851. Because of his training as a lapidarist, he had worked with gold and knew better than Hiscock what they were looking for. Thus he may have been very helpful in alerting Hiscock to the ore when it was discovered. ( Ms Debbie Nicholas, great, great grand-daughter of J.S. Thomas, 2 Jordan Court, Boronia, 3155)

Interestingly most accounts of the gold discovery make no mention of John Stoker Thomas. An account by Thomas in 1909 given to the director of the Geological Survey said the he and his brother Edward were with Thomas Hiscock senior and his son Thomas looking for a stray cow opposite the Buninyong cemetery on 2 August 1851, when Hiscock cried out that he had got gold at last. (Records of the Geological Survey of Victoria, V.3, Part 3, 1914, p. 286). After some days of further work, Hiscock and his son took some gold to Mr. Patterson, jeweller, at Geelong.

Hiscock's evidence was that he had been looking for gold for some time, and sending useless specimens to Mr. Fulton at Geelong - so many that the mailman protested that he was being laughed at when he delivered them. Alfred Clarke, journalist with the Geelong Advertiser, confirmed that he had seen Hiscock in Fulton's shop. Hiscock gave the date of discovery as 8 August. (Stackpoole, p. 14)

The discovery was published in the Geelong Advertiser of 12 August 1851

"We yesterday received from Buninyong a packet containing some of the finest specimens of gold, in quartz matrix, that we have hitherto met with. They were found within a mile or two of the township by Mr Hiscock, a respectable resident there."

Grave of York Freestone, subscribed by residents, Geelong.

In memory of Thomas Hiscock,
who departed this life on 25th
of July AD 1855 Aged 46 years.
Hiscock, thy name and fame
shall yet arise,
Tho' crumbled in the dust thy
mortal frame,
Like all true merit which is seen
to rise,
Surmount the world with never-
ending fame.

A layer of white crushed quartz, on top of grave.

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Alfred Clarke was sent to Buninyong, and his first report was filed on 15 August. He reported the exodus of Geelong people to the gipsy-looking encampment at Hiscock's Diggings near Buninyong (20 August, Geelong Advertiser). So many came that the reef was soon exhausted, and men spread out to prospect the ranges. On 27 August Clarke published a report of gold discovered " across the ranges on Yuille's Creek." This was the report of the discovery at Poverty Point. (Stackpoole, p. 17)

The government reacted quickly to the rush. News reached Buninyong on 25 August 1851 that the government would impose a licence fee of 30 shillings a month on all miners. That night a mass meeting was held in Buninyong to protest at the news. The Geelong Advertiser's reporter wrote that "there has not been a more gross attempt at injustice since the days of Wat Tyler" (Stacpoole, 1971, p. 17) By government proclamation, a court of Petty Sessions was established at Buninyong at the end of September, 1851, and a Police Camp was established under the authority of Captain Dana and his Aboriginal troopers, who arrived on 20 September 1851. A confrontation over the licence fee occurred the following day, when the diggers' protests dissolved in the presence of the troopers. (Withers, p. 35) The seeds of resentment against the administration of the goldfields had been sown, culminating in the resort to arms and the resolve to fight for justice under the banner of the Southern Cross on 3 December 1854.

A booklet printed by the Hiscock family states that he found gold on 2 August, and the Gold Monument erected in 1897 says 3 August.

On 21 June 1897, on Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee, a monument was unveiled at Hiscocks, which has the wrong date and incorrect information about Buninyong being the first place where gold was discovered in Victoria.!

See photos of the occasion in BDHS collection - children from school all present. David Kerr was the Mayor. The monument has the wrong date (3rd August), claims this was where gold was "first discovered" in Victoria (wrong - Clunes earlier), and it spells his name "Hiscocks" rather than "Hiscock."

According to Derick Leather, the memorial was sited here because it was the boundary of the old Shire and Borough of Buninyong. The actual place where gold was discovered is believed to be some hundred yards north of the obelisk. (Griffiths, 1988, p. 19)

The locality became known as "Hiscocks" after Thomas Hiscock and his discovery.

In 1951 there were special celebrations to mark the centenary of gold discovery at Buninyong.

In late 1960s, Buninyong Progress Association, headed by Bill Thorpe, had a working bee to re-gild the lettering, and make steps up to the monument (Information from Mrs Beth Ritchie)

Our Society is planning a programme of celebrations for the 150th Anniversary of Gold Discovery on Sunday, 5 August, with a visit to the obelisk, cemetery, a luncheon, a special exhibition and a tour.

Please keep the date free, as we need as many members as possible to be involved!


Some members have still not renewed their membership, renewal forms are enclosed where required. Please send your cheque as soon as possible.


19 April - General Meeting, Court House History Centre
21 June - General Meeting - Peter and Yvette Hiscock to speak about their house
5 August - 150th Anniversary of Gold Discovery in Buninyong.
16 August - Tim Sullivan from Sovereign Hill to speak about managing the relationship between museums and indigenous societies.
21 August - 150th Anniversary of Gold Discovery, Poverty Point, Ballarat
16 Sept. - Reunion of Rev. Russell's family, Buninyong
- To Geelong - location of Learmonth's station, junction of Moorabooland Barwon, Buckley's cave, Foster Fyans. With Peter Alsop of the Geelong Historical Society.
18 October - Annual General Meeting
27-28 October - CHHA Local and Family History Expo, Aquinas Campus, Mair St Ballarat.
11 November - Excursion. Lal Lal in Spring - Iron Mine and gold sites.
20 Dec. - General Meeting

Natives Mine near Buninyong, 1893

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