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It was a very wintry day but with some modifications to the program the excursion to the Aboriginal Protectorate at Franklinford went ahead. At 1.30 those assembled gathered in the warmth of the courthouse and it was pleasing to see several people from the wider community interested in joining us. Geoff Morrison whose father Edgar had written the original 3 booklets now combined in “The Successful Failure” told how his father thought that the story of the Protectorate should be told and his efforts to research its history. Edward Stone Parker who was appointed in 1839 as a magistrate and protector of aborigines over a quarter of what is now the state of Victoria faced a mammoth task. His family of six sons was increased when a daughter was born on the way to establishing his headquarters, eventually centred at Franklinford. His overseer was Augustus Robinson whose previous experience in Tasmania seemingly fitted the requirements as Protector and whose acquaintance with John Franklin and his wife when Governor of Tasmania, resulted in their visits to the area and the naming of Franklinford and Mount Franklin. Edward Stone Parker’s wife died and he remarried, with six more children being born. The research that Edgar Morrison has done shows that Parker had the welfare of the aborigines as his primary concern and but for his efforts their story would be an even more sorry one. By 1843 the government was abandoning the Protectorate system and the adjoining landowners were pressing on the borders of Franklinford for more land. In 1851, the remaining aborigines were shifted to Coranderrk near Healesville although Parker successfully applied to lease some land and continued to care for forty aborigines.

Our assembled group had two people with more than the usual amount of interest in the subject. Bev Olney has recently discovered that her great-great uncle was Charles Judkins, who was the teacher at the Protectorate. One of Janet Trudgeon’s ancestors was involved in the icy search for Sir John Franklin who disappeared on his attempt to find the north- west passage.

Afternoon tea was taken in the warmth of the courthouse before those who wished carpooled to Franklinford where we visited the lagoon, the site of the Protectorate, the site of the Protectorate school and finally the cemetery. This was established when a little four year old girl, the daughter of the overseer Bazely died. Three aboriginal women and the first Mrs Parker followed her. Today there is an impressive monument to the Parker family. Don Morrison, a trustee of the cemetery was able pass on lots of its history to the intrepid lot who braved the cold!



A trip to Yapeen with Max Kay is planned. We will be shown Mopoke Gully where an old water wheel worked, the remains of an old store and possibly finish up by going to the site of the Strathloddon Hotel and the store held by the Dolphin family in Guildford. The date is September 8th leaving from the courthouse at 1.30.

Next month we intend to visit the sites of the two dredges that worked in the Newstead area.



Thanks to the efforts of Brian Dieckmann, we have a photo of the illustration of Sutherland’s Biscuit factory that was in the upper room of the Pioneers and Old Residents in Castlemaine. Also donated to us is a framed photo of the finish of the Newstead Cup in 1954. This comes courtesy of the Newstead Racecourse Committee and we have researched the Echo to get the write up of the day’s events.



The date is the 13th of September at 7 pm and the venue is our lovely courthouse, which will be warm and welcoming! BYO food and drink and enjoy an evening together to celebrate our year’s achievements. (For our out of town members, note that our local motel “Whispering Gums” is achieving high ratings…and we’d love to have your company!)



As our next excursion is to Yapeen, a few quotes from “A Century of Schooldays” by Ray Bradfield produced to commemorate a century of schooldays of S. S. Yapeen may whet your appetite.


The area opened up as William Campbell’s Strathloddon Run. On the discovery of gold friction arose. The land now belonged to Frederick Taylor who tried to prevent mining taking place on it.  On June 11 1856 when another dispute arose in Mopoke Gully, Captain Bull rode out and persuaded Taylor to replace his watchmen with constables. However mining began thee and in 1857 Bradfield gives a great quote describing the diggings on Pennyweight Hill.

“The Diggings are equidistant between the easterly fencing of Taylor’s Paddock and the middle crossing of the Loddon, nearly a quarter mile from the latter. The roadway takes you through the beautiful park-like scenery of the paddock and as the rush is approached, the clink of hammer and anvil arrests the ear and guides the stranger to the object of his search. Presently some monarch of the vegetable world comes toppling down with a crash and succumbs before the stalwart arms of the axe-man, and now a gleam of tents, and snowy heaps of sand is caught between the interstices of the trees. A few minutes more and we are among the industrious crowd, which viewed from a neighbouring elevation seems like a teeming anthill on as sunny day…Some 300 – 400 men are hard at work. Here is a party marking out a fresh claim, and there a group engaged in cooking their midday meal round a burning log which will supply them with fuel for the ensuing week.

Here is one who has just broken ground and it seems by the vigour of his blows, as if he were determined to ‘go down’ ten feet by night, and there a little knot of four lately arrived and tired by the long march to the field of operations have thrown themselves down on the grass and are resting on their swags.

The rattle of windlasses in motion, the whirr of multiplying wheels attached to the fanning apparatus – the hoarse roar of the blacksmith’s bellows, the barking of dogs and the occasional vociferations of their owners. All contribute to present the visitor with a stirring picture of life and energy and to remind him of scenes which formerly were common but are of too rare an occurrence today.”

Meanwhile at the other end of Strathloddon it was at last being made possible for a township to grow. In April 1858, over 500 acres of the station lands were to be sold at auction by Mr Taylor who “as any prudent Scotsman would, determined to sell-out and return to the auld country”.

Meanwhile his fellow Scot William Aberdeen, “the Lord of Balmoral” has resold a great deal of his land for mining purpose.

William Hopkins Wilson was another colourful early resident. He was a professional scribe and for the old-timers in the area, “ he would read letters for sixpence and write one for a shilling”. “Despite the reports of the affluence of Aberdeen, a report from the paper in March 1860 seemed to hint at a temporary shortage of the ‘ready’. Aberdeen’s hayshed, lately the property of Mr F Taylor burned down….It was certainly true that ‘Boss’ Aberdeen had his ups and he and his downs.

After the land sales a spate of building set in, mostly at the western end of the township. The Balmoral was on the main road, near the present railway crossing and did not have a long life, being burned down April 1861…There were many other stores and hotels of course all along the main road, the Telegraph road, as it was sometimes called, and up Mopoke, German and Donkey Gullies, Brown’s store in Mopoke was one of the earliest places of business in Pennyweight..

It was not until 1861 that Yapeen was proposed as a name for the township.”

Gold diggings consisted of shallow diggings and puddlers, and there were several large parties of Chinese working. As well there were successful quartz reef mines such as Mr Sam Scotson in Mopoke Gully, the Woods brothers at Champion Reef, a French miner, Godfroi, opened up the Frenchman’s reef and the Golden Lead Mine (Mein’s).

“Another seemingly, and hopefully, permanent reminder of the golden past are the massive masonry abutments of the Mopoke Water Wheel. This 60 foot diameter wheel, which formerly supplied the power for a quartz crushing battery, must have been an impressive sight, when at work…But gradually the stream of gold dwindled to become a mere trickle. The bucket dredges in Campbells Creek and the various sluicing plants in the gullies and hills…temporarily boosted gold production but Yapeen became the small community of primary producers and private residents which it has been for a long time now.”


The photos included are also from Ray Bradfield’s book and they come with the kind permission of the Bradfield family.

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