Historic goldmining town and birthplace of artist Norman Lindsay
Creswick is a well preserved historic gold mining town which boomed in the 1850s and slowly evolved into a popular and attractive rural township servicing the surrounding district which is known for its forestry, grazing and agriculture. It is characterised by a broad main street, ancient volcanic hills, a substantial number of impressive historic buildings and extensive bushwalking areas.
Creswick is located on the Midland Highway 122 km north-west of Melbourne, 19 km north of Ballarat and 452 m above sea-level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Creswick is named after the Creswick brothers (Henry, Charles and John) who established a large sheep station, which they named Creswick Creek, in the district in 1842.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Creswick of the Lindsays Arts Trail
There is a brochure titled the Creswick of the Lindsays Arts Trail which identifies 24 sites around the town which all had strong collections with the impressively artistic Lindsay family. There are three routes - a walking route, a walking and driving route and a driving route - which cover a total of 7.6 km and include the Creswick cemetery, located to the south of the town, where seven members of the family lie in the Lindsay Family Graves.
The Lindsays were a remarkable family. The father, Dr Robert Lindsay had been drawn to Creswick by the prospect of gold. In 1864 he set up a practice in the settlement. Remarkably his children grew up to become - Norman Lindsay was a well-known painter who wrote eleven novels and illustrated thirty other books including, most famously, The Magic Pudding; Sir Lionel Lindsay was a print maker; Sir Daryl Lindsay painted in water colours and became the director of the National Gallery of Victoria; Ruby Lindsay was an illustrator; and Percy Lindsay was a painter. A remarkably talented family.
Each site has a large plaque with content which focuses on the relationship of the Lindsay children to the town and the sites and buildings that had significance.
The best place to start the Trail is at the Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Albert and Victoria Streets. The route then moves to the Lindsay's family home; the local Grammar School where all the children were educated; and another 22 places connected to the family. The guide, which is available from the Visitor Centre, contains a map, with each site numbered from 1 to 24. Fifteen of the twenty four places can be reached easily from the Visitor Centre but the rest, such as the cemetery, are best visited by car.
Norman Lindsay in Creswick
The most famous of the Lindsay family was Norman, one of Australia's most original and prolific visual artists. Norman's novel Redheap (1930) - there is a sign devoted to it on the Lindsay Art Trail, describes Creswick in the late 19th century. Some Creswick residents were so outraged by it that they successfully petitioned the government to ban it until 1959. Lindsay also wrote about Creswick in two other novels - Saturdee and Halfway to Anywhere. Norman lived in Creswick until he was sixteen when he left to work as a freelance artist in Melbourne. His father assisted at the birth, in 1885, of future prime minister John Curtin, the son of a Creswick police sergeant.
The Magic Pudding Playground
Located on the corner of Napier and Raglan Streets, the Magic Pudding Playground includes a timber boat called the Salt Junk Sarah, a treehouse, characters from The Magic Pudding and a fire hose which was featured in the hugely popular The Magic Pudding book series by Norman Lindsay.
Landscape architect David Hay said there would also be a hat tree made out of sculptured steel, with 15 to 20 hats from characters from The Magic Pudding hanging from the tree and that the playground would also include the residence of Watkin Wombat inside a hollow tree.
Creswick Heritage Walk
There is a downloadable Heritage Walk which can be accessed at https://visithepburnshire.com.au/listing/creswick-heritage-walk-8-5-km-3-hour-loop. It is a detailed map of the entire route. The walk leaves from the Visitor Information Centre and includes the impressive buildings on the University of Melbourne campus as well as the trails in Creswick Regional Park, the Brackenbury Hill Lookout and St George's Lake. The total distance is 8.5 km and, with the exception of the walk up Brackenbury Hill, it is an easy grade walk. It takes around 3 hours. The website notes: "The Creswick Heritage Walk links a number of the best natural and cultural heritage features of Creswick, many of which until now you could only separately access and then by car, such as the heritage-listed La Gerche walking trail."
Creswick's Historic Buildings
The 1862 post office (it was added to in 1887) is located by the corner of Albert and Raglan Streets at, officially, 81 Albert Street. An impressive two storey building with interesting interior panelling.
State Bank/School of Mines
This handsome building is located in Albert Street next to the Commonwealth Bank and, at various times in its history has been the State Savings Bank - from 1897-1969; the School of Mines and an Art studio operated by Percy Lindsay, one of the famous Lindsay family.
Queen Victoria Bandstand
The Queen Victoria Bandstand, which is an impressive part of the main street, was built in 1897 to honour Queen Victoria in her diamond jubilee year. Local women led by Mayoress Mrs. Northcott raised the funds to build the structure.
Havilah Masonic Lodge and the American Hotel
Located at 96 Albert Street, the Havilah Masonic Lodge was opened in 1890. It has a particularly impressive interior with internal murals which date from around 1900. Across the road is the historic American Hotel where the Havilah Lodge (formed in 1859) first met.
Bank of New South Wales
The former Bank of New South Wales is a distinctive two-storey Classical building (it was built in 1860 and the second storey was added three years later) located on the corner of Albert and Hall Streets. Due to the goldrush the bank had established a branch in the town in 1854. Heritage of Australia notes: "The two storey symmetrical building designed by architect Felstead, has a round-headed doorway and windows on either side. The hooded upper windows sit on the string course; there is a parapet cornice. Face brickwork, plinth and quoins are features repeated in the single-storey wing (1873), reputedly added as a gold room. This distinctive Classical building is well composed and detailed, and is part of the historical townscape."
St John's Anglican Church and Vicarage
Located on Napier Street, St John's Anglican Church was consecrated in 1862. It is a bluestone church which was enlarged with a tower between 1868-1872. The chancel and organ chamber were added in 1892. Adjacent is the Gothic Revival vicarage (now privately owned) which pre-dates the church.
St Augustine's Catholic Church
Located on Napier Street, the St Augustine's Catholic Church is listed on the Victorian Heritage Database as a "bluestone church with freestone dressings, built in 1870-72 to the design of English architect Charles Hansom, and supervised by H R Caselli. A chancel and sacristy were added in 1938. The main facade incorporates a lofty bluestone octagonal turret, a characteristic Hansom element, while the interior includes stained glass windows by Zettler of Munich." Check https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/68572 for more details. Mass was first held in Creswick in 1855 by priests who came from Ballarat. At that time there were 15 Catholic children at the National School at Creswick, and priests seem to have made frequent visits to the district.
Located in Reed Street, the "Creswick Railway Station Complex was constructed in 1874 by George Anderson for the Victorian Railways. It comprises a hip roofed, bi-chromatic brick station building and residence with a standard cast iron verandah and brick platform with bluestone coping and a disused drinking fountain. A detached brick lamp room/toilet block and two-storey timber signal box adjoins". For more information check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/325.
Located in Albert Street, the red-brick mechanics' institute, with its decorative rendered facade (1892), is now the rooms for the Creswick Municipal Band. To the rear is an old bluestone gold bullion store.
Located off Moore St, beside Hammon Park Oval, and now part of the University of Melbourne's campus and home to the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science is the original, and hugely impressive, goldfields hospital (1862-63). It stopped being a hospital in 1912 and became part of the Forestry School. It is now the library from the Creswick campus of the University of Melbourne. The designer of the hospital was a Mr Poeppel of Daylesford and a Mr Bacon was the builder. Extensions were made in 1867 and 1868 so that the hospital's main buildings formed a square around a central quadrangle.
Located in Water Street near Hammond Park oval, Tremearne House is a gracious two-storey red-brick building with elegant verandas which display some fine cast-iron lacework. Within the extensive grounds is a tree nursery and a display of equipment used by foresters in the early days. It is now part of the University of Melbourne's campus and home to the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science. It was built in 1881 by Dr John Tremearne, who was the resident medical officer at the Creswick Hospital from 1872 to 1888, after which he started private practice in Creswick. The house was sold to the State Forestry Department in 1909 and used for lectures by the new Forestry School. The Victorian Heritage Database notes of the building: "Designed in a Tudor style, the original red brick hospital building with bluestone footings and slate roof, was rendered in the 1870s. The building comprises a two storey central section with parapeted gable and flat pointed arches, with emphasis given to the main entrance by the use of receding concentric pointed arches. Single storey wings, which flank the central section, incorporate similar parapeted gable ends to alleviate the flatness of the overall facade. Surface decoration is limited to label mouldings, while at roof level a profusion of chimneys and vertical elements give the building a picturesque character. The former residence, Tremearne House, is a two storey, polychromatic brick house with double height verandah and overall asymmetrical facade." For more information check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/326/download-report.
Creswick Historical Museum
Creswick Historical Museum is located in the former Municipal Offices of the Shire of Creswick (called the Town Hall) (1876) at 70-72 Albert Street. The museum was opened by Sir Daryl Lindsay in 1970
The museum has an exhibition of material by Norman Lindsay and there are paintings from the Lindsay family as well as other historic artworks relating to Creswick's past. Other displays include photographs and material from the town's goldmining past. The museum website explains the collection: "Downstairs is a display of early colonial paintings by Moyle, Tibbits & Burkitt dating from 1859. The Bank Chamber is used to display the Current Exhibitions with pride of place the State School Honour Board made by Sloyd students honouring past students who served during WW1. The Mining Room tells the story of Gold Mining, in particular the worst gold mining accident in Australia when in 1882 only 5 men survived and 22 men lost their lives.
Upstairs, in the former Council Chambers, with its leather chairs surrounding a polished table and portraits of local politicians much as it was when the Council vacated the building and moved next door in 1969. Along the balcony are works by Victor Litherland, a naïve painter. The Museum has 60 of his works."
The Victorian Heritage Council Database notes of the building: "The building is of two storeys with a corner tower and is constructed of rendered brick on a bluestone plinth with a slate roof. The design of the exterior is unusual for its squat corner tower with a polygonal bell-shaped roof, the star-shaped openings to the parapet and the segmental-arced entry loggia within with the central arch is wider than those flanking it. The compressed detailing of the facade is continued internally in the plaster decoration to the wall surfaces of the municipal offices which have, by contrast, simple boarded ceilings. The outstanding features of the interior are the spiral bluestone stair and cantilevered balcony over the entry hall, both of which have elaborate cast-iron balusters. The town hall has a flat covered ceiling with simple plaster wall decorations, a timber dado, highlight windows and an elaborate proscenium. Art-deco roses were later installed on the ceiling." For more detailed information check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/322.
The museum is open from 11.00 am to 3.30 pm on weekends and public holidays, or by appointment, tel: (03) 5345 2845. For more information check out http://www.creswickmuseum.org.au.
Creswick Woollen Mills
Located on Railway Parade and open 10.00 am - 5.00 pm seven days a week, the Creswick Woollen Mills are the last coloured woollen spinning mill in Australia. It has been designing and manufacturing woollen items since 1947. The products include knitwear, accessories and Alpaca blankets. For more details check out http://www.creswickwool.com.
The land which is now Calembeen Park was home to the town's Chinese camp in the goldmining days. By 1900 it was subject to hydraulic sluicing for gold and when that finished the gouges were filled with water and became two lakes. There is an explanatory plaque by the bridge that links the two lagoons. One of the lagoons is an ideal swimming location with a diving tower and a toddlers' pool. Another is reserved for wildlife and fishing. Access is along Cushing Avenue.
Creswick Gold Battery
Located in Battery Crescent is one of the few remaining gold batteries in Victoria. It was built to crush basalt ore in 1902 and is still in working condition. The Heritage Council notes that: "From 1897 the Victorian government provided assistance to quartz gold prospectors through the installation and operation of small quartz crushing facilities (known as government or State batteries) in localities where no privately-owned batteries were available for public use. The batteries were erected in places where auriferous reefs showed promise, and were moved as demand (or lack of it) required. Their number peaked between the wars, with a maximum of 33 in operation. Government crushing facilities were quite small concerns, at first equipped with only three head of stamps, rising in 1904 to a standard of five head. Sometimes the batteries were equipped with 6-heads. The batteries were originally powered by steam, but producer-gas, oil, and electricity eventually replaced steam power. The Creswick State battery was installed in 1902 and is one of the six that still survive in Victoria. The others are Maldon, Wedderburn, Rutherglen, Bright and Egerton." Check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/7289/download-report.
Other Attractions in the Area
The Buried Rivers of Gold Heritage Trail
Visitors wanting to experience the full complexity of the goldrush should give themselves a day and get a copy of The Buried Rivers of Gold Heritage Trail from the Visitor Information Centre. The brochure contains 29 places of interest on a circular, driving trip which runs north from Creswick to the Daylesford-Clunes Road and then back to Creswick via the Creswick-Lawrence Road. It is much more than just a look at historic buildings with sites including historic mines - Ristori Freehold Mines, Lone Hand Mines, Berry No.1 Mine, Berry Consols Extended Mine, Madame Berry Mines, New Australasian Mine - as well as bridges, old townships and ghost towns. The map in the brochure gives clear information about the location of each site.
Located on the Creswick-Newstead Road on the banks of Birch's Creek on the southern edge of Smeaton (which lies 13 km to the north of Creswick), Anderson's Mill is a huge five-storey bluestone building with a justifiably famous iron water wheel. The flour mill was built in 1861 and stables, a grain store and a bluestone office were added later as the operation expanded.The water wheel was developed from designs by John Smeaton and the patterns cast locally in Ballarat at Hunt and Opie's Victoria Foundry. Water was collected from Hepburn Lagoon, released into Birch's Creek and channelled into the water race. The amount of water required depended on the product being processed. The person operating the release gates at Hepburn Lagoon would be asked to release "half oats water" or "full flour water" for the shift's operation.
The Heritage of Australia records: "A huge bluestone mill building, water wheel, bluestone office, chimney and various other associated structures, built for the Anderson family of millers and timber cutters, from 1862 onwards. The four-storey mill building has an attic storey in the gabled slate roof. The water wheel is 8.5 metres in diameter and weighs 25 tonnes."
Check https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/andersons-mill,-smeaton-h.a. for opening times. In 2019 it was opening on the first Sunday of the month between 12.00 pm and 4.00 pm. The grounds around the mill are accessible.
Brackenbury Hill Lookout
Brackenbury Hill Lookout, which is 535 m above sea-level, and can be accessed at the eastern end of town is located at the eastern edge of town - take Tourist Road from behind the School of Forestry and turn into Brackenbury Road.
New Australasia Mine No.2
Located 2 km north along Clunes Road is the site of the old Australasian No.2 Deep Lead Mine which was flooded in 1882, drowning 22 men in what was the country's worst ever gold mining accident. The dead were buried in the Creswick cemetery at a funeral attended by 15,000 with 5,000 in the funeral procession and 2,000 members of the Miners Association. Today the old mine site is marked by a cairn, a pavilion relating the story and a dial indicating the locations of the district's old goldmines.
The circumstances were horrific. On 12 December, 1882, miners working the night shift at New Australasia Mine descended 250 feet down the shaft then 2,000 feet to the working face. At 5.30 am the wall of the reef burst from the pressure of water that had accumulated behind it from the Australasia No. 1 Mine. In the minutes that followed some of the miners were able to get to safety, however 27 workers were trapped. For almost three days the three engine drivers from the mine ran the engines at over 10 times their normal speed (they managed to extract 50,000 gallons an hour), in an attempt to lower the water to save the trapped men. A special train was sent for from Melbourne with equipment to dive into the water. This equipment was borrowed from the H.M.S. Cerberus along with competent divers.
Beyond the New Australasia Mine the Ullina Road turns right from the Clunes Road. In this area there are giant mullock heaps (the remnants of the shafts dug by the miners) signposted from the roadside. These are a powerful reminder of the density and intensity of activity on the goldfields.
The Great Dividing Trail
Starting in the Creswick Regional Park this is a 4 hour walk to Ballarat along the route taken by gold prospectors in the 1850s. The path passes water races and the trail is marked, as it was in the 1850s, by quartz stones. The quartz stones were used to guide miners who were walking the track at night. There is a detailed, downloadable map. Check out http://www.creswick.net/things-to-do/walking-trails.
St Georges Lake
Located 1.3 km south-east along Melbourne Road is St Georges Lake which was created to provide water for gold sluicing. It is now a secluded area fringed by pine and eucalyptus which is used for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing. You can drive around the lake or pursue the Upper or Lower walking tracks (the latter is the more scenic). There are toilets and barbecue facilities. It is an excellent location for bird watching and there are platypus in the waters. The walk around the lake is 1.8 km and takes about 30 minutes.
Eaton's Dam Walk
This walk takes around 100 minutes return. It starts on the eastern side of St George's Lake and follows a water race through into Koala Park and eventually reaches Eaton's Dam, an early example of a stone and earth dam from the goldrush ere. It was breached by flood waters in the early 1930s. This led to flooding of the town.
Creswick Koala Park
Located 2 km along Melbourne Road, and adjoining Creswick Creek, is the Koala Park which is situated in 15 ha of natural bushland. Koalas were reintroduced into this site from Phillip Island in 1942 due to the presence of manna gums. Amusingly the koalas were released in 1942 and the area was fenced but the koalas climbed over the fence and dispersed into the bush. Consequently there are koalas at both Slaty Creek and Eaton's Dam. There are picnic facilities and some pleasant walking tracks through the reserve. Check out http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/creswick-r.p./things-to-do/koala-park3 for more information.
Just past the koala park and located off Petticoat Road is Slaty Creek which is located in Creswick Regional Park. There are areas for picnicking, walking, camping and gold panning. The campgrounds are surrounded by Manna Gums and there are good walks beside the old water races. Check out http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/creswick-r.p./things-to-do/slatey-creek-picnic-area-no-7.
* Prior to white settlement the area was inhabited by the Djadjawarrung Aboriginal people.
* The first European settlers were the Creswick brothers who established a large sheep station in 1842.
* The first gold was discovered at the future townsite in late 1851 or early 1852.
* A Goldfields Commissioner was appointed in December, 1852.
* The first hotel was licensed in 1853.
* The townsite was surveyed in 1854. By the end of the year the rush had peaked with some 25,000 on the local fields.
* The local post office was opened in 1854.
* In 1857 an Anglican and a Catholic church were opened.
* In the late 1850s the Chinese established their camp (known as 'Chinatown') on the land now occupied by Calambeen Park.
* The local Court House was opened in 1859. That year saw the establishment of a town road board.
* By 1861 a Wesleyan Church had been consecrated.
* A local hospital was opened in 1863.
* A local grammar school was opened in 1869.
* In 1874 the railway connecting Creswick to Melbourne was opened.
* William G. Spence, a key figure in Australian union history, established the Creswick Miners' Union in 1878 and later founded the Australian Workers Union.
* From the early 1870s to the early 1880s deep-lead mining was undertaken to penetrate the basalt (formed by lava) and access the old gold-bearing river beds underneath.
* Australasia No.2 mine became the site of the country's worst every goldmining accident in 1882 when the shaft flooded killing 22 men.
* Creswick became the site of the state's first tree plantation in 1882.
* In 1885 John Curtin, who became Australia's 14th Prime Minister, was born in the town.
* The Victoria School of Forestry, which opened in 1910, established many of the pine plantations which surround the town today.
* A swimming pool was opened in 1910.
* The Creswick Woollen Mills were established in 1947.^ TOP
Creswick Visitor Information Centre, 41-43 Albert Street, tel: (03) 5345 1114. Open 10.00 am - 5.00 pm daily.^ TOP
There is a very detailed local website. Check out http://www.creswick.net for information about dining and accommodation. There is also a useful guide to the activities in the district at http://visitcreswick.com.au/activities.^ TOP