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Inglewood, VIC

Historic gold mining town known as 'the city in the scrub'

Inglewood, part of Victoria's historically profitable Golden Triangle of gold mining towns, boomed during the great goldrushes of the 1850s and 1860s. In recent times this interesting village has remained a well preserved and significant relic of the goldrush era and a hugely important producer of eucalyptus oil which is extracted from the local  Blue Mallee (Eucalyptus polybractea) trees.


Inglewood is located on the Calder Highway 187 km north-west of Melbourne and 45 km north-west of Bendigo.


Origin of Name

The Inglewood district comprised the Glenalbyn and Brenanah stations which were purchased in 1853 by the Reverend William Hall who had been born (or his wife had been born) near Inglewood Forest in England. A section of Glenalbyn property reminded Reverend Hall of his birthplace and he named the settlement Inglewood.


Things to See and Do

Historic Buildings and the Blue Plaques
The best way to explore Inglewood is to get a map of the Blue Plaques located around the town. They offer stories of the main buildings as well as potted histories of the local notables. Thus the visitor learns:

Royal Hotel
Located at 67 Brooke Street, the Royal Hotel dates from 1863. The Blue Plaque outside explains: "The Royal Hotel was built by the original grantee. Thomas Tachell, with weatherboard facade, calico walls and iron roof, opening in March, 1860. A more permanent weatherboard structure was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1862. Next a brick building, designed by architects Vahland and Getzschmann of Sandhurst, was opened in 1863 with a Masonic Lodge room and bowling alley. A single veranda was added in 1866, further extensions in 1876 and a balcony in 1937. One of Cobb & Co's booking offices, it featured a beautiful lead-light lamp under the hotel veranda which now hangs in the Town Hall. The oldest surviving hotel in Inglewood, it is a lasting reminder of the goldrush days, complete with 100-year-old plus grapevine."

Adelphi Hotel
Located at 79 Brooke Street is the former Adelphi Hotel which, as the Blue Plaque explains, "was built for Mr John Lawson prior to 1863. A special Crown Lands purchase agreement dated 4th September 1861 states that he paid £6 17s 6d [that's less than $14.00] for the site. The Licenses Reduction Board delicensed the hotel in September 1914. After this it was used as a grocery and gold buyer's store and later as the Adelphi Cafe and Cash Store. The Seaman brothers operated a green grocery and a confectionary store from 1941 to 1977. In 2001 it finally closed as a shop and is now privately owned."

St Augustine's Church of England
Located at 67 Sullivan Street, this modest church was completed in 1867. It is an unusual and attractive Gothic Revival building with large buttresses. The Blue Plaque notes: "The present church was designed by architects Vahland and Getzschmann and built of local brick by Mr Rose. The foundation stone was laid on February 2nd 1864 and the church was opened for services on June 16 1864. In 1878 a Fincham Pipe Organ was acquired and in 1884 extensions took place with the erection of a sanctuary, vestry and organ recess. The organ was placed on the Heritage Victoria Register in 1990. St Augustine's Church was classified by the National Trust in 1973 and remains one of the oldest and finest buildings in Inglewood. Many of its beautiful stained glass windows are endowed as memorials to local benefactors."

Court House
Located in Southey Street, the Inglewood Court House, as the Victorian Heritage Database explains: "was built in 1860 by Thomas Watts to a standard design of Public Works Department architect Alfred T Snow ... The building walls utilise Flemish-bonded brickwork on a granite base with granite sills. The openings are generally segment arched although the porch openings are fully arched with vertical boarded doors. The attic height gabled court room, with oculi in the gable ends, rises above two side pavilions. The gabled main roof has been re-clad with shingle-patterned tiles and the porch roof has been re-clad with steel deck.
"The Inglewood Court House is architecturally significant as the most intact example of a group of court houses described as being in the 'Victorian Free Classical' style. The buildings in this style date from 1860 to 1874 and the Inglewood Court House remains as the second oldest, but most complete, building of the group. The building is distinguished amongst other court house buildings for the high integrity of its internal fittings and fixtures, which are near complete and were locally made, and for its ability to demonstrate the original function of the building. The building is also architecturally significant for its association with Alfred Snow, a PWD architect responsible for the design of a number of early Victorian court houses." For more information check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/1319/download-report.

St Mary's Catholic Church
Located at 85-87 Southey Street is St Mary's Catholic Church, which the Blue Plaque explains: "The Very Reverend Dean Hayes of Sandhurst opened the first church on this site, a timber structure serving as a church and a school on November 8 1866. The present red brick church was built in 1905 and the opening ceremony and blessing held on December 17th 1905 by the most Reverend Dr Reville, Bishop of Sandhurst. Messrs Keogh and Austin architects of Bendigo, designed the church, the building contractor being Mr Luff. The total cost of the church was in the order of £2770."

In recent times Inglewood has become well known as a place where a number of collectibles stores have opened attracting visitors interested in finding antiques, vintage clothing, old wares, furniture and other collectibles. There is a downloadable brochure (see http://inglewood.vic.au/assets/document/1425419405-54010_lsc_inglewood_antiques_dl_flyer_fav6.pdf) which lists Sharp's Bazaar, Fusspots at Inglewood, Gypsy Collectibles, Inglewood Emporium and Lizzies Old Wares as places worth exploring.

Eucalyptus Distillery Museum
Located at 20 Grant Street (and clearly visible from the Calder Highway north of the town) the Eucalyptus Distillery Museum is open on weekends on the site of the historic Jones Eucy Distillery. The museum's exhibits provide an insight into the history of the eucalyptus oil industry. It is possible to take a self-guided tour or to book a guided tour (which includes a demonstration of the working distillery). The museum includes the old distillery and an interpretative centre with historic displays, artefacts and a working distillery model. Check out https://www.eucymuseum.com.au for opening times.

A Note About Eucalyptus Oil
The eucalyptus oil industry in Australia dates back to the first fleet when John White, the Surgeon-General, discovered that the oil was effective as a healing balm for the soldiers on the ships. He sent some back to England where, until that time, peppermint had been used. By 1852 Joseph Bosisto was producing the oil commercially and it was used extensively during World War II and during the Spanish flu epidemic after World War I. It was discovered that the leaves of the Blue Mallee, which grows in great abundance around Inglewood but in few other places, produced some of the best quality eucalyptus oil in the world. Consequently distilleries were built and even today the district still produces the greater portion of Victoria's eucalyptus oil.


Other Attractions in the Area

Inglewood Botanical Gardens Reserve
Located off the Inglewood-Powlett Road, the Inglewood Botanical Gardens Reserve was established in 1864 and restored as part of the Bicentennial Year program in 1988. A plaque was unveiled on 20 November, 1988. It is a quiet park with picnic tables, a gazebo, barbecues and a pleasant 2 km circuit walk through the Inglewood Reservoir. Little remains of the original botanic gardens. A distinctive modern feature is that the trunks of some of the older, dead trees have been carved. There is a particularly impressive carving of a Nankeen Night Heron. For more detailed information check out https://www.goldfieldsguide.com.au/explore-location/292/botanical-gardens-reserve which notes of the Reservoir walk: "Heading north along the track to the reservoir you'll notice the many small mounds beneath the stands of Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) that provide testament to the activities associated with 'gold fever' that gripped this area in the past.
"As you complete the trail around the reservoir be alert for wildlife such as the many small birds, lizards and frogs that are attracted to insects living around the Reservoir. Fine stands of stout Melaleuca shrubs can be seen including Totem Poles (Melaleuca decussata) and Violet Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca wilsonii). In early Spring the squat rough wattles (Acacia aspera) carpet the trail with yellow blossoms."

Located 10 km south-west of Inglewood is Kingower where it is possible to see the old mullock heaps left by the miners. There is an interesting plaque on the bandstand which is a reminder of just how rich in gold the area was in the 1850s.

"Gold 150
Kingower - To mark the 150th anniversary of gold discovery in Victoria.
The Kingower Goldfield was opened in 1853. Immediately, such large nuggets were found in the dirt that Kingower became known as the Potato Diggings, attracting 5000 diggers. The largest nugget found was the Blanche Barkly which weighed 1743 ounces of almost pure gold. It was unearthed on 27th August 1857, and is the third largest nugget ever discovered in the world."

Melville Caves and Kooyoora State Park
Located 22 km from Inglewood and 2 km along a dirt track is the Melville Caves Picnic Area where there are toilets, information boards, picnic tables and water.
There are a number of walking trails which lead to the lookouts and the huge boulders which form the 'caves'.
There are four defined walking trails within the park:
* Melville Caves Walking Track - 1 km circuit - starts at the Melville Caves Picnic Area and climbs to the summit and the Melville Caves Lookout. A steep track returns from the summit to the car park.
* Melville Caves Lookout - 300 metres - from the car park to the lookout. If this site was used by bushranger Captain Melville it was principally because of its elevated position and its views over the plains where the gold coaches and gold escorts could be easily viewed.
* Long Rock Walking Track - 6635 metres. The total climb and descent is 214 metres each way. Trail Hiking Australia (see https://www.trailhiking.com.au/melville-caves) describes the walk as "Start from from the picnic area head to the Southern Lookout, then backtrack 200m to rejoin the track heading north. Walk in a clockwise direction to McLeod’s Lookout with magnificent views. The track continues south through remarkable rock formations and rock pools."
* Eastern Walking Track - 4.5 km circuit. The track continues past Long Rock down to a fenced bush paddock, across a creek, down through some more unusual rock formations, giant granite slabs and balancing rocks, before climbing out of the valley and back up the car park.
All the walks are described in great detail, and with suitable maps, at https://www.trailhiking.com.au/melville-caves.
The Kooyoora State Park's activities include sightseeing, walking, rock-climbing, picnicking and camping. Fossicking and gold detecting is only permitted in certain areas. The Park features many typical north-central Victorian forest communities, including red gum, yellow box, grey box and red ironbark. There are also many colourful native orchids and some rare species. The open forests are home to arboreal mammals and tree-nesting birds such as the kookaburra and swift parrot. Wedge-tailed eagles dwell among the granite tors and rainbow bee-eaters make homes in the granite soils. Kangaroos and wallabies inhabit the grasslands and ground-dwelling animals such as the marsupial mouse live amidst the scrubby understorey and ground litter. There are over 130 bird species in the park.

The Life of Captain Melville
The best account of Melville's life can be found in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (check http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/melville-francis-4183). It explains his early life as follows: "Francis Melville (1822-1857), bushranger, was born probably Francis McNeiss McNiel McCallum in Inverness, Scotland. He had some schooling but about 12 became a thief. In the Perth Court of Justiciary he admitted to serving four sentences totalling twenty-two months before 3 October 1836 when at 15 he was sentenced to seven years' transportation for housebreaking. As Edward Melville (Mulvell) he served for twenty months in English gaols and was then sent to Hobart Town in the Minerva. He arrived on 29 September 1838 and in October was placed at Port Arthur in the Point Puer institution for juvenile convicts. In 1839-48 he came before the police magistrate twenty-five times. In 1841 his sentence was extended by two years for felony in February and to life for burglary in July; in September he was sent to Port Arthur for five years. Recommended in 1846 for a year's probation, he absconded and lived with the Aboriginals for a year. After recapture he was given nine months' hard labour in chains, an experience repeated in January and August 1850. Calling himself Captain Francis Melville and posing as a gentleman, he reached Victoria about October 1851 and by December had turned bushranger ...Melville created a legend of the cultured gentleman of good address and scholarship turned highwayman, considerate to those whom he robbed, courteous and charming to women, and a nineteenth-century Robin Hood."



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to members of the Taurngurong Aboriginal language group.

* The area around Inglewood was first explored by Major Thomas Mitchell who passed through the area in 1836.

* By 1840 it had been settled by graziers who sprawled over vast areas of land with their huge herds of sheep.

* Gold was discovered in the area as early as 1852.

* The Inglewood area was occupied by the Glenalbyn and Brenanah stations which were purchased in 1853 by the Reverend William Hall.

* In November, 1859 Hall's nephews, Joseph, Alexander and Thomas Thompson, discovered gold. Overnight a goldrush occurred. It became known as 'Halls Diggings' but Hall insisted the new town be called Inglewood.

* Two towns called 'Old Inglewood' and 'New Inglewood' were linked by Commercial Street and, at their height, there was an estimated 35,000 people in the area.

* The gold was short lived but remarkably rich. The Columbian line yielded 13,000 ounces of gold from the first 1,000 tons of ore mined and subsequently it continued to average around 6,500 ounces per 1,000 tons.

* By November, 1860 over 4,000 men were employed in quartz mining in the district.

* The township of Inglewood, now located at New Inglewood, was surveyed in 1860. Many of the streets were named after members of parliament.

* A post office opened in 1860.

* Between 1860-1861 Catholic, Presbyterian and national schools were opened.

* The first council was elected in 1861. Roads were built, water was reticulated to the town.

* In December, 1862 a fire destroyed a large part of the town including ten pubs which, reputedly, were destroyed in 30 minutes.

* A Presbyterian church was built in 1863. The Borough of Inglewood was established that year.

* A Botanic Garden was constructed in 1864.

* In 1865 a Mechanics Institute was built.

* A Court House was opened in 1866.

* St Augustine's Church of England was completed in 1867.

* By 1876 there was a rail line between Inglewood and Bendigo.

* A brick Catholic church was built in 1905.

* By the 1960s the town was a major service centre.

* The passenger rail service to the town closed in the 1980s.

* In 1980 the huge Hand of Faith gold nugget was found at Kingower.

* In recent times Inglewood has become a popular destination for people seeking unusual collectibles.


Visitor Information

Eucy Distillery Museum, 20 Grant Street, open Thursday - Monday 10.00 am - 4.00 pm, tel: (03) 5438 3247.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://inglewood.vic.au.

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