Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gold Mining Graveyard - Elliott's Ravine

While 'Bush Bashing' in the Bathurst region looking for signs of abandoned townships or dwellings we came across an old graveyard, deep on the slopes of heavilly timberered ravine in eucalypt forest.

Some of the graves were very old for Australia's European settlers - 130 years old - and some were decorated by ornate ironwork and masonry. The cemetry, itself, was well structured to the period and had separations by religion and by race. On the western bank of the ravine were the European graves with a prominent Anglican section and the remains of a Jewish section.

On the Eastern bank of the ravine were, reputedly, the graves of Chinese gold seekers, however, their stone cairn monuments had been kicked over and destroyed (one might even say 'desecrated'). Fading light meant we could not stay there too long but a return trip is on the agenda to look for traces of the actual Chinese burials.

Back at the Country Club that evening some of the old-timers told us that they believed that the Chinese graves had only been temporary and that their remains were subsequently excavated by other Chinese and shipped home to China. We will follow that one up and investigate a bit further.

When we asked about the ruins of the Jewish graveyard monument there was stoney silence until it was ventured that no-one ever knew there was a jewish grave up there. Our subsequent investigations allowed us to locate the cemetry on Parish records and a Jewish Section was marked on the diagram of the cemetry, as was the Chinese Section.

The approach track

About 5 klms down the and the track came to a sudden end at a superb lookout, locally kown as:

Elliott's Lookout

We had to backtrack along the track, travelling about 10kph and looking for any signs of a side track. The timber was very thick. Tall, slender saplings competing for the daylight as they grope upwards from the forest floor. Many signs of 'lightning strikes' and previous bushfires existed. It wasn't the worst country I've been in, however, the timber saplings were like a wall. it would be exhausting work to cut-in a new track.

We tried many promising side track that usually ended up in dead ends.

A typical dead end track

Eventually we found an access track that led us down a torturous sloping track until we came into a secluded clearing where we could see graves.

The first one we came upon was one that Sophia Franklin, deceased 1893 aged 36 years and daughter of Thomas and Ellen Newham. This grave had received some attention as it had a roughly mortared brickwork surround:

Then subsequent graves appeared, one with no info other than the name "Newham". Then a magnificent edifice appeared as we came around a bunch of established gum trees, a monument to Thomas Newham, departed 8th  February 1913 and included the grave of his wife, Ellen, who departed on 7th August 1915.

Another magnificent edifice to  Charles Albert Parker, deceased 3rd April 1890 appeared. It had a concrete surround, common to the era and was covered with terrazzo tile inlay.

As we worked along the slope we found a 'multi-grave' nearby. Edith Jane Wood deceased aged 11 months on the 1st January 1891 was buried with her grandfather,  Andrew Matheson, deceased  6th march 1894 and her 11 month old younger sister, Emily Wood, who died later in 1895, no specific date given. Only the headstone remained.

Adjacent we found four unmarked graves, two merely designated by a crude ring of local stones, the other two mere raised mounds.

As we worked along the slope of the ridge we found a grave that really excited us - Charles FW Cade, deceased 2nd January 1893.  The Cade family were early settlers in the Boorowa (Cade's Creek), Cowra and Bathurst region and we suspect that young Cade must have taken himself of to dig for gold in those rugged ranges. A notable feature was a very small headstone at the foot of the grave, like those used for children, but it was so eroded with weather and time that no markings could be discerned.

There was another grave we found behind a tree. It was unmarked for name and information but a rough surround of rounded concrete was placed around it and a small shrub was growing in the end of it. Because of its short length we assume that it was likely to be a child's grave.

Further up the ridge lne we found a area designated the "Jewish Section", however, we could only find a single grave from which the headstone had been removed.

From our high vantage point we could see across the ravine and make out a walking track which led to the area designated as "Chinese Section" but we were out of time to explore it and will do so on a future visit.

From the top of the ravine we were able to get a better perspective of the locality:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Apologies for the "Break in Transmission"

I've been very pre-occupied with things medical - preparing for a knee replacement in 8 weeks and some urgent dental work and also travelling out west.

Got lots of 'pics' from my travels and will find some time and post these soon.

Cheers all!