Track information

The Tarnagulla ride is an extension of the Waanyarra or Laanecoorie ride, or can be started after riding from Dunolly on the sealed Dunolly Tarngulla Road. Look out for the track sign indicating left at Weed Track as indicated on the cycle track map.. This ride is reasonably easy with good track surfaces and gentle undulations. Tarnagulla is a pretty town and well worth exploring, but carry food etc with you because there are few shops left here. The ride along Laurie Track takes you along side the Green Range and through the Waanyarra Conservation Reserve a wonderful area for wildflowers in spring. The track takes you to the Old Lead Reservoir where the sealed road takes you south, back to Dunolly


Additional notes by Margaret Van Veen

Originally named Sandy Creek, due to gold being first discovered in the creek sand, Tarnagulla soon had an estimated 5000 miners along a 5km stretch. As with many other places the town was not actually established until the Poverty Reef was discovered in 1853-54. It was reported that by 1865, an area of 92 square metres had yielded 2.5 million dollars. The town now had a population of 20,000 and boasted banks, breweries, hotels, tobacconists, chemists, a theatre and churches, with the school opening in the 1870's. Still today Tarnagulla boasts many of its original landmarks like the majestic Victoria Theatre and Hotel (c-1861), the Courthouse (c-1863), Churches, Poppet Head at the Poverty Mine (c-1860) and the Football Grandstand (c-1872).

The madness of gold.
The deceitfulness of the goldrush was evident the day a local digger named Watson found a 1.4 kilo nugget. Not only did he not inform his mining partner- a huge Negro named Ruby, but then set about celebrating and sleeping with Ruby's woman. Watson soon found himself hit on the head with a lump of quartz and thrown down a mining shaft, Ruby was hung at the Melbourne gaol for his deed.

On another occasion during the Petty Sessions at the Sandy Creek Court, the Warden delivered judgement on a disputed claim. As soon as he announced the land belonged to neither quarrelling party, everyone in the court, including council and clerks, jumped up and ran the mile to get their pegs in first, leaving the Warden in an empty courtroom.

Early settlers soon found it was more profitable to grow wheat and sheep, once the gold bonanza was over. The flourmill started in 1882 and by 1901 up to 60,000 bags of wheat were being handled weekly. It was a common sight during the wheat season to see the street lined with wagons.

Flora and fauna.
Indicated on the Cycle Track map is the Waanyarra Nature Conservation Reserve. Here you have a wonderful opportunity to see many of the wildflowers, shrubs and trees that make the Box-Ironbark forests so unique. The views on Laurie Track looking across the farmland, surrounded by bush, with the ranges as a backdrop, are some of the loveliest views in the district.

The Chinese at Sandy Creek.
Throughout the goldfields there was great animosity towards the Chinese. They were arriving in droves, generally working the areas already mined by the Europeans and kept to themselves. The Goldfields had people from more than half the countries of the world, including Greeks, Italians, Dutch, Indian, Swiss, Canadian, French and Afghans to name but a few. All the nationalities cohabitated well, except with the Chinese. The State Government was suspicious of the Chinese claims that women could not come as their duty was to care for elderly relatives. The Government also did not like the fact that the Chinese took their gold back home and refused to buy land and settle in Australia. To stem the influx, the Government charged the Chinese a 10 pound tax to enter the country. In Sandy Creek the welcome for the Chinese was even less friendly, with pitched battles using picks and shovels reported throughout the 1950's. In September, 1857, 250 miners signed a petition to have the Chinese removed, claiming they were spoiling the towns clean water supply needed for drinking and washing. This resulted in most of the Chinese moving to Burnt Creek, with the few left behind sinking into alcohol abuse and suicide. In March 1902 the State Government passed a bill outlawing any Chinese from working in gold or silver mining.

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