GOLD FEVER - ADELAIDE TO THE MOUNT ALEXANDER DIGGINGS
THE BURRA MINE TO THE MOUNT ALEXANDER DIGGINGS
thanks to a LOG BOOK written by Charles Saundry RULE 1826-1907
begun on February 4, 1852.
He travelled by horse & dray with five others - 4 grown people and a boy aged 10,
taking what was called The Overland Route,
from the Burra to Port Phillip Province
and thence to Mount Alexander (Bendigo).
The journey took just over 5 weeks and covered nearly 600 miles.
"In the year of Our Lord 1852
I left the Burra Mine for the Diggings."
to see where they went
Imagine my surprise when I began viewing
the microfilm of the 1852 SA REGISTER newspaper
and found a complete list of directions
to the Goldfields in Victoria.
I am sure C S RULE used this list,
on his trek (as described below).
| February 5th Thursday.
Drove on to a little beyond ..... hut and again fixed our tent beneath the broad canopy of heaven. It was a splendid night and to us peculiarly acceptable from being unaccustomed to this mode of life.
| February 6th Friday.
| Drove to Mr Templers and got a first rate dinner of eggs and bacon fried, which so elated our drooping spirits that we determined to start afresh and in accordance with this determination we drove on to about 5 or 6 miles from our hospitable host, Mr Templer, and encamped in a thick scrub, where our tea and sugar being short we had recourse to a bullock driver, who kindly gave us a part of his stock of tea and sugar and we then had a cake for supper.
| February 7th Saturday.
| Started with the intention of making the Little Para but from some mistake lost that road and came on to Islington about 3 miles from Adelaide, when it being rather late we thought proper to stop for the night. After some time some kind females took compassion on our pitiable conditions and kindly offered to boil a kettle of water for us so that we made a hearty supper after so fatiguing a journey and retired to rest early. There was a little rain during the night.
| February 8th Sunday.
| Got up greatly refreshed and after a shave and brushing up a little, myself and Mr. Dovey walked into Adelaide, as we had not seen it for 3 years. Of course we had a great many new things to see and improvements to admire, so after walking about until we were tired we returned to our camp and took tea. During the evening we were visited by several ladies who by their interesting conversation beguiled the time until our hour for retiring to rest.
| February 9th Monday.
| Got up and packed up our luggage early as we agreed to drive into Adelaide before breakfast. We got there in about an hour's drive and took breakfast at a Public House of bread and beefsteak, coffee and ginger beer. Then after knocking about for the purpose of changing our orders into gold and again exchanging that gold for tea, sugar, cheese, bacon and other necessaries for our intended journey to Port Phillip, we quitted that City about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and passed through Glen Osmond, which I consider to be the sweetest little spot that I have yet seen in the Colony. It is pleasantly situated at the foot or slopes of a range of hills which are clothed to the summit with a thick and almost impenetrable mass of trees of various sorts and foliage. Birds of different forms and colours flit among the trees, among which the Parrots and Cockatoos are the most plentiful, and taken altogether I think Glen Osmond to be such a place as I often picture to myself I would like to sit downs, if even Providence should favour me with wife and competence.
But passing this spot we continued to drive through a most beautiful and picturesque country as is possible to conceive of. At one time you would find yourself winding about the foot of some stupendous hill with its summit towering almost to the skies. At another you would find yourself winding your way over its rugged brow with immense gorges yawning beneath you and all clothed with trees of gigantic size and height. I think such scenes as these well calculated to lead man from Nature up to Nature's God ho made and formed all these magnificent things for the use of man.
We drove on to a place, or Public House, kept by one Modelin and near it encamped 10 miles from Adelaide. It was in a forest and could get no feed for our horses, which had to stop in the road all night.
| February 10 Tuesday.
| Started by daybreak and had a very rough road for the greatest part of the way to Echunga. The road lay through a forest of large timbers and there being a great many of the roots and moss in the ground made it very unpleasant for driving and sometimes went near to overturning out cart. We crossed a fine bridge over the Onkaparinga River today, the water of which is very good. We reached Echunga about one or two o'clock this day and took dinner of bacon and eggs. This seems to be a fine farming district and I doubt not in a few years it will be a fine farming agricultural locality. There are a few settlers scattered over it but not a tenth part sufficient to cultivate so large a tract of country. The water is very good. It's about 24 miles from Adelaide. We started for Macclesfield about 2 or 3 o'clock - made it in 2 or 3 hours. Macclesfield is a fine little village about a nice spring of water, as cool and sweet as ever I ... drank. We encamped about 6 miles from the village and went down to the springs and had a wash. Returned and had tea and to bed.
| February 11th Wednesday.
| Started pretty early and got into Strathalbyn 30 miles from Adelaide 10 o'clock where we took in our stock of flour. This township boasts a nice mill and a nice stream of water. The country is generally speaking level and what I should call a good pastoral and agricultural country. We drove on to Langhorne Creek, where we encamped on a fine flat with plenty of feed, wood and water.
| February 12th Thursday.
| Had rather a heavy road on to the Wellington Ferry 69 miles from Adelaide consisting of long sandhills. This day we had for the first time a view of the Murray River and it was such a sight as every colonist of South Australia should be proud of. It is a splendid river and at the ferry about 800 feet wide, but varies to near a mile in some places. On each side of it there is an immense quantity of reeds growing on which our horses feed with seeming pleasure after the dry feed on the road. There is plenty of ducks and fish, which the blacks will catch for you for a bite of tobacco or white money. we encamped on its bank just close to the crossing place. Sent a letter back to ....
| February 13th Friday.
| Drove on to a lake 12 miles from Wellington into which the Murray disembowels itself and encamped on its borders. It had a sandy beach and we spent the afternoon very comfortable in cooking and getting a wash in the Lake. The waster is fresh and some fine feed on the coast of it. The country still level.
| February 14th Saturday.
| Started without our breakfast thinking to get water on our road but had to drive on over a bad road consisting of some high and long sand banks until we made Sandy Wheatsons Station, where we got some water and cooked our breakfast about 12 o'clock. we then drove on to the Lake Albert but found the water salt and the horses would not drink it. We then had to make a circuit of 6-7 miles around it to get into the direct road where we found a great many encamped by some waterhole dug into the sand which was sweet but rather thick. We encamped here for the night. There were about 50 or 60 blacks here who had a corrobee this night, which kept me awake and made me wish them to the devil. We had some fears of being attached by them tonight as there was more blacks than whites and we are a great many miles - about 100 miles - from any town.
| February 15th Sunday.
| We woke without any disturbances from the natives and it being Sunday we stopped here for the day, during which we had an opportunity of seeing a fight between the Lake Albert tribe and the Grass Flats Blacks. They had two desperate encounters, which lasted about half an hour each. I saw three or four which were speared, one female speared in the breast, one man had a spear through his leg and another through the fleshy part of the thigh and one man in the breast. There was a great deal of howling and hollering with them, but the fight was by no means so desperate as I was led to expect. They acted very fair and took no unfair advantage of each other. I think some of them were wounded bad, as we were disturbed during the night by their howling and groans.
| February 16th Monday.
| Started very early for the purpose of getting through the sandy desert in the cool of the morning. Drove on about 2 or 3 miles when we entered upon the desert so much talked of. The point where we crossed was about 17 miles through, but I am told that further East it is about 90 miles across, but was quite wide enough where we crossed it and as bad a road as ever I had the chance of walking over. We took about 8 hours to perform the journey. The desert consists of an extended plain of sand covered with a low brushwood and a prickly heath. It has some gentle levels, but no high hills that I could see. In some places there were beds of limestone of a harder and more compact kind than I have seen in other parts of the Colony. As for water, there was not a drop to be had any part of it. We got to McGraths Flats about 2 o'clock, where we found some brackish water and finding there was no other to be had, we encamped there. There is a salt lake here, which the natives call the Coorong. I got a refreshing wash in it. Sa plenty of wildfowl and shot some.
| February 17 Tuesday.
| We were awakened about 2 o'clock this morning by a heavy thunderstorm and rather doubtful of the strength of our tent we got up and made it more secure and, as it continued to rain, we kept up until time to start and drove on to Woods Wells, 12 miles distance, where we took dinner, then harnessed up again and came 6 miles further to the encamping place. The road for all this day was very sandy as it crosses arms of the desert in several places. We kept in sight of the Coorong Lake all the day, the road winding about the shores for a great many miles. The country generally speaking was not a very enticing one. The wood was sheoak.
|February 18th Wednesday.
| Had a very heavy road all day. As bad or worse than the desert I think. Still on the Coorong Lake we crossed the Salt Creek today on which there was a sheep station about 130 miles from Adelaide. There is a very fine stream of water in the Creek, which empties itself in the Coorong Lake. At the crossing there is a great quantity of Peterfill shale, making as hard and as compact a rock as ever I saw. I think from what I've been able to gather from my observations on the present state of the country that it was in the not very remote period covered with sea, as in most all the ground that I examined, I found shells of fish and other indications of it being the bed of a sea. We encamped the night at a limestone well 12 miles from the Salt Creek.
| February 19th Thursday.
| Left the Limestone Wells about 8 o'clock and drove on over a pretty good road to the Oak Wells where the water was very brackish. We stopped a few minutes and had some salt water and very hard biscuits for dinner on the strength of which went about 10 or 12 miles further, the greater part of which was across an arm of the desert of as rough a nature as is possible to conceive of. After passing that, we came on a very extensive swamp or marsh, which we had to cross. I think it was about 3 miles wide. It was covered with rushes and very soft. Sometimes our wheels went down to the nave in the mud. There was great numbers of crabfish bleaching in the sun and it appears to me it is covered with water in the winter season and impassable for horses. There is a creek called Owens Creek, which empties its waters over it and helps keep it soft. We encamped tonight on a neck of land formed by the above creek in sight of Tilly's Sheep Station. We got half a sheep for 5/10d. and had a capital supper of it. The water is excellent. We were told it was 182 miles from Adelaide.
| February 20th Friday.
| In crossing the creek this morning we got into the mud, both cart and horses, so we were obliged to take out all our things in order to get out again. There was nothing broken and with the assistance of four bullocks we quickly got our cart up again and in about 20 minutes were on our way again. Our road today lay along the side of the swamp, which I think extended for 15 or 20 miles in length and is dead level after driving about 5 or 6 miles. The marsh is covered with trees and on the left there is a gentle rise covered as far as the eye can reach with a dense scrub. We were told there is a great deal of wild cattle, which it is almost impossible to catch or run down. We spoke to a party today who had lost 3 horses in it and were not able to proceed on their journey in consequence. Their case was one to be pitied, as they were more than 100 miles from any settlement and having women and children with them, were unable to proceed to the diggings without them and all drays passing having enough to do to take themselves on. We encamped tonight in a very pleasant tract of country with plenty of wood, water and good feed, the three principal things to be sort on a camping ground.
| February 21st Saturday.
| Started early this morning for the purpose of getting the cool of the morning as the days are very hot. We are still in level country with plenty of wood and water. After about 10 miles drive we came to Bakers Station, the best situated of any in the Colony, plenty of fine land for cattle with plenty of trees and a fine creek with fresh water in it. We got about 2 miles from this station and took dinner, where we engraved our names in a stringy bark tree to commemorate the event. We came on for the next 8 miles through a flat and dry country until we came to Brown's Sheep Station. There was no feed and so went about 2 1/2 miles to a well and feed, and there encamped for the night with plenty of mosquitoes for companions.
| February 22nd Sunday.
| We gave our horses and selves a spell today, which we all required after so hard a weeks work, having driven 110 miles. It was a very hot day and about dinnertime we found the bush was afire in our rear and if something was not done we should get smothered. So we went, about 6 of us, and by means of bushes pit it out. In a great measure it was a warm work while doing so. There is plenty of wood about here, principally the oak and honeysuckle. The party that lost its horses passed us today.
| February 23rd Monday.
| A very hot day for the horses and men, in consequence of which we did not drive very hard. Passed another of Browns Stations, but it appears to be without life now. The country was flat with plenty of wood. On about 8 miles we came to Mr. Coles Sheep Station, a very comfortable looking place on the site of a hill and good water on it. We stopped here and took dinner, after which we had to cross a sandhill into a marsh, about which we had to drive 6 or 8 miles. We have passed a great many of these marshes. They are generally speaking covered with reeds and rushes, so that at a distance they have the appearance of a green field of grass and some of them covered hundreds of acres of land. Others are smaller. We encamped tonight at a well, the name of I could not learn.
| February 24th Tuesday.
| A very hot day again and also a troublesome one, as the flies and mosquitoes were quite annoying about 10 o'clock. Got to McKinnons Sheep Stations, which were among a group of large gum trees near some fine springs of water. We had a fine country for some few miles, when we came to a swamp, where we took dinner, after which we had to cross some heavy sandhills for 8 or 9 miles in length, with here and there deep lagoons of fresh water, which looks cheering in a desert of sand. Encamped near a swamp.
|February 25th Wednesday.
|Started about 9 o'clock and had a good road through fine country with plenty of wood and water. I think it as good a tract of land as I have yet seen. Got to a Public House kept by McIntosh, where we heard the death of man from Burra who died on his route to the Diggings, at this House. He was called Edward Slater - left a wife and child to lament his loss. Passed two or three Stations again today. We are encamped tonight within 1 or 2 miles of the Border of South Australia.
| February 26th Thursday.
| We started rather late this morning, it being a cold night, we slept rather later than usual. We drove about 2 miles, when we crossed the Border or line of division of Settlements Port Phillip and Adelaide Districts. The country was very level with plenty of timber on it, but rather sandy. We came to one or two sheep stations today, but I could not learn the names of them. We also passed a Public House called The "Border Inn" kept by Samuel Bond. It was a wood building which looked pretty well, being nicely painted. They say we have 210 miles to Mount Alexander. We are encamped tonight by a marsh.
| February 27th Friday.
| Still driving through a splendid country dotted here and there with sheep stations for which the district seems peculiarly adapted, but such is the excitement created by the gold fever that both Masters and Men seem to be leaving these Stations for the Diggings and those who remain are obliged to throw two or three flocks together (sometimes amounting 5 or 6,000 in one flock) from the scarcity of men to mind them. We had to drive a long journey today, as we could not find feed for our horses at a convenient distance. We encamped near sunset on a sandbank, where we were so pestered by the mosquitoes that we had to make a fire to keep them off us. There were plenty of wild dogs in our vicinity tonight, as from their continuous howling we shall get little or no sleep tonight.
| February 28th Saturday.
| Still alive and well, if you can call bad or sore eyes nothing, and as the greater part of our afternoons journey was across sandhills, it did not lend much to their benefit. Bur we must pass on, as Mount Alexander has attrations against which sore eyes are nothing. Towards evening we came to a hill or mountain of rocks, which they tell me is called Mount Arapiles, about 350 miles from Town of Adelaide. I think it is a very appropriate name, as it is almost impossible to conceive of anything more rough and uninviting than the stupendous mass of black and time-worn rocks, which stood before us. I should think some parts of it rear its head to about 600 feet above the surrounding plain. Viewed from a distance it has the appearance of a City Wall or Fortress with its towers and battlements. We had to cross a part of its slopes on our side, which was almost impassable from the many fragments, which time has torn free. After some jolting we got into the plain which was of a Bay of Biscay kind of form. we have often met with this kind of country in our journey. It was composed of little hillocks and hollows - how raised into their present form I leave others to judge. I think the soil is considered good where they exist. We encamped on it by some waterholes we found in a creek. The sun was sunk below the horizon before we encamped.
| February 29th Sunday.
| Encamped all day today for a spell, as our horses are getting thin from their journey. Nothing of importance occurred today. They tell us we are 120 miles from Alexanders through a fine country and well watered.
| March 1st Monday.
| After about 6 miles drive we crossed the Wimmera - a large river in winter but at this time nothing but a few waterholes. It is very hot today. We came through a village today called Horsham. It is pleasantly situated on the Wimmera. It contains about 12 or 14 houses with a Store and Public House. We encamped tonight on the river.
| March 2nd Tuesday.
| Still drive on through a fine country with plenty of timber and good land for agricultural purposes. We drove a long journey today as we could not get to water handy. It was quite dark tonight before we encamped. There were plenty of wild dogs about tonight.
| March 3rd Wednesday.
| I think the country we have been travelling through for this time past is as flat as a table board and covered with plenty of timber of all sorts and sizes. There is plenty of sheep stations in it. We came to another village called Glenorchy. It has a public House and Store but it seems quite deserted, the people having gone to the diggings and they say it's 100 miles to the Mount. We encamped about 6 miles from it tonight after bout 14 miles drive on a kind of river. A horseman came to our camp tonight and asks leave to fire off gun, which having got, he fired at a bird when the barrel burst and severely injured his arm and wrist.
| March 4th Thursday.
| We drove about 14 miles today through a rather bad country for feed but well wooded and flat. We encamped in a bend of the River Wimmera. We came to two or three sheep stations again today. The sheep do not appear so fat as we thought to find them in this district.
| March 5th Friday.
| We came to a Public House today who told us we were about 60 miles from the Diggings. The country begins to have a more hilly aspect than formerly, which diversity pleases the eye rather than a continuous flat world. Our drive today was of a most cheerful description as the scenery around was equal to any Park to be met with in England. There was plenty of large gums and stringybark trees and the spaces between the large ones filled with silver wattles and blackwood trees. The silver wattles I consider the prettiest trees I have yet seen. It would grace any shrubbery. We encamped tonight in a grove of them near a waterhole after about 14 or 20 miles drive.
| March 6th Saturday.
| It was rather dark when we started this morning as our horses are getting rather weak and we must take shorter stages than usual to spell them. We passed McKinnons Head Station today where we got a sheep for 9/- and as fine a one as I would wish to see. The countryside continues to be much the same with gentle swells here and there around the foot of which we wind in our route. We encamped tonight on the banks of a creek close to a deserted sheep station after 16 miles drive.
| March 7th Sunday.
| We took a spell today to rest ourselves and horses, who required it more than the men. I took a stroll this morning to the old station. It was interesting to linger on the ruins of a deserted place and to think that this spot was once the habitation of people, when the sound of voices echoed through the trees, which now only resound with the caw of the crows or the screech of the cockatoos. As I was returning I saw a party trying to get a horse out of a waterhole. I went to their assistance and in about one hour succeeded in getting him out, when he was so stiff with the cold he could not stand. I heard that the deserted station was once the property of Mr Foster, a man well known in the Colony, but now in London.
| March 8th Monday.
| The appearance of the country was not so interesting as it has been more hailly and of a rough and sterile nature. We passed two sheep stations agin today. At the entrance of one there was a billboard that there was corn and hay to be had at the house. Hay 20/- cwt. and oats 15/- bushel. This station was situated in a gully on the banks of a river, the name of which I could not learn, the waters of which were splendid. One of our party lost his bedding off the dray today, but has got no account of it after this time. We encamped tonight by a creek. We met several parties returning from the diggings today, some on horses and others in spring carts. The whole of them speak well of them, so our expectations are rather sanguine.
| March 9th Tuesday.
| We were told this morning that there was party encamping on this creek who were making a search for gold and had found a small quantity of that metal. Out route today lay through a rougher country than any we have yet seen. It consists of a kind of hard sandstone perforated with holes as if throughout by some eruptions. There is plenty of timber which clothes the hills to the summit. The water is also excellent and in great abundance either in creeks or waterholes. We encamped tonight on a creek near a station in a flat surrounded by hills. They say we are some 20 miles from the diggings.
| March 10th Wednesday.
| We started pretty early this morning to get as near the diggings as possible, so that some of the party might go on to spy out the land early in the morning. It was rather a bare land that we drove over for the last 10 or 12 miles, but it got better as we got to the greatly famed River Loddon, where there was plenty of water and feed. We are encamped on it tonight about 8 miles from the diggings. We have a great many reports respecting the diggings but we hope tomorrow to know for ourselves.
| March 11th Tuesday.
| Started early with two of my mates for the diggings to check our the best places to encamp on. After two hours of walking we had our eyes greeted with a first sight of the tents of the gold diggers. It was a novel spectacle to us to see so many people living in tents. It puts one in mind of the ancient times spoken of by the writers of the Scriptures, when the patriarchs lived in tents and went from one country to another as the pasture gets scarce in one of them. We walked for about 3 miles through the diggings to see for ourselves whether these things were so or not, that we heard of in the other County. I was rather disappointed in my previous expectations of the diggings, as I always thought that a man was sure to get something out of every hole he sank, but I found out my mistake as I met with a great many parties who had sunk as many as 12 or 20 and got nothing. There were many I saw and spoke with who wished themselves at the devil rather than at the diggings. After walking some time and hearing a great many accounts pro and con, we returned to meet our cart and point out a place to encamp on. We met them about 3 o'clock and pitched our tent near the commissioners on a ..... and thus ended our overland route of nearly 600 miles, which we accomplished in the space of 5 weeks and one day from the Burra Min. It was on the whole very comfortable and pleasant and gave us a fine view of the country throughout.
MAP OF GOLDFIELDS in Victoria
written by John Sherer and published by Penguin (in one of their Colonial Facsimilies).
"On February 11, 1852 Mr Alexander Tolmin, Commissioner of Police, was accompanied by two constables,
an intelligent native and five horses." (his name was actually TOLMER)
In 1851 Alexander Henry Dunning TOLMER (1816-1890), then Commissioner of Police, approached the South Australia Government with a plan - that an escort of mounted troopers accompany the Police cart to the Mount Alexander gold fields in Victoria to collect parcels of gold dust and transport them to Adelaide. Mr Tolmer's proposed route (the shortest ever taken from South Australia to the Victorian gold fields) was accepted and the Gold Escorts were organised. The first escort which he led personally, left Adelaide in February 1852.
It returned five weeks later with over three hundred parcels of gold dust worth more than eighteen thousand pounds.