Maryborough (including Timor and Bet Bet)
Small city which started life as a goldmining
Once a goldmining town, Maryborough has, over
the years, become a small city of some 8000
people and a major industrial centre. It is
located 166 km north-west of Melbourne via the
Calder and Pyrenees Highways and 254 metres
Artefacts found in the area testify to the
ancient occupation of this land by the
Jajowurrong people. The first Europeans were the
Simson brothers who set up a sheep station in
1840. It was known as 'Charlotte Plains' after
one of the Simson wives and this was initially
the name by which the district was known to
whites. The first settlement on the run was
Prospectors arrived in the area amidst the
gold fever of 1851 (the first gold in Victoria
was allegedly found 13 km south-west at Amherst)
and a rush occurred near the future townsite in
1854 with the discovery of payable gold at White
Hill, about 4 km north of present-day
Maryborough. Other major finds followed and
there were soon somewhere between 25 000 and 50
000 diggers on the local fields. At first there
were plenty of nuggets which encouraged shallow
A survey took place in 1854 and a police
camp, Methodist church and canvas hospital were
set up. The settlement was initially known as 'Simson's'
but it was soon renamed Maryborough by gold
commissioner James Daly after his birthplace in
Ireland. The Maryborough Advertiser, one of the
state's oldest newspapers, was also established
In 1855 the so-called Tipperary Riots took
place between Irish prospectors and other
groups, leading to the formation of the
Maryborough Mutual Protection Society. That same
year the good fortune peaked with the discovery
of a nugget weighing 32 kg.
By 1856, when land sales commenced, High
Street had emerged as a business thoroughfare
and Maryborough had become the commercial and
administrative centre of the goldfields (it was
probably chosen over Carisbrook because of
opposition from local squatters).
Maryborough became a borough in 1857 and reef
mining began in the late 1850s. The railway
arrived in 1874 and it became a municipality in
The last gold mine closed in 1918 but
Maryborough developed a strong manufacturing
base in the 1920s with the opening of the
Maryborough Knitting Mills (1924), a printery
and some engineering enterprises. It became a
city in 1961 and today it is one of the
country's most industrialised regional centres.
The Highland Gathering has been held on New
Year's Day since 1857. The Agricultural Show is
held in in March., the RACV Energy Breakthrough
(an energy expo with machine races) in November,
and the Australasian Goldpanning Championships
in late October or early November. Maryborough
will host the World Goldpanning Championships in
the year 2001. The Golden Wattle Festival (late
September) and Grape & Garden Festival in
November are yet to be confirmed.
Things to see:
The Central Goldfields Visitor Information
Centre is located at the corner of Alma and
Nolan Sts. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to
5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5460 4511. It can furnish
material relating to outlying towns, a driving
tour of Maryborough, bushwalking and bike riding
in the local forests, and some very detailed
information outlining driving tours around the
district which take in its many historic sites
and relics, such as the old minesites, mullock
heaps and shafts.
When Mark Twain visited Maryborough in the 1890s
he described it as 'a railway station with a
town attached'. It sounds like a rude remark but
the Maryborough Railway Station is a wonder
tobehold. It is huge and gracious: a vast
25-room edifice which is surely Maryborough's
finest building. Erected in 1890, it is a
red-brick structure with plenty of stucco
trimming for contrast. Highlights include the
ornate clock tower, Flemish gables, massive
portico, marble dressing tables in the women's
toilets, some attractive wrought-iron work on
the verandah, oak wall panels and one of the
longest platforms in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are 14 tracks, although the railway line
is now sadly defunkt.
The station is located at the end of Station
St, which runs off Burns St. It now houses the
Antique Emporium, Twains' Woodwork Gallery and
woodturning group and, on Sundays, there is a
family history research facility available.
Around the corner, in Burns St, is the TAFE
college which was built in 1890 as the School of
Midlands Historical Society Museum is located in
a bluestone building in Palmerston St known as
Worsley Cottage (1894 with pre-1908 extensions).
There are photographs and memorabilia relating
to the local area. It is open Sundays from 2.00
p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
To its rear is an old slab squatter's hut
from Plaistow which was the home of the Joyce
family - the first white squatters of the
On the other side of the road is the primary
school which is based in the old Wesleyan Sunday
School Hall (1874).
Walk along to Inkerman St and turn right.
Between the primary school and Clarendon St, on
the western side of the road, is one of the
oldest buildings in town - the former Methodist
Church (1854), not currently open to the public.
Turn left into Clarendon St. On the far side of
Havelock St is the town's civic centre located
on the site of the original government camp in
the area. In the European style the Italianate
buildings face a small square, known as
MacLandress Square. The imposing Victorian post
office was built in 1877 as a post office,
courthouse and sub-treasury. The present town
hall was built in 1887 and the present
courthouse in 1892-93.
Central Goldfields Arts Gallery
Opposite the square, in Neill St, is the old
fire station (1861) which now contains the
Central Goldfields Regional Arts Complex. An
exceptional boom-style belltower was added in
1888 with a bell from the homestead of the
Simsons, the first pastoralists in the district.
It is registered with the National Trust and now
graces the entrance to the present fire station
at the eastern end of Napier St.
Other Historic Buildings
Head north along Neill St. To the right is the
former mining board office. It was built of
local stone c.1857 to serve as the town's
courthouse but proved too small for that
purpose. At Neill and Palmerston is St Andrew's
Uniting Church, built in 1860 to a Gothic
design. Turn right into Palmerston then right
again into Nightingale St. To the left is the
bluestone Gothic Anglican church (1860).
Stately House, formerly the State Bank
(1882), is at 106-108 High St (the western end).
There are also historic residences in Park Rd,
Argyle Rd, Nolan St, High St, Clarendon St and
The Central Victorian Arts and Craft Centre is
open seven days. The Possum Gully Road Studio
Art Gallery features paintings, sketches,
lithographs and etchings by local artists. It is
open weekends and public holidays or by
appointment and is located off the Pyrenees
Highway between Maryborough and Avoca. Watch for
the sign on the southern side of the highway
about 1 km west of the railway line, as you
leave Maryborough, tel: (03) 5461 1775.
Maryborough Flour Mill Gallery
Located at The Old Maryborough Flour Mill, cnr
of Inkerman & Albert Streets, it is open
Wednesday to Sunday 11.00am - 5.00pm or by
appointment. Browse through the 120 year old
flour mill and inspect the superb collection of
handcrafted furniture, fine arts and distinctive
gifts. Enquiries regarding visits to the gallery
and bus tours or to exhibit please phone (03)
5460 5400 Email: email@example.com
Pioneer Memorial Lookout Tower
The Pioneer Memorial Tower (1933) was a Great
Depression-era works project built largely of
material from the old gaol. It is situated at
the edge of the Bristol Hill Reserve, adjacent
Miners Drive and offers great views of the town.
Bristol Hill (905 m above sea-level) is based
upon and named after Bristol Reef which was
mined for gold from the late 1850s. There are
old tailings to the west of the tower.
Lake Victoria is bordered by a recreation
reserve, a caravan park and camping area, an
adventure playground, picnic-barbecue facilities
and a sports complex. It is bordered by Park Rd,
Holyrood St, Burns St and Earl St. Adjacent is
Princes Park which features a timber rotunda
built in 1904 for the town's golden jubilee.
Phillips Gardens, bordered by Napier, Inkerman
and Alma Sts, features some beautiful trees and
picnic areas. It is intended to surround a lake
which was originally a dam for the supply of
water for goldmining. However, owing to drought,
the lake is currently empty. The botanic gardens
got under way in the 1870s. One of the few
original plantings is a rare Australian red
cedar. There are extensive walkways.
To the south of town are four rock wells dug
into sandstone by the Jajowurrong people prior
to European settlement. Head out of town on
Derby Rd (towards Ballarat), turn left into Lean
St, cross over the railway line, turn right into
Stoneham Drive, left into Wells Rd and, after 2
km, take the signposted left and the wells are
200 metres away.
The Goldfields Reservoir, on the Ballarat Rd,
was built in 1862. A former water supply for the
town, it is now used for boating and fishing.
There is a picnic area amidst stands of
Paddys Ranges State Park and Maryborough
Paddys Ranges State Park (1675 ha) and
Maryborough Regional Park (270 ha) consist
largely of grey box, yellow gum and red ironbark
woodlands. Some goldmining relics remain, such
as the water race which extends from Goldfields
Reservoir in Maryborough itself.
The park is bordered to the east by the
Maryborough-Ballarat Rd and to the west by the
Old Avoca Rd and Possum Gully Rd. Graded roads
head off these major arteries into the park.
Wildflowers (over 230 species) bloom profusely
in spring, especially along Settling Ponds
Track, Whipstick Track and Possum Gully Track.
The park also contains 140 native bird species
(some rare) and native animals.
There is a picnic area which is clearly
signposted off the Maryborough-Ballarat Rd. It
has an information board outlining the park's
features, history and possible activities and
walking tracks which leads through vegetation
communities, cultural areas and scenic spots.
There is a bush camping area with basic
facilities on Karri Track (which runs off the
Old Avoca Rd) at the western edge of the park. A
loop track starts here and links up with the
picnic area. For more information ring (03) 5461
Tipperary Hill Estate
Tipperary Hill Estate, established in 1986, is
located on the Alma-Bowenvale Rd at Alma, 5.5 km
north-west of the Maryborough post office via
the Natte-Yallock Rd. It produces cabernet
sauvignon, a cabernet franc/merlot blend,
shiraz, pinot noir and the ocasional pinot
shiraz. The estate offers al fresco lunches and
an a la carte restaurant and it is open from
10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on weekends or by
appointment, tel: (03) 5461 3312.
Timor and Bet Bet
Timor (8 km north-north-west) is an old
goldmining township which features a number of
historic relics, such as the granite arch to the
pumphouse of the Grand Duke Mine which operated
from 1869-1896. The shafts extended 6 km
underground. The Miners Right Store (1852) is
one of the state's oldest shops which is still
in operation. Behind it is a prefabricated gaol
dating from around 1890. The primary school was
opened in 1863 and the cemetery is of interest.
The mine shafts created by Chinese diggers
can be found in this area. Unlike the
rectangular holes created by European miners,
the Chinese dug round shafts as they believed
malevolent spirits were capable of concealing
themselves in corners.
North of Maryborough, on the road to Dunolly,
is the ghost town of Bet Bet which contains a
tumble-down old church, a couple of homesteads,
the railway line and a recreation reserve.