In 1837, things changed forever when European settlement in the form of Thomas and Somerville Learmonth arrived in the district. Under the auspices of the Derwent company, they established three squatting runs along Native Hut Creek, each named for the creek and numbered 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Rough maps showing modern roads overlaid with the extent of the various squatting runs indicate that what became the town of Teesdale was located on Native Hut Creek No. 2 run which later became known as the Woolbrook Estate.
|The gate to Woolbrook today|
By 1854, the property was in the hands of a consortium of three squatters but by 1856 John Bell was the sole owner of the freehold. The following year, he built a three-roomed bluestone house on the property for his brother James, who lived there with his family until 1900.
|Woolbrook homestead, early 1900s. Photo held by the State Library of Victoria|
Of course, one of the primary concerns for any new establishment is a water supply and Teesdale was no different in this respect. Initially settlers took water directly from the creek which is fed by a series of natural springs. Water was also taken from a small lagoon just to the west of what is now Turtle Bend. Today, this is a small dam which is currently empty, however at that time, it was more extensive than today, extending across where the road now runs and towards Turtle Bend. It was also fed by an underground spring.
|The currently dry lagoon near Turtle Bend|
Initially, it was envisaged that Teesdale would take its water from a dam built at Black Gully in 1874, located between Teesdale and Inverleigh and would share supply with that town. (It should be noted that the shire engineer for that project was one C.A.C. Wilson of Leigh Grand Junction Bridge fame.) However, significant flooding in 1880 - the largest recorded in the state at that time - damaged the dam wall and it was deemed too expensive to repair. In the meantime, a second dam was being built at Todd's Gully, closer to town. The land had been reserved for the purpose of supplying water in June, 1878 and construction was soon underway.
|Building Chinaman's Lagoon c1878-1879. Image held by the State Library of Victoria|
|Chinaman's Lagoon today|
That same month, it was moved at a council meeting that a trough should be installed at the standpipe, however I am unsure whether this plan came to pass.
|Original well built by Quin Yung beside Chinaman's Lagoon|
Whilst the names of the contractors may have been forgotten over the years, the fact that one was Chinese was not and today the dam is known as Chinaman's Lagoon. Whilst no longer providing Teesdale's water, the lagoon still provides a habitat for native flora and fauna and is accessible to the public via walking tracks in the area.
The dam did however continue to served the population of Teesdale until 1974. At this time, the She Oaks Diversion Weir and the Moorabool Water Treatment Plant were completed - as described in my post Branching out - a diverting lesson, bringing to fruition a project begun two years earlier in 1972, with the completion of the Bungal Dam on the Moorabool River at Lal Lal. During construction of the dam, the Bannockburn and District Waterworks Trust contributed financially to its building and as a result was entitled to a 91Ml share of water annually for the towns of Bannockburn, Inverleigh, Shelford, Teesdale, Lethbridge and Meredith. It is this allocation of water which today flows via the She Oaks Diversion Weir before being piped to Teesdale and the other towns mentioned, providing mains water for the community.
More details of Teesdale's water supply across the years can be found in Dianne Hughes' 2011 publication "From Native Creek to Teesdale: 1837-1900" (ISBN: 9780980715989) as well as "Living By Water: a history of Barwon Water and its predecessors" (Leigh Edmonds, 2005; ISBN: 0959491953).