The road in question lay to the east of the Geelong to Buninyong Track, following a similar line to today's Steiglitz Road. After cresting Bell Post Hill, the route led towards Batesford, but instead of following the main road down into the Moorabool Valley, those wishing to take the other road to the east, took the track towards Steiglitz. Other than the above advertisement however, there is little mention of the route before October, 1855 when Steiglitz became a significant destination of its own. According to the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer of 16th October, 1855:
The shortest road from Geelong [to the new goldfield at Steiglitz] is to pass Colonel Kelsall's Station, cross Sutherland's Creek, follow the well defined dray road to the left of the creek till you come to the old shepherd's hut, when you are within two and a half miles from the diggings, which are situated on a point or tongue of land between Sutherland's Creek and a tributary creek flowing from the Anakies.Sounds simple enough, but who were the Colonel and the shepherd?
The colonel was Roger Kelsall, engineer, sailor and then squatter who, according to fellow squatter Thomas Manifold, arrived in the district in the spring of 1836 and took up land on the upper parts of Sutherland's Creek. Prior to his arrival, Kelsall served as Clerk of Works at Port Arthur and was responsible for the design and construction of several of the buildings there. It was not however, until 1845 that he sold his commission with the Royal Navy and retired to Victoria. During this time I believe his run on Sutherland's Creek was maintained for him by a manager named Sharp.
|The grave of Colonel Roger Kelsall, his wife Ann and son Roger|
at the Eastern Cemetery
Contrary to the above description of the route, a look at the survey maps shows that the diggers would first have crossed first through the Hope's 'Darriwill' property before crossing the creek onto Colonel Kelsall's 'Strathey' and joining the bullock track. The creek crossing was presumably near the site of today's Hope's Bridge on the Steiglitz Rd. Clearly, the current bridge is not the original, that bridge stood slightly upstream of the modern one. The concrete and bluestone buttresses of the old bridge and various related timbers can still be seen just north of the existing bridge.
|Looking upstream at the abutments and some remaining timber and concrete|
at the site of the original Hope's Bridge
|Looking east across Sutherland's Creek and the original Hope's Bridge|
Another description of the trip to the new goldfield at Steiglitz which appeared a few months later in the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, 28th January, 1856, was perhaps not quite so flattering, but provided a little more detail about the route:
"the road from Geelong to Steiglitz leads, for the first ten miles, through an open and slightly undulating country, the aspect of which is, of course, monotonius(sic) enough. Passing this space you arrive at Sutherland's Creek, now a chain of waterholes not particularly limpid. Next comes a tract of thinly timbered land, terminating in an open piece of rising ground known as the Bald Hill. Beyond this point and within eight miles of the "diggings," you pass in a close succession three refreshment tents, recently pitched, and a weatherboard establishment of a similar character not yet completed. A mile or two further on you find yourself suddenly in the gold country. The rapidity of the transition here is very remarkable. The easy undulations of the soil which prevail in the early portions of the journey give place at once to short and abrupt hillocks, pretty well timbered, and sprinkled over with great quantities of grass...Being summer, it seems that there was little water in the creek. I can find no other mention of the "Bald Hill", however from context would expect it to be somewhere near what would (by 1856) become the township of Maude. At this point it is also worth remembering the "Buninyong Road from Melbourne" - described in my post "All Roads Lead to the Green Tent" - which intersected the Geelong to Buninyong Track at the Green Tent. This east-west track dating back to the 1840s, also crossed the track to Steiglitz, probably at Thompson Rd, Maude, as evidenced by an 1857 survey map which marks this road as "towards Melbourne". For those not wanting to make the steep climb in and out of the Moorabool Valley at this point, the Steiglitz route provided an alternative for those travelling from Melbourne.
From November, 1855 however, Steiglitz itself became a destination with the discovery of extensive gold reefs, making the track from Geelong even more popular.
|Remaining brickwork footings of the United Albion Mine, Steiglitz|
As far as I am aware, prior to the rush to Steiglitz there was no public house between Batesford and these new diggings.
Within a very short time however, that changed. In addition to the "coffee tents", an array of traders scrambled to set up shop in Steiglitz. According to the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, by the first week of January, 1856, tents and stores were popping up by the dozen. As well as the essential butchers, bakers and general stores, hotels were quickly established. Upcoming applications for new liquor licenses advertised in February, 1856 included five for Steiglitz and a further two for Sutherland's Creek, all no doubt capitalising on on the traffic heading up the dray track to the goldfield.
Once past the "coffee tents" as noted, the terrain changed and became more rugged, signalling the presence of auriferous ground. From the turn off to Melbourne, the track fell away, down to a second crossing of Sutherland's Creek, this time at Five Mile Bridge and it was here, several newspaper accounts indicated, that the "one-armed shepherd's hut" could be found. Various reports shared around the colony, stated that a gold reef had been struck near the one-armed shepherd's hut, after crossing Sutherland's Creek, about 20 miles from Geelong.
|The bed of Sutherland's Creek. During the 1850s numerous gold mines|
operated along the banks of the creek
Once past the shepherd's hut, it was only a matter of a few more miles to Steiglitz, if that was the digger's intended destination; and for many, from October, 1855 it was. By December that year, a coach was running from Geelong to Steiglitz, carrying those who could afford it. In fact, within a short space of time, Steiglitz became a staging post for the coaches running to and from Geelong and the goldfields.
|The view down Regent St towards the site of Cobb & Co.'s|
staging post (left), April, 2010
That need was filled in April 1853, when Richard Coombs announced that he had purchased the mansion until recently owned by Charles Von Stieglitz and converted it for use as an hotel...