Page:The History of Ballarat.djvu/12

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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

This little History, in eight chapters, only touches a few of the more prominent incidents connects with pastoral settlement and the gold discovery in the Ballarat district The compiler has seen the growth of the town from a mere collection of canvas tents among the trees and on the grassy slopes and flats of the wild bush to its present condition. Less than 20 years ago there was not a house where now stands this wealthy mine and farm-girdled city, whose population is nearly equal to the united populations of Oxford and Cambridge, and exceeding by several thousands the united populations of the cities of Winchester, Canterbury, Salisbury, and Lichfield at the time of the gold discovery. This is one of the truths which are magnificently stranger than fiction.

Some of the first workers in this mighty creation are still here. Of the pastoral pioneers there are still with us the Messrs. Learmonth, Pettett, Waldie, Winter, Fisken, Coghill, and Bacchus; and the Rev. Thomas Hastie is still living at the Manse at Buninyong.

Down the valley of the Leigh, where the Sebastopol streets and fences run over the eastern escarpment of the table land, may still be seen the sandstone foundations of a station begun by the Messrs. Yuille, whom the coming of the first hosts of gold-hunters scared away from a place no longer fit, in their opinion, for pastoral occupation. Those unfinished walls are in a paddock overlooking a little carse of some four or five acres by the creek side, owned by an Italian farmer, and close to the junction of the Woolshed Creek with the main stream in the valley. On the other side of the larger stream rise basaltic mounds, marked with the pits and banks of the earlier miners. Like the trenches of an old battle-field, these works of the digging armies of the past are now grass-grown and spotted with wild flowers. All around, the open lands of fifteen years ago are turned into streets and fields and gardens. A little way lower down the valley, where the ground