Eaglehawk’s story commenced on April 17, 1852, when two men in search of an errant horse discovered a nugget of gold. The discovery of gold at “the Rocks” near Golden Square in 1851 had been the prelude to the substantial finds in and around Eaglehawk & the surrounding Whipstick Forest. On April 7, 1852 Joseph Cook, of South Yarra, camped near Iron Bark, and several days later he and his party lost their horses in dense forest towards the area we now know as California Gully. To assist them to return after their quest, trees were marked all along the route. While searching the gullies one member of the party picked up a nugget, and in a few hours had found nine ounces of gold. It is believed that Joseph Cook and his party stayed on for another six weeks and left with half a hundredweight of gold.
Eaglehawk and Sailors Gully soon became one of Victoria’s richest gold-producing centers.
Eaglehawk mines were extremely rich but no longer do we hear the clank of a shovel or a pick being driven into the parched earth by a fossicker hoping to find that elusive piece of gold, nor do we hear the blast of a whistle calling the miners to work or to finish a shift. At sunset there is no gun fired at the Commissioners Camp to cease work.
Gone are the days when housing conditions on the diggings were primitive rows of tents made of calico or canvas, with slab huts, a few with chimneys, scattered amongst them. There are no more smoking chimneys or moving wheels on the poppet heads, and long gone also are the days when the only mode of transport was to walk or ride a horse then later a bicycle.
Gone are the days of “shankses ponies” and horse drawn carts and drays. The trams have also long gone from Eaglehawk. Technology has taken over; we now live in a world of electronics, a more harried existence – “the modern world”.
Eaglehawk is a survival town, although in the past it was described as a town for poor families as so many of the menfolk succumbed to Miners Phitithis, disease and injuries leaving their womenfolk and children to survive without a bread winner . Those of us who live in the former 'Borough' know the 'richness' of the Eaglehawk community. It has a uniqueness that is different from other towns no one remains a newcomer for long before becoming embraced by the richness of mateship and a willingness to have a go.
There were numerous stores in Eaglehawk, catering for the needs of the diggers but many were of a temporary nature. In February 1852 Mr. John Francis established a store at Golden Gully when Sandhurst was still unknown. In the following year of 1853, Mr. Richard Francis, a brother opened a branch store in Eaglehawk which was of a tent style, typical of the era. This was one of the earliest business houses in the area.
Many of Eaglehawk’s institutions are also rich in background and tradition. The Eaglehawk Fire Brigade and Eaglehawk Citizen’s Brass Band are well known and respected Australia wide. There are many fine churches throughout our town and we are proud of our educational facilities.
Our Health Services are excellent and sporting interests are well catered for. Shopping, banking and cafés are at the fore and the friendly service in the business district is much appreciated.
Eaglehawk was declared a Municipality on July 29, 1862 and a Borough in 1863. Eaglehawk was self governed until local government restructure which took effect on April 6, 1994. On that date Eaglehawk was amalgamated with it's neighbouring councils to form the City of Greater Bendigo. Despite this change in Local Government, Eaglehawk is still affectionately known as “The Borough”.
Many notable people were born at Eaglehawk including the famous Mulga Bill.
The Eaglehawk Heritage Society has hundreds of photos of Eaglehawk across the ages and a substantial amount of research material on both people & places. We are happy to provide our services for photo reprints and family and building research. Please contact via the form on the panel to the right...