Sink­ing feel­ing for dredge

Coun­cil waits for ad­vice from Her­itage Vic­to­ria on what to do with gold relic

Myrtleford Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD WOR­RALL bwor­rall@ ne­me­

HIS­TO­RI­ANS fear a vi­tal piece of Myrtle­ford’s past is about to be buried – again.

Early last month con­trac­tors work­ing at Sandy Beach on the Ovens River, part of a cam­paign to beau­tify the area, un­cov­ered a bucket lad­der from the gold dredge that worked the river at the start of the last cen­tury.

The 10m long rusted “arm” was duly re­moved and now sits in the Alpine Shire Coun­cil de­pot on the Great Alpine Road at Myrtle­ford.

Myrtle­ford His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent John Tay­lor said it was a link to a past that is yet to be ac­knowl­edged.

“There has al­ways been a ques­tion over the ex­tent of gold dredg­ing in this area,” he said.

“But in 1998 the dredge was un­cov­ered af­ter be­ing buried al­most 90 years ear­lier.

“It was owned by the Ovens Junc­tion Bucket Dredg­ing Co., 1907—1912 and it sank, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses and re­ports at the time, ‘when it struck a solid rock bar just above Nimmo Bridge’.

“The dredge had trav­elled up the river from the junc­tion with the Buf­falo River and been partly dis­man­tled to fit un­der the bridge be­fore hit­ting the rocks.

“It was buried right there, the chim­ney and boiler taken away at some stage to be used at the but­ter fac­tory.”

Alpine Shire Coun­cil’s as­sets di­rec­tor Char­lie Bird said they were await­ing ad­vice from Her­itage Vic­to­ria be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sions.

“Coun­cil en­gaged an ex­ter­nal con­trac­tor to carry out im­prove­ment works at Nimmo Bridge as part of the Stronger Com­mu­ni­ties Pro­ject,” he said.

“Dur­ing th­ese works, which com­menced in Jan­uary, the con­trac­tors in­ad­ver­tently un­earthed an his­toric dredge arm.

“The dredge arm was re­moved from the site as it posed a po­ten­tial dan­ger to mem­bers of the pub­lic and is now be­ing stored at a coun­cil site.

“Given the his­toric im­por- tance of this equip­ment to the Alpine Shire, we im­me­di­ately con­tacted Her­itage Vic­to­ria and in­formed them of this dis­cov­ery.”

A dredge bucket, re­cov­ered in 1998, re­mains at the pop­u­lar water­hole, catch­ing leaves.

Mr Tay­lor be­lieves the lat­est dis­cov­ery opens up an op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther pro­mote Myrtle­ford’s his­tory.

“This is a chance to ac­knowl­edge the role of dredg­ing in this part of the Ovens River,” he said. “It is a chance to think about how th­ese pieces can best show­case that his­tory.

“We cer­tainly don’t want to see it sit in the coun­cil de­pot and be scrapped for­ever.”

PHOTO: Brad Wor­rall

HIGH AND DRY: The dredge arm un­earthed at Sandy Beach now sits in a stor­age yard in Myrtle­ford.

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