Bushranger­s, lost gold, camp ovens

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

The in­au­gu­ral Mad Dog Morgan Lost Gold Festival will co­in­cide with a Camp Oven Chal­lenge at Pine Plains Lodge to create an ‘un­for­get­table’ June long week­end in Patchewol­lock.

The festival, on June 9, will start with a 26-kilo­me­tre walk through Wyper­feld Na­tional Park, fol­low­ing the route ‘Mad Dog Morgan’ took while hiding out from the law in 1862.

Mad Dog Morgan was a bushranger who put fear into both po­lice and squat­ters due to his wild mood swings and ha­tred of author­ity.

His pen­chant for vi­o­lence and bushrang­ing caught up with him and he was sen­tenced to 12 years’ jail. He was sur­pris­ingly re­leased early in 1859 for good be­hav­iour.

When re­leased his fail­ure to make his for­tune in gold fos­sick­ing led him back into crime as a bushranger.

Af­ter rob­bing a Cobb and Co coach near Dim­boola that was tak­ing gold from Bal­larat to Ade­laide, he de­cided to lay low in the area sur­round­ing Lake Hind­marsh and Lake Al­ba­cutya due to the abun­dant food source and lack of traps.

On the east shores of Lake Al­ba­cutya nes­tled Al­ba­cutya Sta­tion, run by the O’sul­li­van fam­ily. It was here Mad Dog over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion about the iso­lated Pine Plains sta­tion.

Mad Dog must have liked what he heard and de­cided this was the perfect hide­away, so af­ter de­mand­ing Mrs O’sul­li­van cook him a hearty break­fast of ba­con and eggs, he promptly stole six fresh horses and seven chooks, loaded the gold onto the horses and headed up Out­let Creek to camp at Pine Plains for two months un­til the heat was gone.

The sta­tion’s build­ings, in­clud­ing the kitchen where Mad Dog ate break­fast, are on dis­play at a Jeparit mu­seum.

The young O’sul­li­van fam­ily members can re­mem­ber be­ing shown his camp­site in the 300acre bu­loke swamp at Pine Plains, where bot­tles from the era were found. They have not been able to lo­cate the ex­act area since and the large amount of gold he was car­ry­ing in his sad­dle bags has never been re­cov­ered. It is as­sumed it is still where he hid it at Pine Plains.

Festival co­or­di­na­tor Michael Robert­son said the walk was not to com­mem­o­rate the sadis­tic mur­derer that Mad Dog was, but to ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of the Out­let Creek trail and maybe find the miss­ing gold.

The walk and festival will also be used as a ve­hi­cle to pro­mote men­tal health in iso­lated ru­ral ar­eas.

The Mad Dog Morgan Lost Gold Festival kicks off at Patchewol­lock Pub from 6pm, with a bushranger-themed evening in­clud­ing live mu­sic and prizes for com­pe­ti­tions in­clud­ing the best Mad Dog look-alike.

The tra­di­tional Camp Oven Chal­lenge at Pine Plains Lodge will fol­low on Sun­day.

Regis­tra­tion is at 9am with a va­ri­ety of activities through­out the day.

For more in­for­ma­tion peo­ple can call Bryce at the Patchewol­lock Pub, Tr­ish at the Eureka Ho­tel in Rain­bow or visit the Mad Dog Morgan Lost Gold Festival Face­book page.

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