Bendigo is a city that is ‘built on gold’.
The bedrock on which the city is situated - marine sedimentary
slates, sandstones and mudstones showing only simple life forms
– had its origin some 500 million years ago. Over time these
layered deposits folded, running on a roughly north-south axis.
The strata were injected with gold-bearing quartz veins as the
earth’s crust deformed. The area was elevated by massive
earth movements some 60 million years ago but One Tree Hill –
a local high point – is now only 350m. above sea-level;
the vast amounts of erosion remnants have filled an ancient inland
depression to form the plains stretching north to the Murray River.
The first people of the region were the aboriginal clans of the
Dja Wrung tribe – their hunting grounds extended
over a significant proportion of present Victoria and they were
regarded by other tribes as a superior people, not only because
of their rich hunting grounds, but because the greenstone (diabase)
rock for stone axes was to be found in the area. Never in great
numbers and despite some efforts by government-appointed Protectors,
only remnants of the Dja Dja tribe persisted after the sheepmen’s
Through these tribal lands came the explorer Major Mitchell in
1836 and following him came to squatters to take up the land.
The Ravenswood sheep run to the south of the present city was
to be instrumental in the discovery of the region’s gold
riches though in the intervening decade or so life consisted largely
of simple living in a slab hut on a diet of damper, mutton and
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