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Bendigo History

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Last Update
19th of November 2017


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 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 occupation.

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 tea.

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