Beechworth is a well-preserved historical town located in the north-east of Victoria, Australia, famous for its major growth during the gold rush days of the mid-1850s.
Beechworth’s many historical buildings are well preserved and the town has re-invented itself and evolved into a popular tourist destination and growing wine-producing centre.
Beechworth was gold. In its golden heyday from 1852-1857, this was a fabulous gold region and centre of government; but its power, wealth and influence were short lived. At its wildest moments of gold discoveries, Woods related how an early party of prospectors retrieved a pan of gold weighing 14 lb (about 7kg).(p. 10.) Another lucky party, said Woods, cleared some 50lb (approx. 25 kg) of gold in a week.(p. 16.) And so began a rush into this remote region. During the first election campaign in 1855, one candidate, Daniel Cameron, rode horse was shod with solid gold horseshoes. The extravagance of this event is still commemorated as the logo for Beechworth is a golden horseshoe.
At the time, Beechworth was far removed from the centre of colonial administration in Melbourne both in distance and time taken to travel. The railway arrived in September 1876, but by that stage the town and its gold production was waning.
Nevertheless, Beechworth town boasted a range of industries including, a tannery, jewellers, boot makers, a brewery, blacksmiths, livestock sale yards. It had schools, a convent, hotels, a prison with imposing stone walls, a hospital, a mental hospital, court house, police barracks, stage coach companies and a powder magazine.
In its golden days, men and women arrived from, the USA, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and China. At its peak, Beechworth town had some 3,100 residents. The Chinese were not allowed live in Beechworth town and resided on the outskirts. Numerous controls and enforced regulations and licence checks existed against these miners.(see: Woods; also McWaters; also O’Brien; and Cronin). Beechworth Cemetery has a large preserved section of early Chinese miners/pioneers. The presence of the Chinese goldminers around Beechworth and throughout northeastern region created social unrest and these are recorded in a variety of the book references below.