Bendigo's history lost on Black Saturday

Among many devastating impacts of Black Saturday, Bendigo lost valuable remnants of its history when fire tore through the regional city ten years ago.

Of the total 58 Bendigo homes razed, many were miners’ cottages along Happy Valley Road, adjacent to the quartz-rich mining area of Victoria Hill.

In an effort to reconstruct community life along that road during the 1870s, La Trobe University is presenting a public lecture at the Bendigo Library on 7 February, the ten year anniversary of Black Saturday.

Honorary Associate at La Trobe University, Dr Charles Fahey, said the loss of tangible pieces of history is always devastating for both historians and members of the community.

“In 1873 Happy Valley Road was a thriving community with 52 houses and 216 residents,” he said.

“Now – because of natural events, like the Black Saturday fires, as well as land development and other factors – there are no more than a handful of these important historical properties left.”

In the late 1860s Victoria Hill was an area of intense mining activity, as claimholders frantically sought to open up the area’s quartz reefs. Although the prosperity was brief, families moved to the area to carve out domestic lives adjacent to the mines.

Only a few houses, and one pub, from the bustling community of the 1870s remain today on Happy Valley Road.

Down Happy Valley Road: Discovering a Lost Landscape is part of the Discovery History lecture series, presented by La Trobe University, Bendigo Regional Archives and Goldfields Library Corporation.