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Foresty Heritage Museum

Beechworth Weather

Beechworth Forestry Heritage Museum and Gold Warden's Office history precinct

When Victoria was first settled, about 5/6th of the land was covered by forests. The forested area in 1869 can be compared with the area covered by trees in 1987 – {118 years on} – on the Maps displayed in Room 2 of the Museum. During, and immediately after the 1851 Gold Rush in Victoria, it was necessary to clear considerable areas of timbered land so crops could be sown to feed the huge increase in the population. Trees of all sizes and types were felled, in many instances, at great physical effort. In most cases, the wood was burnt – not sawn into timber as many people wrongly think today. 
Vast amounts of timber were also consumed in the Gold Mines. In 1873, in excess of 1 million tonnes of timber were used to fuel the Steam Engines used on the Goldfields. Later, as the gold bearing areas were exhausted, it was decided that the out-of-work miners could be gainfully employed in working in agriculture.
The land was sown to grass or crops to feed sheep for meat, and to produce wool for export. Cows were raised to produce milk and butter for local use and for export – these exports helped the Colony become self supporting and provided the funds to purchase many items form Overseas that were not produced in Australia. In Room 1 of this Museum are examples of equipment developed (in the main, by Foresters) over the years to assist in extinguishing bush fires that periodically raged through Victorian forest areas and farmlands. Today, most timbered areas are in mountainous terrain [most flat land has been cleard for agricultural] so special techniques for fire fighting have been needed and developed. Since settlement, many lives have been lost and valuable property destroyed in bush fires in Victoria.
Examples of some of the many varied hand tools (Cross-cut Saws, Broadaxes, Froes, Wedges etc) used by farmers and timber works to fell trees, which were then split into palings for fences and shingles to roof their homes, are displayed in Room 2 of the Museum.  Originally, homes [which were usually single roomed huts] were roofed with sheets of bark peeled from standing, or felled trees. In later years, split shingles were used for roofing. Corrugated iron, which was lighter and more rain-proof, and from which rain water could be collected for drinking, was used when it was available. The water was stored in wooden barrels, or in large, steel “biscuit barrels” which were carried as deck cargo on the sailing ships on the long sea journey from England.
The Display in Room 2 also shows some of the instruments used by Forestry personnel to survey and to calculate the volume of growing timber; to build tracks, roads and dams in the forest and to build many substantial roads needed to extract the felled timber. From 1912, the Forests Commission trained its own Professional Foresters at the Victorian School of Forestry, Creswick, to scientifically manage the forests in accordance with it’s objectives. Although trees were felled over the years of sawlogs, pulpwood, firewood etc, those trees were scientifically selected to so seedlings would grow in the space occupied by the felled tree, and in 30 to 100 years, the “new” trees would grow to the same size as the felled. Millions of these seedlings, growing over a large area of forest, ensured that these scientifically managed forests would produce all the produce sought indefinitely for people of Victoria.
The Museum, established by Members of the Forest Commission Retired Personnel Association [Vic} Inc, aims to show the public some of the materials and equipment used to manage, protect and develop Victoria’s Forests up to the present time.  The Association would appreciate any support towards the continued operation of the Museum. Any enquiries you may have relating to the Museum may be made of the Association Secretary c/- 30 Charlotte Street, Blackburn South VIC 3130. Open Daily from 9am to 5pm


Wooden structures stood on this site until 1859 – 60.

 1852  First Gold official arrived in the Ovens Goldfields

1853   Understaffing & Incompetence were a problem because of roving chinese. Population of 8,000 miners, only 3 Gold Commissioners & inadequate police presence.

1855  June changed from Commissioners to Wardens.

1859 – 60  Built. Gold Commissioners were unpopular because they enforced unpopular tax of 30 shillings a month to maintain order on the goldfields it did not discriminate between the wealthy miner and the miner and the one not makes ends meet. He settled claims, receive & guards gold for escort, maintain order on Goldfields.They had to cover great distances on horseback, issuing miners right & business licences, measure claims, settle claim disputes, determine water rights & preside as police magistrates at petty sessions or chair local courts.

Other buildings and activities in the historic and cultural precinct.

Beechworth historic courthouse precinct ned kelly ellen kelly elizabeth scott  Robert Ohara Burke Museum Beechworth history gold miners  Beechworth Telegraph Station Historic precinct culture technology  Beechworth Town Hall and Gardens history information heritage

Beechworth Sub Treasury, Gold Exhibition, Police Exhibition, History, Heritage, Historic Precinct, Honey Granite  Beechworth Historic Powder Magazine gold rush mining history heritage  Beechworth Golden Ticket Pass Precinct Heritage Walking Tours Courthouse Robert O'Hara Burke Museum Telegraph Station Sub Treasury Powder magazine  Echoes of History Guided Walking Tour Beechworth precinct history gold walk main streets iconic figures miners alluvial