Broadford, a small central Victorian town, located 73km north Melbourne CBD is the headquarters of the Shire of Mitchell. The township is built on the banks of Sunday Creek, a tributary of Goulburn River, where Hume and Hovell exploration team camped on a Sunday in December 1824. The township has a rich history of European settlement. Gold was discovered in the nearby Reedy Creek in 1858, and later at Strath Creek and Sunday Creek. The paper mill dates back to 1890’s. The Broadford District Historical Society has taken the initiative to restore and maintain some of its past for the enjoyment of future generations.
Broadford’s High Street is a feast for history enthusiasts. On either sides of the road, historical monuments speak volumes about the town’s past. The Hume and Hovell Centenary Monument erected by the residents of Broadford stands on one side of the High Street. An information board erected by the Rotary club narrates the story of the exploration as follows.
“On October 17th, 1824, Hamilton Hume 27, an Australian born bushman and William Hovell 38, a retired English sea captain left Gunning, together with 6 convicts, near Yass. They have been commissioned by the NSW to find an overland route to Western port in Victoria. At the time nothing was known of this country.
They crossed the Murrumbidgee river in flood and after great hardship crossed the unknown Snowy Mountains. The Murray in flood was reached on the 16th of November and crossed four days later. Later the Mitta Mitta, Kiewa, Ovens and Goulburn were found. Onward from Yea and Flowerdale, the expedition encountered the worst terrain yet and spent four days unsuccessfully searching for the summit hoping to glimpse the sea. Leadership argument occurred but eventually Hume guided the party back north and then west to Strath Creek and Bradford. The impenetrable mountain was named Mount Disappointment. From Broadford they turned south towards Kilmore and from Monument Hill, Hume was able to see a clear passage through the Great Divide now known as Hume’s pass and on December 14th, they climbed Mount Bland (Now Fraser) at Beveridge and to the joy of all sighted the sea.
Continuing through Bulla, St Albans, and Werribee on the 16th of December, they reached Point Wilson. The return journey followed the outward until Hume’s pass. Hume led the party further to the west, correctly anticipating an easier route than previously but re-joining it on 31st December. With dwindling supplies and health, the party returned to Gunning on 16th January 1825.
The expedition opened Victoria for farming and settlement and set Victoria on the course of present prosperity and this epic accomplishment is recognised by today’s major link road, The Hume Freeway.
After camping nearby on Sunday Creek on 12th December 1924, the expedition followed the creek valley along the present railway track to Kilmore, from where Hume saw an opening in the Great Divide through which they eventually were able to reach the sea.”
The Bradford District Historical Society maintains the historical buildings and equipment on display on the other side of the road. One shed has old farm equipment used at Broadford in its early years. Next to it is a ‘Straw Boiler’ from the paper Mill which was established at Broadford in the 1890s. The information board reads as follows,
“The Straw Boiler
The large silver ball was one of 12 in a line at the Mill. These digesters were used from the 1890s, when the mill was built to process straw and other materials into paper. The obsolete sails and riggings from sailing ships that brought people and goods to the booming city of Melbourne and the goldfields were shipped to the Broadford Mills and turned into paper in these boilers and we think we invented recycling. “
Next to it are some of the heritage constructions, The Pioneer Cottage, The Mills Cottage, The Broadford Courier Building, The School and the Pavilion.
The information board gives a brief information about these constructions and it is as follows,
The Pioneer cottage is an example of the drop slab homes built in the area by early settlers. The bark from the roof was stripped from trees. The logs cut for the slabs and fitted into the framework. The floor was often earth. Sometimes, there were dividing walls. The fireplace provided for the cooking and heating. The original cottage was built here to celebrate the centenary of the Shire of Broadford in 1975.
The Mills Cottage is another example of a drop slab construction. The roof is of shingles. The building was found when a house in Gavan Street was being demolished. It was donated by the members of the Mills family and it has been re-assembled here.
The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times was established in 1891. It was believed to be the last handset broadsheet printed in Australia. Members of the McDonalds family operated the press for 87 years. This is the original office which has been moved from Hamilton Street.
State School No 2212 Kurkurruc Creek used this building from 1928 to 1943. Before this it was the Hilldene School. In 1953, the building was moved to S.S 1125 Bradford where it was used until moved to this site in 1995.
The Pavilion was built to house the outside equipment used in the district. It was named in memory of Jennifer Divers.