Home Latest Posts Darlingford – The Victorian Town doomed to death by drowning

Darlingford – The Victorian Town doomed to death by drowning

Darlingford. Image Courtesy: SLV

On 6th November 1925, The Herald Published from Melbourne carried a news report named, ‘’Cheap Holiday Delights Described’’. It was urging Victorians to visit a township named ‘Darlingford’ before it is gone forever. The report goes as follows, ‘’ Buxton is pretty and deserted, and the car rattles merrily on to Alexandra, one of Victoria’s prettiest townships. Here is a centre of splendid river and mountain scenery. The Goulburn flows past it, and on. the river is the Eildon Weir, one of our important works for irrigation and electricity. You must hurry up and see little Darlingford, or you will never have another chance, for it is doomed to death by drowning. It will be submerged under the dammed Goulburn waters before long, sacrificed to make Victoria’ more prosperous.’’

Allen’s Darlingford Hotel. Image Courtesy SLV

Not many tears were shed for the death of Darlingford, because that generation of Australians were willing to sacrifice for the wider good of the community. The little town of Darlingford was named after Sir Charles Darling Governor of Victoria. The township came into existence in the goldrush years of Victoria. Gold was discovered in the Upper Goulburn region by Noland and Dempsey in 1857 however the Darlingford area was not invaded by a large number of prospectors until 1859.  At the time of its disappearance into the waters of Lake Eildon, it had seven hotels, five policemen, a log gaol, shops, post office and a small slab hut used as a school.

To get a picture of what Darlingford was in its early days of existence in the 1870’s is best described in a news report written sarcastically to make fun of the local representative of Darlingford. Alexandra Times published on 21st July 1871, titled, ‘’Our Local Parliament’’ goes as follows, ‘’Darlingford is situated on the Big River, near its confluence with the Goulburn, 25 miles above Alexandra. It was once the great emporium of traffic by packhorses and donkeys to the Alpine region of Victoria known as Wood’s Point. Darlingford was then a busy, bustling, thriving commercial, money-spending and money-making place, but within the past few years it has been growing like a cow’s tail downwards, and at present is represented by one general store and two hotels. The inhabitants are a happy, contented, easy, innocent kind of people, who think that too much money cannot be spent on their roads and bridges. They, however, threaten separation from the Shire of Alexandra unless they can get L40 to L1 of locally subscribed rates. Perhaps they are right. Nothing like trying it on.’’

Bridge on Big River, Darlingford. Image Courtesy: SLV

In the early 1900’s the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission was looking for ways to satisfy the increasing demand for water for irrigation in the Goulburn Valley especially during drought years. The construction of the original Sugarloaf reservoir began in 1915 and was completed by 1929. The township of Darlingford was flooded by the building of the Sugarloaf Reservoir. Eildon, previously known as Upper Thornton, began to grow on the south side of the Goulburn River to house the men working on the dam. Before the township drowned, Government exhumed the bodies buried in the local cemetery and relocated them to surrounding townships free of cost. The pub at Darlingford made good the opportunity serving the workers arrived for the construction of the Dam.

In 1955, the wall was extended flooding Goulburn and Delatite Rivers to create Lake Eildon to increase the storage capacity to 3.3million megalitres.  The dam wall that flooded Darlingford itself submerged in the new reservoir that came to be known as Lake Eildon. During the severe droughts of the 2000’s some of the rooftops and old roads of Darlingford became visible on the lake floor displaying the early settler attitude of ‘’Never say Die’’.

Darlingford. Image Courtesy: SLV


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