Home Moorabool Shire Bacchus Marsh Heritage trail of Bacchus Marsh

Heritage trail of Bacchus Marsh

Bacchus Marsh is considered as the food bowl of Victoria being in the valley of Werribee and Lerderderg Rivers. The European settlement of Bacchus Marsh began with the arrival of Kenneth Scobie Clarke in December 1836. Clarke sailed from George Town, Van Diemen’s Land in May 1836 with 2386 sheep and first settled on Saltwater River and on 29th November moved to the area today known as Bacchus Marsh.  Clarke settled on the banks of Lerderderg River, now owned by Bacchus Marsh Golf Club. Captain W.H.Bacchus and his son William Henry transported 2000 sheep from Launceston and initially camped at Pyrete Creek. Clarke relinquished all land east of Korkuperrimal Creek to Captain Bacchus and then moved to Pentland Hills. Bacchus established his head station on the site of present Manor House and established four outstations to secure his 5702-hectare run. There began the history of Bacchus Marsh.

Bacchus Marsh today is a beautiful township in the fringes of Melbourne metro already swallowed by urbanisation. Relics of its past still standing in the township amuse the visitors and Bacchus Marsh heritage trail is a popular tourist attraction.

Avenue of Honour (1918)

The avenue of Honour is a tribute to the people of Bacchus Marsh who were enlisted in the First World War. A combination of 281 Dutch elms and Huntington elms were planted 20metres apart for approximately 2.9km along Bacchus Marsh Road.On 24th June 1918, first public meeting of the residents of the Bacchus Marsh Shire were held at Bacchus Marsh Shire Hall, to decide on the steps to be taken to plant the trees on the main road.  On Saturday, 10th August 1918, a crowd of over 1000 people assembled to witness and assist in the planting of the trees. The trees were protected by well-made timber guards, affixed to each of which was a neat sheet of copper embossed name plate, giving soldier number, name, rank and battalion. The soldiers had been placed in alphabetical order and numbered the odd on one side and the even on the other, thus placing the members of one family together.

A newspaper report on the planting of trees goes as follows,

‘’The 281 holes for the trees have already been made by willing workers in the morning. The Darley Fire Brick company closed its works and at about 8am the employees took up their positions and in a very short time they dug 100 holes. Other individual workers came from all quarters and by 11 am all holes were sunk. Then the planting supervisors took charge. The afternoon ceremony came along at the Woolpack Inn. Major Baird MLA, who had been active service came from Ballarat at the invitation of Shire President Brown planted the first tree. The relatives or friends of the soldiers who were invited to plant the trees took their positions. A Bugle call was sounded as a signal to commence the planting simultaneously. Tears were hung on every tree. Tears of joy for the lad who had returned and for pride and anxiety for those still in the ranks and sorrow for those who had paid the supreme sacrifice. Planting was all done in half an hour. Members of the Commonwealth Army in charge of Lieut. Russell formed a Guard of Honour when the official speeches were made. ‘’

As the timber guards collapsed or removed the name plates were lost or attached to the trees by the 1950s. In the early 1960’s the Country Roads Board replanted some new trees after road alignment work and installed new green bevel edged hardwood name plaques on white hardwood posts. In the 1960s and 1970s missing name plaques were replaced with embossed aluminium name plaques on hardwood backing. In the 1980s cast aluminium name plaques were attached to the trees and in the 1990s some cast bronze name plaques were mounted on the trees. In 2009 the plaques were removed for restoration and remounted in 2010.

Memorial to South African Volunteers

Location: 156 Main Street, Bacchus Marsh

The monument was a drinking fountain dedicated on Wednesday 13th November 1901 to commemorate those who served in the South African (Boer) War. The monument was smashed by vandals in October 1990 and was restored in April 1991.

Here is the newspaper report published in Bacchus Marsh Express on 19th November 1901


The ceremony of handing over the granite fountain erected opposite the post-office, Bacchus Marsh, to commemorate the services rendered by residents in this district to the several contingents which entered upon active service in South Africa from 1899 to the present time, was carried out on Wednesday afternoon in the presence of a good muster of the public, and a parade of the V.M.R. under Captains Riddell and Staughton, and Sergeant-Major Algie; also of the local Cadets, under Lieutenant Lindsay. Most of the returned soldiers were present.

Mr. J. Almond, who has acted as hon. Secretary to all the patriotic manifestations and meetings held in this district since 1899, explained to the assemblage that the fountain was the gift of the late Mr. S. T. Staughton, who was for so many years the member for West Bourke.

They were all aware that they had sustained a great public and private loss in the death of Mr. Staughton, therefore it was thought fitting to add his name to the memorial.

The fountain is a most artistic piece of work in every detail, and highly creditable to Messrs. Chambers & Clutten. It is circular in form, from the base upwards, and terminates in a finial of fleur-de-lis character. It is wholly of polished granite-grey, slate colour and red.

This Fountain was erected to perpetuate the Memory of those who were selected from this District to serve their Queen and country in South Africa.

The projecting cornice round the top of the fountain bears the inscription on front and rear faces, in incised and gilt letters, very neatly cut and ornamented with scroll work :

Pro Gloria.

Pro Deo et Patria. Vict.

Victorian Mounted Rifles.

On the east and west sides of the cornice appear the letters and figures “S.A. 1901.” The figures should have been 1899-01.

On the front face the inscription reads:

This Fountain was erected to perpetuate the Memory of those who were selected from this District to serve their Queen and country in South Africa.

1st Contingent, V.M.R.

Captain S. T. Staughton, D.S.O.

Lance-Corpl. D. Squires.

Pte. R. G. Lyle.

Pte. P. J. Vallence.

Pte. D. Lyle.

On the reverse side the words are:

2nd Contingent.

Sergt. A. J. Tinker.

4th Contingent.

Trooper G. German.

5th Contingent.

  1. H. Hodgson.
  2. Reid.

Wm. Brimblecomb.

– Wm. Serjeant.

On the front face of the fountain the inscription is placed:

This Fountain Also perpetuates the Memory of the late Samuel Thomas Staughton, M.L.A.”’

ANA Building

Location: 154 Main Street

The foundation stone for the two-storey brick front was laid on December 1904 by James Purves who was one of the founders of the A.N.A. in Victoria. Purves in 1889 established the Bacchus Marsh branch. The building was erected by Mr. J. M. Battersby, of Newmarket, and the architects were Messrs. Smith & Filler, of Ballarat. The Australian Natives Association ran sports meetings, provided reading rooms and billiard tables in order to keep young blokes off the streets.

Bacchus Marsh Courthouse

Location: 123 -125 Main Street

Designed by Samuel White of Public Works Department, the old courthouse was built in 1858-59. It replaced an old courthouse, located at Maddingley Park. The building accommodated the Court of general sessions and Country Court from 1860. At one point it was used as Crown Land Sale Office.

Border Inn (1851) (Flanagan’s Hotel)

Location: 139 Main Street.

Border Inn was built by John Pilmer who leased it to James Watt. James Watt, Bartholomew and Edward Jones were the licensees of the Inn. Border Inn was opened for business in 1851.  James Watt and James E. Crook (owner of Woolpack Inn established in 1843) have been credited with providing the first coach services in Victoria. The Border Inn was an overnight stop during the Gold Rush for Cobb & Co. Coaches.

We hope this extract from The Bacchus Marsh Express about Border Inn published on Sat 28 Apr 1900 titled ‘’THE EARLY DAYS OF BACCHUS MARSH’’, interest our readers.

THE only hotel in the Marsh proper in the early 50’s was the Border Inn, owned by a Mr. Pilmer, and occupied by Mr. James Watt, a gentleman of Scottish extraction, but born in Denmark. Mr. Watt had seen a good deal of the world and of life before settling down at the Marsh and was a long way above the usual stamp of innkeepers. Mrs. Watt looked after the hotel business, Mr. Watt occupying himself chiefly with outside speculations. He had a great idea of connecting the Marsh directly with Geelong, and for that purpose started building a bridge over the Werribee on the site of the present structure. The idea, however, was not carried to a finish, and the first bridge was erected sometime after by a young Canadian called Munro. Mr. Watt also speculated largely in hay pressing into bales with a screw press, and forwarding to Ballarat by bullock drays, giving from £25 to £50 per ton for the hay in the stack. It is very doubtful if the speculation turned out to Mr.Watt’s pecuniary benefit.

It was about this time that the late Mr. J. E. Crooke built the Woolpack hotel-a large and handsome brick edifice. The original Woolpack was Wattle and dab. It was situated about 2 miles east from the Border Inn, and for many years did a good business, but is now included in the Miller estate.

At that early period one of the most important classes in the Marsh was the bullock driver. Of these there were 6 or 8, most of them natives of Tasmania, owning their teams, and making heaps of money, carting goods from Melbourne and the Marsh to Ballarat and other goldfields. Freight at that time was about £120 from Melbourne, and £70 from the Marsh. After a month or 6 weeks spent on a trip, the bullocks were turned out on the rich flats of the Marsh to recuperate. And the owners, with well-lined pockets, settled down to a real good spree, which only terminated (as a rule) when the said pockets were empty. They all owned horses, some of them aspiring to the title of racers. The 2 miles between the Border Inn and the Woolpack was a convenient racecourse, with the advantage of excellent liquoring facilities at both ends. The evenings were finished off by a convivial meeting-not generally of the quietest description-at either or both of the above hotels.’’

Police Cells & Residence

Location: 117-119 Main Street

The sandstone Police Cells were moved here in 1857. Originally, they were at the Police Paddock in Maddingley. The Police paddock later became Maddingley Park.  The two-cell lock up, built from dressed local sandstone with sawn plank lining, are the oldest on the Heritage Victoria Register. The residence was built in 1890.

Simon’s Garage (and Peter Carey)

Location: 4-6 Grant Street.

Simon’s Garage (now BM Print & Copy) was the site of the first motor garage in country Victoria & built Monarch motorcycles and bicycles. In 1948, PS Carey bought the business; it was in the upstairs apartment that author Peter Carey lived as s child

The Express Office

Location: 8 Church Street

The Express Office was where The Bacchus Marsh express, a weekly founded by George Lane and Christopher Crisp were printed and published. George Lane was a book binder by trade and owned a shop where he did print job. The shop became the Express printing office. Bacchus Marsh express was first printed in 1866. This was owned by the Crisp family until the 1970s.

St Andrews Uniting Church

Location: 12 Gisborne Road

This was originally a Presbyterian Church and is the oldest of the three churches in Bacchus Marsh. The Presbyterian Church was established in Bacchus Marsh in 1851 and the first services were held at various places until this building was erected. Using freestone and bluestone, builder J. Cuthbertson and W. Watson completed this church in 1865. A manse once stood to the east of the church. This had been built in 1858 and was demolished during the 1980s. The red brick hall was built in 1912. This hall was used as temporary classrooms for Bacchus Marsh High School from 1921 to 1923 until the completion of the Bacchus Marsh High School building in 1923. The vestry was added in 1935.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Location: 19 Gisborne Road

Designed by Melbourne Architect Frederick Wyatt and built by Jonathon Coulson of Ballarat, The Holy Trinity Church replaced an old Iron Church, and was officially opened on 5th June 1877. It was at the old Iron Church the notorious bush ranger Andrew George Scott worked as a lay preacher. Andrew Scott became known as Captain Moonlite, robbing the Egerton Bank in May 1869. He was executed in Sydney in 1880. The prefabricated iron church was imported from England and was opened for service on 4th July 1855. The grave of founder of Bacchus Marsh, Captain Bacchus still stands in the church ground where an early cemetery was established.

St Bernard’s School and Convent of St Joseph

Location: 8 Patterson Street

‘The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart’, dedicated to educating poor children was founded at Penola in South Australia. Mary MacKillop was its first member and Superior.  In 1890 a group of Sisters of St Joseph arrived in Bacchus Marsh at the request of then Parish Priest, Father Horan. A Catholic School which began functioning at Hopetoun Chapel in 1851, was moved to Frisken Street in 1863. The sisters of St Joseph initially began teaching at this school from 14th April 1890 with 60 pupil.  In 1890, local congregation purchased land for establishing a school at the site of St Bernad’s School’s present site. The nuns moved to the new school in October 1890. A house was also purchased for use as a convent and high-class lady’s school.  The convent was erected in 1900 with classes being held in the downstairs area and the upper floor being used as convent and boarding school. The attached chapel was built in 1905.

Black Smith’s Cottage and Forge

Location: 100 Main Street

Vere Quaile, a blacksmith, was running his business from this allotment since 1851. In 1852 Vere Quaile built a house with four rooms and a weather board kitchen (The blacksmith’s cottage). In 1857, Quaile expanded his business by building two forges and a shop. In 1866, Quaile sold the business to Thomas Manley, who in 1869 sold it to Hugh Meikleand and Henry Hodgeson. After Meikle’s death, Charles Edwards rented and later purchased the property. Edwards family continued with blacksmithing until 1961 from the premises. The bricks laid inside the wheelwright shed under the veranda and some of the marked paths are from the harvest home hotel, which was built in main street in 1866. The Edwards family continued to live at the cottage until Edwards daughter Mrs Caroline Simpson’s death in 1974. The shire of Bacchus Marsh purchased the property in 1976 and opened as a museum in 1979.

Detailed Info: https://tomelbourne.com.au/blacksmiths-cottage-forge-bacchus-marsh/

Maddingly Park

Location: Grant Street

Click the link for more information about Maddingley Park. https://tomelbourne.com.au/maddingley-park-at-bacchus-marsh/

The Chicory Kiln

Location: 30 Taverner Street, Maddingley

This Chicory Kiln at Bacchus Marsh is the largest and one of the oldest Chicory Kilns in Victoria. This was built in 1885 by the Pearce Brothers.  The construction was undertaken by Mr J.F. Taylor and carpenter, Murphy. Mr T.G. Pearce, in conjunction with his father, Thomas Pearce, had been growing chicory in Bacchus Marsh since the mid-1860s. The kiln was built for drying chicory roots.

The Manor House

Location:  28 -32 Manor Street

Manor House was built for Captain William Bacchus in 1847. The sandstone used was quarried from Matson’s Quarry near Bald Hill. After the death of Captain Bacchus at this home in 1849, his son William Henry Bacchus sold Manor House and adjoining land to John Atkins and Robert Nalder Clarke in 1851. In 1853, Manor House was leased to Government for use as Court of Petty Sessions. After the end of lease in 1856 the house was sold to James Elijah Crook on 5th November 1857 for £1250.  In 1959, Manor House received National Trust of Victoria heritage classification. It changed many hands and in 2007 it was sold for $634,500. In 2019, the property was listed for $1.45 -1.5 Million but was not sold.

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      Bacchus Marsh is considered as the food bowl of Victoria being in the valley of Werribee and Lerderderg Rivers. The European settlement of Bacchus Mar
      [See the full post at: Heritage trail of Bacchus Marsh]

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