Prior to white settlement aboriginal inhabitants were largely the the Djadja Wurrung people. The first European settlers were the Creswick brothers who established a large sheep station in the area in 1842. Creswick, located on the Midland Highway 15 minutes drive north from Ballarat, is a historic gold mining township set amidst tall eucalyptus and pine forests.
Deep lead mining was the main form of mining after the early 1870s and notable mines were the Madame Berry and the New Australasia. History recalls that in 1882 the Creswick New Australasia gold mine was the scene of a disaster when 22 miners were drowned in a flooded shaft. It was a record loss of lives for an Australian mine. Many of the buildings of the gold era survive in the town and are much loved by locals and admired by visitors.
Forestry industry development took place after much of the old forests were destroyed by mining. John Le Gerche came to the area and became the Crown Lands Bailiff and set about replanting trees. His work led to Creswick becoming the site of the state’s first tree plantation in the 1880’s. In 1910 the School of Forestry, an adjunct of Melbourne University, was born. The Creswick Timber Training centre is the only comprehensive timber training centre in Australia. Le Gerche is widely regarded as the father of reforestation. Local industries also include grazing, agriculture and the Creswick Woollen Mills, which has been a focus of manufacturing in the area for over three generations. The world’s finest quartz is still mined and exported to countries who manufacture the finest lenses. Activities in the town are supported by an array of service clubs and organisations.
The town has a rich heritage, producing some of the most influential bureaucrats, politicians and business people of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Prime Minister John Curtin, Thomas Cooper, Sir Alexander Peacock Premier of Victoria, Sir Hayden Starke KCMG Justice of the High Court of Australia and the multi-talented Lindsay family. In 1864 Dr Robert Lindsay set up his practice in Creswick. His son Norman, author and painter, depicted aspects of Creswick in three of his novels - Saturdee, Red Heap and Halfway to Anywhere. Another son, Percy, painted numerous scenes of Creswick, of which over 20 are in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery Collection. One Percy Lindsay painting depicts Chinatown in Creswick, a reminder of the Chinese gold miners. A lesser known Creswick identity was William G. Spence. M.H.R. Spence became a miner and founded The Creswick Miners Union, later to become the Amalgamated Miners Union. He was also asked by Creswick shearer David Temple, the founder of the Amalgamated Shearers Union of Australia, to be the president of that union. The joining of these two unions was the beginning of The Australian Workers Union, both men were active in the origins of the Australian Labor Party. Temple also is credited for the blueprint which became the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Community facilities in Creswick include: a hospital, three primary schools, Aged Care Hostel, Health Centre, Library, Creswick Learning Centre, Visitor Information Centre, historic Town Hall and Museum, churches, Fire Brigade, extensive sporting facilities, a hotel resort, motel and caravan park. The Creswick Railway Station has recently been restored and now used by the community.
The Historic Museum is in the former town hall and municipal chambers building. It contains a fine collection of Lindsay’s sketches and paintings, historic photographs and items from Creswick’s gold mining past.
Only 15 minutes from Ballarat and an easy drive from Melbourne, the township of Creswick balances a relaxed community lifestyle for both residents and visitors with plenty of accommodation, tourist attractions and local festivals.
For more information on Creswick, please visit the website Visit Creswick.
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