Out N About in Tarnagulla 3-4 October

Published on 10 September 2015

TARNAGULLA’S rich gold-mining history will be front and centre when the town hosts its annual free family days next month.

The stories and images of those formative years will be all the more striking when set against the backdrop of the town’s evocative heritage streetscape.

Planned for 3-4 October, “Out ’n’ About in Tarnagulla” will offer a feast of historical colour, as well as activities ranging from a much-anticipated detector key hunt to a popular High Tea, cycling races, cupcake competition and gold panning.

Based around the original Victoria Theatre and Soldiers Memorial Park, the event is part of the seven-week program currently under way for the 2015 “Naturally Loddon” Spring Festival.
Europeans first arrived in the area in 1840 to set up Tarnagulla Station, but the discovery of gold in 1852 sparked a rush of more than 5,000 hopeful miners.
The settlement created by the diggers was first known as Sandy Creek, but renamed Tarnagulla in 1860.
The former Victoria Hotel and Theatre, built in 1861-62, was licensed until 1916 and operated as a Cobb and Co coach depot.

The theatre is the oldest known purpose-built theatre attached to a hotel in Australia, with its timber sloping stage and high plaster ceiling remaining intact.

The program opens with a High Tea in the Victoria Theatre on the Saturday, in conjunction with a historical display organised by the Tarnagulla History Group.

Alongside a treasure-trove of early photographs of the town and its residents, visitors will see an original newspaper from the 1860s and a program for a fund-raising concert held at Newbridge in 1893, printed on silk cloth.

On Sunday, the Central Victorian Veterans Cycling Club will return after its inaugural visit last year to stage the 2015 Tarnagulla Criterium, racing in four grades around the streets and finishing outside the theatre.

President of the Loddon Southern Development and Tourism Committee Dorothy Silke said the event would also offer bicycle hire for the first time.

“We’ll have normal pushbikes and electric bikes for hire, as there are some excellent cycling tracks around Tarnagulla,” Mrs Silke said. 

“The Inglewood and Districts Community Bendigo Bank sponsors the detector key hunt, with the main prize being an X-Terra 705 dual pack.  Entry there costs $10 per person.

“Other features of the day will include a CFA display and barbecue breakfast or lunch, historic walk, wildflower walk and, for the first time, an experienced gold-finder is coming to coach people on how to pan for gold.
 
“We will see the launching of two new books – Progress, Development and the Big Miners 1869-1990, by David Gordon, and Ireland to Oz, an account of her family’s history in the area by Mary Balle, a visitor from the US.

“Mary is a great-great-niece of one of Tarnagulla’s first hotel-keepers – that family had the Rising Sun Hotel in 1854.

“They later went to the Halfway Hotel near the cemetery and, finally, the Maiden Town Hotel at Llanelly.”  

Mrs Silke said another “first” would be a telegraph station set-up, complete with Morse code demonstrations by Bendigo’s Ted Rankin.

There’ll be a cemetery tour with historian Ken Arnold, parchment demonstration, healthy eating talks, cupcake decorating competition with primary, secondary and open sections, a variety of market stalls and activities for all ages.

“Local volunteers put this event together under the guidance of Loddon Shire Tourism Manager Robyn Vella,” Mrs Silke said.

“We believe about 300 people came last year, including visitors from interstate and overseas.  
Hours for the event are 1pm to 3.30pm on the Saturday and 9am to 3pm on Sunday.
For more details, contact the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on (03) 5494 3489 or go to www.loddon.vic.gov.au