A History of Maiden Gully
Maiden Gully was named after the founder in 1845, James Maidens of Moama. He had many interests in the Moama settlement, but the rearing of cattle was his link to the Bendigo goldfields, which were opened in late 1851. He drove his cattle to Bendigo to holding pens, which became known as Maidens’ or Maiden Gully.
Until about 1935, the population of the area fluctuated in accordance with the changes in gold mining activities of Bendigo over that period. Other factors such as droughts, depressions and wars also affected these fluctuations, though to a lesser extent.
After 1935, and up to the late 1970’s, the growth rate gradually increased. However, since that time, there has been a dramatic increase in population, as the area was opened up to new residential subdivisions to cope with the increased demand for housing in and around Bendigo.
A number of sites and buildings are of historical significance to the area.
One site worthy of heritage listing was the ‘lonely grave’ at what was Myers Creek, which dates back to 1852. The grave of Cornishwoman, Maria Ninnes and her two children was classified by the National Trust in 1997 and stands in a small reserve surrounded by the houses of what is now known as the Robin Hill Estate. More information about the Ninnies Grave is provided below.
The first school in the area opened in 1875 and was known as Myers Creek State School. Myers Creek was named after Thomas and William Myers who were early squatters. In its opening year, the school had an enrolment of 22. The school closed in 1892, re-opened in November 1893 and closed again in February 1902.
A second school was opened on the site next to Beckhams Road in 1908. It was closed again about 1920 but re-opened in 1938, when the name was changed to Maiden Gully. When the growth rate of the area began to escalate from the 1970’s, it became obvious a new school on a larger site would be required, and in 1988, a new school was opened at the current site on Carolyn Way.
In those early years, the only hotel was known as Cloppats after the owner, George Cloppat, originally from Switzerland. Later this building became known as the Half Way House, which was on the corner of Maiden Gully Road and the Calder Highway.
A eucalyptus still, owned by the Boldt family from Germany, was also on Maiden Gully Road. Another German, Johann Schumacher, was a miner and farmer at Myers Creek and Schumakers Lane is named after him.
The growing of grapes was widespread across the former shire of Marong. Unfortunately, the Phylloxera virus in the late 19th century killed off the wine industry, until Stewart Anderson opened the Balgownie Winery in 1968.
Another building of historic interest is located in Andrew Road. It was built by DC Sterry, a successful mining pioneer who was Mayor of Sandhurst in 1878-79, four times Shire President of Marong Council and a Member of the Victorian Parliament. An interesting feature of this property is the huge stables which dwarfed the home.
The former home of the Monsants family can be found at 35 Monsants Road. The premises have undergone growth and restoration and now operates as Pratty’s Patch. More information about the history of Pratty’s Patch is provided below.
Closer to Bendigo is Rocky Vale Villa, built by stonemason, William Beebe senior. His son, also William, became a well-known Bendigo architect.
Pratty's Patch is a unique 150-year-old stone and brick cottage situated in Monsants Road, Maiden Gully. Pratty's Patch was built in 1863 by John Fellows to replace a smaller bark hut constructed about 3 years earlier by John and his convict wife. Pratty's Patch Bar and Restaurant was made into a restaurant during the early 1980s. The large function room was extended ten years later and the public bar was added in 1996.
The present name of the property comes from Mr Peter (Pratty) Monsant who lived with his family in the house for more than 50 years. Of Spanish origin, the Monsants successfully grew tomatoes for market in the surrounding 48 hectares, bringing in water via a still-used Wicks race.
The Monsants contributed much to the general amenities of the locale at the time. Dances were held in the front room to the music of a wind-up gramophone. The room had a large open fireplace and oil lamps, and many a happy evening was held there. Each week in summer, cricket matches were held on flat land across the road and apparently everybody drank tomato wine.
'Thomas and Maria Ninnes and four young daughters from Towednack, Cornwall, came to Australia by ship in 1848, joining other families in South Australia in 1849. On 3rd February 1852, with a group of connected families, they set off from the Burra area in South Australia for the Victorian goldfields, travelling in bullock drays and horses and carts. By April 1852, they had pitched their tents at Bullock Creek, 8 miles from Long Gully (Bendigo).
According to the family legend, infant Jane died with her mother but no records have been located. Grace died at Burra on 5th May 1849, aged 2 years 10 months. Another daughter Dorcas died during the voyage to Australia and was buried at sea aged 7 months.
Soon after the death of his wife, Thomas Ninnes settled at Spring Farm near Clare in South Australia, living there until his death in December 1894.
The original stone wall was rebuilt and the headstone placed here in approximately 1905 after the two surviving daughters, Mary (Roach) and Martha (Chapman) returned to make arrangements for the grave to be cared for, as specified in their father's will.'
Learn more about Ninnes Grave