History with Brian James: the Lambing Flat Gold Rush

Pug Mill at Blackguard Creek.
Pug Mill at Blackguard Creek.

It was reported in the Yass Courier on October 31 1860 that Lazarus Cohen had erected a public house in conjunction with a store.

The Cohen family were a large Jewish family living at Goulburn and several of them moved to Lambing Flat.

Phillips & Co. opened their new public house on the Main Creek on Saturday 10th.

It was reported that the premises were thronged all day long and were open to a late hour at night. Stores were going up in all directions.

Greig has put one near the new hotel. Henry Greig  owned the Australian Sale Yards in Goulburn with stores adjoining.

The stores erected on the flat had by now started to take the shape of a street, running north-south from Chance Gully down to the Main Creek.

It was calculated that there was about 300 dealers on the ground.

This is the street that soon became known as Main Street.

In the beginning of December 1860  the Gold Fields that were on Crown Land and in the vicinity of Burrangong Creek and its tributaries and at Demondrille Creek were proclaimed the Burrangong Gold Fields.

Mr. David Dickson was appointed  Resident Gold Commissioner.

The Yass Courier on December 5 stated that:

“Some very large and well built stores are being completed and there is great demand for hotel accommodation and restaurants.”

Mr Vicq, who is so well known on the southern gold fields has erected a first class house on the Main Creek.

There are excellent stable connected with it, as well as a ball room, 80 feet long.

This same week the contract to erect a police barracks in the township by Messrs. Johnson and Viers was accepted by the Government.

Prior to this, owing to the  absence of police protection, thefts of all kinds were becoming increasingly frequent.

To date there were only two mounted police on the diggings and a large number of idle and abandoned characters  were being attracted to the diggings.

On December 9, 1860,  the Pastoral Review gives the following word picture:- picture to yourself a beautifully-wooded country, undulating, and watered by numerous creeks, the trees chiefly gum and box.

On one side of a very deep creek is the township composed of tents, bark huts, weatherboard erections on both sides of a wide road extending about a mile and a half, and with the exception of about six, every erection a grog shop, for as yet even the public houses have not their licenses.

There are stores in great number, and all goods at moderate prices.

On the opposite side of the creek from the township there are a few tents, inhabited by those who prefer comparative repose to noise, though even there we hear the feet of dancers, the performances in the bowling alleys and skittle grounds, the screams of drunken women, and a few broils of men in similar circumstances, though the fair sex are the worst… (to be continued.

  • Local historian Brian James contributes his article each week to the Young Witness on behalf of the Young Historical Society Inc.