Gasworks reveal historic artefacts

Just like in an old garage, artefacts have been steadily building up over time at the old Bendigo Gasworks site.

A cleanup and stock take on the site is regularly uncovering these hidden treasures.

Like all artefacts, they have a story to tell. In this case, it’s about life and times in Bendigo of old.

For instance, there’s an old weed cutting barge used on Lake Weeroona.

It was used by the local rowing club, who were fighting against masses of weeds growing in the lake.

The story goes, that the weeds grew so thickly because the lake sat downhill from what was the old saleyards, according to Peter Abbott, CEO of Bendigo Heritage Attractions.

When the rains came, all the effluent would drain into the lake.

When the warm weather came, the weeds found themselves in a prime environment to spring to life.

So, the lethal-looking barge was purchased from the Murray River to cut the weeds.

“It had a turning circle to match the 'Titanic' and similar buoyancy characteristics,” reported those who used it.

The barge was uncovered recently as part of a cleanup of the site, in preparation for the site’s future redevelopment.

The site is jam-packed with historical items, which makes the clean up a time consuming process.

“Nearly everything’s interesting to be honest, it’s so old,” said Luke Treble, who is coordinating the cleanup. 

“It ranges from 1890s right through to current stuff that we’re uncovering that’s been part of the Yarra Project.”

Finds cast a fascinating light on life in Bendigo of old.

Old tram wheels are an insight into transport at the turn of the century, Mr Abbott said.

Cast in Brunswick in the 1890s, they were used for Bendigo’s historic steam trams. The wooden framing which surrounds them was probably made in Bendigo.

Mr Abbott hopes that eventually they will be restored and installed in the tram depot, accompanied by interpretative signage.