An adaption of an article written by local resident, G. Croft in 1943|
Meredith is one of the oldest townships in the state of Victoria. It was a place of some importance long before road or railway was introduced. When gold was first discovered at nearby Buninyong, Ballarat, Steiglitz and Bendigo, most of the traffic to those places started from Geelong and came through Meredith by bullock teams along bush tracks.
The track through the dense bush entered Meredith at a place known as Ross's Bridge, traveling north until crossing the Coolebarghurk Creek around 50 metres from Dickmans bridge. The track then passed through where the State School now stands and continued up the old Lal Lal road through Mt. Doran to Buninyojng and Ballarat.
A road was later made between Geelong and Ballarat. There was immense traffic moving along it, strings of horse drawn wagons and coaches all passing through and pulling up at Meredith, where there were large stables and accommodation in very fine hotels.
The first hotel was "Watson's" and it stood on the bank of the creek near the old crossing north of Dickmans bridge. The old "Royal" was kept by Neugent & Gosling. The "Stag & Hounds" built and kept by Knox. The "Crown" built by Knox but kept by Patrick O'Keefe.
The first public school stood on the spot where the English Parish Hall now stands and the teacher was Vickers.
The first store was kept by Connor and O'Brien and another was kept by Draper in the present home of Mr. A Wells.
The first bootmaker was William Wilkinson, the first Sadler was John Armstrong, the first Blacksmith was Michael Ward who shoed Cobb & Co. Coach horses when that road was first made, the first Post Office was a one room on the site of the Soldiers Memorial. The first engineer was Alan Robertson and the second was Hamilton. The first butcher was William Dickman.
The Coolegabank creek that runs through Meredith can claim the distinction of once being the haunt of the bush ranger "Melville".
The cricket ground in the early days was the home of a Black-fellows camp and they have been known to roast a bullock there.
In the long ago Meredith had a very fine cricket team, which was able to make over 200 off Jack Worrell, who the following year was a member of the Australian Eleven to England as a bowler.
Meredith was once a dense bush and for many years a large trade was done in firewood being sent to Ballarat, Geelong, Lara and Melbourne. It was common thing to see as much as 21 trucks of wood sent off each day from the station.
Within two or three miles of the township a good deal of gold has been found, the fist records is that of a German who found gold in a gully known as Monroes gully. Some of the early pioneers of those early days said the German made a fortune in that gully and then returned home to Germany. As we know it was alluvial and the sinking was only a few feet, the small mounds of earth are to be seen there today. The German did not get all the gold, as years after a man name Copperwaite told me that he worked in that gully and the alluvial then was work 1.10.0 a bucket. Granite mining was not known in those days.
In 1862, after the road had been in existence for some years, the railway was built between Geelong and Ballarat. Over time this meant the deal knell to a great extent of the many townships along the road, but Meredith held its own, as it was half way between Geelong and Ballarat and the centre of a large district.
At the time the road and railway were being made there were 10 Policeman stationed in Meredith. There were many buildings in the Police paddock, such as the headquarters, the jail (built of slough logs) and the courthouse. In later years the courthouse was shifted and became John Armstrong's store, now in the year 1943 it is still doing duty as Mrs. Frazer's Drapers shop.
In conclusion I have brought this article up to a stage that covers the early history of Meredith.
The memory of the distant past is now only known to one or two and I have endeavored to picture once again before it is too late.