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Journals Index
J.H. Watmuff Profile
1 1856-05-01 (Bendigo, Dunolly, Sandy Creek (Tarnagulla), Loddon , (Mt. Hope Hoax), Ararat, Chinamans Flat, Moonlight Flat, Mt William (trek with Aboriginal guide), Pleasant Creek (Stawell), Melbourne).
2 Bendigo Melbourne 1862 Otago N.Z. (1859-07-17)
3 Otago (1862-09-11)
4 Otago (1863-07-26) to Melbourne 1865
5 Melbourne 1865-11-12
6 Melbourne 1866-03-04
7 Melbourne 1869-03-28
8 Melbourne 1870-06-12 to April 1876
9 Melbourne 1876-06 to 1880-09-07
10 Dribs & Drabs 1881-02-16 to 1882-06
11 Sydney & Misc. 1884
12 Lusitania Voyage 1887-05-27
13 Lusitania Voyage 1887-05-30
14 Lusitania Voyage 1887-06-26
15 Lusitania Voyage 1887-07-01
16 and 17 England, letters and Journal 1887-07-14
18 Garonne return Voyage 1887-09-27
19 Resignations 1888-08-28 to 1892 Nov.
20 (Journal 19) Mildura 1893-05-06
21 Genealogies from 1738 to 1889
22 New Zealand Essays
23 (Spare)]
24 (Spare)]
25 (Spare)]
J.H. & Bessie Watmuff's Photos
Olive Watmuff's Photos)

Journals of

“Gentleman Jack”

John Henry Watmuff

Prologue, Melbourne, 1867-68

128 Johnston St. Fitzroy, Victoria Australia 1867-January 1868
I was born Feby 2nd.1839 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, my father (Stephen. W.) being a woollen merchant there & having also a place of business in Manchester, to which place our family removed to, in 1843 where we resided for 6 years (at (21 York St., Cheetham Hill Road opposite the St. Chads Cathedral) (R.C.)) my father being unfortunate in business there having sustained some heavy losses in 1848 induced him to give up or dispose of his business & go to London, at that time – Young as I was I remember expressing great regret at breaking up our beautiful home & leaving the place endeared to me by the earliest associations, it being one of the peculiar features of my nature, to become attached to localities. I seldom live at a place, if only for a few days, but I regret leaving it- My father preceded us to London some two months ere my mother with her 6 children went there — I remember our arrival at the Uuston Square Rly Station at night, & being not only astonished but bewildered at all the bustle & excitement I saw manifested in the streets whilst driving to our new home an old fashioned house in the Kennington Road, Surrey side of the water, we lived there some two months & it being an uncomfortable residence we removed to a nice house in West Square (the back wall of which formed the enclosure of the Bedlam Hospital), where we lived for 10 months during which time my brothers & self went to the British & Foreign School, Borough Road, an excellent institution & where I received & finished the only education I ever was fortunate enough to obtain in my life — My father was engaged in various pursuits while in London in connection with my Uncle Henry, owing to the great amount of competition & limited want of capital & not being of a very pushing or energetic nature, he failed in every undertaking he entered into, so he resolved with the money he had & what he realized on the sale of our furniture to leave England & settle in Australia with his family. My Uncle Henry assisted him considerably (who I may state has & had ever been to the time of his death, a good friend to our family,) my father purchased a good & well assorted stock of goods & took passage for himself & family in the good ship “Brothers” Captain Eilly & bound for Adelaide, S.A. we left the St Katherines Docks Oct 14th 1849. the last person who spoke to me in England being my Uncle Henry whose last words

Prologue 1

January 1868

to me were ever to stick to my mother & never to desert her under any circumstances/an unnecessary injunction, for no son had a better mother, fond of her children & ever studying their interests & exercising the greatest self denial on all occasions toward them I have endeavoured to do my duty as far as circumstances would permit me tho' I can many times reproach myself for many an unkind word & action I have said & done to her, for which I have paid the penalty for by the upbraidings of my conscience, that silent monitor, poor mother, she never liked the idea of leaving England, she knew my fathers character so well & was aware that he was not a man likely to succeed in a new country, the result proved, she was right, my father is clever & well informed & a perfect gentleman in his manner & habits, but possesses too much sensitiveness & is embued with too high a sense of refinement to buffet & combat with adverse circumstances. The qualities most desirable in a new colony, tending to ones success, are energy, vigour & resolution, they are of more service to a man than talents,/ after a stormy weeks sailing we arrived at plymouth & there took in a few more passengers making a sum total of 120 souls on board including Capt. officers & passengers, the latter being all one class, tho’ they were rather a mixed lot, the voyage was not marked by any- -thing of an extraordinary nature, excepting the Birth of my brother Charles Brothers, on the 21st.Decr.1849. — we had moderately fine weather on the voyage, the weather was frightfully hot, being in the middle of a hot summer, when we arrived at Port Adelaide 14th Feby 1850, there we were welcomed by my Uncle Charles, Vickerman (my mothers Brother) who was a farmer & had been in the colony several years, his wife had died some years before our arrival leaving him with three girls & one boy.) he invited us to his home, an 80 acre farm situated in a fertile neighbourhood about halfway between the Port & the City of Adelaide) his house once a good one, we found like his children, dirty & very delapitated & neglected but yet surrounded with plenty. My uncle ought to have been a rich man but being fond of drink and very extravagant & reckless, however he was very kind to us, & my mother in a short time soon produced a change in the appearance of things more especially in my cousins, it was perfectly ludicrous to see them, shy, half naked half wild, running about the farm among cattle, pigs & poultry, it was gratifying to note the change that took place in their appearance habits & manners in a few years through the instrumentality of my mother — we lived with them about 3 weeks when my father, taking a house & shop

Prologue 2

January 1868

in Grenfell Street, Adelaide, we left them, & commenced business, there if my father had exerted himself to an ordinary degree, he might have soon got into a firstrate position, but he neglected the chance & let his business look after itself, he first of all packed off my Brother Fred & I with a Basket of Smallwares each & we became hawkers going about from door to door. I blush to have to record it. I felt it a degredation then, but feel it doubly so now, & am surprised my father thought so little of the respectability of himself & family to allow his children to follow such an occupation something more legitimate could have been found for us to do — we were thrown into the very lowest company in the streets & acquired low habits & of manner & thought — that we will never be thoroughly free from — my fathers stock began to get low & the business fell away he never exerting him- -self to review his stock in trade, so what us boys made, hawking & what my mother made with dressmaking & fancy work was all we had to live upon things went on like this for 18 months until the “Gold diggins N.S.Wales broke out, my father, when the exodus set in, was one of the first to leave S.A. for there on the 9th.July 1851, leaving us in very embarrassed circumstances — we gave up the shop & took a house in Kermode St. Nt Adelaide, here Mother, Fred & I struggled to keep a home together during the most depressed times ever was known in the colony, many times not knowing where our next meal was to come from & I more than once had to go without — Two months or so after the Sydney rush, gold was discovered in great quantities in Victoria nearly every man who could get a passage left Adelaide, hundreds travelling overland until at last it became a rare sight to see a man in our street — My father returned from Sydney after an absence of 4 months, having made little more than paid or cleared his expenses, on his return I got a situation at Mr Crawfords, a Grocer, 6/- per week & my food. I remained some 6 weeks at my place when my father & I left S.A. in the brig “Flash” for Melbourne where we arrived after a 10 days voyage, anchored in Hobsons Bay & sailed up the Yarra River in a lighter, landed at Coles Wharf & made a kind of domicile in a Boiler & amongst some timber on the wharf, being unable to procure lodgings in Melb’. the town being small & the influx of people from the other colonies being so great so I passed & slept my first night in Victoria in a boiler on my 13th. Birthday Feby 2nd.1852 — we remained in Melb' about 3 days during which time Father & I had plenty of time to look about us, what a contrast between then & now, Melb' proper was pretty well built upon but the suburbs which are now so numerous & thickly populated were then little more

Prologue 3

January 1868

than Bushland & thickly timbered. We at length got started putting our heaviest things on a Dray & after a journey of four or five days reached Forest Creek, did not stay there but finally settled down at the foot of the Windmill Hill, Fryers Creek, — the road, not an inch of which was mettled, was good, being Summer we passed only one or two habitations on the roads & those were small Bush Hotels or Sheep Stations, except on arriving at Kyneton, a small village containing a few straggling huts, in the centre of a magnificent agricultural country — on leaving this place we saw no habitation until arriving upon the diggins — We pitched our camp in the midst of a busy mining population, some were getting gold in great quantities, our want of experience in mining, was the reason of our not getting hold plenty of the alluring metal, after living at this place some weeks we were compelled to leave it, owing to the scarcity of water, not being able to get enough to quench our thirst without going to the River Loddon, some 3 miles distance for it, so we shifted our tent to the Bald Hills at the junction of the Loddon & Fryers Creek, & there we might have done well, but our party was composed of five of the most unlikely men for diggers that ever formed a party, however gold was so plentiful that it was not a difficult matter to get some I took very bad with dysentry & while ill my father took it into his head to return to Adelaide & we had a squaring up. I had been receiving a half share of the results of our labour & I think it alone amounted to about 8 oz, of course my father had double that, so with about 20 oz of gold for his & my share for two months work, he left me, (with two of the best of our party Bob Cotteril & Harry Griffiths, who were old Bushmen & firstrate fellows,) with the injunction to make hay while the sun shone I worked very hard with my mates on Fryers Creek, shifting about from rush to rush, but with very poor results, winter set in & the roads being bad, provisions were high, & to make it worse, we never got for some months afterwards the proper value for our gold. I have sold many a pound weight at ₤2.10.0 an ounce - During this time beginning of -/52 Bendigo gold fields broke out & in the month of July my mates & I packed up our swags & tramped there, about noon of the second day of our journey we were camped with a number of others for dinner at Gibsons Station (now called Ravenswood) when some man asked me to go into the Bush some 300 yards from the tent to help him head in bullocks, where amongst some bushes & within sight of the camp, the man suddenly caught me

Prologue 4

January 1868

me by the throat & forcing me to ground he very coolly rifled my pockets taking about 6 oz. of gold & about £5. in money, from me, all I had made or saved since my father left me, after kicking me for attempting to resist he hurried into the bush while I hurried to the camp & gave the alarm about 20 men started in pursuit but returned in about an hour after a fruitless search, after the vagabond — we continued our journey, my mates promising not to see me want until we got gold, arrived on Bendigo we found a great many people there & numbers doing well, the ground being shallow & the gold to be found everywhere & in abundance, we found several new gullies opening up (& no one but those who have been to a new rush can conceive the scene around, all the gullies being densely timbered, the falling of trees was something marvellous with the excitement of everything and Long Gully, California, IronBark, EagleHawk & Peg Leg Gully, all of which are famous in Victorias history, at the latter of these gullies we finally settled down to work & we were not long before we got on to a payable piece of ground, or claim, we worked here some two months at the end of which time I had 22 oz of gold for my half share, after all expenses of living Etc during that time — to give an idea of the richness of our ground, we took out 65 oz of gold in 3 days, & that was nothing to some ground near ours, after working out our claim, my mates wishing to go to Mount Korong some 60 miles N. of Bendigo, to prospect, Cotterill having lived on a station there some years before the diggings broke out & had picked up bits of gold at that time & not knowing its value until now, he formed the idea of us going with him — to this end we bought a horse paying £60.0.0 for the beast we bought a Bag of flour for £20. & with a few more necessaries we started, we got as far as the Serpentine Creek on the second day, which we found flooded & in attempting to cross it our horse was drowned & we lost every thing in his pack — after this catastrophe we retraced our steps to Bendigo. I wished my mates to set into work again, & try & to regain our losses but they were not so disposed, but started for Melbourne, with me in their company after a walk of 4 days we arrived there & put up at the Port Plippip Club Hotel, the following day finding there was a vessel sailing for Adelaide, I went to the Shipping Office to take a passage in her, on the way I met my father, who had been in Melb' some weeks doing business, having when he left me on the diggins gone to Adelaide & returned, overjoyed at the meeting, I gave him all I had, 14 oz of gold & £6.0.0 which I had saved after all my labours since he left me, he persuaded me to give up my idea of going home, by informing me I could do nothing in S.A. & that I had better remain where I was & return to the diggins, & also that with my money & what he had himself he would be able to do very well —

Prologue 5

January 1868

he took me to where he was lodging in some back lane of a place where he was paying £2.10.0 per week & had to consider himself fortunate in getting such a place, so scarce & hard to obtain was accommodation at this time in Melbourne owing to the influx of population & the dearness of food & in fact everything else — my father went to Adelaide two days afterwards leaving me without a penny & with only the clothes I stood in, the same day I took a situation at £1 per week & my food from a man named Shepherd a Druggist, to go to Bendigo where he was intending to commence business. I remained in town 4 days afterwards assisting my new master to pack up his things, the evenings & nights I spent with my old mates who were spreeing their money away, what to me now appeared in the most disgraceful & extravagant manner. I remember one night we went to a house of ill fame furnished in the most luxurious manner, here [were] about 6 women, with about the same quantity of men, drinking Champagne Etc, many of whom got mad drunk & set the place on fire it being built of wood, was soon in a blaze of flame & thus ensued such a sight as I never hope to witness again. I was asleep on a lounge at the time up stairs & it was with the greatest difficulty I succeeded in rushing through the flames & smoke & getting down stairs & into the street, where I forced the men & women half naked & stupid with fright & drink – After living in town about a week, & my master having packed up his things & consigned them to the tender mercies of a Carrier, we prepared to start on our journey, before leaving my lodgings the woman informed me I owed her £2.10.0 for my board for the week I had been living with her. I would not advance the debt, being under the impression my father had prepaid my board — she would hear no excuse & placed herself before the door to stop me from leaving her house, after expostulating with her some time to no purpose, I made a feint of putting my hand in my (empty) pocket as if to pay her when she moved from the door, which was open. I seized the chance of escaping & rushed at her with my head which catching her in her stomach, knocked the wind out of her and prevented her from following me. I joined my master, we camped at a farm house, or dairy, on the Keilor plains the first night — found my master to be a very religious man & exceedingly mean & parsimonious, he after going into a Refreshment Tent at meal times & partaking of a good meal himself & putting some damper & mutton in his pocket surreptitiously would bring it out to me, much to my disgust, he had about £200. on his person & was exceedingly nervous & frightened of being robbed. I was tempted more than once to lighten him of his anxiety & not having at that time any compunction of conscience

Prologue 6

January 1868

I thought very little of the enormity of the crime. I dont remember ever having since that time an inclination for such an act, I am thankful an opportunity never occurred for taking it, I undoubtingly would, we reached Bendigo after 4 days hard tramping along the worst road for bog and mud ever was known in Australia & such as very few but those who were on the Mt.Alexander Road at that time ever experienced, to give an idea of them I have only to state that my master paid £75 for the conveyance of 10 C of goods, the said goods comprising the whole of the load for 8 bullocks, 2 of which died on the Road from overwork, the rest being 6 weeks on the journey. It seems ridiculous such should have been the case, for a distance of 100 miles, at the present time 1867 there is a fine macadamised as well as a fine Railroad — on arriving on Bendigo we lived with an Adelaide family named Hack friends of my master, until his goods arrived, when we erected a large canvass store, where Golden Square, Sandhurst now is. I lived with Shepherd my full time 3 months doing all manner of work principally making ginger Beer & Lemonade & selling to the diggers on Kangaroo Flat, which place was opened while I lived there — With about £20.0.0 in my pockets, twelve being the account of my salary but I had made the rest with gold I had found and kept to myself — with this I started for Melbourne & after a rough journey of 3 days I arrived there, put up at the Britannia Hotel, Queen St. knocked about town until nearly every sixpence of my money was done, being determined to enjoy myself that time. I did not think of the future but was brought to my senses at last with the idea of going home to Adelaide. I went into a shipping office & agreed to work my passage in the brig "Louise" for Adelaide, found her moored alongside the S.S. Gt.Britain, this being her first voyage to Australia. – We sailed the last day in the year 1852, with a stiff breeze from the land, on getting outside the Heads, the wind got stronger, another lad and I were sent up aloft to take in the Royal — I shall never forget the feeling I experienced on the occasion what with being sick & being frightened, how I got up aloft, did my work & got down again on deck has always been a mystery to me. I remember stowing myself away in the long boat until next day & sleeping soundly, when my slumbers were disturbed by a frightful noise of falling crushing timber which on rousing out I found to be our foremast going over the side smashing everything on the deck, the sea was breaking over in a manner truly frightful, baffling description, the decks & the wreck were not long in being cleared, all hands on board worked with right good will all knowing that our lives depended upon [our] exertions, the gale did not abate for 2 days afterwards & [when] it did our Captain thought it advisable to return to Port [Phillip]

Prologue 7

January 1868

a southerly wind springing up we soon, with a jury mast rigged, reached Queenscliff where we remained two days repairing ship — sailed at length we were two days before rounding Cape Otway when a gale sprang up & we were carried far to the Southward, during the time our galley fire was not lighted, & to make things worse we sprang a leak & our provisions began to get scarce. We knocked about for days trying to bear up for Portland Bay, where we arrived at last 24 days after leaving Melb, the last 8 of which we subsisted upon 2 Biscuits and half a pint of water a day, we remained 3 days at Portland, took in a stock of provisions & once more sailed for Adelaide, where we arrived 5 days afterwards, after being 33 days on our voyage. I could have walked it overland in less time — on landing I had to borrow 1/6 to pay my fare up to town with, arriving home, I was fondly welcomed by my mother & the rest of the family, found my father absent, in Victoria & when In Melb’ I had heard he was there, but did not look for him however I had only been home a few days when he arrived from there in the S.Phoenix the first Steam vessel that ever ran between the two colonies, he left Vic a month after I did- I knocked about Adelaide for 3 months doing all manner of work beefing trees, splitting & selling them for firewood sometimes making good wages & sometimes the reverse — My father going into partnership with a Mr Hitchin, who purchased a couple of horses & a spring van & with a well assorted stock of goods, commenced hawking about the country districts of S.A. I accompanied them on all the journies seeing by this means a deal of the country — My father might have made a fortune in no time at this game but for his inherent want of diligence & perserverence, he would come off a journey & then waste more time in reviewing his stock & hanging about town, all of which was expensive ourselves & the horses having to be kept. Mr. Hitchin got tired of this sort of thing & they dissolved partnership after being together better than 9 6 months, neither of them much the better by their labour*s. about this time my Uncle Charles let his farm & made up his mind to go to the diggins, he offered to take me with him, & pay all my expenses on condition that when I got gold I was to pay him back again. I was getting tired of the life Id been leading, not having received any salary for my services whilst travelling about, so I agreed to my Uncles terms & we took passage in an American steamer called the Sir John Harvey
*then for a contractor named Williams for some time driving a dray Etc.

Prologue 8

January 1868

(since lost with troops on board in the Black Sea during the Crimean War)[1] on the [1]4th March 1854,[2] our party consisting of Nicholas Stevens, Uncle Charles & myself. We were about four days on our voyage, on arriving in Melbourne[3] we put up at the Bakers Arms (now called the Glasgow Arms) kept by a friend of my Uncles named Geo Swannell — here we lived some ten days when my Uncle & Stevens had rather a gay time of it, spending every penny of their money, we were regularly hard up not knowing what to do for money to carry us on our journey, when the night before we had made up our minds to start & chance it Stevens felt something hard in his mattress & on feeling what it was, discovered it to be a small Bag of gold weighing 1½ oz which he sold, not taking the trouble to enquire who belonged to it. I suppose some lodger being drunk, thought of being cunning & had hid it & forgotten where — however it served us a better turn than perhaps it would have done its owner —

We commenced our journey with light hearts & heavy swags, reached the Deep Creek the first night. Next morning came on to rain & when on the plains going toward Gisborne we met a shepherd who pointed us out a track which he told us would lead us at the Back of Mt Macedon to Kyneton, to save a few miles & have a better road to walk. We took his advice unfortunately & had not gone many miles when our track became so obscure as not to be distinguished. We pushed on till dark wet through & hungry not having tasted food for the day we camped next morning we pushed on, north & by night came upon the road from Kyneton to Kilmore, here we found a public house to our relief, for we were half dead with cold & fatigue having been lost 2 days in the Bush fortunately for us we had not been going backwards, but were about halfway to our destination the next morning we again started still keeping [to] what was then known as the back track to Bendigo, seldom used by any but the few squatters & settlers in the neighbourhood. We at length, on the fifth day made Long Gully where my mates had worked before on their last trip to the diggins together – There we were received by a Storekeeper named Learmonth, who allowed us to live in the store with him until we made a tent & got a place of our own which we did about a week afterwards We worked together some months in Long Gully but with very poor success making little more for a long time than our expenses, when in the month of July my uncle left us & went to Adelaide on business Stevens & I worked together about a month when he left for there. I joined a party of men at Myers Flat & commenced to erect a Puddling Mill, but being a dry season with no water we were compelled to abandon it- I with a few pounds in my pockets made up my mind to go to

Prologue 9

January 1868

Adelaide & so I started. Walked to Melbourne, stayd a day or two there & then took my passage [1854-09-03] in the S.S. “Bosphorus” & after a pleasent trip of 4 days arrived safe & sound once more at home. Found all my folks settled comfortably still in the same house in Kermode St North Adelaide, my brothers Edward & Fred working at the Times Newspaper office, my sisters Mary & Bessie growing up two nice little girls going to school, my father doing nothing particular my mother working hard to try & keep up appearances & educate the girls my little brother Charles growing fast & giving promise of being a smart intelligent boy I only remained at home some ten days when meeting with my Uncle Charles & Stevens we agreed once more to try our luck together in Victoria I had not much money, however we took our passages in the S.S.“Havilah” (passage money being £6.0.0) and bidding all at home adieu, left Adelaide & in four days arrived in Hobsons Bay we did not stay long in Melbourne but pushed our way up to Bendigo, found our tent and tools which I had left behind all right. We set into work in a little gully near by & for some weeks we did very well at the end of 3 months I had about £70.0.0 & had sent a considerable amount to my mother. Uncle left for Adelaide again, Stevens & I working together afterwards, but not making money I got disgusted with my ill luck so for a change I resolved to see the country rolled up my swag & came to town (Melb.) & shipped the second day in a schooner called the Water Witch went in her as boy (which stands for every bodys butt & slavey) after three days sail we arrived at our destination Portland Bay, where a circumstance occurred which

Prologue 10

January 1868

perhaps proved the cause of my giving up all idea of becoming a sailor, the second mate was a nasty ill natured brute & more than once let me feel the end of a rope. I resisted & we had a regular fight, I getting the worst of it. When laying at anchor I was asked by the cook to cut up a loin of mutton, which I was doing on the Bulwarks when the mate coming by began to kick me. I, in my passion turned on him with the axe and cut his arm as I thought nearly off, but I learnt afterwards I severed the muscles but that he never properly recovered the use of the limb. The cook & a fisherman who were the only ones on board & they advised me to bolt for they thought & I also that I had murdered the man. I got into the fishermans boat & pulled for the beach, where I landed & walked along a road for about a mile being dark or nearly so I crept into a farm yard and hid myself for about 2 hours in a haystack when seeing the coast clear I started along a road in the Ararat direction, walked about 20 miles during the night, when I came to a bullock driver who was encamped with his team he gave me something to eat & I told him I had run away from a ship. He was an old hand & in my experience in the bush in those early days of the colony they were the best fellows in it — he informed me his team belonged to a squatter & that he was loaded with stores for the station & offered me my “tucker” if I would stick with him & half him with the bullocks, he yoked up & we had not gone above a mile or two when we heard a horseman galloping along the road coming from Portland. I planted myself in some scrub until he came up, he proved to be a trooper & I heard him interrogating the Drayman about a boy dressed like a sailor who had murdered a man, & was supposed to have made for the bush, my friend knew nothing about me had never seen such a boy Etc. the trooper thinking it impossible I could have got so far inland in such a short time, retraced his tracks much to my satisfaction, the drayman drove on

Prologue 11

January 1868

but I did not emerge from my hiding place for an hour afterwards dreading the police might still be about. I overtook my friend at camp, where he related to me his interview with the trooper, when we had settled the bullocks for the night, I found him very commu- -nicative & he related me many horrible & shocking things that he had witnessed in the penal establishments in Sydney & Van Diemans Land, he himself candidly admitted having taken life & shed human blood many times. I travelled with him for some days when we arrived at the Station. I got a billet at it — to watch cattle at night on the plains a frightful lonely job & one I got tired of in 3 weeks, when I started with a pr of blankets & 10/- in my pockets which I had obtained as awards from the overseer in company with another Stockrider we took our departure in the middle of the night, reached Fiery Creek the following night, when my companion, left me very shabbily taking with him my money, for four or five days I wandered towards Bendigo cadging my vituals at stations Etc. on arriving on Bendigo I drew my money out of the Bank about £55.0.0 which I had fortunately left behind me, with it I took to the road again & walked to Melbourne in two days & a half a distance of 100 miles. I stopped the first night at the Golden Fleece in Russel St. & after tea I went to the Theatre corner of Stephen & Lonsdale St I stayd late to see some “poses plastiques” and on leaving the place I was accosted by some woman alongside of a fence, who rushing on me unawares pinned me against the fence, two men joined her in a moment, one of them dived his hand into my pocket & dragged out a handful of silver. I had £50 in sovereigns tied in the bottom of my pocket which they would have taken had they had time, but I managed to cry out in time when a policeman put in an appearance and the men got away without completing their robbery, the woman was taken into custody, & I gave a fictitious name & the policeman informed [me] I would have to put in an appearance at the Police Court in the morning, however next morning I had taken my passage for Adelaide in the S.S. “White Swan” & I was out

Prologue 12

January 1868

Port Phillip Heads the following night without bothering myself with any Police Court affair. I arrived in Adelaide all right, found all well but since the last visit my father had once more left home leaving mother & family to fight out by themselves & leaving also in debt. I found them very poor I had sent her £30.0.0 some few months ago & I again gave her more & placed in the hands of Mr Jos Hall the sum of £20 & left myself with just sufficient to bring me back again to Melbourne. I only staid at home three weeks spending the time very agreeably knocking about — I took my passage again in the “White Swan” & after a four days voyage calling at Portland on the way, arrived in Melbourne, where I remained but one night, walking leisurely the next day brought me to the Diggers Rest Hotel where I staid, the next day I reached Taradale, the third day Ravenswood, about noon the following day I reached Long Gully where I found my Uncle Charles at the old spot, he having left Adelaide only a few days before I arrived there. It was the 1st April when I arrived on the diggins & it proved an unfortunate one for me for I have since that time endured numerous hardships and privations as a digger, which I have only partially recorded in the journal I have since kept. I commenced it at that time one month after my arrival on Bendigo 1856 – I could have filled volumes with an account of the wild life on the diggins & in the bush that I have led & the scenes and adventures I have witnessed and experienced since I commenced gold digging in the beginning of 1852, if my memory would aid & my ability permit me to recount, no one would imagine on visiting the gold fields at the present time & seeing the fine towns & splendid buildings & residences supplied & fitted up with every luxury refinement that good taste could suggest, that there was a time when

Prologue 13

January 1868

all was a wilderness but a dozen years or so ago. I can scarcely realise that I formed one of the first pioneers & the first batch of gold diggers that were the means of raising up Victoria to its present proud position but alas for the poor digger, its not the hardy, hardened toiler & pioneer that has profited by the gold they forced out of earths womb. I know not one of those diggers however successful he may have been that is any the better for his labours, now it appears to me there is a curse attached to the occupation - The wealthy & the great in the colony now were never diggers but men who have profited on their labours my great mistake has been, in not leaving the diggins years before I did. I had made up my mind when I went to Adelaide in March 1856, not to return to them again & Mr. Hall who was Mayor of Adelaide offered to advance me all in his power but being made to feel my lamentable ignorance rather acutely on one occasion when there, induced me to try my fortunes once more on the diggins with the determination that if I could make about £200 to return to Adelaide & study hard for 12 or 18 months & fit myself for a different career to that which I had hitherto led, but I did not get enough money & circumstances prevented me afterwards from carrying out my desire in this respect — & then to crown all my misfortunes my sight, the most precious of all senses, failed, my sight for a year or two before going to N.Z. having a tendency to be weak & the snow & cold with the privations I endured there completely distroyd my sight for anything that required close attention as reading writing Studying Etc while in N.Z & since I have had to wear strong glasses to enable me to do anything – but still after all I have much to be thankful for considering all things — Melb’ 1868 John Henry Watmuff

Prologue 14

J.H. Watmuff Profile,
1 1859-1862 Bendigo, Dunolly, Sandy Creek (Tarnagulla), Loddon , (Mt. Hope Rush), Ararat, Chinamans Flat, Moonlight Flat, Mt William (trek with guide), Pleasant Creek (Stawell), Melbourne,
2 1859 Bendigo Melbourne 1862 Otago N.Z.,
3 1863 Otago,
4 1863 Otago to 1865 Melbourne,
5 1865-1866 Melbourne,
6 1866-1869 Melbourne,
7 1869-1870 Melbourne,
8 1870-1876 Melbourne
9 1879-1881 Melbourne,
10 1881-1882 Dribs & Drabs,
11 1884 Sydney & Misc.,
12 Lusitania Voyage,
13 Lusitania Voyage,
14 Lusitania Voyage,
15 Lusitania Voyage,
16 and 17 England, letters and Journal,
18 Garonne return Voyage,
19 Resignations,
20 (Journal 19) Mildura,
21 (Genealogies),
22 (Spare)],
23 (Spare)],
24 (Spare)],
25 (Spare)],
J.H. & Bessie Watmuff's Photos
Olive Watmuff's Photos


  1. No evidence in any British or Australian newspaper found to support this. However on the 1st September 1854 she got into trouble on a voyage from Melbourne to Sydney with troops on board, due to her 14 ton boilers shifting https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/207017629
  2. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/264634752 The Hobart Town Advertiser Tas. Fri 24 Mar 1854
    The Sir John Harvey left Adelaide on Tuesday night the 14th instant, and on the following day spoke the Havilah, with machinery disabled and under sail, about 100 miles S. W. of Cape Willoughby, steering for Adelaide, having been out a week. The Sir John Harvey arrived at Portland on Thursday morning, leaving the some day, at 7 p.m. passed the Manchester steamer, off Port Fairy, and at 11.30 p.m. met a large steamer, supposed to be the Antelope. The Sir John Harvey arrived at the Heads at 6.30 yesterday morning. A Hamburg brig, with passengers was going up the Adelaide Channel; and tho Hyderabad, with immigrants, had anchored at the lightship as the Sir John Harvey was coming out.
  3. 6.30am 17th March https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/91931347

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