Steeped in history, Harrietville is a subalpine village filled with memories and stories of yesteryear. Its beginnings as a gold mining settlement is characterised throughout the town and further instilled by mining installations dotted throughout the valley floor.
From the first discovery of gold in 1852, and with two mines still operating, the Harrietville goldfield has an impressive record of over 160 years of continuous gold production. After the initial phase of alluvial mining in the rivers and creeks, the rich quartz reefs in the surrounding hills were soon exposed. The Rose Of Australia reef was the first to be worked in 1860 closely followed by the Rose, Thistle and Shamrock and several other rich reefs. The mighty Tronoh Dredge between 1942 and 1954 and was the largest dredge in the Southern hemisphere, weighing in at over 5000 tons.
Great Alpine Road
In 1883 the then Bright Shire was awarded 1000 pounds by the government to upgrade the track; from a 4 foot track to 8ft, enabling coaches to access the townships. The 1920s saw the boom of vehicle touring and saw todays Great Alpine Road upgraded for motor vehicles and in 1936 saw the popular drive declared a tourist road.
Chinese Presence- 1857
The towns mining history saw the migration of Chinese drawn by Victoria’s illustrious gold fever. The infamous Buckland Valley race riots saw over 500 fleeting migrants make their way towards snow covered ranges seeking refuge. Harrietville was soon to become home to 200 migrants establishing mining claims and trading houses, most notably Tung On’s Hotel and Store. Many settlements are evident today, including relics along Mill Road including a joss house and along the East branch of the Oven’s River.
The Harrietville Museum is based upon the furnished front rooms of a restored miner’s cottage, kindly donated by a local family with a display area attached to its rear. Display areas are regularly rotated with other items from within the society’s archives. In the grounds of the museum there are examples of various historic items from the mining history of the area such as a four head stamping battery and a steam traction engine. The ‘Harrietville Gold’ display featuring Harrietville’s mining history was opened in January 2011.
Opening Hours: 1st December to 30th April Saturday and Sunday 12pm-3pm
Other times by appointment ($15 call-out fee applies)
Admission: $2 Adults , Children Free