Our logo  a swirl of green

Victoria, 3744

Phone or Fax : + 61 (03) 57 501 311
E-Mail : wandimazecafe@iinet.net.au

Wandiligong Maze and Cafe, Wandiligong near Bright, Victoria, Australia
Hours, Cost, Map Events Pictures Maze Story Wandiligong We Recommend

Wandiligong - A Potted History

The National Trust (Victoria) classification for the Wandiligong Valley describes it as a "small valley of great charm" where the "buildings achieve an excellent affinity with the landscape", "a pleasant mosaic of patterns, forms and colours woven carefully together to achieve a satisfying blend."

The Wandiligong valley, wattle trees in the left foreground, the mountains in the background with a cloudy sky.

Links on this page may take you from this site for explanatory information.
Enjoying Wandiligong To-day has more information about activities in our beautiful valley.


Wandiligong is an aboriginal name whose actual meaning has been lost. It may mean "place of the echidnas", "meeting of the waters", "spirit place" or "little bushman". An echidna, a spined egg laying mammal, similar to a hedge hog, which eats ants and can burrow very quickly into hard soil.

Sadly we know almost nothing of the original owners of the land, the Theddora-Mittung Group of the Jaithamathang tribe of the lower Ovens, Kiewa and King Valleys. There is an aboriginal site near Myrtleford which has revealed at least 10,000 years of Aboriginal presence.

Aborigines regularly gathered on the High Plains and Mount Buffalo during the Bogong moth feasting season. The Growlers Creek racecourse was placed on an area of cleared and flattened ground which was a possible site for corroborees.


A humorous side to Hume and Hovell's disagreements - the explorers quarrel over posession of a frying pan.Hamilton Hume and William Hovell visited the Ovens Valley in 1824 and agreed (apparently an uncommon occurrence) that the valley had great scenic beauty and pastoral potential. Hovell's words were " there are fine hills and grasslands ... as pretty a spot and as valuable as any I have seen since leaving home" and Hume's "the honeysuckle and grass trees are growing here well - we find the land to be good. "


The Wondillegong run No. 129 of 28,000 acres or 11,200 hectares, was licensed to William Forlonge in 1847. The run passed through several owners until the license was aquired by Joseph Dunphy. He tried to buy part of the lease but because of its nearness to gold bearing land this was refused. The land was auctioned in Bright in 1865.

The Dunphy family operated businesses including the Post Office and influenced business and civic life in Wandiligong for over 100 years. You will pass Dunphy's Hill on the way into the township, this is where the Dunphys butcher's shop was located.

See Wandiligong buildings listed on this map.


A picture of a gold pan held in a miners hands, the water is flowing from the lip.Growlers Creek (now Wandiligong) was the site of a small gold rush, the creek being panned from about the mid 1850s for alluvial gold and later by tunnelling into the quartz reefs. The population grew from 200-300 in 1858 to 1385 (including Bright) in 1861. Chinese were not counted but estimated to be about 500.

The valley would have been a noisy place then with dredges and batteries, woodcutters in the hills getting timber for the mines, blasting and wagons carrying ore to the batteries which worked all day and all night, except Sundays.

The miners came from all over the world. The names of some of the mines demonstrate nostalgia for home "English and Welsh", "Bulgarian", "Kildare" and "Londonderry" and others their feelings about their luck or otherwise "Forlorn Hope", "Mongrel", "Never Too Late."

See Wandiligong mines listed on this map.

Working conditions were unsafe and many miners contracted disease however they made money and enjoyed their free time.

This great influx of people meant that businesses to supply them could flourish and along the main road there were hotels, wine shanties, bakers, doctor, chemist, blacksmiths, butchers, carpenters and saddlers and of course, to keep law and order, a Police Station.

The Morses Creek Boot Store , the building next door has a shingle roof, there are children on the Boot Store steps and the bootmaker is standing in his doorway. This picture was from one supplied by R Howell to the Wandiligong Preservation Society.


The first of Wandiligong's Brass Bands was formed in about 1864. It had a short life but a drum and Fife Band was formed in 1866. Improvisation was needed for instruments and their drum was made from a fuse barrell and goat skins. In 1874 another Brass Band was formed and it travelled around the district providing entertainment for the miners and their families. There was a Glee Club (a type of singing club usually for men) and a Horticultural Society. The first Public Library was opened in 1870 - the present building dates from 1878.

The Alpine Park was created in 1877 and used for community entertainment. Wandiligong had its Friendly Societies and Lodges, the Manchester Unity Hall which stands to-day was built in 1874.

There are three remaining churches from those built during Wandiligong's gold rush period. The Uniting (previously Methodist) is still being used, the Catholic Church, St Peter's is now privately owned its last service, a baptism held in 1962 and the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, opened in 1865 and last officially used in 1965, was rescued by the Wandiligong Preservation Society, thank goodness!

A black and white picture of acorns.A goat with big horns and a beard.The Salvation Army held open air and cottage meetings and played outside the hotel and under the oaks near Kaighins Lane. The local lads would hide in the trees and when the concert was under way shake the acorns into the band. Stray goats would rush in after the acorns disrupting the performance. The Salvation Army Hall was removed in 1916.


The Wandiligong School  SS275  showing a picket fence in the foreground. It sits imposingly on the hillside. Taken in 1909.Of course the children had to be educated and the Presbyterians opened the first school, under a canvas roofed building, in 1860. Later the "Pressy School" moved to the Presbyterian Church. It became a "Common School" in 1863. The present handsome school building, State School 275, dates from 1871. In 1881 there were 300 pupils. There was a Catholic School further up Morses Creek which in 1871 took the overflow from SS275. The school building dominates Wandiligong to-day.

There were other schools even a part-time school in the Public Library which could, of course, be used for private education. In those days people were keen to increase their learning.

Modern Conveniences

June 30th 1955. The ELECTRIC LIGHT comes to Wandiligong.News from "home" was important for immigrants and the Post Office opened in 1860. In 1884 43,862 letters were posted. In early days Telegrams were an important method of communication from 1885 and Wandiligong had its telegraph messenger boys, including one Percy Gribble who started as a messenger boy in 1911 and later became the Superintendent of Telegraphs in Brisbane. In Percy's days there were pillar boxes at Maddison's Hotel, Wallace's Store and, unofficially, Lou Smith's blacksmith's shop.

The "electric light" arrived in 1955


Men and women from Wandiligong went to the Boer War, the Great War and the Second World War some dying for King and Country. The flag over the Wandiligong School was at half mast for young Joe Gribble, killed in France in 1916; the whole district mourned when a local was killed in action.

At home the war effort was supported energetically and soldiers always had some form of public tribute paid to them on leaving or returning.


With the Great Depression in 1929-1939 people were recruited to "work for the dole" planting pines in appalling conditions. There were four labour camps with make shift tents and lean-tos. Imagine how cold it must have got and how difficult it was to get trees planted on the steep slopes.

The people of Wandiligong, especially the Methodist Church ladies organised socials and home made food for the workers.

Other locals fossicked for gold or worked crop-picking or on the roads. It was a hard time for everyone.

Wandiligong gradually declined, the population was 238 by the time of the 1947 census.

A view of an old house in the Wandiligong Vally, the sun low in the sky, a poplar in the background.


Times have changed and the batteries and dredges are gone, replaced by apple orchards, chestnuts, hazel nuts, forestry, other agriculture and tourism. The population has increased since about 1960 and an increased awareness of the history of the town and its great beauty led to the push to save the buildings you can see to-day.

The scars of mining have been hidden by regrowth of vegetation. Many of the trees planted by the pioneers are magnificent specimens we can enjoy to-day.

We can appreciate the "special landscape value and the harmony achieved between buildings and the environment" because of the enthusiasm and effort of the residents of Wandiligong.

Enjoying Wandiligong To-Day

There are two marked walks, Wandiwander and Royal Bridge. These are the subject of a pamphlet which should be available in the town, "Wandi" to the locals.

The Wandiligong section of Bright Short Walks has a map and further information.

In 2003 the Wandiligong community put in place a swing bridge to commemorate the contribution of the Chinese. The bridge spans Morses Creek in the locality known as The Diggings, and it has been crafted to reflect a traditional Chinese design. Look out for it!

Wandiwander (about one hour) starts at the Alpine Park with its reconstructed Pavilion. Wander past the Manchester Unity Hall (1874), detour to the school (1877), go past the Public Library (doors opened in 1878), the Holy Trinity Anglican Church (1865), the Wesleyan Methodist Uniting Church (1878) and the Post Office (1885). The walk continues through "The Diggings" along Morses Creek.

Enjoy the birds, look out for brilliant king parrots, magpies and kookaburras. Spot tiny fairy wrens and scarlet and yellow robins and appreciate the magnificent trees.

Royal Bridge (about 45 minutes) starts at Royal Bridge, passes the former Police Station and the Williams United Mine finishing at the "Mountain View Hotel", unfortunately not the original.

Some unnaturally red autumn leaves.Enjoy the seasons, blooming wattle, fruit trees and daffodils in Spring, glorious Autumn leaves, crisp Winter days and usually cloudless Summer producing brilliant blue skies.

At night time look at the stars and appreciate the clear skies.


This information and some of the pictures were taken from these publications

"A Valley Through Time", published by the Wandiligong Preservation Society in 1988
"Victoria's Alpine Region", published by Research Publications Pty Ltd in 1988, edited by Jan Rossington. The section on Wandiligong was written by Coral Bennett.
"Bright Short Walks", Bright Chamber of Commerce.

Hours, Cost, Map Events Pictures Maze Story Wandiligong We Recommend
(c) Copyright Wandiligong Maze and Cafe 2001- 2010 | Disclaimer