Mildura Weekly : Friday February 27 2015 Vol 9 No 16
NEWS 13 FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU By ALAN ERSKINE IT was more than a rumour. Farming descendants of early pioneers who settled river- front land between Mildura and Euston often spoke of fruitless searches for buried treasure...a tin-full of Eng- lish Gold Sovereigns. The treasure, dating back 150 years and said to be in a large jam tin, was supposedly buried by a Scotsman who held the lease on land off the Tapaulin Mail Route, in a riv- erfront area known widely as ‘The Mulberries’ because of the large mulberry tree grow- ing there. It’s an isolated part of south-west NSW, opposite Hattah-Kulkyne Nation- al Park, and more widely known as adjoining Mt Dis- persion, named after the massacre of Aboriginals by Scottish explorer Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, better known as Major Mitchell. Lifelong Mildura resident Wes Mills, 81, knows both stories well. He remembers as a six-year-old accompany- ing his father Syd, and his uncle Arthur to ‘The Mulber- ries’ many times, searching for the buried ‘pot of gold.’ “They used to spend all day Sunday digging around the area near the Scotsman’s grave, trying to locate the tin of gold sovereigns,” Wes said. “And I don’t think they were the only ones.” Growing up, Wes never forgot the story of the buried treasure, and recalls going there by boat in the 70’s, this time with a metal detector. “After a few hours scour- ing the area, all I found was a number of brass buttons and about a dozen lead rifle balls,” he said. “Some had been splat- tered, obviously from hitting something hard, and others were still quite round. I kept them for many years on my desk at work, but I have no idea where they are now.” That area of the Mur- ray River was known to be the home of large groups of Aboriginals, and later, ex- plorers, overlanders and pio- neer settlers. It’s also an area known for Aboriginal grave sites, so it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that the relics were probably the result of skirmishes between blacks and whites. Wes recalls the most no- torious of these being the Mt Dispersion incident of late May, 1836, when Major Mitchell was on his third ex- ploratory trip into regional Victoria and NSW, centred on the Murray and Darling River system. Mitchell had had run- ins with Aboriginals on two previous expeditions, result- ing in several killings, and was said to be apprehensive when his party was followed for several days by a group of about 180 natives. Against NSW Govern- ment instructions, Mitchell decided on a pre-emptive strike, ordered guns to be dis- tributed to selected members of his group, and set up an ambush. The ensuing fight has been well documented. In a letter to Governor Bourke, Mitchell wrote; “On the morning of 27 May they were following us closely along the river with tumultu- ous shouting, and our own safety and further progress depended on our attacking them forthwith. “It was difficult to come at such enemies hovering in our rear with the lynx-eyed vigilance of savages, but I succeeded, however.” Mitchell told how two groups from his party launched surprise attacks simultaneously, causing the Aboriginals to take the only escape route possible, swim- ming across the Murray River. “My men were pursuing them, shooting as many as they could,” Mitchell wrote. “Numbers were shot swimming across the Murray, and some ever after they had reached the opposite bank. We then pursued our journey unmolested.” It was Mitchell who named the spot ‘Mt Disper- sion,’ and while a later inqui- ry rebuked him for his action that day, Mitchell recorded; “I look back on that eventful day with entire satisfaction.” Wes Mills said the inci- dent had been spoken off with awe by the farming Brett family, brothers, Percy, Harold and Norm and their sister Daisy, when they were still alive. That section of the Mur- ray River later became popu- lar with wood cutters and professional fishermen, and Wes recalled going on fishing trips with one of them, catch- ing giant Murray cod in drum nets. “I spent many school hol- idays as a child with an old remittance man (immigrant) called Jimmy Hickmer about three bends upstream on the Victorian side from the Bretts property,” Wes recalled. “It was old Jim who showed me where some Ab- origines had been buried near his house, in the sitting up position. “To my knowledge they are still buried there, and as legend has it, so is the trea- sure at ‘The Mulberries.’” Our recent story on the Scotsman’s grave overlooking the Murray River opposite Colignan brought some interesting stories to light. One revolved around the killing of ‘threatening’ Aboriginals, and the other was about the... Mystery of the buried treasure buried treasure buried treasure • BURIAL MYSTERY; Mildura’s Wes Mills, LEFT, knows the area of the old Scotsman’s grave well, first going there as a six-year- old with family members to dig for buried treasure....a large tin of English Gold Sovereigns like these, RIGHT. The grave is not far from the Mt Dispersion, where early explorer Major Mitchell, ABOVE, ordered his party to fire on a group of Aboriginals. 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(Excludes ‘online only’ offers) *exact means same product, with the same packaging and where the product on offer at the other retail store is not c learance or run out stock. We reserve the right to adjust printing errors.
Friday February 20 2015 Vol 9 no 15
Friday March 6 2015 Vol 9 No 17