Monday, 5 June 2017

The Haunted Stream (Stirling)

The Haunted Stream (Stirling)

The Haunted Stream is a small river that winds its way down the Tambo Valley into the Tambo River. The countryside is steep and rugged, and there are no major roads for access. 

Today there are only a few campsites and some mine shafts, but around 100 years ago, the Haunted Stream was a hive of activity. Over 800 people lived and worked in and around the town of Stirling. 100 gold stampers crushed the quartz from dozens of mines. There was a hotel, school, store and police station. Today is are only a few remaining bricks and mineshafts that dot the hills.

The name Haunted Stream is of a slightly unclear origin. The general opinion is that it stems from the murder of “Ballarat Harry” ( Roger Tichbourne) by Tom Toke in the Haunted Stream headwaters.  Keith McD Fairweather says, “One other suggestion as to how the stream became known as haunted has been put to me, but in view of the weight of the evidence supporting the murder aspect, it cannot be correct, although interesting. When the stream was first opened up, there was a colony of Powerful Owls there. This bird is known as the screech owl to many, because its cry has been known to send men rushing off into the night to rescue a woman being murdered.” ( Fairweather, Keith McDonald. Time To Remember. 1st ed. [Doctor's Flat, Vic.]: [Keith McD. Fairweather], 1975.  Page 208).   However, I have been reliably informed that Powerful Owls do not screech,  so the screeching was most likely from a Sooty Owl.

Gold was discovered in 1863, and the rush began in 1865. A Hungarian digger by the name of John Polich opened the Passover mine in 1882.  Many more mines followed.
 In 1882, the town that had sprung up at Haunted Stream was to be named Nelson. However, it was actually called Stirling, after James Stirling who was a geologist in the area.

A state school was opened in 1887, with a maximum attendance of 80.

However, Stirling had no agriculture or any other way of surviving other than gold. So, by the early 1900's, the town was dwindling.  According to Keith McD Fairweather, a potato farmer and some friends attempted to drive a tunnel though Hans Hill in the 1930's, but it never eventuated.
Today, the Haunted Stream is a popular 4X4 destination, with its many creek crossings and steep hills. 

During the winter, gates block access into the Haunted Stream, though the old town site of Stirling is still accessible. 

Birding wise, there is nothing special. Azure Kingfisher in the river, Yellow Tufted Honeyeater, Grey Shrike Thrush, Bassian Thrush and currawong are the main birds to be seen. 

Bassian Thrush

Azure Kingfisher

The track into the Haunted Stream is quite rough and slippery when wet. Only 4X4 or All Wheel Drives should be driven in there. 

Straight down

Haunted Stream track

A small tunnel.
The Haunted Stream is a great spot to visit, whether you are bird-watching, 4X4ing, picnicking, or interested in local history. 


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