A necessity of life

James Lerk | Bendigo Weekly | 09-Nov-2017


Looking at the headline, “a necessity of life” I am sure that most readers would immediately conjure up in their minds the subject of water.

One of the early steps that Frederick W Kraemer took was to have a large well sunk on his property at The Junction. 

Kraemer’s own experience of being an alluvial gold digger had taught him the importance of water which was so necessary for washing the alluvial dirt in order to secure gold. 

Having lived at German Gully for two and a half years he knew from the variability of the weather the necessity of water and its conservation in order to sustain life and its many activities especially that of the gold diggers.

As a storekeeper he would have heard the complaints of his customers, who during the summer months found it so difficult to do their gold washing for the lack of this resource. 

Now that Kraemer was in the business of a hotel and pleasure garden he knew only too well that a good supply of water was required to sustain the source for his new enterprise.

It was nigh impossible for Kraemer to draw water from the Long Gully Creek as at the time it consisted of gold washing and puddler’s sludge. 

Obviously the water well he had sunk in close proximity to the hotel building was to prove to be a boon for household use as well as assisting the nurturing of the trees, shrubs and plants in his developing garden.

The well, however, was literally not a bottomless pit and Kraemer then organised to have a dam constructed in the more elevated area of his land to the north of the hotel building that fronted what became known as Holdsworth Road. 

There was a fall towards the dam from the north on what was then still open ground that had a small gully where rain water would automatically drain into this man-made storage. Kraemer had the dam made in early August 1865.

The area to the north of Kraemer’s Sydenham Gardens was part of Jackass Flat and where over the years many puddling machines erected and there was also a large Chinese camp. 

On the same gully that Kraemer had his dam constructed but immediately beyond his privately-held land another dam was erected and this effectively stopped the bulk of the surface water from entering his own dam. 

The newer dam had been erected by Richard Dodd and his associates, who were involved in helping to finance puddlers at Jackass Flat. Dodd’s dam was made in September 1865.

As far as can be determined Dodd had come to Victoria in 1853 as a 19-year-old from Scotland. 

Dodd had first dug for gold at Fryers Creek then went to Creswick before coming to the Bendigo goldfield. 

Employing a number of luckless diggers to help him in puddling activity for gold, Dodd was moderately successful. 

Late in the 1860s he purchased land at Marong and planted a good variety of fruit trees having olives, almonds, figs, apples, walnuts and grape vines. 

Importantly Dodd also conducted a store at Marong.

Back to Dodd’s dam, this was the cause of Kraemer taking Dodd to the County Court, with Judge Skinner presiding. 

Kraemer claimed that Dodd’s dam had cut off his natural water supply as it had been constructed much later than his own reservoir and immediately above its location to the west. 

The Mining Warden had given permission to Kraemer for the dam’s construction.

Judge Skinner stated that the defendant had no right to make an embankment thus preventing water from running by the natural fall into Kraemer’s dam.

Access to Kraemer’s Sydenham Gardens was improved through the construction of a bridge across the Long Gully Creek in 1857.


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