Trekking to German gully

James Lerk | Bendigo Weekly | 19-Oct-2017


In the mid to late 1850s English was the most spoken language in use on the Bendigo goldfield, followed by Cantonese, then German, with Italian/Ticonese coming in at fourth place.

Germans were among the early arrivals here once the news of the European discovery of gold in Victoria filtered through to the neighbouring colonies. 

Already there was a sizable German community in South Australia. 

Many of these people had left their individual German speaking lands for a variety of reasons.

In the 1840s there was much political instability and upheaval, culminating in many of the German states having experienced revolutions of various kinds. 

People fled to avoid compulsory military service, others were dislocated through increasing industrialisation and the movement from the countryside into the larger towns and cities. 

There were also those who were suffering from religious persecution, so they moved where their beliefs could be practiced freely in the case of Kavel’s people who settled in the Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Among the many individuals who were excited about the news of the presence of gold in Victoria was Frederick Wilhelm Kraemer. 

Kraemer and his young family had arrived in 1850 in Adelaide accompanied by his wife of seven years, Johanna Augusta Friederika along with their children.

Precisely what Kraemer did in the first year plus in this distant British colony, has eluded my search to date, however he was sufficiently confident to leave his family behind as he trekked across to the Bendigo goldfield in early 1852. 

Like the majority who arrived at this early stage of Bendigo’s development he sought to win alluvial gold which he did quite successfully.  As far as is known Frederick worked to the South of Diamond Hill in German Gully. 

There were a good number of German speakers who were digging and congregating in the same area.  Kraemer was successful as a digger and with his booty in hand he left his claim behind and again returned to South Australia in order to bring his family back to the German Gully area.

On this occasion Frederick was equipped with transport for his family and he carried significant volume of supplies which he was going to sell on the goldfields. 

Upon arriving once again with family in tow, Frederick Kraemer began conducting a small store which he established in German Gully, he could now attend to the needs of the wants of his fellow diggers. 

For almost 18 months with the assistance of Johanna, their store did well and this allowed him to look at conducting another form of business.

Frederick’s change in occupation was a far cry as to when he was living in Neuwied, close to Andernach in the German state of Rhineland-Paltinate, not far from the east bank of the Rhine. 

In his hometown of Neuwied, Kraemer had been a fabric dyer. 

The area had chemical factories that produced the dyes that he had utilised, the town had grown from the 1840s onwards with more and more manufacturing starting. 

There were chemical, pharmaceutical establishments, glass making, ceramics, leather processing and additionally it was a good area for gemstones.

The clayey soils in the vicinity of the Rhine were ideal for viticulture, in fact the region around Neuwied had similar soil types to what could be found in the Bendigo district, this was something not lost on Frederick Kraemer. 

Having accrued sufficient capital Kraemer bought land in late 1854 and more in 1855 near The Junction, this was where the Long Gully Creek met with the Ironbark Creek, these combined modest streams in turn flowed into the Bendigo Creek a little further on, hence the appellation, The Junction.

Kraemer went on to buy most of the land bounded by Holdsworth Road, John and Jacob streets, in the triangular section on the accompanying map.


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