Beechworth festival a golden reminder of history

READY, AIM, FIRE: Battalion members lined up and waited for the command, before exciting the crowd by firing their specially-made rifles in unison. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS
READY, AIM, FIRE: Battalion members lined up and waited for the command, before exciting the crowd by firing their specially-made rifles in unison. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

It was the attention to detail which made the weekend’s Beechworth the Golden City of the Hills Festival an authentic representation of the 1850s.

About 20 miners, 30 foot soldiers – known as red coats – and four mounted police demonstrated what life was like in a gold-mining camp during the Eureka period.

Committee member Russell Hill said the event was a good chance for people to learn.

“The authenticity is quite big and real … The extent that they go to is really quite huge,” he said.

“It’s just little things, but it really does show how much we’ve changed.”

The event replaced the Ned Kelly Festival, which took a break for 2017, but reenactment co-ordinator John Haskell said it would be back next year in conjunction with the goldfields history.

Foot soldiers more than just looked the part on Saturday – they put on a firearms display as part of the festival.

The town’s Police Paddock was transformed into a gold-mining camp reminiscent of the 1850s, complete with authentic cooking equipment, a gold nugget hunt and police horses.

The public turned out on a chilly weekend to enjoy the inaugural festival across the two days. 

Traditional Chinese celebration formed part of Saturday morning’s street parade and Northern Victoria MLC Daniel Young acknowledged the contribution of Chinese migrants to Beechworth.

“It’s been recognised by the government how poorly they were treated at the time and how things very much should have been done differently,” he said.