Public Library of Wandiligong

Wandiligong, Victoria | C.1878

Photo Credit: @bertie.powell

Now a quaint small town in the Alpine Valley of northeastern Victoria, Wandiligong was once a gold mining settlement teeming with prosperity. Founded in the mid-19th century, the settlement would quickly become a full-fledged town with a post office, bank, schools and churches. The town’s library, the Public Library of Wandiligong, was built in 1878.

Wandiligong is believed to have been named after an Aboriginal spirit – though its actual meaning has been lost. “Meeting of the water” or “spirit place” are some possible meanings, and fittingly so, as Wandiligong is nestled at the junction of Morses Creek and Growlers Creek. Yet, beautiful waters weren’t the only thing that brought people to the picturesque valley. In the 1850s, gold was the primary draw.

By 1856, gold had been discovered near the junction of the two creeks. The region proved profitable, and over the next 30 years, Wandiligong continued to thrive, even expanding into other industries. Reef and deep lead mining continued into the 20th century, and the surrounding valley became an agricultural hub.

Gold dredging was a profitable industry, but it significantly damaged the landscape. Anti-dredging leagues formed, but the practice continued into the 1930’s. When the dredging ended, the town’s population declined. By the 1960s, the burgeoning town was all but a memory, and what remained was a collection of decaying buildings. In 1972, the Wandiligong Preservation Society was formed to maintain the buildings.

Today, the entire town of Wandiligong is registered with the National Trust of Australia as a historic landscape. The Public Library is one of the town’s many preserved historic buildings, and also functions as an art gallery.

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