I was writing a piece on the high incidence of gold discovery in Australian towns when friends invited us to visit the Tarnagulla Strictly Vintage Fair. I was keen to take part in the celebrations as this is such an interesting and lesser known town in the Victorian Goldfields.
Our mate ‘R’ who was born and bred in Tarnagulla organised dinner at the only pub, The Golden Age, for a few mates who are Old Tarnagullans and who now all live in Melbourne, though some like ‘R’ have smallholdings in the goldfields.
…The front bar is crowded and a guitarist is playing in the corner. The music flows through to the rough old dining room. By rough I should explain that the front half of the pub was rebuilt in the 1960’s style after fire demolished the hundred year old hotel. Not much has been done to the place since. The floor in the front half of the dining room is a form of chip board. Which gives an interesting juxtaposition, the front section being 1960’s with a large table of Tarnagulla historical buffs and the back section of 1860’s architecture with a table of Ulysses Club bikers all clad in black with flowing beards. One of our dinner party is published local historian David Gordon and there is much talk about gold finds, murder and mayhem and a few giggles about how the Trustee of the Anglican Church was also the Fire Chief at the time that the church burnt down. Our mate ‘R’ cops a fair drubbing about hidden nuggets of gold as his family purchased their land after finding a fifty ounce nugget way back in 1903.
I’m having thoughts of how serendipitous this is. After all I wouldn’t be here if my Great Grandparents hadn’t met in this very town in 1861. The town was known as Sandy Creek back then.
Amidst all of this laughter and reminiscing a chap comes in from the bar proclaiming to be a distant relative of ‘R’s. He is a gold miner from a nearby town and passes a handful of gold nuggets around the table. They are surprisingly heavy and are worth about $500. His necklace though, a rough gold nugget, would be worth considerably more.
Heads spinning we stumble out into the cold night air and drive cautiously home for fear of hitting a stray kangaroo. Who says you have to go to the city for a good night out?