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Search for Lost Grave

Search for Lost Grave

With the thawing of snow Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board is seeking assistance in the search for the lost grave of a miner who perished on the mountain in 1884.

Not all who came to the region for gold were lucky. A miner by the name of William Laurie, originally of Tarnugulla came to Cobungra Diggings at Brandy Creek (between the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort and Dinner Plain) to seek employment from the Cobungra Gold Mining Company (GMCo.). Over 120 men were employed by the company on preparatory works at the mine, the largest component of which was the construction of the water race to supply water for the hydraulic sluicing operations at the Brandy Creek mine. This water race was known as the Cobungra Ditch (now one of Mt Hotham’s historic walking tracks).

On the 16th of May 1884 whilst attempting to leave the Cobungra Diggings, William Laurie, carrying his swag was met by a John Carthew. Both men were heading for Harrietville, however on reaching Mt Baldy (Mt Hotham) a snow storm caused them to turn back. On the returning to Brandy Creek Laurie became quite fatigued and a Mr. Black was called to assist. Laurie was placed on a horse and taken to Stewart‚Äôs store (possibly at the Cobungra Township at the Brandy Creek mine). However within half an hour of his arrival at the store Laurie had died. ‚ÄúPoor Laurie‚Äôs remains were buried under a tree on a little flat, Mr W. Radcliffe reading over the grave of the beautiful service of the Church of England.‚ÄĚ

In 1927, after the old Alpine Road had been made suitable for motor vehicles, members of William Laurie’s family piled into their new Dodge and made a special trip to the region to find William’s grave. On making enquires with an old resident, who recalled the grave as a boy, they found the grave a few yards off the new road, some 43 years after William’s death.

The grave since then has become lost. In recent years a dog’s grave at Wire Plain was misidentified as that of William Laurie’s. Descendants are keen to know of his whereabouts and have contacted the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board. Cultural Heritage officer for the Board, Andrew Swift, has done some digging, yet failed to positively identify the site.

Should you be able to shed light onto William’s grave please contact:

Andrew Swift

Cultural Heritage Officer / Walking Track Manager

Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board

PO Box 188, Bright Victoria 3741


17 October 2013