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Bowman's Track

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Bowman's Track was an early "road" cut through largely unexplored forest from Beaconsfield (Victoria) for 50 miles80.467 km
4,000.008 chains
towards the Jordan River (Victoria) goldfields, where it met the Hughes Track to those goldfields.

The track was created by Mrs. Janet Bowman, the licencee of the Gipps Land Hotel (now the Central Hotel, on the corner of the Old Princes Highway and Beaconsfield-Emerald Road) in what was then part of Berwick.

Using hired labour, and at a cost of £1,500,[1] Mrs. Bowman started constructing the track in 1864. In June 1864 it was said to be "nearly finished",[2] although just over a year later it was said to be cleared to be available as a bridle or pack track for 43.5 miles70.007 km
3,480.007 chains
and marked out for another three miles4.828 km
240 chains
. It was later said to have taken two years to construct.[3]

Notably, the track was constructed crossing only one stream, that being Bourke's Creek, said to be five miles8.047 km
400.001 chains
from the start.[note 1] This minimised the need for bridges, thus keeping down the cost.

By 1873, however, the track was said to be overgrown for much of its length, except at the Beaconsfield end where it was in good order and could be used by drays.[4]

In 1878 the existence of Bowman's Track was integral to the decision on the site of a new railway station to be built between Berwick and Pakenham.[5] (The station, named Beaconsfield, was opened in December 1879.)

In 1880 the municipal council was given money by the Victorian colonial government to construct a road from Beaconsfield to Gembrook, and one option considered, but ultimately rejected, was to improve the Beaconsfield to Gembrook section of Bowman's Track.[6][7][8][9]

It was used as a tourist trail in the 1890s,[10] and the track was still known at least around Beaconsfield in 1910,[11] but by 1934 it was said to be "almost obliterated".[12]

Despite it's relatively short life, it was said to have opened up considerable tracts of country for settlement and exploration, and the Victorian government eventually awarded Mrs. Bowman £300 for her efforts.

In 1988 plaques were placed along part of the route, and around the start of the 21st century a new housing estate in Beaconsfield was named the Bowman's Track Estate in recognition of the pioneer route.[13]

Note

  1. There is an existing Bourkes Creek, likely the stream referred to, but which is about ten miles16.093 km
    800.002 chains
    from the start.

References

  1. Janet Bowman, Bowman's Track, The Age, Monday 26 November, 1877, p.3.
  2. (Untitled), The Argus, Wednesday 1 June 1864, p.5.
  3. The Sir Colin Campbell Tin Mine, Berwick, Gippsland Times, Tuesday 2 June 1868, p.3.
  4. New Alluvial Diggings Near Melbourne, Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, Tuesday 15 July 1873, p.7S.
  5. One of the Picnic Party, Proposed Kardinia Creek Station, The Argus, Monday 23 December 1878, p.6.
  6. Meetings of Local Bodies: Berwick Shire Council, South Bourke and Mornington Journal, Wednesday 20 October 1880, p.2.
  7. Berwick Shire Council, South Bourke and Mornington Journal, Wednesday 17 November 1880, p.3.
  8. Meetings of Local Bodies: Berwick Shire Council, South Bourke and Mornington Journal, Wednesday 15 December 1880, p.3.
  9. Councillor Souter, Correspondence, South Bourke and Mornington Journal, Wednesday 26 December 1883, p.3.
  10. Beaconsfield, eMelbourne (Encyclopedia of Melbourne).
  11. (Advertisement for sale of the Holm Park property), The Argus, Wednesday 28 September 1910.
  12. Bernard Cronin, Beaconsfield and Some Memories, The Argus, Saturday 13 October 1934.
  13. Bowman’s Track Estate, Casey Cardinia Remembers.
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