Billy’s Hut & Gold Diggings

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Photos by Denise and Mary

On a mild autumn morning Glenn led a group of 13 walkers down into a forested gully, along a mostly dry creek bed and along scrubby trails to the stony remnants of Billy’s Hut. There Glenn described to the group, Billy’s life in that isolated spot.

The occupant of Billy’s Hut was William McCarthy, an Irish immigrant who arrived in his late 20’s and built a dry stone walled, 2 roomed hut in the forest near Nelligan. He became locally known as “Black Flat Billy.” and was a true bush character, an illiterate bachelor whose only  companions were a dog, a pig and a diamond python. The hut is now almost invisible amongst the forest, only a few metres from the creek he used for water and the quarry that were the centre of Billy’s small world.

Prospectors began making gold strikes in the 1890’s but it wasn’t until 1960 that the Mines department commenced a more systematic record of mine shafts. It can be assumed that shafts not included in the McIlveen Study were insitu prior to 1890. It is a testament to the skills & knowledge of many early prospectors that they could detect a site that would yields “liveable” amounts of gold.

Our group sat reflectively on a log and tried to imagine Billy’s life but perhaps that reality is just too different from this day & age.

Thank you Glenn for our walk & our trip into the past.