A couple of years back, Ana and I went for a trip down into the back country of Victoria.
We spent a few days up in the cold high mountain country of Victoria, where the vegetation takes on a complete change from the normal dry arid parts of the lowlands.
Ferns growing well over six feet tall, clear mountain streams, abundance of wildlife such as Lyrebirds, Wombats, Rock Wallabies, Echidnas and mountain ash trees covered with native birds, all serenading the clear blue sky with a melody that only nature can create.
On the way home we crossed the wheatbelt area of Victoria, vast wheatfields running as far as the eye could see, a dry road that seemed to have no ending.
We took a back road that was to be a shorter route to the next town, but the road kept on going and going, somewhere along the road there was a sign pointing to Captain Mackenzies cave.
Now being an inquisitive adventurer I knew I had to follow it up.
We turned of the bitumen road and started on a rough dry and sandy track, the GPS system advising us that they were no longer responsible for our whereabouts or safety.
We followed the track for a number of miles with the petrol gauge also advising us that it would no longer be responsible for where we ended up.
We finally arrived at a large outcrop of massive boulders that stretched for miles.
These were’nt small boulders, as some were the sizes of houses, overlapping and holding each other up.
We explored the area until we located Captain Mackenzies cave, a small cave beneath a massive boulder that was resting on a much smaller boulder, I entered the cave which was nothing more than a crawl space that could hold only one or two persons who would want to hide from the law.
Captain Mackenzies Cave beneath the Boulders
I have to now digress a little from my story, and and go back into history, the story of Captain Mackenzie goes back into the early goldrush days of Victoria, the 1800s.
Gold was found in many places in Victoria, creating a gold rush that equalled those of America and the noted Yukon.
Australia was a new country, many people deserted their paid jobs in the cities to race to the gold fields, soldiers deserted, whole ships crews deserted, including their captains, leaving ships at moor in the harbours.
Many of those who fled to the goldfields did actually find gold and prospered, many did not and turned to crime, what we call bushrangers is called highway robbery in England, homesteads were raided, coaches were pulled up at the point of pistols with the words bail up.
Many bushrangers roamed the the highways and byways leading from the Goldfields.
Bushrangers who took to highway robbery and the outlaw life, appear to be those ex miners whose fortunes went sour on the goldfields, and may have had no family commitments or future.
Gold was a big part of life in those early Australian days, especially in Victoria.
The worlds largest gold nugget was found near Moliagul, Dunolly Victoria in 1869, it weighed between 2284 and 2380 ounces, a great incentive for bushranging back in those days.
The Welcome Stranger
This nugget is the largest known to date in Victoria and was found on the 5th of February 1869, approximately 15 kilometres to the northwest of Dunolly, near a mining town called Moliagul. The finder, John Deason, and a companion Richard Oates located the nugget 3 centimetres below the surface within the roots of a stringybark tree. The nugget weighed 2316 troy ounces* (about 72 kg) and at the time of discovery was the largest known gold nugget in the world, measuring 60 by 45 by 19 centimetres. The site of discovery is marked by a stone monument.
Now back to Captain Mackenzie and his cave.
I researched Captain Mackenzie and cannot find any information on him, I did find a Captain Mackenzie who was a skipper of a ship at that time, so now I will use literary licence and my imagination on the rest of the story as I see it unfolding.
Captain Mackenzie failed on the goldfields as many others of the time did as well, he took to bushranging, he had no ship to go back to as it was commandeered by the government at the time for being deserted in Port Phillip bay.
His exploits saw him raiding homesteads and holding up coaches on the goldfields roads, sometimes in company and sometimes alone.
He was tracked throughout the Victorian ranges, notably the Strathbogie ranges where he had numerous hideouts.
In the late 1800s the law gave up on pursuing Captain Mackenzie.
The case was closed and Captain Mackenzie disappeared into the chronicles of Australian History.
Or did he ?
Church records of the Moliagul gold fields era church in the late 1800s show a Captain Mackbride marrying a Sarah Hancock from Dublin Ireland
Fact or fiction ?