Captain Mackenzie

28 Mar

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.

 photo Photo0019_zps58ac9cc6.jpg

 photo Photo0020_zps37e53c3d.jpgCaptain 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.

 photo Welcome-Stranger_zpsdeea0b38.jpg

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

 photo MoliagulChurch_zps628c2455.jpgMoliagul Church

Fact or fiction ?


Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


15 responses to “Captain Mackenzie

  1. Sue Dreamwalker

    April 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Sorry I missed your posts in March Ian… Loved reading about this interesting place… Its a place which has much history just by looking at it one feels it… Thank you for sharing your exploration day there… I found your information fascinating… 🙂

    • The Emu

      April 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Sue, glad you liked that story, when we were there it did have a feeling about it, a feeling of romantic early Australian days back in the 1800s, bushrangers, gold fever, chinese goldminers, riots, highway robbery and outback old country church weddings,convicts and sailors, soldiers and settlers, all combining in a feeling of early Australian settlement.
      That was a lot of feeling that I conjured up in my imagination in visiting that isolated place.
      Vivid imagination I think I have Sue.
      Ian aka Emu

  2. giselzitrone

    April 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Was für schöne Bilder liebe Grüße von mir und einen schönen Sonntag.Gruß Gislinde

    • The Emu

      April 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Thank you Gislinde, much love to you Dear friend
      And a beautiful Easter.
      Emu aka Ian

  3. gpcox

    March 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Don’t know but it’s fun to think about!

    • The Emu

      April 6, 2014 at 8:10 am

      A bit of imagination with a bit of fact mixed together.
      A writers imagination in play.
      Ian aka Aussie Emu

  4. penpusherpen

    March 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I like your ending, so I’ll say fact Ian, and wonderful read, all of it, The lives touched by the gold rush, the gigantic rocks and the sheer volume of birds and nature you’ve included in your adventure,and the Mysterious Captain Mackenzie thrown in.. Many thanks for sharing it all,.. hugs to you and your Ana, xPenx

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Hi Pen, I enjoyed writing that story, its great when you can base it on an actual site, that you have discovered.
      I want to go back someday and scout around the area and see what I can unearth, maybe take a metal detector with me.
      That part of Australia is full of goldfields , old gold towns and mining sites, all with the romantic air of bushrangers hovering in the background.
      Kind regards

  5. suzjones

    March 28, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I like the way your mind is thinking on this. Who knows?
    I also love how you took yourself off the beaten track. That’s how we found Moonlight Head and Wreck beach when we were travelling. Our GPS (christened Margaret) often becomes exasperated with us 😉

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I had a little laugh at your comment, that Margaret gets exasperated with you.
      Our Lavinia gets really pissed of with me when I dont heed her directions.
      We like going off road, as thats where a lot of early Australian history can be found
      away from the tourist sights.
      I enjoy following your adventures, seems we have been around the same traps over time.
      Emu aka Ian

      • suzjones

        April 21, 2014 at 8:19 pm

        Margaret and Lavinia could be sisters then! lol

        • The Emu

          April 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm

          Lavinia is Italian, named after a wine estate we were passing through on the way to Adelaide.
          Could be sisters but not good friends, Lavinia has a foul mouth when she is lost.

          • suzjones

            April 22, 2014 at 9:04 pm

            rofl. Margaret is named after a neighbour of ours. She is an artist and quite refined. lol

  6. prenin

    March 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Wow! 😮

    What an amazing story! 🙂

    And here was me thinking Ned Kelly was the only seriously bad guy!!! 🙂

    That cave was quite a find Ian!!! 🙂

    God Bless!


    • The Emu

      April 6, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Thanks Prenin, I actually did crawl into the cave under the boulder.
      Just wish I had my metal detector with me at the time.
      All sorts of ideas were running through my mind, buried booty, guns etc.
      Intend to make a return trip.


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