Colahan’s Lost Reef
Copyright 2000 By Paul Clacher
Several years ago I was fossicking in the St Arnaud area when I heard of a story of a lost reef. I have since come to call the lost reef, COLAHAN’s Reef. During that time I was handed a story (by courtesy of Ella Ebery and Jessie Cameron) about “The Reef That Was Found and Lost”. An excerpt of that story reads, “John COLAHAN was a native of Ireland, who selected land at Redbank in the very early days. COLAHAN established a hotel known as ‘COOLAVIN’. COLAHAN pursued the occupation of Farming.” There was a fire on COLAHAN’s property, which burnt down his “chock and log” fence. As a result “John COLAHAN set out to inspect the damage.”
“Wending his way home, he noticed a line of quartz reef, and examined it with interest. With an axe he chipped off a piece of Gold about 2 ½ inches in thickness and 1 ½ inches long. Further examination of the reef showed a vein of gold 1/3 of an inch wide.”
Shortly after the find, COLAHAN still being a conscientious Farmer attended to ploughing one of his fields. It was during this ploughing COLAHAN was fatally injured. His obituary in the St Arnaud Mercury dated, 18/5/1895 stated that on 16/5/1895, COLAHAN was ploughing with 3 horses, which bolted, and he suffered a fractured spine. A local told me that COLAHAN was actually hit in the ribs with the shear of the plough blade, which also fractured his spine.
COLAHAN was rushed to hospital but before he died he attempted to explain to the Priest, the Golden Reef and its location. It is interesting to note that the Priest reportedly did actually go into the forest looking for the reef, but became hopelessly lost and a mojor search was raised to find the Priest. Needless to say he did not find the reef. I understand the reef has never been found and if it has it is a very well kept secret. I am also told that John COLAHAN gave the piece of the Reef to his daughter along with a vague description as to where he located the reef. It is my understanding that his daughter may have given the gold to a local fossicker by the name of “Harry”, whom I also understand dedicated his retired life to finding the reef. I could talk about “Harry” but that’s another story.
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