The Lost Saddle Bags

Written By Paul Clacher Copyright 2000

During the late 1800's the Tooloom Gold Fields were discovered. It was about 1884 when Kenny McLean, a local resident and a German mate of his, followed a reef down about 25 feet, lost the lead and abandoned the show. At the end of the year 1890, John PAYNE and his son Jack were prospecting right through DRAKE, following the gullies and creeks,. They arrived at TOOLOOM just before Christmas time, and after purchasing their supplies and yarning with some local inhabitants, they decided to have a look at the Kenny McLean show. Young Jack descended the shaft, and at at the bottom found a couple of feet of water had collected. This had caused the bottom of the shaft to sweat and wash the old workings. After a short time the son ascended and displayed to his father a hat full of gold specimens. After claiming the shaft as the "Rise and Shine", within a week they had secured 105 ounces of Gold. After 6 weeks they had secured 600 ounces of Gold. I understand Mrs PAYNE still owns the Old TOOLOOM Station today. In TOOLOOM at Dunns Gully the "Lady Bowen" nugget was recovered and it weighed 110 ozs. This gives a bit of an idea just how much gold there was coming from the Tooloom area. The Tooloom gold rush lasted from about 1853 to about 1900. Some gold fossicking still continues to this day in the Tooloom River, but it is not what it was from those heady days.

There was a considerable amount of gold found in and around the Tooloom area with the nearest major town to the Tooloom Gold Fields being Brisbane. As a result much of the gold from the Tooloom area, was transported up the back roads through either Carney's Creek or through Croftby. Carney's Creek was originally known as Carney's Camp, as Carney built an accommodation house there in 1859 to accommodate the travellers to and from the Tooloom gold fields. The route was mostly from Ipswich along the old Warwick Road through Moogerah to Carney's Creek and then on to White Swamp. Carney closed his hotel down in 1863. Nearby in 1890 the Carney's Creek School was built. In 1970 the school was closed and moved to, and has become part of the Harrisville Historical Museum.

Just up the road was Croftby which was originally part of the Coochin Coohin Station. Croftby was named after the Bycroft family who commenced the local mail service at Thomas Bycrofts home. Later in 1887 the name was changed to Croftby. This Post Office continued on until 1953 when it was closed.

The roads of that era were certainly not of the standards of the roads of today and there were not the bridges that we have today. Those people transporting the gold were at the mercy of the elements and of course, "Bushrangers". It was on one of these trips through Carney's Creek and Croftby to Brisbane where a traveller met with an incident which almost took his and his horses life. The traveller and his horse was heavily loaded with saddle bags laden with gold from Tooloom. It had been a miserably wet couple of weeks and the creeks were well up but as supplies were getting low and there was some urgency to sell the gold to buy more provisions, the decision was made to cross Teviot Brook. This was to be a bad decision.

Under normal circumstances he would never have crossed the brook, which by this stage was more of a raging torrent. But the decision to cross the flooded brook was made just the same. As he and his horse slowly walked and swam across the now raging river both man and beast lost their footing and were swept away with the force of the water. After a harrowing five or ten minutes in the raging waters both man and beast made it to the other side, but the saddle bags containing over 200 ounces of gold did not. After the flood waters had subsided many people offered to help find the lost saddlebags of gold, but the saddlebags containing the gold  were never recovered. I have looked in the area where the bags were reported to be lost, but as usual found nothing. I would hazard a guess that the leather saddlebags have long rotted away and the nuggets have scattered. I suppose some day an unsuspecting Farmer will discover a patch of gold nuggets near that area and it will probably start a mini gold rush. There was also a Bushranger who rolled a boulder onto the cart of a gold escort, but that's another story.

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