Major fortune change
SUMMER HOLIDAY READING
By HELEN STEVENS
THE history of Pyramid Hill and district started the day in June 1836 when Major Mitchell climbed Pyramid Hill and wrote ”As I stood, the first intruder in the sublime solitude of those verdant plains as yet untouched by flocks and herds, I felt certain of being a harbinger of mighty change, for our footsteps would soon be followed by men and animals for which the land seemed to have been prepared”.
This laid the foundation of a community encouraged by the words of Major Mitchell. Firstly, by the squatters that settled the area and brought with them their sheep and cattle. They made a large contribution to the wealth of the country. That period came to an end when the plains you see from the top of Pyramid Hill were surveyed and thrown open for selection in the early 1870s.
Many families moved northward after the Land Act of 1869 made land available. Many came from Bendigo, Geelong and Colac areas in the 1870s. They were the true pioneers, try to imagine what lay ahead for them.
The lack of water, no infrastructure, no services that we have today, transport was a variety of vehicles pulled by horses.
They had to build a home, finding water was difficult, there was a spring at Mt Hope and at Riegel’s rock in the Terrick Forest. Many wells were dug only finding saline water or none. Travelling miles to get water was accepted as being part of life.
Two significant events took place to improve the lifestyle of people. The railway arrived at Pyramid Hill in 1884. Water was brought from the Loddon river, what a relief that must have been, however it was inadequate and it was not until the Waranga Basin was built on the Goulburn river. It was commenced in 1902 during the bad drought, some farmers from the Pyramid area took their horse teams and worked on the basin which finished in 1905. A channel was built from there that made adequate supplies of water available.
The township of Pyramid Hill commenced at the hill and was known as Mt Pyramid. Thomas Watson built the first hotel in front of the boundary rider’s hut and all that remains of the Pyramid Hotel is the chimney of the hut and some pepper trees. There was a racecourse south of the hill.
Other buildings were a Temperance hotel, blacksmith, private homes and a school. The first school was near the south side of the main hill by a spring, it was a simple structure 20 feet by 12 feet with two windows, a door and natural earth floor. This soon became too small, and a new larger school was built to the south beside where the cemetery is now.
The Catholic Church and Presbytery were also in this area on the east side of the road and on the west was Mrs Mortimer’s boarding house north of the cemetery gates.
Everything changed when the railway came through. Durham Ox was a larger town and on the coach route to Swan Hill, Terrick Terrick was also a larger town and serviced by the coach from Echuca and Rochester.
After many meetings the route for the railway line came though west of the hill, leading to the demise of Durham Ox and Terrick Terrick and businesses and private homes being moved into the new town of Pyramid Hill by the railway line.
On the first train to Pyramid Hill, a journalist reported that the public opinion was the site for a station could not be improved on.