Woolshed Falls was a cascading waterfall over a granite surface that gave it an interesting multi-tiered characteristic.
While the falls itself was attractive and reason alone to make a visit, it was actually an important part of Australia’s European settlement history, especially when it came to gold.
Woolshed Falls and Gold
Gold was said to be discovered in the area at the end of 1852, and it later sparked the modernization of Victorian bushlands.
Aided by favorable geology, this was ultimately the site of the establishment of what would become the Woolshed Goldfields (one of the richest and most significant in the history of Victoria).
In particular, the geology behind the waterfall’s plunge pool collected alluvial gold from further upstream, which drained much of the Woolshed Valley.
Although Spring Creek (also known as Reids Creek at the falls) appeared to have been restored by the time we made our visits, prospectors had modified Spring Creek to facilitate the extraction of gold.
They used to divert Spring Creek past the waterfall’s plunge pool so during those times, I’d imagine that would have adversely impacted Woolshed Falls.
According to the maps, the creek was renamed Reedy Creek beyond the gold-rich plunge pool.
The Woolshed Valley was also the site of the beginning of the chain of events that would end in Ned Kelly’s last stand in Glenrowan.
The event that was the beginning of the end of the bushrangers’ resistance to succumbing to the crown (i.e. the police, the Victorian government, and ultimately the British Empire) was the killing of Aaron Sherritt by Joe Byrne both of whom were bushrangers growing up in Woolshed.
The rationale for the killing was that Byrne suspected Sherritt of spying for the police.
Ned Kelly and his band of bushrangers were controversial folk heroes representing the last of the wild Victorian bushlands.
In that vain, he was seen as sort of a revolutionary Australian Robin Hood or Che Guevara figure as they’ve been glorified in the arts to this day.
Our Visits to Woolshed Falls
As alluded to earlier, we’ve made a couple of visits to this waterfall.
The first visit took place in November 2006 when we witnessed for the first time the adverse effect of the Great Australian Drought that dominated that decade.
Even though the waterfall was flowing at the time, Spring Creek’s low flow left much to be desired.
I made a return visit in November 2017 and Spring Creek (or Reids Creek) was flowing much better, which you can see in the photo at the top of this page.
I suspect that this state of the waterfall would be average flow in a non-drought year although that visit was said to have taken place after an unusually dry and warm Winter and Spring.
The most obvious way to experience the falls was from an overlook at the end of the McFeeters Rd (see directions below).
I was also able to do a short walk from the main car park to the top of the lowermost drop of Woolshed Falls.
That said, I had to be careful not to get too dangerously close to the slippery surface by the dropoffs and the creek itself.
There were other historic walks and hikes along the creek, but they were closed during my visit, and thus I can’t say anything more about them.
Woolshed Falls resides in Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park. It is administered by Parks Victoria. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
The key to finding Woolshed Falls was to first drive towards Beechworth town centre, where there was a roundabout by the post office intersecting the C315 and C525 roads. From there, we’d drive north on Ford St (C315) for about 750m before the road bent to the left and became Sydney Rd. After another 750m or so along Sydney Rd, we then veered right to remain on the C315 (now the Beechworth-Wodonga Rd) as we left Beechworth’s northern limits.
After 1.2km on the C315 Road, we then turned left onto the Beechworth-Chiltern Road (C377). Then, we remained on the C377 for about 1.9km before turning left onto the McFeeters Rd (there was a sign for Woolshed Falls at this point). After another 1.4km, we then obeyed the signs and turned right and proceeded 200m on the access road to a junction.
To the right of the junction was the main car park for Woolshed Falls. To the left of the junction was a dead-end in 150m with small car park for the Woolshed Falls Lookout. The walk to the lookout from there was practically negligible. Meanwhile, the walk to the top of the falls from the main car park was on the order of 150m (300m round trip). The Reids Creek Track and the historical walks branching from it veered more to the right and went upstream along Spring Creek or Reid Creek.
Overall, this drive took on the order of 10-15 minutes.
For geographical context, Beechworth was about 35km (under 30 minutes drive) southwest from the twin towns of Albury–Wodonga, 39km (about 30 minutes drive) east of Wangaratta, 383km (4 hours drive) southwest of Canberra, and 285km (3 hours drive) northeast of Melbourne.
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