Author/Administrator: Diane Simmonds
Mudgee, NSW
Phone: 0488 065 456






The Gulgong Holtermann Museum

Brief History   

By Barbara Hickson, Architect, Heritage Advisor

Figure 1 Mayne Street Elevation December 2014





Figure 2 Mayne Street Elevation May 2016







Gold Rush

Mr. Tom Saunders located gold on the surface of Red Hill on 14th April 1870 and reported his discovery to Sergeant O’Donnell at the police station at 2 Mile Flat. The news spread rapidly from there.[1] And the first small rush began. By June, 500 people had camped on the new diggings at Adam's Lead.

The SMH in its ‘Chronicles of Occurrence’ in December 1870 encouraged the reader to ‘now rush to Gulgong’! By January 1871 the population of the area had grown to 3,000. Other discoveries followed at Happy Valley, Caledonian and Canadian Leads and Home Rule, and by the end of 1872 there were 20,000 people on the Gulgong fields.[2]

The alluvial leads in the district were among the richest in the State. Within the first four years of discovery, over 300 000 ounces of gold were recovered. The Gulgong Goldfield produced andpound;2 175 000 of gold, most of which was won from old stream gravels as much as 60m below the surface several kilometres from Gulgong.

Due to its rapid development, Gulgong was initially a primitive community with quick timber construction predominating. The nationalities on the field like elsewhere in NSW were many and varied including Bulgarians, Greeks, Scotish, Americans, Canadians, Irish men and Chinese, as well as native-born Australians. It was a long trip from Sydney, to Gulgong; but the trip was worthwhile for hundreds of miners. They travelled by train from Sydney to Wallerawang, thence by mail coach to Mudgee, and from then Tom Tarant’s coach or Cobb and Co or horseback.

Generally impatient with the get-rich-quick fever of the goldfields, Anthony Trollope visiting Gulgong in October 1871  wrote ‘The place had begun to be a place about a month since - but the real rush had only lately commenced. I confess that I felt an interest in seeing a town without streets, and people collected together with houses made of canvas and rough boards.."[3]

By 1876 the boom had begun to wane.

Holtermann collection.


A collection of photographs was taken in the 1870's for Bernhard Otto Holtermann by Frenchman: Henry Beaufoy Merlin and his assistant Charles Bayliss.


   Figure 1 Beaufoy Merlin

These photographs  included Hill End and the Gulgong goldfields. The images were an enormously significant record of life on the gold fields. They were first exhibited at the Mitchell Library in Sydney in March 1953. The collection included many scenes of gold field life during the height of the early rush in the early 1870s.


Holtermann, was the Hill End miner who found the world's largest specimen of reef gold. Many of the buildings included in the street scenes are long gone. But the two chosen to form the basis of this museum, the ‘Greatest Wonders of the World’, and the ‘American Tobacco Company’ which retains much of it’s original fabric.

Figure 2 The section of Mayne Street as in 1872 complied from Holtermann images.


Much of the original town can be reconstructed through the Holtermann images. The above streetscape contains 4 buildings photographed in succession by Merlin. The Golden Age Hotel, The Greatest Wonders, The American Tobacco Company and Daniel Doherty’s Boot Maker.  The American Tobacco building appears to have been the first of the three to be constructed, and probably retains much of its original fabric.

The ‘Greatest Wonder of the World’[4] was an importers of men's clothing, including the Colonial Boot & Shoe Depot. Simeon Moses was the proprietor, and is most probably the man in the centre of the photo above, at the front of his store. His brother Menser Moses, from the American Tobacco Warehouse operated his business next door, and sits on the right. When Simeon Moses left Gulgong in 1873 to take over the Royal Hotel in Mudgee, the Greatest Wonder of the World was taken over by his other brother Abraham Moses.



Then Robert Robinson bought this building from Moses. He renovated it to become the new Post Office but before it could take up that role the Government ordered the Post Office to be moved to the Telegraph Station in the Police Compound.  [5]


Figure 4 The Holtermann image of The Greatest Wonders of the World, Gulgong.



Figure 5 The Holtermann image of the

                   American Tobacco Warehouse.

                   The tall man is most likely to be Mensor Moses.








[1] MUDGEE GUARDIAN 30 Oct 1941

[2] SMH

[3] . "Trollope's Australia," published by Thomas Nelson


[4] State Library Home & away - 38789,. (Home & away – 41207


[5] Baldwin & Davis, Research Gulgong (Sept 2006)


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