It is believed that the tribe occupying the area at the time of white settlement were the Kurung. Bacchus Marsh was a meeting ground for anywhere between 150 and 400 Aboriginals even after white settlement, and corroborees were held quite regularly. While there do not appear to be any records of open hostilities between whites and indigenous people, by 1863 there were a total of only 33 Aboriginal people left in the Bacchus Marsh district, and apart from a handful of recollections of the original inhabitants preserved by pioneer settlers, sadly little remains apart from present-day locality names, mainly of watercourses: Coimadai, Djerriwarrh, Korkuperrimul, Lerderderg, Merrimu, Myrniong, Werribee.
One of the first white men to reach the Bacchus Marsh valley was pastoralist Kenneth Scobie Clarke (c. 1806–1879), a native of Sutherland in Scotland.
On 29 November 1836, Clarke headed west from Port Phillip with a large flock of sheep, arriving in the Bacchus Marsh district a few days later. He built a hut on the west bank of the Lerderderg River near Darley, and lived there until early 1838 when he ceded his run to Captain William Henry Bacchus (1782–1849) and his son William Henry Bacchus junior (1820–1887) and moved to the nearby Pentland hills.
Between 1845–47 Captain Bacchus built the Manor House, a heritage listed two-storey Georgian brick building that still stands in the township today. Captain Bacchus died in 1849 and was buried in what later became the grounds of Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
The Blacksmith’s Cottage
The Blacksmith’s Cottage is located at 100 Main Street, Bacchus Marsh. It is heritage listed and is on the National Estate list and has National Trust classification. It is the only publicly owned heritage site in Bacchus Marsh. Blacksmiths and their families have lived and worked on this site for over 100 years. Entry is FREE however a small entry fee may be charged for tours and groups. For opening dates and times please visit http://www.cottageandforge.com
The Forge Bookbarn
The Forge Bookbarn is located on the same site. Come and find a bargain amongst the wide array of books ranging from best sellers to hard-to-find titles. The Bookbarn is a great place to potter around in and chat with the friendly book-loving locals. Find out all the latest at the Book Barn News. Entry is FREE
Captain Moonlight’s Church
When notorious bushranger, Andrew George Scott first landed in Victoria in 1868, he may well have been fleeing a scandal concerning his military service in New Zealand. Regardless, the Bishop of Melbourne offered the well-spoken newcomer a plum post as a lay preacher in the Bacchus Marsh settlement. At the time, worshippers there were still gathering each Sunday in a building known as the Iron Church, one of many pieces of prefabricated infrastructure imported during the Victorian gold rush. In archival photos, it looks like a corrugated-iron shed, unflatteringly supplemented with a steeple.
According to the archivist at Bacchus Marsh’s present-day Holy Trinity Church, Scott attracted generally close to 100 parishioners each week.
In 1869 after being implicated in cattle theft, Scott was abruptly banished to the isolated mining town of Mount Egerton with the remains of the Iron Church sold for scrap in the 1870s to make way for a stone chapel.
Other heritage listed sites in Bacchus Marsh include:
- Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour
- 123 Main Street, Bacchus Marsh Court House
- 8 Gisborne Road and 8 Church Street, Bacchus Marsh Express Office and Printing Works
- 119 Main Street, Bacchus Marsh Police Station and Old Lock-Up
- 12 Ellerslie Court, Ellerslie
- 28-32 Manor Street, Manor House
- 37 Grant Street, Millbank
- 6 Gisborne Road, Residence
- 10 Gisborne Road, Residence