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CARLILE’S HOSPICE, MOUNT BUFFALO, VICTORIA

An advertising cover with a sepia picture of a white building showed a group of mostly mounted horsemen. It had a caption of Carlile’s Hospice, Mount Buffalo, 4560 feet. Every Comfort & Convenience. Guides & Horses Always Available. Postal Address: Wandiligong. The postage of 2d was made up of two 1d rose ’Postage’ Victorian stamps which had the duplex postmark of the barred numeral ‘279' and BRIGHT/ JA 21/ 03/ VICTORIA. The cover was addressed to J.P. Cameron Esqre, Town Hall, Queen Street, Brisbane, Q’sland. (Figure 1)

 

 

 

The history of the area is that the explorers Hume and Hovell came across Mount Buffalo in 1824 and named it because of its weird shape - it looked like a buffalo, horn and all. Aboriginal people visited the mountain for their festival of the Begong moth, when swarms of the insects were caught and eaten. Baron von Mueller (see this site under ‘People’: Captains Flat N.S.W. to Carthago, Costa Rica), the famous botanist climbed the mountain in 1853 to collect specimens and it was reserved as a national park in 1898. The road to the top still follows the trail carved out by pioneer cattlemen Edward Carlile and “Buffalo Bill” Weston.

Carlile and a gold miner James Mansfield built tourist accommodations in the 1880's and Carlile built his hospice as an accommodation for travellers which opened in December 1891, catering for summer guests. The hospice was placed near the Monolith, from timber milled on the site. Carlile held title to the hospice by a ‘Miner’s Right’, and soon obtained a licence to sell alcohol. In the summer months Carlile used to graze his cattle in the area. In June 1908, Carlile wrote to the Victorian Government seeking compensation for the injustice and injury caused to him by the decision to build a chalet (for they recognised the tourist potential of the area). They, not wanting competition, attempted to close Carlile’s hospice as well as Mansfield’s chalet in 1910.

Dan Webb in the Victorian Historical Journal, Nov 1998, Vol 69 (2), wrote that the hospice offered fairly basic accommodation. “To squeeze in more guests, Mr and Mrs Carlile slept in the kitchen. The bar was the best place in the hospice. A bathroom and dunny were set out (at) the back in the bush. There was no lock, just a sign that ladies would hang on the door when using the facilities.” At other times, Edward and Mary Carlile lived in Wandiligong (the postal address mentioned on the cover).

Carlile died on 29 July 1913 at the hospice aged 64, leaving his wife and one son and two daughters. An obituary in the Alpine Observer described him as a “prominent figure in public matters in Wandiligong.. One of the foremost cricketers in the district and a strong supporter of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society. He was for many years engaged in mining. When the possibilities of Mount Buffalo as a tourist resort became apparent, Mr Carlile was quick to seize on the proposition and he may be classed as one of the pioneers of that now famous resort. Long before the road was thought of Mr Carlile built a hospice on the mount, and no doubt his reputation is known throughout the commonwealth as a careful and efficient guide to its many beauty spots.”

He was buried by a Methodist minister, with assistance from his local lodge, the Brethren of Court Little John. His probate papers list him as a guide, with address shown as Wandiligong.

In 1916, Carlile’s widow sold the hospice and the Miner’s Right on which it was built, and the liquor licence to the Lands Department for £575. The hospice was subsequently demolished.

There are 3 places that are mentioned in the body of this paper, and the largest town is Bright which is 315 km north east of the Melbourne G.P.O. The other 2 places are Mount Buffalo and Wandiligong, and all 3 are shown with arrows. (Figure 2). Wandiligong is an aboriginal name whose actual meaning has been lost. It may mean "place of the echidnas", "meeting of the waters", "spirit place" or "little bushman" (Figure 2).

 

 

 

I wish to acknowledge the superb help of David Tuck (Librarian, Australian History and Literature Team, State Library of Victoria), who made the completion of this article possible by researching the published work of Dan Webb and quoting from Carlile’s obituary, mentioned in the paper.

 
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