Maindample History and Things to See and Do
Maindample was named after the Maindample Pastoral Run near the twin hills known as The Paps and was first surveyed as a township and area in 1875.
However, the township was well and truly established by 1868 with the gold rush era and boasted five hotels and three stores with an estimated 1000 miners actively seeking their fortunes in the area but was known only as Maindample Settlement prior to its surveying.
With the decline of gold the township started to shrink and by 1899 there were only about 10 houses and two hotels, one store and a blacksmith shop remaining – two of the houses belonged to the Railways and were lived in by railway gangers and their families. It was often the wives of those gangers that manned the railway gates and met the trains for passengers and ticket sales.
A police ‘camp’ was also stationed at Maindample from about 1868 to 1870 and manned by Mounted Constable Michael Kennedy – the same known for his part and death in the Ned Kelly shootout at String Bark Creek.
The railway line was busy having been established but was not officially opened until 1891, catering for goods and passenger services. From 1895 to 1969 it remained that the railway gangers wife acted as the station caretaker and postmistress. The local post office was moved from a private residence to the railway house and remained there until it transferred in 1969 back to Arthur and Kath Breadon, with Kath retaining the role of postmistress until 1989.
Today the township of Maindample has changed dramatically – it has no store, no railway and since the last remaining hotel – The Bridge Inn – burnt down in July 2010, no hotel. The motel however, still remains and is currently operating under caretaker management.
Maindample remains a thriving country settlement with more than 50 homes established in its centre and many more on outlying farms in the immediate area. Maindample boundaries are now considered to be from Lockhart’s Road to the west through to Pap’s Lane in the east and to McGill’s Lane on the Midland Link; encompassing many farms and with an estimated population of around 350.
Along the rail trail through Maindample much of the history and attractions are hidden. These hidden treasures include Alcheringa Colored Wool and Crystal Gem Shop, just a short walk or ride up McKee’s Lane (about 200 metres) – opposite the gateway to ‘Tara’.
A little further along is the township of Maindample itself which offers its recently established Community Park with one universal toilet, children’s playground and barbecue facilities. A community project over the past three years this park is still progressing and will in the near future hopefully become the ‘hub’ of this community.
And only 200 metres along the pathway is Maindample Whistle Stop – a little resting place in the gardens of Pam and Peter Mahoney. This newly established drink stop will cater for the thirsty traveller with cold drinks, tea and coffee and small snacks – mainly operating on weekends but at other times an ‘honesty’ system provides free cold water, canned soft drinks – and your donations go to charity.
After leaving the Whistle Stop you cross the Royal Town Creek – named after the gold rush mining fields called Royal Town and the road named the same. The creek starts its flow high in the hills above Mansfield and joins with Doolam Creek which then flows on down on into Lake Eildon. Once over the bridge you pass on the left the homestead and property of Clairemont. Claremont was one of the first properties settled in the district after the breakup of the bigger pastoral runs of Maindample and Junction (now Bonnie Doon).
It boasts having hosted the first football matches in the district. Today it is a family home and still boasts its own private airstrip. The old shearing and machinery sheds can be viewed from the rail trail which takes a left turn and meanders down alongside the home paddock of Clairemont.
From Clairemont you cross the Midland Link and travel through Black Swamp on your way to Mansfield. Black Swamp at one time flooded severely after heavy rains, and although drainage has been put in place, the gravel road through this area still becomes hazardous at times. Through the Black Swamp and on the right as you travel great views of The Paps can be seen through the avenue of trees that line this part of the trail. Along this section is another rest stop – still considered to be Maindample – and which regular travellers call –“The Tea Room” – is it just a shelter with table and seats for the weary to stop a while and rest before continuing their journey into Mansfield.
The now disused rail line has been transformed into a popular shared pathway for walkers, cyclists and horse riders – although a separate bridle path follows much of the trail off the chirt surface.
The Great Victorian Rail Trail commences at Tallarook, just off the Hume Highway and meanders its way through valleys and cuttings to Mansfield, some 134kms – making it the longest rail trail in the state of Victoria. It was officially opened in 2011 by the Hon Simon Crean who praised the work of contractors, officer and councils of three shires – Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell, planners and all those who had envisaged what could be done with this established link between many towns. An offshoot of the trail also leads visitors into Alexandra, giving cyclists and hikers another avenue to ‘stay over’ within the region.
Information gained from Maindample History – by Sheila Hutchinson