JULIE Donaghy has been researching the township of Dereel for 20 years and last Saturday she had her collection on display in the Dereel Soldiers Memorial Hall. “I wanted to preserve what once was Dereel,” Julie said. “I wanted to let everyone know what was here. I researched each of the buildings that are gone and found photos of them and went from there. “The school and churches were the structure of the town, as well, as the racecourse which was around the swamp which is a sand based swamp. They had a race meeting once or twice a year to raise money for the town; the hall was built in 1921.”
Julie’s research shows Dereel was based on gold in the 1860s with a huge Chinese community.
Europeans came along and bought with them more population and gold mining companies were formed. “Dereel was gold mined up until the 1940s. There were murders, inquests, fires, and plague in the 1800s,” Julie added. “Dereel was known as Grassy Gully then. In 1875, up on the Ballarat-Colac Road a town began as people decided to move in and stay, not move along as they did during the gold rush years.
“Dereel now has a population of around 600 permanent residents.”
Julie has lived in Dereel for 25 years.
“There used to be a miners cottage here, where the blacksmith lived,” she said. “The son of the blacksmith used to come and visit me and tell me about our house and Dereel itself and this got me into preserving the history of my town. “From there, as people knew I was saving and researching the history, stories came to me. So by putting them on paper I was able to fill the Dereel Hall with my research.
“75 people came from far and wide to have a look and share some more history with me it was a fabulous day with Devonshire tea served in the kitchen, a great day was had by all.”