There’s not much grass in autumn. Summer burnt most of it, and winter hasn’t yet softened the earth. Quietly crouching on my haunches, I peer carefully along the lightly grassed paddock, allowing the afternoon sun to play on undulations and show the shadows. There is it. A depression, it became a rise and a wall, a right angle, and another wall. It’s the floor plan of an entire house, lost for nearly a century. I’m home.
In about 1846, pioneer John Barclay and his wife Janette settled here. It was on the edge of civilisation, travellers and their horses sometimes arriving lathered and out of breath, with indigenous first peoples in hot pursuit. He called his run Greenvale, and here on Sunday Creek he built his home the Greenvale Inn.
The pub burnt down over a century ago. I’d seen a photo of a toddler here perhaps a decade or two after, his mother later had her ashes scattered on the creek. But for almost 100 years, no one knew exactly where the historic old Greenvale Inn once stood. Until now.
With permission from the land owner, I returned with Robbo, Gus, Gregor, and Craig, and a metal detector. The earth had never been swept, so up from the dry autumn ground came treasure.
We found 1850s gin bottles, handmade nails, blacksmith files, a bullock bell, tack buckle, stirrup, and horseshoe. Inside there was decorated porcelain, a tin doorknob, baby’s rattle, brass plate handle, an 1826 penny lost from someone’s pocket, the bar bell, and tellingly, brass fittings of a kerosene lamp, perhaps the originator of the fire. Hauntingly most of all, at the front door and directly opposite the track to the old Aboriginal camp, was the spent shell from a Martini-Henry .577/450 rifle. This was the type shot at the Kelly siege in 1880, although on this occasion perhaps used to protect the latest traveller.
One year ago today I discovered this hoard, and confirmed for the local historian the location of the inn. The founder John Barclay was my 3xgreat-grandfather. It was my grandmother who had her ashes scattered on Sunday Creek. And the toddler, that was my dad. Wherever you go, crouch and look for shadows. There may be treasure beneath your feet too.