Photo by Simeon Tuilagi
McMahons Creek is home to the historic Reefton Hotel, which has witnessed so much local history, including the tragedy of the 1939 bushfires and the boom surrounding the construction of the Upper Yarra Dam.
McMahons Creek has a rich history of gold mining and timber logging. In 1858, gold mining commenced in the Upper Yarra at McMahon’s Creek. A well known place in the 1860’s with gold being discovered in quartz reefs in 1879 at the junction of McMahons Creek and the Yarra River.
Along the Woods Point Road there is a turnoff to the Little Peninsula Tunnel Picnic Ground. There is a short walk to the Little Peninsula Tunnel which was created in the late 1860s by dynamite blasting to alter the water course so prospectors could scour the exposed river bed. The Big Peninsula Tunnel is about 3 km further along the road.
In 1898 a Coach Service opened from Warburton to McVeigh’s this meant the road to McMahons Creek was kept in good state. A post office operated in McMahons Creek from 1865 to 1870 when it closed and reopened in 1901 adjoining the Reefton Hotel eventually closing in 1968.
Alf Armstrong Surveyor and Registrar for the St Andrews Division after whom Armstrong Creek was named, reported that in September 1879 that 1722 people with families lived in the McMahons Creek area earning a good living.
On the 31st of August 1891 S.S No 3125 Brinmonga School opened in McMahons Creek. It was a log hut with a bark roof, some years later a weatherboard building replaced this. The school eventually closed down due to declining numbers in 1943.
From 1920’s as supplies run out around Warburton prime timber was logged from McMahons creek area. Many wildfires have impacted McMahons Creek and surrounding areas in the years from1898 to 2009 causing fire damage to many of the older trees.
The Reefton Hotel first licensed in 1886 to Joseph Bowden was originally located in Reefton. The story goes “As the gold petered out in the Upper Yarra, Bowden decided to move the pub to east Warburton, where there were sawmills and plenty of thirsty saw millers to go with them. He packed the pub on to a bullock dray, but when he got to McMahon’s Creek, he couldn’t fit it across the river so he said, ‘Bugger it, this will do’, and dumped it.”. There is no documented proof of this as and no reference to this story can be found before the 1980s. A number long time residents claim that when the original building was burnt in a fire Joseph Bowden salvaged what he could and reopened in the existing building adjacent to the McMahons Creek Bridge.
Residents in Reefton and McMahons Creek have an active Community Group.