Olive Branch

Olive branch

Great Alpine Road

The early decades of the 20th Century saw a dramatic change in the way we interacted with the Alps.  The boom days of the gold mines were well and truly winding down and the new economic boom of the ‘roaring twenties,’ saw motoring traffic increase significantly on the old Harrietville to Omeo coach route.

Mining traffic could however still be found along the route as a number of small mines like the Olive Branch were still be found sprinkled throughout these mountains.  

These would have been interesting times, when horse, walker and motor traffic were equally traversing this route over the Great Divide.

Horse team, Alpine Road, 1920s.  Harrietville Historical Society collection

Horses played an important role in the movement of provisions and mining machinery along this route for the best part of a century.  From carrying the provisions of the first digger over the Divide in the 1850s, to carting Bill Spargo’s stone out from the Red Robin goldmine in the 1940s.

Olive Branch Mine, c1919.  Illustrated Andrew Swift

Before stamp batteries could be erected at mines, the gold-bearing quartz would be packed to other batteries in the ranges or at Harrietville to have the gold values tested.  If deemed worth, a battery would sometimes be erected at the mine.  Pack horse teams would be regularly contracted out to cart stone from mines throughout the district.