Where is El Dorado?
El Dorado is nestled on the banks of Reedy Creek, downstream from Beechworth, at the end of Woolshed Valley. A natural amphitheatre housing an abundance of flora and fauna opens to the vast flat farmlands that were once swamps and wetlands. The small village of El Dorado is a short 15/20-minute drive from the surrounding towns of Wangaratta, Beechworth and Milawa; and 25-30 minutes from Glenrowan, Myrtleford, Chiltern and Rutherglen, 45 minutes from Wodonga.
Short History of El Dorado
(‘El Dorado’ is Spanish for ‘the Gold’, Or the ‘Gilded One’)
Contrary to belief – this area was named El Dorado long before gold was found here in 1854.
In 1839 William Fury Baker took up his Barambogie run near Chiltern calling the homestead block ‘El Dorado Park’. By 1848, EI Dorado Run covered 47,300 acres. Baker had travelled through severe drought conditions in NSW, before arriving in the well-watered Barambogie countryside – he indeed felt that he had found his “El Dorado”. In 1859, the El Dorado Run was divided into EI Dorado East and EI Dorado West, the present site of the township being on the western end of El Dorado West station.
The reason that El Dorado is spelt as one word (Eldorado) now days, is due to an error made in Melbourne when this area was gazetted around 1952.
El Dorado Township
By 1870, EI Dorado was a flourishing town, bigger than Wangaratta and some idea of its size and importance is demonstrated by the number of businesses registered at the time; a courthouse, 4 newspapers, 2 doctors, 2 chemists 7 general merchants, 2 tailors, 2 cordial factories, 16 public houses and 2 wine shanties. There was a police station with a sergeant, 3 mounted police, and 3 foot policemen.
There were also furniture shops, butchers, bakers, a blacksmith, a signwriter, a house decorator, 3 printers (who were probably the publishers of the newspapers), stockbrokers, watchmakers, bankers and a brick kiln completed the town.
From 1865 to the 1870s, three newspapers were being published con-currently. They were “The El Dorado Oxley and Tarrawingee Advertiser”, printed and published by the proprietors Lovell, Reynolds & Co; “The El Dorado News and Mining Record and Ovens General Advertiser” published by Hughes &Co and printed in the office of the El Dorado News in Main Street, and an “El Dorado Times”. In January 1871, the first two companies were jubilant as the “Times” printing business was to be auctioned. (Information sourced from J Colin Angus – Wangaratta Shire Centenary, 1967)