DAVID CHAPLIN STERRY
David Chaplin Sterry is the son of William Sterry and Mary (Chaplin) of Southwold, Suffolk, England who were married on Feb 21, 1830 in Southwold. (See Southwold Branch) David emigrated to Australia along with thousands of others from Britain following the lure of Australian gold. He arrived in Victoria on the "William Money" in Aug 1854 and made his way to the Bendigo diggings. He was then aged 21.
David worked principally at Epsom and Huntly and in 1856 became involved in quartz reefing. He became one of the pioneers of that industry and continued these mining interests for several decades, creating considerable wealth and a small business empire.
Quartz was only of passing interest to the early diggers as gold was very difficult to extract from the quartz without machinery and there was an abundance of alluvial gold which could be dug by hand with minimal equipment. As Luffsman, Sterry & Co and later the New Victoria Company he commenced operations on the 'Victoria Reef' which proved one of the richest in Bendigo. David was also a prominent shareholder in other Bendigo mines such as the New Chum.
David became prominent in the local community. He was a member of the Oddfellows of Bendigo; as chairman of the first Miners' Accident Association in the district, he successfully negotiated a settlement of a threatened miners' strike in 1879; in 1897 he was elected to the local City Council and was Mayor from 1878-79; he was also a member of the Marong Shire Council.
David took up horse breeding and was President of the Bendigo Agricultural Society for 24 years. He was elected to the state parliament, then called the Legislative Council, in 1882 and in 1890 entered the upper house, then called the Legislative Assembly, as the member for South Sandhurst until 1904, when he retired due to health reasons. He was presented to Prince Albert Victor and Prince George (the sons of the then Prince and Princess of Wales) in 1881. Prince Albert Victor and the state Governor inspected the crushing works at the New Chum United Company, which was then owned by David, and later that evening attended a royal ball, at which David Sterry was a notable guest.
David had many property interests, apart from his interest in several prosperous goldmines in Bendigo in which he was a partner. He owned and ran the Gold Mines Hotel; he had a large property in Bullock Creek and a street of houses in Park Street, Melbourne (which he reportedly lost in a gambling game). David built the original Gold Mines Hotel in 1857 and the one that stands today in 1872. The hotel has an extensive garden which is believed to have been laid out and planted by Sterry at an early date and originally stood on 1.25 acres. David used the surrounding land at different stages for a pig sty, a chicken run, horse stables, a small orchard and two dams and later built a small house on it, called 'the Cook's Cottage' for the servants to live in (and where the Campbell family lived for many years). The hotel's current address is Marong Rd, Bendigo, but it was previously known as Inglewood Road, Bendigo and Alley Street, Ironbark. The hotel was directly opposite Victoria Hill where David had several quartz reef mining interests. The two storey stone building at the rear of the current hotel is part of the old hotel. David also built a home for himself just out of Bendigo, off Bullock Creek Road, in the area which is now known as Maiden Gully. The house was single storey with double storey stables built from hand-made bricks and natural local stone.
(With thanks to Karen Esposito for making available a thesis called "The Gold Mines Hotel: The Man, His Hotel and Four Generations", written by Fiona Hanrahan in 1991 as part
of a university course and from which much of the above has been taken.)