Here is an account of my visit to the ghost town of Cassilis. All photographs used were taken by me, you are free to use them as long as you please credit the source. – Marti Brown (aka The Crystal Brown Witch).
Nestled in amongst tree covered hills just beyond the small town of Swift’s Creek in Victoria, Australia lies the remains of a town called Cassilis. Disused gold mines and long abandoned machinery and automobiles along with some crude dwellings are all that are left to show for what once must have been an active area and mining town.
A sparse cemetery where the older graves are overgrown, damaged, and sinking into the ground stand testament to young families that had, at a time, tried to make a go of the area.
A young man in his early 30s who lost his life in an accident at the mine.
Mountains and low lying clouds gave the area a “tucked away” feeling, as if this pocket of land could possibly be untouched by time; I would have believed it too if not for the smattering of modern solar panels that adorned the roof tops of the houses tucked down below the road side and occasionally visible to the passing cars.
In the wooded area where rusted cars and machinery parts littered the scene, sound carried in strange ways and seemed to trick the brain into believing one was not alone. Did miners who lost their lives here still roam the woods trying to get home to their loved ones?
I felt a distinct loneliness and longing attached to the place. A feeling imprinted upon the land from a people long passed on.
My brother was concerned with what treasures may have been left behind when Cassilis became a ghost town, I on the other hand, wondered about its ghosts. I would be a liar if I said the almost pearlescent quartz that peaked above the ground did not pique my interest, was there still gold to be found here at Cassilis? But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was, at some time, some tragedy that occurred on this land. My empathic senses were at work and feelings of sadness, loneliness, loss, and hopelessness emerged.
And what of the current residents of the area? I wondered did they have a sense of sadness and longing for something they could not quite articulate; I would have loved an opportunity to ask them, to find out if they picked up on the echoes of the land from a time when Cassilis thrived.
No treasures were yielded that day save for an old fashioned nail holding within it the labours of times gone by.
We visited the Cassilis Cemetery before leaving the area. The Cemetery was sparse. A few boulders bore plaques of more recent deaths and recent tributes to great great grandparents who were once residents of Cassilis. Older graves showed whole families dying within a year or so of each other. Still older graves were unreadable, some broken and faded, some overgrown with weeds, and even some that the ground appeared to attempted to swallow.
Animal borrows labyrinthed underneath the oldest graves causing the ground to become all the more hollowed. A single rabbit’s foot lay upon the ground, lucky for some, unlucky for the rabbit.
The flat patch of ground that homed the cemetery lay between engulfing hills, a recreation reserve was the cemetery’s neighbour. I remember thinking it was a rather out of the way place for a cemetery, but found it an even more odd place for a rec reserve. In my opinion it gave the place an uneasy feeling though I can’t quite articulate why.
I had travelled to Cassilis in the hopes that the land might tell me its secrets. I have a fascination for ghost towns and long to learn the history of the trials and tributes that led to the rise and then ultimate demise of a community. I’m also interested in the emotional imprinting on the land, and the effects that has on people who live or pass through the area. The cemetery showed at least one death at the mine through accident, though I would hazard a guess there were at least a few more. I imagine the anguish of childless mothers and young widows with little mouths to feed whose heads forever more lifted to the empty roads in search of the men who never returned home from their hard work in the mines. This is the heavy sadness I felt in Cassilis that welled my eyes throughout the day. I may never know with any certainty if I am right about the tragedy I felt in Cassilis as I can’t find anything chronicled (if there is any at all), but I know what I felt did not come from my own feelings or experiences but more like an echo or whisper on the wind that cut through to the bone and weighed down heavy in my heart.
To those that lives their lives to the mines at Cassilis, may the Goddess bless you, lead you to the Summerland, reunite you with your loved ones, and bring you peace.