Historical information

The photograph depicts a view across the water at Lake Sambell. The image dates from approximately 1960. The present day park and reserve occupies the site of the former Rocky Mountain Mining Company, an open-cut sluice mine that began operations in the mid-Nineteenth Century and operated until the early 1900s, through the peak of Victoria’s Gold Rush. It was converted into a park and leisure area in the 1920s.

Lake Sambell was formally opened to the public on Friday 5th October 1928 and was opened by the Victorian Government’s Minister of Lands, Mr Bailey, as part of initiatives to boost the economies and development of country towns. The lake was named after Mr L.H. Sambell, a shire engineer and secretary of the Forward Beechworth Committee who was involved in promoting the transformation of the mining site and promoting plantation forestry and tourism as alternative industries. £300 to begin the process was provided by Mr J. McConvill, a former resident of Beechworth, who is remembered in a street name adjacent to the lake.

Residents of Beechworth have worked to raise funds to improve the Lake Sambell reserve several times, such as efforts in the 1930s and 1940s to raise the banks several feet to deepen the water for swimming purposes. Fundraising campaigns include the ‘Ugly Man’ competition conducted on behalf of the Wallace Park-Lake Sambell Development Scheme. The latter competition was run by the Fire Brigade Bend’s team as part of a larger competition called the ‘Mile of Pennies’; it was won by Mr Len Knight of Beechworth’s Commercial Hotel.

The ‘Mile of Pennies’ was conducted at a Carnival held on New Year’s Eve, 1947. It was proposed by the Beechworth and District Progress Association. As well as improving swimming facilities, funds were raised to install a caravan park facility near the lake. Funds were also donated by commercial entities, such as £250 received from Zwar Bros. Pty Ltd.


The photograph is significant as it shows the level of development of Beechworth in the early to mid-Twentieth Century.

Physical description

Sepia rectangular photograph printed on matte photographic paper

Inscriptions & markings

Obverse: nil.
Reverse: 3470 / Velox (paper mark)