Margaret Kennedy arrived in Victoria, with her Scottish parents, during its earliest days of settlement. She married in 1841, was widowed in 1845 then married John Kennedy in 1849.
Margaret’s husband, John Kennedy, an overseer on the Station, visiting the gold fields of Buninyong and Forest Creek, observed the similarity of the country to Bendigo and collected samples of gold for Margaret and told her how easily the diggers were finding it.
Soon Margaret, who was aged 29 with three young children, made her way to Bendigo Creek.
Knowing the area abounded with shepherds and ex-convicts she invited Julia Farrell along with her. The women made a camp beside the biggest waterhole and began their search, picking up enough gold along the edge of the creek to encourage Margaret Kennedy to purchase a Miner’s Licence. However, miner’s licences were issued like raffle tickets and butts never kept, so no official proof was ever witnessed.
Some years later when a reward was announced for the person to first find gold in Bendigo Mrs Kennedy submitted herself, so too did a Henry Frencham, an Argus reporter, but at a later inquiry he admitted that when he arrived at the diggings he and his party found the women washing for gold in the creek.
So certain was everyone that the two women were the first to find gold in Bendigo in 1923 a monument was erected at Golden Square near the site where the gold was found, though the women’s names were not inscribed on the monument.
Many historians believed that Margaret Kennedy and Julia Farrell were the first to find gold at Bendigo Creek, while others disagreed.
Celebrating Bendigo Women 2016
The Ladies Claim to Fame References; the story of Margaret Kennedy and Julia Farrell 2011
Site: An obelisk by Bendigo Creek marks the site of the first gold discovery in 1851 and is a tribute to the pioneers.
Traditional owners acknowledgement: The Bendigo area is the traditional land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people. We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Dja Dja Wurrung People, the Traditional Owners of the land.