In 1852, on a barren piece of land that was of no use to gold miners or fossickers, a cemetery for the deceased children of the Castlemaine goldfields was set aside. Located within the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is Pennyweight Flat Children's Cemetery. A pennyweight is a very small measure of gold.
Surrounded by grey box gums in a tranquil setting, the Children's Cemetery tells a silent story about some realities of the goldfields during the 1850s. Many families travelled to the Castlemaine diggings in the early 1850s as word spread about alluvial (surface) gold to be found. Babies and young children were particularly vulnerable to disease and harsh conditions such as a serious lack of clean drinking water, and many died.
To visit Pennyweight Flat Children's Cemetery, look for signage on the left-hand side along the Pyrenees Highway (Melbourne Road) as you travel away from Castlemaine township.
To open the wire gate and wander through the rambling cemetery that holds in its arms about 200 grave, knowing that this is the resting place for babies and young children is particularly sad. A few inscribed plaques give you an indication of names and ages of the children buried.