Piggoreet is a pastoral district and former gold mining village 27 km south-west of Ballarat. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word meaning curlew. Piggoreet was part of the Wardy Yallock-Smythesdale gold-mining area, which included Linton, Happy Valley, Scarsdale and Cape Clear.
Gold was found at Piggoreet in 1852 in a place known as Devil’s Kitchen, a small gorge west of the village which was later formed. By 1860 deep lead mining had extended eastwards from Happy Valley to Piggoreet, and numerous mines were worked until the late 1890s. The most productive period ended in about 1880.
A school was opened in 1863, and Bailliere’s Victorian gazetteer (1865) recorded five hotels in Piggoreet. There were Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. In 1903 Piggoreet was described in the Australian handbook:
The school was closed in 1924, and scarcely anything now shows where Piggoreet existed, apart from a monument to Thomas Burke who was murdered in 1867. Burke was the Smythesdale bank manager and gold buyer. The trial and execution of the murderers was a local sensation.
Piggoreet’s location includes pastoral country and scrubby ranges, and much of the ranges are State Forest. Its census populations were:
W.M. Robertson, History of Piggoreet and Golden Lake, 1927, facsimiles, Jim Crow Press, 1989 and 1998
J.G. Roberts, Piggoreet Devils Kitchen and Melville’s Cave, Smythesdale, 2003