Mount Disappointment is an 800-metre (2,600 ft) mountain, located on the southern end of the Great Dividing Range, 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi) north of Whittlesea, 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. It was named by explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell in 1824, and the mountain is now a popular hiking spot.
Aboriginal Australians are known to have lived in the Mount Disappointment area. Stone weapons have been found near the junction of Drag Hill and Sunday Creeks.
After making the arduous climb to the summit, British explorers Hume and Hovell hoped to view the distant Port Phillip Bay. Unfortunately, the mountain’s many trees prevented this resulting in their immense disappointment. Consequently they recorded their feelings in the name they chose for the mountain.
In 1870, Australian settlers began mining for gold at Mount Disappointment. In 1880 The Australian Seasoned Timber Company commenced timber cutting and sawmilling operations there and with an influx of workers, townships were soon created at Clonbinane, Reedy Creek and Strath Creek. The company operated two mills, named ‘Comet Mill’ and ‘Planet Mill’, located in the heart of the forest. A network of tramways carried logs to the mills for cutting. These tramways included a notorious section ironically called “The Bump” – a steep incline that required a winch to haul the solid hardwood logs. By the 1890s, the Comet sawmill was processing 800 Mountain Ash logs a month.
In 1883-1885, the catchments to the east of Mount Disappointment were captured by Toorourrong Reservoir and associated aqueducts. They are protected as part of Kinglake National Park.
The Australian Seasoned Timber Company’s finishing and seasoning works were located in the township of Wandong, north of Melbourne on the edge of the Mount Disappointment forest. This seasoning plant treated messmate timber, used principally for furniture making. The Wandong seasoning works were established by a different company in 1889 and were one of the earliest attempts to season hardwood in Australia.
At its peak, the timber industry in the area employed 420 men. Sawmilling ceased in 1939 but timber from the Mount Disappointment area is still being logged today, with improvements to forest management ensuring long-term sustainability of the industry.