Pietro 'Peter' Gambetta was a well-known identity of the Stawell district in the 1870s, having set up one of the very first vineyards in this area.
He produced various wines and sold them in Stawell, Melbourne and other country towns.
Pietro was the eldest of six children born to Giovan Andre and Lucia Gambetta in Ticino, an Italian-speaking region in Southern Switzerland.
At the age of 17 years, he arrived at Port Melbourne on September 17, 1859, on the 'Morning Light' departing Liverpool 140 days prior.
His parents paid for his fare, and he left with his Father's blessing.
It is believed that Pietro made his way with 16 other men from Ticino to the goldfields in the Daylesford area, where many Swiss were working.
A difficulty for the Ticenesi migrants was that they knew little English and had little capital.
Many married Irish or English girls who helped their husbands learn English and greatly helped the assimilation of their children, despite very foreign-sounding names.
After working on the goldfields of Daylesford for a couple of years, Pietro moved to the Bendigo area, and in 1864 he met and married Margaret Connelly, an Irish girl from County Tipperary in Ireland.
Their first two children were born whilst living in Bendigo.
In January 1868, Margaret and the children followed Pietro to New Zealand, where he had gone to find his fortune at a new gold strike.
A third child was born in Kanieri, New Zealand.
On their return to Australia, they settled in the Stawell area, still searching for gold.
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At this time, Pietro was working as a carter delivering wood to reinforce the mineshafts in the area's mines.
Across the next decade, six more children were added to the family.
In 1873, Pietro began buying up parcels of land; public land was allocated by ballot with a deposit of one shilling per acre.
He started with four acres and slowly built up to 25 acres along Elizabeth Creek, near the 'Flying Doe' mine, on Campbell's Bridge Road.
This is where he started his vineyard, which he named 'St Bernards'.
The principal vines that he planted were; Chasselas, Hermitage and Burgundy.
In 1893, 33 years after his arrival, he became an Australian citizen known as Peter.
He kept buying small parcels of nearby land to enlarge the vineyard and grazing property.
He continued working the vineyard and making wine with his two sons, Andrew and Thomas until old age forced his retirement.
Around 1929 the vineyard was sold, and he moved into Stawell to live with his son Thomas and his family.
Peter passed away on June 4th 1931, aged 89 years, whilst his wife Margaret died on June 6 1915, aged 69. They and four of their nine children are buried in the Stawell Cemetery.
In late 2021 the Northern Grampians Shire Council approved naming an unused road, off the Stawell - Marnoo Road, as 'Gambetta Road' (or Lane).'
The Stawell Historical Society recommended this name.
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