Treasure in them hills

IT’S called the Bonito Treasure, the plunder of Benito “Bloody Sword” Bonito, and word is it is hidden in the hills around Mount Best on the banks of the Franklin River.

Leongatha resident Ray Debenham first heard about the treasure as a young man.

“In 1954, it was documented a very poor man conned someone into lending him enough money to buy a bulldozer,” he said.

“With the bulldozer, he uncovered $30 million worth of treasure in the Mount Best area. The bulldozer is still sitting there today.

“The farm where this treasure was found is on Wintles Road and is now a holiday home. You could drive to the dozer with a four wheel drive.”

On June 14, 1952 the Sunday Herald reported a holidaymaker found an 18th century coin on the beach near Queenscliff.

This piece of treasure is also believed to have belonged to Benito Bonito.

According to the article, Bonito sailed the Spanish Main in the 18th century, plundering jewels, silver and gold from Lima in Peru.

Legend has it he hid most of his treasure on Cocos Island, but apparently on his last attempt to reach the island, he was diverted by a British man-o’-war and he hid the treasure at Queenscliff instead.

This is a slightly different scenario to the one described by Mr Debenham, who believes Bonito was overthrown by members of his crew, who then sailed to a river in southern Victoria.

“They sailed the ship up the Franklin River to the Franklin Falls, which is where I always believed the treasure was buried,” he said.

“There is a rock at the falls with a dagger and a horse head carved into it. But since then, I have discovered it was buried at another set of falls further up near Mount Best.”

The Sunday Herald article claimed another pirate, known as Stingaree Jack, had escaped from Bonito’s ship with a treasure map tattooed on his arm.

It was said he used the map to find Bonito’s buried treasure and then he moved it to another location.

Mr Debenham said he knows of people who have walked the Franklin River from the first falls to the second, who said there were arrows carved into rocks along the way.

“The last arrow points up the hill to where a cave was dug. We believe slaves were made to carry the treasure up to the cave and then they were buried with the treasure,” he said.

“The cave is said to have been sealed with two steel doors from the ship.”

Mr Debenham said he heard the cave had been excavated at some stage, but no treasure was located.

Several more sites have been pinpointed as suspected burial spots for Bonito’s treasure, but all are located on private land or locations that are hard to access.

“I know a few people who snuck in with metal detectors and marked several sites, but the owner of the property doesn’t want to let anyone on,” Mr Debenham said.

“Now I have a map and a big metal detector, I want to go back up there and ask the owner again. There is no one left around that knows about it, so it will disappear.”

There are no records of treasure being found at Queenscliff, however the $30 million haul from Mount Best was apparently reported in both The Star and the Foster Mirror.

Booty hunter: Leongatha man Ray Debenham is in possession of a map, which he believes marks the location of the hidden treasure of pirate Benito Bonito.

Booty hunter: Leongatha man Ray Debenham is in possession of a map, which he believes marks the location of the hidden treasure of pirate Benito Bonito.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=11301

Posted by on Jun 24 2014. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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