I can report that the Box Iron Bark fight is still very much alive and well. At least in the heart of those that matter. Moves are afoot to hold a major rally in Bendigo that will drive home to the politicians that interference with our rights will cost them dearly at the ballot box at the next election - unless we are heard.
On behalf of all those interested in keeping our forests open for the public to enjoy - I ask you to support this event. The greatest message that politicians understand is "people power", and we can guarantee them a strong response to this ludicrous proposal by the EEC.
Please make the effort to come to Bendigo and show the politicians just what you think of this stupidity. I know a strong contingent from South Australia will be represented and there will be others from New South Wales. If you want to continue to enjoy YOUR forests, make the effort. It will be too late when the legislation is passed.
This month we take a look at the great golden wealth that has been wrought from this great land. The figures are to say the least, enlightening - and although not in depth - provide a complete overview of just where the gold is in Australia, and from where it was taken.
As you have seen we have begun to re-vamp the Gold Net Site. As time goes by the site will be slowly upgraded to reflect the current internet language that is presently in vogue. This will make downloading quicker as we move from a HTML site to a dynamic HTML site. This will take time - so bear with us as we progress. We are also changing our server.
We have held over the article on New Products to keep you fully informed of the events relatiing to the Box Ironbark issue.
We also note that recently the Gold Net Site was unavailable for 36 hours - This was a server fault that was beyond our control.
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2. THE GOLD & PROSPECTORS EXPO
by Brad Williams
The Australian Gold & Prospector's Expo is only 8 weeks away - and what an event this will be. It will be much bigger and better than last year and with an improved advertising campaign, we are sure to attract an even greater number of people.
Last years event was an outstanding success - drawing people from every State and Territory - and also from New Guinea and New Zealand. We are aware that many of these visitors are planning to return, and they will be warmly welcomed.
We have again selected the Ballarat Exhibition & Entertainment Centre as the venue. This was done for a number of reasons. Firstly the fact that it is within the Golden Triangle is a big plus. Secondly the venue lends itself to an event of this type - with excellent facilities internally and with a good parking area that is very user friendly. Additionally the location is directly on the Great Western Highway - making travelling from Melbourne a short and pleasant journey.
For exhibitors, access to the facility is being upgraded - to ensure that we are not burdened by the rather primitive arrangemenet we suffered last year. In general access is good - but the planks are being replaced with a stronger and more appropriate arrangement, so vehicles can be safely driven into the building.
Catering will again be of the same high standard that is was last year - and we are sure that many a yarn will be told over coffee and hot chips again this year as they were last year. Perhaps the most pleasing occurrence at the Expo last year was the great Camaraderie displayed by all sections of the industry. Many of the major exhibitors had not met each other and there was indeed an outstanding rapport that was most evident. This did not just occur with the exhibitors - it occurred throughout the venue and all those present could not help but feel the electric atmosphere that was evident throughout the venue.
The gold that was evident was in copious quantities. Many large nuggets were displayed. No doubt they will be here again this year. We may have as many as four gold buyers at the Exposition this year - with interest shown from as far away as South Australia and Queensland. In any case - the entire Expo will be a bigger better event this year.
The PMAV (Prospector's & Miners Association of Victoria) have provided ouststanding support for this event - from day one. Again this year plans are well under way to present an outstanding stand that will be prominent in the venue. Negotiations are again under way to include APLA (Amalgamated Prospectors & Leaseholders Association of Western Australia with a combined stand.
We should not forget the outstanding contribution that Minelab makes to events such as this. The GP Extreme that has been donated for the event - is most welcome and reflects Minelabs commitment to the industry. They will be there along with a number of their agents. We have invited other detector manufacturers - however to date we cannot report a positive response.
Coiltek are again making a substantial contribution - and will be there in force. John Gladdis will be there and along with several professional prospectors who will give guidance to those who require it - and that advice is worth a great deal of money in anyones language. Well worth coming to the Expo to get that vital information that just might help you find that illusive yellow stuff. I am told that there just might be some exciting new products that will be available about the time of the Expo - so they will be worth looking for too.
We will also have Doug Stone from Outdoor Press attending. Doug is well known for his books on Gold and Gold Pospecting along with his maps of the well known gold areas. His tours are internationally recognised and his presence there will be a great drawcard for the Expo.
Of course we have not yet finalised just who will be there - but moves are afoot to invite the Victorian Mines Minister Candy Broad MP to open the Exposition. We would like to show the Minister that there is a stong prospecting industry out there.
There is no doubt that the Australian Gold & Prospecting Exhibition will be an even bigger and better event this second year - we look forward to seeing you there.
3. MAD DAN MORGAN
by Craig Wilson
Dan Morgan was a notorious bushranger in the gold field districts. He earned the name Mad Dan, because in fact he was probably insane - as his exploits and brutality indicated, he was not a sane individual.
Morgan's actual birth date is a matter of debate - but he was probably born around 1830, supposedly to a Sydney prostitute called Kate Owen. His early life was not spent entirely with his mother as he was cared for by a John Roberts, and remained under his tutelage until he was 17. He did spend some time with his mother visiting various country centres, where she would work in her trade.
The young man adopted the name of Morgan - after the famous pirate, and he lived up to his reputation be becoming an accomplished pick-pocket, and horse thief. It was not long before Morgan fell foul of the law, and while still in his teens, served six months imprisonment for assaulting a police officer.
His petty thieving continued while he was employed as a stockman on many Riverina properties. When he was about 27 he stole two horses in the Riverina district but absconded to the Castlemaine Gold Fields, where his criminal activities began to escalate. His reputation as a notorious horse thief was apparently well deserved, and his notoriety was well recognised in the area.
In 1854 Morgan held up a travelling hawker called John Duff and stole £ 80 from him. He was arrested and convicted of this robbery and sentenced to 12 yrs imprisonment, which he began serving at Melbourne's Pentridge Gaol. Six years later he was given a ticket of leave - from which he absconded, and moved back to the Riverina District of southern New South Wales and began a brutal and ruthless career that certainly created fear throughout the whole region.
He displayed a hatred for squatters. Generally they were poor people who had taken up the land to gain a living. Morgan often stated that the term of imprisonment at Pentridge, was meted out to him on the perjured evidence of a squatter and that other squatters would suffer as a result. And suffer they did. For three years between 1863 and 1865 Morgan was in full flight as a professional bushranger, murderer and thief.
His brutality was legendary. One day on the road near Tumberumba, two mounted police overtook Morgan, and not knowing who he was, Sergeant McGinnerty civilly said "goodaye". Morgan drew his revolved and without warning shot the sergeant through the chest. The sergeants horse bolted and Morgan galloped off after him. The other trooper rode back to Copabella for assistance. They found the sergeant's hat in the middle of the road - when they returned, apparently placed there by Morgan to indicate where the sergeant's body lay in the nearby bush.
Morgan's brutality to those who he held up on the road was legendary. He would bash them mercilessly, and then later, crying, beg their forgiveness. This led those involved to believe that Morgan was in fact quite mad.
Perhaps the most obvious incident that indicated his actual madness was at Round House Station near Albury southern New South Wales. He had held up the station and consumed a considerable amount of alcohol. During a meal that he had demanded he shot a station hand called Heriot, by design or error is not actually known - but he immediately apologised, crying and proclaiming that he had made a mistake. He arranged for another worker, John McLean to ride for a doctor, but as McLean was riding away - he shot him in the back, and then nursed him in his arms, crying and pleading forgiveness until he died.
The price on Morgan's head was now £ 1,000 . One of his most consistent modus operandi was to rob stage coaches, then put the driver inside the coach and make the horses bolt. A highly dangerous practice that led to more injuries.
Following the cold blooded murder of Sergeant McGinnerty, police were rushed to the area in an attempt to apprehend Morgan. Morgan's response was to sneak up on a police camp during the night, where he shot and killed Senior Sergeant Thomas Smyth in cold blood before escaping.
On another occasion, he suspected that a squatter had informed on him to the police, so he tied him to a fence near the wool shed and then set the wool shed alight. The squatter named Isaac Vincent survived. Arson, brutality, and madness were Morgan's trademarks.
In December 1864 Morgan held up a team of contractors near Albury. The workmen were required to turn out their pockets and empty their tents. They complied with Morgan's directions, and Morgan then burnt their tents. The group included 5 Chinese, who he delighted in making them dance and sing. Eventually when one of them failed to comply with his directions he shot one in the arm. He subsequently died of blood poisoning.
Morgan's appearance was legendary. His long black hair flowed into a dense beard that was intense and bushy. He was easily recognised by his trademark appearance. The police were closing in on Morgan and his brutality was turning the local populace against him. It was well known that the authorities south of the border in Victoria had boasted that if Morgan crossed the border he would be captured or dead within 2 days.
That was a clear invitation to Morgan, and as the heat was intense for him in South New south Wales, he crossed the Murray River and entered Victoria in the first week of April 1865. Signalling his arrival he held up a station at Whitfield, which was owner by a former employee called Evans. He terrorised station staff and burnt down a hay stack. The next day he held up another station, McKinnon's at Little River and stole money.
Within hours 40 armed police and volunteers under the command of Superintendent Cobham, had surrounded the station in the early hours of the morning. Morgan kept the festivities going until daylight, when half drunk and still relaxed he strode from the homestead to select a new horse. Cobham had ordered that if possible he was to be taken alive, and instructed police to shoot at his legs.
As he walked slowly towards the barn, Jack Quinlan, a stockman took aim from about 50 yards away and fired. The bullet struck Morgan in the back exiting through the throat area. Morgan dropped to the ground, mortally wounded. He was carried to the woolshed - where he refused to answer police questions. He was given water, and he died a slow and painful death some 8 hours later.
His body was taken to Wangaratta, where a bizarre event happened. Such was the notoriety of this bushranger that his body was taken and propped up in a stable and exhibited to the public. His eyes were opened and one of his revolvers was placed in his hand. Photographs were then taken. Locks of his hair were then hacked from the body as souvenirs - until the police called a halt to this behaviour.
Mad Dan Morgan was buried in Wangaratta cemetery on April 14th 1865.
4. THE DREAM FOREST
by Brad Williams
Australia is a land of great contrasts. Although the vast majority of this great continent is desert, there are some spectacular exceptions that are, to a degree, hidden treasures in a vast land.
In travelling through the auriferous areas east of Melbourne in Victoria, the terrain is very different to that of the Golden Triangle. The Triangle area is relatively flat, and moderately undulating. Access is easy, mainly along well developed bitumen roads, and dirt tracks, that enable detectorists easy access to almost all the gold fields in this area.
However, the first time that I ventured to the auriferous regions of the southern Great Dividing Range I was only 16, and my interest was not in gold at that time in my life. That interest came much later. Spending a year down in Gippsland when I was a very young man opened my eyes to the magnificent country that abounded throughout this region.
Gippsland is a land of great wealth. Abundant rich soils, coupled with a high rainfall where 40 years ago - dairy farming and beef cattle were major industries. Even then logging was controversial as the pristine nature of these magnificent forests was heavily protected even then.
Although at that young age - my ability to travel through this region was limited, but I did see the fabulous Tarra Valley - Bulga Park as it was then known. Situated almost due south of Morwell this small but impressive area is one of the best kept secrets as far as National Parks goes. Bulga is full of the mimic of the forest - the Lyre bird. An unbelievable bird that scavenges through the fallen flora that lies decomposing on the ground.
The ability to emulate other birds and indeed any sound perfectly, stands this bird out as one of the most incredible creatures on this earth. The only difference in the sound of other birds is that the sound comes from near the ground where most birds 'sing' high up in trees. The reproduction is perfect. Perhaps the most outstanding example of this that I can personally relate, was an occasion earlier this year, when I revisited the Tarra Bulga National Park, at a time when several Lyre birds were seen. I suddenly heard the sound of a camera clicking with a power winder operating. It was very loud and thinking I was on my own in the forest, I looked for the other human with the camera. It took some time to realise that it was in fact a Lyre bird imitating the sound - somewhere in the underbrush nearby. I moved in the direction and a few metres ahead of me the bird was fleetingly seen disappearing into the underbrush. It was an amazing experience.
What stands out here though are the magnificent mountain ash trees that proliferate in this area. These monolithic hard woods stretch vertically skyward, to an average height of over 60 metres. Now that's over 200 feet high. These parks are indeed awe inspiring, and well worth the visit if you are ever in the vicinity.
Revisiting this area in later life, when thoroughly focusing on gold, the same magnificent forests still proliferate throughout this region. Just after visiting Tarra Bulga - I headed over to the old village of Walhalla. Now Walhalla is at the very edge of the southern extremes of the Great Dividing Range, but one cannot neglect to notice the mountain ash stands and the magnificent ferns en route from the Gippsland Highway at Moe, heading north towards Erica and eventually Walhalla.
The richness of this country could not be lost on any one interested in detecting or sluicing, as to a man and woman for that matter, those interested certainly enjoy the flora and fauna of these areas, and have a history of preserving it. The steepness of the country around the old gold town of Walhalla makes this ground difficult to traverse. The auriferous area stretches north from here through to the Blue Range at Mansfield. The stands of mountain ash, along with the abundant tree ferns throughout this area make it a delightful but slow trip. (Due to the steep winding roads).
Close to Melbourne itself and in fact now overtaken by the suburban sprawl to the north east - there is the highly auriferous area of Diamond Creek and stretching north east to Strathewen. In the ranges at Huddle Creek, The Upper Yarra Dam, Neerim Junction, Neerim South, Huddles Creek and Macclesfield, many auriferous areas are to be found.
I had thought I had seen the forests through this region as I had travelled here before, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see when I left Warburton, in the Upper Yarra Valley. Warburton has a golden history too, being a place where supplies were brought to those working the gold fields of the Upper Yarra Valley in the gold rush days. The town itself is situated on either side of the Yarra River that eventually makes its way through the city of Melbourne. The area here is quite steep, and again not easy to navigate with ease.
Wanting to go to Marysville, I was directed to go across the top of the range, through the Yarra Valley National Park. It was not a long trip across to St. Fillans, just south of Marysville, and although a few kilometres of this road is dirt, the forests across this range are indescribable. Finding words in the English language to describe such beauty is an impossible task. Suffice to say that if you ever have the opportunity to take this drive, just do it. The magnificence of the forests here, stretching skywards in unison making a uniform statement of magnificence. The abundant tree ferns filling the gaps across the forest floor, with coverage so thick that to walk through this in some areas, is almost impossible.
The grandeur cannot be captured on film. A photograph can only give a mean presentation of the true magnificence of this place. It is an area that must be seen to be totally appreciated. It certainly moved me - and is equal to any other place on this earth. The old timers who fossicked for gold here and who eventually stayed in these areas to live their lives out - I salute you - you were wise men.
5. PMAV RESPONSE TO BOX IRONBARK
by Rita Bentley
We print the lead story in the Eureka Echo - December issue - commenting on the Bracks' Governments position regarding the Box Ironbark issue. Gold Net Supports the PMAV unreservedly on this issue
As this Echo was about to go into print we learned that the Bracks' Government had accepted the ECC's Recommendations to establish large areas of new parks and reserves across central and north eastern Victoria.
We are still waiting for adequate consultation. A ministerial inspection of prospecting and two mine sites does not constitute consultation!
The question is what to do next? At the time of going to press we are still deciding. Do we continue to be well behaved? Do we spit the dummy and refuse to talk to anyone and go ferel. Or do we shout from the rooftops that we have had enough of being pushed around and that Government has not given us a fair hearing or adequate consideration until someone listens?
My current thoughts are either of the latter two options. Trouble is they haven't given us much time to think - yet another committee has been set up to implement the Recommendations and report back to Government early in the new year. As with this inquiry to date, the outcomes have probably been written prior to the investigation! You can help by continuing to pressure your local politicians - remember that the Nationals and the Liberals hold the balance of power in the Upper House so they too can make a difference. Following is the press release that the PMAY put out following Garbutt's announcement.
Prospectors locked out of goldfields - PMAV media release.
Minister Garbutt's announcement that the Bracks' Government has accepted the Environment Conservation Council's controversial recommendations for large new parks over the central Victorian goldfields has angered the state's prospectors and miners.
President of the Prospectors and Miners Association, Rita Bentley, today said 'it is unacceptable when there is no evidence that prospectors or smaller scale miners have any impact on environmental values that we should be excluded from huge areas of one of the worlds best goldfields'.
Miners are more harshly treated with Ms Bentley claiming 'this will be the death knoll for small-scale miners in Victoria. 150years of tradition will cease for no valid reason. These hard working, self sustaining people will be joining the growing dole queues in country Victoria.' Ms Bentley continued 'there is widespread disappointment and anger at the Government accepting the parks and reserves before discussing the impacts with those affected. Surely if this Government is serious about taking into account the concerns of stakeholders Ms Garbutt should investigate the impacts before accepting the changes to land status.'
Ms Bentley concluded 'so far in this debate we have followed Government designed processes and logically argued our case - this has been ignored. There is a loud and intense call from the membership to follow in our predecessors footsteps and rebel against this clearly unfair and inequitable treatment - we have not forgotten Eureka'.
6. AUSTRALIAN GOLD PRODUCTION
by Tom Ferguson
Australia is well recognised globally as a fabulously rich gold source.
However, for the first 60 plus years of European settlement the golden harvest remained largely undiscovered. It is hard to understand just why gold was not discovered before as the country was so incredibly rich with gold.
In any case, just where the gold actually came from and the amounts officially recorded, makes intriguing reading. Some long held perceptions on gold and the amounts that actually came from certain areas are shattered when the official figures are studied.
Production from Victoria decreased by about 20% each decade, after the initial flood from 1851 -1860. Conversely New South Wales increased by about 50% in the 1860's. Although the gold from here never came anywhere near the figures produced by Victoria.
The most surprising statistic is that in the first decade of the 20th century, all states produced well and this decade was by far the best producing decade up to modern times. In fact almost 34,000,000 ounces were officially recorded.
During the 20th century gold production continued to decline, each decade. This culminated in a dismally low 186,000 kilograms for the entire country during the 1970's. The decade of the 1980's saw rejuvenation with gold production increasing markedly. This decade produced over 700,000 kilograms. The renaissance of the gold industry had begun.
The decade of the 1990's proved to be a bonanza, with production increasing each year. This decade produced almost 3,000,000 kilograms of gold.
In future articles we will look more closely at each state and the golden riches that have been recovered. Below there is a chart that displays the production figures by decades per State. It makes interesting reading.
7. FLECKS ! - Glints from here and there
This Comment is re-printed from the December Eureka Echo. The voice of the PMAV.
Governmenet Claims of Community Consultation a Sham
The Bracks' Government is being accused of ignoring the people of country Victoria by announcing their intention to adopt the Environment Conservation Council's recommendations for extensive new parks and reserves throughout central and northern Victoria without adequate consultation with local communities or user groups.
Members of the Bush Users Group today expressed their bitter amazement that the State Government which so regularly criticises the previous Coalition Government for not paying any attention to rural and regional issues is doing the very same.
The Group believes that the desired conservation outcomes can he achieved without locking out traditional activities and thereby creating a haven for feral animals and weeds. Mr Taylor continued 'we support proper management with adequate funding to address the current problems on public land and to ensure that traditional sustainable activities can continue.
Political seats in the box ironbark region are predominately held by the ALP with many changing hands at the last state election. Some of these seats are the most marginal in the state. Mr Taylor gave a warning to the Bracks' Government by saying 'they should remember who put them into power at the last election, it is the very same people who will throw them out next time, unless they start listening to the people in the bush.'
9. THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue