January 2000


  1. Editorial
  2. Cobb & Co. In Australia - Part 3 - Craig Wilson
  3. Outlaws and Bushrangers - Jim Foster
  4. The Stawell Gift - Sue "Goldie" Reynolds
  5. Ghost Lights in the Gold Fields - "Nugget" Hunter
  6. Lost Mines of the Monaro - Katherine Knight
  7. The Nuggety Mill - Andrew Carroll
  8. Flecks - Snippets of interesting info
  9. Yackandandah - Ruth Fullsome
  10. Gold By the Hundredweight - Cheryl Foster
  11. Strikes - Recent Finds
  12. Near Misses - Jim Foster
  13. The Lost Gold Mine - Larry Lahey
  14. The Deep Mines of Timor - Sue "Goldie" Reynolds
  15. Next Lode - What's in next month's Gold Net Magazine


The gold price is continuing to fluctuate with ever increasing regularity. Gold is still the basis of wealth standards world wide and will always remain so. With buoyant stock markets in the developed world the reliance on gold as the base standard is to a degree ignored, until markets suffer losses, when again the gold standard in reverted to with monotonous regularity.

There are many factors that control the gold price, not the least being the sale of gold by western governments. This was reflected again with the UK government selling off a further 25 tons of gold recently. World stock markets are presently extremely buoyant, fueled by E (electric) Commerce stocks. Massive investment funds are presently being poured into these stocks with reckless abandon. We say reckless, as many of these companies are not performing and will never be profitable. The eventual fall out from this and a correction in world stock markets to a more responsible level will see the gold price surge. Just when that will occur is unpredictable, but should in the normal course be within the next few months.


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          by Craig Wilson

In 1862 Cobb & Co commenced operations in New South Wales. Conditions here were vastly different to that experienced in Victoria. The Great Dividing Range was a major impediment in opening up the plains to the west and even today the topography is difficult to traverse, because of the rugged terrain, with steep cliffs that interlace this area in an ad hoc fashion.

Prior to Cobb " Co making inroads into NSW several coach lines were in fact operating from Sydney town to the goldfields areas of Bathurst, Guyong, Orange and Molong. Some of these coach lines were using the American designed coaches. Bathurst was the centre of activity and from here coach runs left for Forbes, Mudgee and Lambing Flat further to the west.

The company decided to base their organisation at Bathurst, which was the largest centre west of the Great Divide. By 1862, the main gold era was over, but Bathurst was still a thriving community supplying the surrounding areas as they developed to the north, south and west.

Authentic Cobb and Co Coach - Click to enlarge During the winter of that year Cobb & Co duly arrived at Bathurst with 8 coaches, with 52 horses, in the first contingent, and the towns folk lined the streets and waved at the procession as it entered the town. A short time after another two large waggons and 7 horses each, trotted into town. The town was unable to cope with such an influx of horses and they camped on a flat just outside Bathurst near Denison Bridge.

By this time James Rutherford was the dynamic driving force behind the company, and it was reputed that he drove the first coach into town. Within days the company was operating to Forbes. Although Rutherford returned to Victoria to marry, he determined to make his home at Bathurst. He initially bought a humble home but in 1880 he bought the large and well-placed property "Hereford" and built a grand manor on the property for his expanding family.

At the time the company found the opposition to be quite strong, but within weeks two of the opposition organisations had sold out to Cobb & Co. There is one story about this legendary company that emerges here. Apparently on one occasion Cobb & Co had carried from Forbes back to Bathurst a full load of passengers including the USA Consul and a well-known American actress arriving late at night. The opposition coach line of Crane and Roberts refused to take them on to Sydney as they had used Cobb & Co. This forced Rutherfords hand and he immediately arranged for them to be taken on in one of his coaches. He mounted a horse and rode ahead of the coach and a short time after bought out Crane and Roberts and initiated runs to Sydney immediately. This was the character of the man.

By September 1862 the company was operating lines from Bathurst to Penrith, Bathurst to Sydney and Parramatta daily, and to Forbes, via Orange, 3 days a week. A run to Forbes via Carcoar also ran 3 days a week. Further runs were developed from Bathurst to Lambing Flat via Cowra, and there were daily runs from Bathurst to Orange and Mudgee.

The Post Master Generals Department archives reveal that from July 14th 1862 Cobb & Co took over the mail contracts from Crane and Roberts. No doubt this may have added to the tension that was evident from that organisation towards Cobb & Co. Losing a contract worth some 4,600 pounds a year would have been a cruel blow. Cobb & Co also took over the mail contract from Ford and Co. It was worth 1,097 pounds a year. No wonder both these companies sold out to Cobb & Co. Clearly Rutherford has pre-empted his move to New South Wales and had "done his homework", and it had paid off handsomely for the company. He was indeed an astute manager.

In 1864 the company began to move in other directions. Property investments began and this appears to be the basis of the fortunes made by the company directors. Although the core business was extremely sound and well managed the great wealth that came to the directors were through property. This move enabled the company to breed their own horses, from fine stock. The company diversed into sheep and cattle, and carried large flocks and herds throughout New South Wales and Victoria. They bought the cream of the properties available and developed them further.

Cobb and Co Staging Station - Bendigo - Click to enlarge These property developments were at the zenith during the 1890's. The property portfolios were so extensive it has been impossible to trace them all through historical records.
Among the properties owned were:
Cope Station on the Macquarie River. 200,000 acres, 6,000 cattle, 21,000 sheep and 110 horses.
Yanda, Fort Bourke, 400 cattle, 20,000 sheep and 40 horses.
Perricoota Station, Murray River, 6,500 acres. 5,000 cattle, 160,00 acres of rented land, 100 horses.
Queensland Station, Cunnamulla, on the Warrego River, 2,000 cattle, 10,000 sheep and some horses.
The ingenuity of Cobb & Co and its employees was legendary. In 1867 a massive flood washed away the Denison Bridge and the Rankin Bridge. These bridges were vital links into the town. Within a few hours a substantial flat-bottomed boat was built to transport people and coaches across the river. Although it was somewhat primitive, it did the job.

Rutherford was a strong community member and became involved in many organisations. He was on the Committee of the School of Arts for several years. He was the Treasurer for the Horticultural and Pastoral Society for many years, and he was the President of the District Hospital for over 25 years. Ironically he was a founding member of a committee formed to bring pressure on the government to bring the railway to Bathurst. He was a church member and an active Trustee of the Anglican Cathedral for over 40 years. Although a member of local government several times he was appointed Mayor in 1867, but resigned later in the year, due to pressure of work.

The development of further coach runs into Queensland soon followed, and at times camels were used to traverse the long dry runs during droughts. Cobb & Co concentrated on relatively short runs. This was their best business and was extremely successful. Just how the company was structured altered substantially and often. Rutherford though, was clearly the driving force and the main shareholder.
Cobb & Co were travelling well, but the advent of trains making inroads into their traditional markets was almost upon them. be continued


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Tag along Tour
"Tag along" means; join us in your own vehicle and accept your own expenses.
We provide tuition and guidance and may provide access to some private ground - if available.
Commencing... ...from... Period Price per person
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6 days AU$ 300.00

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Prices include air fare from International locations
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Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. $6,450 £4,245 42,300F 12,900DM 12,107,555L
Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. $6,450 £4,245 42,300F 12,900DM 12,107,555L
Enter through Sydney/Melbourne. Tour The Golden West, Western Australia.
Exit Sydney/Melbourne.
$6,985 £4,575 46,680F 13,765DM 13,111,825L
Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. $6,450 £4,245 42,300F 12,900DM 12,107,555L
Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. TBA
Enter through Sydney/Melbourne. Tour The Golden West, Western Australia.
Exit Sydney/Melbourne.
Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. TBA
Enter through Sydney/Melbourne. Tour The Golden West, Western Australia.
Exit Sydney/Melbourne.
Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. TBA
Enter through Sydney/Melbourne. Tour The Golden West, Western Australia.
Exit Sydney/Melbourne.
Enter via Melbourne, the Victorian Golden Triangle and New South Wales. Exit Sydney. TBA
NOTE: All tour details are subject to change without notice

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         by Jim Foster

Australians have always considered American outlaws to be real bad guys, but those who think that don't know their own history. As Australia was a dumping ground for fifty years for the worst criminals to come out of Britain it seems incredible that this country didn't produce more bushrangers than it did, but it still had plenty. Even before the goldrush days the countryside was crawling with bushrangers, but once gold was discovered things went from bad to worse. While American outlaws like Jesse James robbed a bank or a train and then disappeared for a year or more, Australian bushrangers often worked a ten-hour day and a seven-day week. There were very good reasons for this difference in working hours. In the United States towns were protected by a sheriff and maybe a couple of deputies, easy meat for the likes of the James gang. In Australia, towns were mostly protected by large contingents of mounted troopers, this discouraged bushrangers from robbing banks. Trains were not an option for Bushrangers as again, they were protected by mounted troopers.


Bushrangers tended to prey on the easy marks, lone travellers on lonely bush tracks, a lonely settler or bush pub. A typical day for a bushranging gang would be to be out on the track by eight in the morning. Picking a spot on top of a hill they would wait for a traveller, bail him up at gun point, rob him of everything then hold him prisoner to prevent him raising the alarm. They might rob as many as fifty people as well as a stage coach or two on the one day before skulking back into the bush.

Johnny Gilbert - Bushranger - Click to enlarge The most notorious of the American outlaw gangs, the James gang, pulled off around twenty six holdups during their fifteen year reign. By comparison, Aussie bushranger, John Gilbert managed six hundred and thirty hold-ups in four years. Ben Hall, another famous Aussie bushranger wasn't far behind with six hundred and ten hold-ups in three years. Frank Gardiner and Thunderbolt are also credited with hundreds of hold-ups. Mostly they got only a little cash, sometimes some gold and jewellery but it was often slim pickings for the Aussie outlaw.


Sometimes bushrangers ganged up to make a big hit. When Frank Gardiner and his gang joined Ben Hall's gang and robbed a gold escort at Eugowra in 1862 they got away with fourteen thousand pounds worth of gold, about four and a half million dollars by today's standards. Gold escorts were the target every bushranger would like to hit, often carrying fortunes in gold. These escorts were heavily guarded by troopers and were tough nuts to crack, but like all tough nuts, hit the right way it would give up the sweet centre. Many times the gold escorts were attacked but seldom did the bushranger gangs win the golden prize.


Comparisons should be made on the armaments carried by the Aussie bushranger and the American outlaw. The American outlaw seldom carried more than two pistols in belt holsters, a rifle, and maybe a sneak gun in his boot or up his sleeve. The outlaw's weapons were usually first class, the latest and best in America. Being so well armed with the most powerful of weapons meant people often died in the course of a hold-up in America's wild west. Aussie bushrangers had to make do with whatever was available. Even as late as the 1860's smooth bore flint-locks were probably the most common pistol with some black powder cap-and-ball making their way into bushranging hands. Australia lagged a long way behind in the manufacture of weapons, mostly importing British army cast-offs, relics of the Crimean war. Only one factory ever manufactured a pistol in Australia, the Tranter, a six shot revolver that disappeared as soon as the more modern weapons from the workshops of Samual Colt began to appear for sale.

All Aussie bushrangers carried between four and eight pistols or revolvers of one kind or another. But even with eight single shot flint-locks the Aussie was a long way behind his American counterpart armed with a couple of Navy Colts. While American outlaws killed many people it was probably only the inefficient weapons of the bushranger that saved lives. Ben Hall actually shot sixteen people, but none of them died. Jesse James is reputed to have killed sixteen people and wounded many more. Australia's most famous bushrangers, Ned Kelly, John Gilbert, and Frank Gardiner did kill some troopers and wounded many others, but wholesale killing was not generally part of the Australian bushranging scene.


Dodge City was reputed to be the wildest, roughest, toughest town in the wild west. It had a population of 14000 people and boasted 40 saloons at the height of its fame in 1883. The stories that have come from this town of infamy are legend in the chronicals of the American West but between the bouts of violence, life in Dodge City was pretty tame compared to Lambing Flat in 1861.

Ben Hall - Bushranger - Click to enlarge Now named Young, in the Australian State of New South Wales, Lambing flat was a rich gold mining town where the law had little hope of holding violence in check. While the troopers stationed there did their best they were outnumbered and out gunned by miners who caroused the town nightly, blowing fortunes each night and returning to their claims next day to dig another wild night on the town from their golden holes.

Lambing flat had a population of 16000 colonial and European gold miners, 6000 Chinese gold miners and 170 licensed pubs. It also had dozens of illegal sly grog shops which were run often by the wives of unlucky miners. These women also ran houses of prostitution in tents out the back, sometimes employing other women but often doing the job themselves. And while the bushranger riding the rough bush tracks seldom committed outright murder, not so the thieves that haunted the night time streets and diggings of Lambing flat. Murder was as common as thievery itself. Many of the old shafts around the town still contain the bodies of unfortunate miners who had their throats slit for a few ounces of gold. But these thieves didn't have it all their own way. If caught they paid with their life. Many a thief, moonlighters or candlelighters they were called, who was caught stealing gold from a claim was summary executed, his body dumped down the nearest abandoned shaft. Others were caught and tried by a miners' court. If found guilty they were hanged on the spot.


Come! All ye lads of loyalty, and listen to my tale,
A story of bushranging days, I will to you unveil.
'Tis of those gallant heros, God bless them one and all
And we'll sit and sing "God save the Queen, Dunn, Gilbert and Ben Hall."

Frank Gardiner - Bushranger - Click to enlarge Some of Australia's bushrangers reached folk hero status, much like the Hollywood heroes of the old west. Some people promote them as the Robin Hoods of the new world, forced into crime by poverty and police persecution, but in reality they were mostly cowardly dogs who richly deserved the bullet or noose they got in the end. Ben Hall, often lauded as a heroic figure once joined John Gilbert in robbing a shop run by a woman. When implored by the woman not to steal her eight year old daughter's money box they laughed as they broke it open and stole the princely sum of one shilling and eight pence. But not all bushrangers were of the same ilk. One pair of bushrangers held up a pair of South Australian miners heading home after making their fortune. (The pair had converted their entire fortune into gold coins and hidden them in holes drilled in the wooden frame of their wagon keeping only seven pounds to pay their way home.) Finding the two had only seven pounds on them, a five and a two pound bank note, the bushrangers took the five pounds off them leaving them two pounds to get home on. But such charitable acts were rare amongst a breed whose most heroic figures stole from children.


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4.  THE STAWELL GIFT             
         by Sue "Goldie" Reynolds

Stawell lies some 150 miles west , north west of Melbourne on the Great Western Highway, which links Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The area is punctuated with low hills and rolling plains and is the northern gateway to The Grampians, a spectacular formation of rugged mountains and stoney outcrops that rise in perpendicular fashion across rather flat plains.

The fame of this little rural town no longer lies in gold, but in Australia's premier professional foot race, called appropriately, "The Stawell Gift". Held on Easter Monday each year, the heats and eventual race, rates a live telecast Australia wide. To win this prestigious race guarantees the winner a handsome purse and corporate contracts.

Gold was found here in 1853, the area being ignored by many prospectors who found richer pickings at the great gold fields to the east of Stawell. Those who did fossick here found the lack of water, the thick bush and harsh conditions sufficient to move them to easier pickings. It was in 1856 that the first "rush" to Stawell eventuated, when a party led by Charles Broad washed rich alluvial gold from the Forty-Foot Hill.

At about the same time two other parties were in the area prospecting. The first, Sloane and Gumpy, concentrated on the quartz outcrops and were gathering a rich harvest of gold bearing quartz, but were hampered by a lack of crushing plant. The second group, Dunnelly, Duncan, Proctor and Beechner apparently struck a quartz reef almost immediately and when news of this spread, many more joined in the search.
The small village of Pleasant Creek, with its main street, Commercial Street, was born.

Stawell - Today - Click to enlarge The early months of 1856 were frustrating, as there were no stampers available to crush the rock. By mid year however, a primitive crusher was used with the first ton taking over 50 ounces of gold and the second ton taking 8 ounces of gold. From that time the settlement at the Pleasant Creek reefs became permanent. Thousands of diggers flooded into the area and all sorts of mining activities were undertaken in the search for gold.

As it turned out most of the gold was found at depth and was reef gold. The deep leads were old rivers long since buried by lava and then covered with gravels, sand and clay. A line of mine shafts can still be seen from the Western Highway. The paddocks are pitted with a series of holes where miners won their share of the golden harvest. Just how many were on this gold field is open to speculation. Some estimates were as high as 30,000 while others estimated 8,000.

Rushes in the area occurred frequently, with as many as four in a single day, but more usually these rushes occurred weeks and even months apart. In describing a rush of 1858, the following was recorded, my the Mining Warden, Murray.
"In less than a week nearly two miles of business places were put up, surpassing both the Dunolly and Ararat rushes in the celerity with which they were erected".
Populations were fluctuating in the area as huge tides of humanity moved themselves from one locality to another where the next rush was evident, sometimes a few miles away and sometimes 20 or 30 miles distant.

Tourist Poppett Head - Click to enlarge As time went by, the real gold recovery was turned over to the mining companies, and several large mining groups mined here. Between 1870 and the turn of the century, a large number of mines operated. Among them were the Oriental and North Cross Gold Mining Company, The Magdala Cum Moonlight, and The Three Jacks Mine. Old photographs indicate an extensive mining landscape with many companies obviously operating in the area.

Stawell was somewhat different in that the gold here never petered out. The ground here has continued to give up its riches unabated for almost 150 years. The huge mining conglomerate, Western Mining Company explored in the 1970's and 1980's and procured leases over some ground very near the main street of Stawell and open cut the area, eventually selling the lease to Stawell Gold Mines Pty. Ltd. in 1993.

A substantial underground gold mining facility operates here at present employing some 220 local people, and providing the town with a much-needed economic boost. By world standards perhaps not a huge operation but never the less it is a strong contributor to the gold supply.
Using a 5-yard square tunnel this company is extracting about 1,000,000 tons of ore yearly and processing some 800,000 tons of that ore. Average gold extracted is in the vicinity of 4.5 grams per ton. Having now reached a depth of 750 metres (Almost 800 yards) the costs of extracting the gold is increasing, however the company is optimistic that the mine's life will continue well into the next millennium.

Stawell Gold Mine - Operations - Stawell - Click to enlarge To this end the company have made application to open cut and mine a large area near the town. Some two years into the planning stage, Stawell Gold Mines is optimistic of a golden future for Stawell.
Just how much gold has been extracted from this now quiet sleepy little town is open to speculation, but it is estimated that somewhere near 5,000,000 ounces have come from the ground in this area.
In today's dollar terms that equates to an estimated US$1,500,000,000.

Today the Western Highway bypasses the main commercial area of Stawell, but there are still traces displayed of the gold riches that the land has yielded up at Stawell. The gift continues.


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        by "Nugget" Hunter

I was nugget hunting near Maryborough in the state of Victoria, Australia. It was cold. It had snowed the night before and the day had been fine but bitterly cold. I�d had some luck with three nice nuggets coming from a heap of gravel that the old-timers hadn�t got around to processing but the cold drove me indoors early.
Cleaning the nuggets I admired them in the lamp-light, they glowed gently in the warm light as I turned them this way and that, not a fortune in gold but enough to more than pay for my trip.

Turning the heater on high I spent the evening reading in my nice warm bed. It was quiet in the bush. Being so cold not even the night birds were calling. Distantly I could hear the accasional car passing along the main road but none turned off into the bush. Finally I was ready for sleep, but first a call of nature had to be answered.

Town Hall - Maryborough - Click to enlarge Outside the cold was intense. A blizzard of stars canopied the sky overhead but on the ground not a creature stirred in the still night air. I was only a few yards from the caravan when I saw it first. A light! It rose into the air, hovered for a second then glowed brightly before falling swiftly toward the ground. I stopped dead. The light was exactly as I had seen a smoker make when he lifted up his cigarette, took a draw, then lowered the hand holding the cigarette again. It seemed someone was out there in the dark watching me. I called out. No answer. I called again but still no answer. I began to get angry. I�d heard no vehicle, so whoever was there had sneaked quietly through the bush to get where he was.

Turning back to the van I grabbed my torch and my sturdy pick. Back where I saw the light I saw it again rise and glow. Switching on the torch I directed the powerful beam toward the light as it winked out. Nothing. There were trees all about, but none near where the light had appeared. The hair on the back of my neck rose and a shivery chill raced up my spine.

Legendary lights called Min Min lights are a part of Australian folk law with many sightings reported over the years, but none in this part of Australia. With my mind denying the impossible my eyes saw the light appear again. It came fully into being a couple of feet above the ground, floated twice that height upward, Flared into greater brightness then fell toward the ground, winking out before it hit. I took one involuntary step backwards before getting a grasp on myself. Getting a grasp on my imagination took a little longer as images of ghostly, cigarette smoking apparitions flickered through a mind trying desperately to find a safe anchor.

Tree trunks glowed ghost-like in the star light and the air was a still and clear as glass. The air went into my lungs like a cold, crisp wine down my throat, I could actually taste the sweetness of it. Every sense was on full alert, had a moth fallen to earth a hundred yards away I would have heard it. I stepped forward. Another light appeared, and disappeared. Another step followed by several more. A light appeared between my knees, wavering upward to appear as a star-burst of light in front of my widely dilated pupils. How I never broke and ran at that point I�ll never know. A cold sweat broke out on my brow and I was on the point of panic when I smelt something familiar. Wood smoke!

In The Light of Day - Click to enlarge Looking down at the ground I saw a faint glow. Dropping to my knees I saw a hole in the ground about the size of my little finger. Away down in the ground the earth glowed and another light appeared. I laughed and sat back on the ground, the trembling of my knees abating as I gave another shaky laugh. I knew now what those lights were. Scouting around I found where someone had camped days before. They had lit a fire around an old dead tree stump. Before they had left they smothered the fire with soil but the fire had continued to smoulder and burn out along a root. Encountering the hole left by a redgum moth lavae the fire had burnt more brightly, the hole acting as a tiny chimney and releasing a succession of tiny sparks.

The next day I was glad I�d found where those lights had come from and not been scared away. Out on the flat I found a brass end of a shotgun cartridge. Two feet away I got a signal I thought was probably the other shell from a double barrel gun. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a beautiful gold and quartz specimen about the size of my thumb. A little further on I found another one. More gold and less quartz this time. Then the biggest for the trip. The signal sounded off so loud I thought it had to be trash and I nearly left it. But digging down only a few inches up came a solid nugget of two and a half ounces. I was floored by my good luck. Two more nuggets came to light in that rich little patch of gold nuggets before I had to call off the search and head for home.

That was perhaps the most exciting trip I�d ever had nugget hunting. The gold was great and the story of those strange lights amongst the old diggings entertained many people around many campfires in the years afterward.


There are still many nuggets being found in the Maryborough district today.
Extensive State Forests cover the old diggings and quartz strewn hills making it certain that gold will continue to be found here for many years to come. Maryborough is a provincial city of about 8000 people with all services. Camping out in the forests is allowed for no fee or you can camp in the comfort of the towns two caravan parks, or one of the many motels or hotels. Four wheel drive vehicles are not required to access the goldfields. The diggings start right on the edge of town and continue in every direction for several miles.

For more information on Australia�s Central Victorian Goldfields try,
And should you see lights in the dark of the Australian night, check them out they could mean your luck is about to improve.



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         by Katherine Knight

The Monaro is an area of Australia that is a little off the beaten track. It is high country. Country that nurtures the birth of the beginnings of the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers, and the mighty Snowy River. To the west lie the great snowfields of Australia, with extensive high plains interspersed with magnificent mountain ranges running between the Great Dividing Range and the Pacific Ocean to the east. The federal capital, Canberra borders this region to the north and to the south the State border with Victoria contains this spectacular and beautiful region of Australia.

The area encompasses huge areas of National Parks including the Kosciusko, and Namadgi National Parks, with parks in this area covering over 7,000 square miles, of spectacular untouched pristine wilderness. You cannot spend time here without being touched by the beauty of this region. Rejuvenation of the soul is guaranteed.

Although not a major gold producing area the region hides more than it's share of old gold mines. Without knowledge of where the gold was, one could be forgiven for not noticing the old diggings in this region, as they are not easy to locate. Generally found in spectacular locations the eyes are drawn to the grandeur of the mountains and rivers and one tends to ignore the obvious old mines and diggings. It is no wonder that many of these old gold mines have been lost in time.

Nanima Station - Today - Click to enlarge To find all of these gold fields today is almost impossible, as many of the old gold fields have been overgrown and diggings have been lost and have to date, not been rediscovered. The goldfields near Murrumbateman are a classic example. Gold was first discovered here in the late 1850's and the auriferous area was extensive. Reef mines proliferated in the Nanima region just east of Murrumbateman, and there is extensive evidence of the surface gold and the deep mine shafts as the reefs were followed, progressively from the surface to the water table below, and sometimes beyond.

The first reference to gold in this district was late in the 1850's, when it was reported that the owner of Nanima Station had entered into an agreement with a Mr Higginson to work the station for gold. By 1861 there were about 18 Europeans and about 30 Chinese on the field. Water was plentiful, as the area has a good water supply and is fed year round by permanent springs.
For almost 20 years small outcrops of gold were still being found in quartz in the region, but there was never a major rush to the area. It was always enough to keep the local miners and farmers turned miners busy, and in times of harvest the miners assisted the farmers and in other times the farmers assisted the miners.

There were disputes, as there were on all gold fields, but here at Nanima it was clearly evident that co-operation was the accepted decorum.
How much gold came from the region is unknown but some of the crushings were exceptional. Up to 30 ounces per ton was achieved, but in general about 2 ounces per ton was the norm.
As late as 1900 up to 10 ounces per ton from crushing's were achieved from this region.
Right throughout this area there is evidence of old diggings, shafts and buildings, and it extends over a very large area. It appears that there is still a lot of old diggings and mines to be re-discovered in this region.

Fiery Creek - Click to enlarge South of Canberra, the National Capital lies the Cowra Creek goldfields, which encompasses Fiery Creek and Macanally. Just a few miles east of Bredbo, this country is rugged and forbidding, but magnificently beautiful to say the least. Many of the original diggings over this area are now lost and extensive investigation has uncovered some of them again. The main activity here commenced as late as 1888 and extended through to 1970, where there was extensive mining with large dumps of tailings.

Fiery Creek was a reef mining area with reefs running generally north south and this area was mined as early as 1888, but was extensively mined by companies in the 1930's. The resulting environmental damage is quite evident, and there are a lot of old ruins here that are extensive. These include a large stone dam and lengthy retaining walls for the battery that extends over several levels, towards a smaller dam downstream.

At Macanally, again the reefs ran generally north south. A derelict poppet head draws attention to the old mines in the area. A number of old hut sites dot the region. There was a battery well away from the poppet head and almost midway between Macanally and Fiery Creek. It appears that both gold fields used the device, rather than establish two batteries.
Although this area showed great promise and returned gold for several decades the best returns were just over 1 ounce per ton, on average.

This gold field was well known for the changing ownership of leases and companies. Both Fiery Creek and Macanally never developed into thriving townships in their own right. Cowarra on the other hand, a few miles north became the centre of trade for the region, and by 1947 was one of the largest settlements on the Monaro.

Historic Church - Majors Creek - Click to enlarge This area lies in the high country of the Monaro, just a few miles north east of Cooma, the gateway town to the Australian Snow Fields. Recently local authorities recognised the areas potential for gold fossicking and Crown land has been set aside for gold enthusiasts.

What has been missed in this area, is that the gold fields here have never been fully exploited. When visiting the region one cannot help but notice the tell tale features indicating auriferous ground that abounds. Most of these areas are now in private hands, however sensible approaches to land holders may result in both the landowner and the detector operator reaping a rich reward for their efforts, through co-operation.

Just how many old gold mines lie hidden in this region is a matter for debate and discussion. The area is, in many respects entirely forbidding. Cold hard country that experience dictates must be treated with caution. One particular area that was considered ideal for detecting turned out to be so infested with poisonous snakes that it was almost impossible to concentrate on detecting as every few yards a reptile was disturbed. In such a remote area a bite from one of these snakes could be fatal.

However, there is a positive side. A great deal of country is still to be investigated and further finds will be made. I just want to be there, when that gold is found.


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         by Andrew Carroll

Energy-efficient, environmentally friendly mineral processing has arrived - developed in Australia well in time for the dawning of the 21st century. Traditional methods of comminution that involve staged reduction of ores, including several stages of milling, look like being superseded by more energy- efficient methods.

Take, for example, Illabo Mining Equipment Co's new air autogenous, or fluid energy, system of reducing lump ores to powder.
While traditional ball mills expend enormous amounts of energy lifting steel balls against gravity and in endlessly moving slurry around, Illabo mills use only air to reduce a given ore to the desired range of micron-sized particles in one pass of the mill.
The Nuggety Mill - Click to enlarge And no charge is needed, because the ore itself is the grinding medium and can vary in consistency, suggesting further efficiencies over semi-autogenous milling circuits. Prototypes of the technology, known as Air Autogenous Mineral Processing, have been tested by Australia's leading scientists and found to offer significant economic advantages.

Efficient Energy

Researchers at Julius Krutschnitts Mineral Research Centre, University of Queensland, have estimated potential energy savings to run as high as 85 per cent, with results to date showing at least a 50 per cent reduction compared with current technology.

Environmentally Friendly

lllabo's dry (medium and fine) grinding technology uses air to transport the ore and so does not produce slurries and slimes which must be contained in tailings dams to prevent waterways contamination.
It releases no dust to atmosphere and uses no screens or grills, which in traditional plant become blocked and need cleaning.

Particle Shaping

Dry processing also extends the opportunities for mining and processing to and areas. The process emulates the natural process of mineral weathering but accelerates it. For example, sand with optimum shaping for industrial use can be produced from mechanically unsuitable "crusher dust", and its inclusion in concrete and the reprocessing of concrete waste material promises to be of environmental value.
(Current technology shatters and splinters minerals resulting in particle shaping with reduced shear strength when bonded with cements.)

Mineral Separating

The ability of Illabo mills to remove high specific -gravity particles at high concentration from the circulating load and within the one machine was identified by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) during evaluation trials as a significant advance. Dry separation of minerals during comminution makes certain flotation and leaching processes redundant, with benefits both to the bottom line and the environment.

The Nuggety Mill - Click to enlarge Non Contaminating

Constructing the vortex chamber of the mill of wear - resistant material such as rubber or synthetic would ensure the fine-ground mineral is free of metallic contamination. This is an issue in the areas of ceramics, alloy additives and pigments, and indeed in laboratories throughout the world where much depends on obtaining a pure sample.

Simple to Manufacture

The design is one, which can be built using a number of different materials. It has no alloy-hardened surfaces and does not demand complex fabrication tools or tolerances. (In the fine-grinding section, wear on miII surfaces is almost non-existent.) Prototypes have been manufactured using local materials and workshops.

Stable - Reliable - Maintainable

The simplicity of design and the use of commercial off-the-shelf technologies has resulted in successful field trials with consistent output. Maintenance is further simplified by the use of modular replaceable units where regular maintenance is required.


Illabo's process has been described as fluid-energy comminution.
Differences in air pressure within the mill cause streams of airborne ore particles to intersect in a cycle of controlled abrasion and attrition. In plain language, the process fine-grinds any material which fractures - from sugar to silica. Computer modelling of the milling process to enable accurate dimensioning for various industrial applications was completed recently and industry partners are being sought for building and licensing commercial plant.

Further Information

The product is being developed in Brisbane's Technology Park by Shortech Pty. Ltd.
The contact is Graeme Hunt - Phone 1800 245 150 or 07 3853 5281
International 61 7 3853 5281.
Email: [email protected]


8.  FLECKS ! - Glints from here and thereYeeehaaaa! I found it


  • Gold has always been sought after by treasure seekers and prospectors alike
  • The soils of Australia have given up more than their share of the golden metal for over 150 years.
  • It begs the question - just how much gold is left in the soil of Australia - this vast and forbidding land?
  • As one travels across the land and gathers stories for this magazine and fits in a little detecting and a little sluicing here and there, and answer becomes more obvious every day.
  • The auriferous areas that still lay undisturbed in this land are enormous.
  • Albiet most of this land is now in private hands, and many of the owners have no idea of the golden wealth that lies beneath the soil and along their creek beds.
  • What a joy and pleasure it is to see this wealth and know that for many years to come the pleasure of obtaining this golden metal will remain a fabulous hobby for detectorists and fossickers from all over the world, well into the new millennium and beyond.


         by Ruth Fullsome

There are some delightfully quaint villages in Australia. Yackandandah is one of those that I personally find totally inviting. What draws me to this little corner of Australia I cannot say, but I delight in visiting this corner of the world.

Perhaps its the uniqueness of the people, or the simple layout of the small but inviting streets, with their all encompassing trees, making most roadways in the town more like a botanic park. Perhaps it's the old buildings, or the "bric a brac" stores. Whatever, I totally enjoy the experience.
Yackandandah is a derivation of an Aboriginal word, "Yag-gun-doona", meaning "hilly country". The white population of the area soon turned that word into something that could be more easily understood and so the present name was arrived at.

Main Street - Yackandandah - Click to enlarge One spares a thought for the old timers though, who first came to this place in 1852 when gold was found at the junction of Yackandandah and Commissioners Creeks. A rush to the area followed and with the permanency of the gold field came the inevitable law and order groups, the police and the gold commissioners, along with a number of relevant government departments. While prospecting the area gold reefs were found in the hills and soon the area was a fair little settlement, with diggers dotted all over the landscape, plying their trade.

By 1853 the police were permanently present, having established a police camp in a paddock overlooking Commissioners Creek. Shortly after a brick lockup was built followed by a residence, police station and courthouse. Other buildings followed shortly thereafter. The population here was relatively stable as gold was available if sluicing operations could be built and there were a number of companies both at Beechworth, a few short miles away and at Yackandandah. If miners could not make a living themselves in those early days the companies building races for sluicing would readily employ and pay from 7 - 12 pounds per week. That was an enormous sum in those days.

Most of the gold diggings were centred along the numerous creeks that carried good quantities of water almost year round. The reef mines were often dogged with an over abundance of water, which in other gold fields was such a scarce commodity. Working in the freezing cold in winter and down stinking hot mines in summer took a heavy toll on the health of the diggers. As in most primitive pioneering settlements the mortality rates were excessive, particularly among the young and fragile. The cemetery at Yackandandah bears full testimony to the hardships that were endured here. It also contains a significant Chinese section, further up the hill, away from the European graves, as was the custom in those days.

Athenaeum - Yackandandah - Click to enlarge Throughout the Ovens region, as government officials named this area, the licensing of miners was strictly enforced. It seems that although Yackandandah was several miles from Beechworth the same sometimes brutal regimes of government corruption and ineptitude were more than evident. Up to 75% of miners were licensed, clear evidence that the authorities were judicious in their efforts to claim their share of the golden booty.

Although the government concentrated efforts on Beechworth as the centre of administration in the area, Yackandandah moved forward in its own right. Several banks were built in the town, and the present day Primary School still stands on the original site with a large number of additions since the early days of course.

The old Post Office, Former State Bank and the Bank of Victoria still stand, although some of these buildings date from the 1900's onwards.
Of prominence in the town, is the Athenaeum, a building appearing somewhat out of place in a gold town. It certainly has a Greek appearance about it to the unknowing, and it was built in 1878, to further enhance the social and intellectual structure of the town populace. The entrance is of interest as it displays a by gone era depicting a temple like facade that was common to many Athenaeum's and Masonic Lodges. This structure now houses the Tourist Information Centre.

Perhaps the finest structure in the entire township is a stone bridge that crosses Commissioners Creek. This was at one time a part of the main Melbourne Sydney Road, via the Beechworth gold fields. Constructed in 1859-60 the structure is a fine example of tradesmanship that has stood the test of time, as the bridge is still used by traffic to this day. It is classified on the register of the National Estate and is classified by the National Trust.

Bridge - Yackandandah - 1860 - Click to enlarge Today there are no working gold mines in the town, but well into this century there were several gold mines operating. One of these, the Karrs Reef Goldmine ceased operations in the 1980's, with the present owners now making a handsome living, with guided underground tours of the mine, with an ever-increasing clientele. There is still payable gold here. However it is easier to show people through mines these days and just as profitable, rather than go through the heart breaking array of red tape that exists to gain a licence to mine.

When I walk the streets of this village, as I prefer to call it, the grandeur of the old buildings and the history that is preserved here is exceptional. The proliferation of flowers and for that matter, the local native animals is breathtaking, invigorating, and it is indeed a delightful place to visit. I can understand why people now chose to retire and live the remaining years of their lives here.
I do enjoy a walk down the main street on a warm sunny afternoon, browsing in the many shops that display their often home made wares, in buildings that reflect so much that by-gone era. I am drawn to this place. Perhaps some day too, I will retire here.


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             by Jim Foster
Possibly the greatest incentives hurrying hopeful Australian gold diggers along the crowded roads were the vastly exaggerated stories of nuggets of gold just laying around to be picked up. In some of the very rich alluvial fields this was the case, nuggets of gold seemed to be as plentiful as common rocks, but this happy situation did not continue for long. Although sizeable gold nuggets contributed only a tiny fraction to the total Australian gold production, the larger specimens will always occupy an important place in our mining history and folk law.

Quality Nuggets - Click to enlarge Possibly the worlds largest, and heaviest gold nugget was the Welcome Stranger found at Moliagul, just north of Dunolly in Victoria's famous Golden Triangle region of Australia. Found at Black Lead, the Welcome Stranger was just a couple of inches below the ground surface. Found by John Deason and Richard Oates on February 5th 1869 it was twenty four inches long and weighed 2620 ounces. Deason and Oates went to great lengths to conceal their find. They even hid it in their fireplace and kept the fire burning over it. Unfortunately this monster nugget was melted down, but several replicas are in existence, one at Dunolly where the nugget was cut up on a black smiths anvil to be weighed.

The next largest nugget was the Welcome Nugget, found June 10th 1858 by a party of miners working 180 feet deep, at the old deep lead in the Red Hill Mining Company's Mine at Bakery Hill, Ballarat, Victoria. It weighed 2217 ounces and was sold for 10,000 pounds.

The third and fourth largest nuggets were found in the same rich area in Victoria, but with a fourteen year interlude. The Blanche Barkly of 1743 ounces was found at Kingower by an unknown finder on August the 27th 1857.

A Nice 5 oz. Nugget - Click to enlarge On January 5th, 1871. a Chinese mining party found The Precious, another monster nugget that weighed in at 1717 ounces near Rheola in the Dunolly area.
Of the thirteen nuggets weighing 1000 ounces or more found in Australia, eleven were from Victoria. Of the other two was one of 1286 ounces found at Burrandong, New South Wales, in 1858 and one of 1135 ounces, The Golden Eagle, found at Larkinville near Coolgardie in Western Australia in 1931. A total of 126, or about half of Victoria's largest nuggets were found on the Dunolly and nearby Rheola diggings. Probably the largest mass of gold ever unearthed was the Holtermann nugget found in 1872 at Beyers and Holtermann's claim at Hill End New South Wales. This enormous conglomeration of metal and rock was fifty seven inches high and weighed 630 pounds gross (7560 ounces) and contained about 3000 ounces of gold. But because it was mixed with so much other metal and rock it could not be classed as a true nugget.

Many mining authorities share the opinion that at least half the large nuggets found were never declared, being broken up and sold piecemeal mainly to enable the gold to be weighed. The Welcome Stranger had to be broken up in this manner. If the nugget couldn't be weighed, it couldn't be sold, no one was interested in keeping or buying large nuggets as they are today. The largest nugget thought to be found in the United States was a reported, but unconfirmed weight of 2340 ounces. This was found at Carson Hill California in 1849.

The largest gold nugget thought to be in existence today is the Hand Of Faith. Found at Kingower Victoria in 1980 with a metal detector. Kingower is just a few miles north of where the Welcome Stranger was found. Last reports place the nugget at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. Even today the Victorian goldfields continue to produce large gold nuggets, the latest is a rumoured 180 ounce beauty from near Bendigo, Victoria. When Victoria's Golden Triangle goldfields are not producing large nuggets, they continue to produce a steady stream of smaller gold nuggets to metal detector operators. Gold detectors have been scouring the area for over twenty years, but with every advance in gold detector technology, a mini gold rush occurs where several large nuggets are found, and huge numbers of lesser nuggets gleaned from the earth.


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11.  STRIKES       Recent Finds

DecemberPilbara47.5 oz
DecemberPilbara7 oz
DecemberDunolly19.5 oz
We will only publish information that has been authenticated. This is by no means a comprehensive list as many quality finds are not disclosed. - Ed.
47.5 oz Nugget 7 oz Nugget



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              by Jim Foster

Since man first discovered precious metals such as gold there have been those who missed out on fortunes by sheer bad luck. Just near misses that left one person the poorer, and another the richer. In only recent history, or circa 1895, there are many such near misses chronicled in the stories of those prospectors who missed The Big One.

Norman Sligo and party once camped on a spot for several days before moving on, not once thinking the ground around the camp was gold producing. They were experienced prospectors of note, having just discovered the rich Red Castle fields of Western Australia. Some weeks after they moved on another party found a great deal of shallow alluvial gold all around the actual camp-site.

Another time the same party sold a mine they were working on, for half an ounce of gold, the mine soon afterward became a bonanza for the new owners. A group of Welsh miners working near Leonora in Western Australia found a rich reef bedded in a large ore lode. Calling their find the Sons Of Gwalia (Wales) they went as far as raising capital to work the mine before being tempted to sell out for what they thought was a good deal, five thousand pounds to G.W. Hall. This turned out to be a pittance when Hall sold the mine to Berwick Moreing for the incredible sum of two hundred thousand pounds. Even at that price the mine was a bargain.

The Sons Of Gwalia mine has produced gold in an almost un-broken stream for over one hundred years. At this time the mine is entering a re-birth as the mine goes from open cut mining back to underground mining operations.
But the biggest near miss involved hundreds of prospectors and miners in far western New South Wales. For years these men spurned a great craggy hill as a hill of mullock with no worthwhile mineral content. Content to chase silver in the nearby area of Silvertown they rubbished the one man who took it upon himself to learn about all things mineral. This man was convinced the broken backed hill in the desert wilderness contained a wealth of precious metals and due course he found the richest lode of lead-silver the world has ever seen, the world famous Broken Hill.

In more modern times there have been some wonderful near misses. A near miss means that someone missed out, but it also means someone else was very lucky. In the spring of 1979 I was prospecting on the western side of a north running road at a place called Kingower, in the state of Victoria, Australia. Working there for some time I had little luck and moved south to a place called Hard Hill, near Dunolly. Not long after I left, I heard someone had been working the east side of the road and made a big find. This big find was the Hand Of faith, the largest nugget in the world today. The nugget was sold then for a cool one million dollars and last I heard could be seen at the Golden Nugget Casino, Las Vegas.

The Wrong Side of the Gully - Click to enlarge My run of bad luck didn't end there. At Hard hill I was detecting up one side of a small gully, intending to detect up one side and then down the other. I didn't see the other chap wander out of the scrub and begin detecting the other side of the gully. The first I knew of him being there was a loud signal on the Garrett Deepseekers speaker as the intruder passed his coil over a four ounce nugget (we didn't wear earphones in those days). To say I was a little annoyed too, was to understate my feelings to the extreme.
At the other end of Hard Hill was a nice long slope all covered in quartz floaters, just the place to find a nugget or two.

Beginning my search near the bottom of the slope I worked my way upwards, but time was against me and I didn't get to finish that slope as I had to drive home for work. Next weekend I returned to finish that slope. Upon arrival I noticed a large hole just up-slope from where I'd finished the week before. Inquiring at the local that night I learned a woman, first time out with a detector, wandered up the slope and found a six ounce nugget just under the surface. The beer did not taste so good after I learned that news.

In later years my luck didn't improve all that much. A spot where two gullies were only a hundred or so metres apart had always appealed to me. Both gullies had produced a lot of nice nuggets and I was sure there were more there. With the advent of the new Super Detectors in the mid 1990's I decided to give the area a working over. The ground was very highly mineralised and I was sure that the old conventional detectors would have left some gold. Picking the left side of the first gully I carefully gridded the slope. The opposite side of the gully didn't look to appealing not much quartz, just yucky looking clay. Spending the best part of the day on the job I found nothing. Discouraged I left that spot for what looked like greener pastures. Shortly after I learned that another chap had found a patch of nuggets on that yucky looking ground. The biggest nugget went two and a half ounces and the total number of nuggets was seventy four. It was enough to make a man spit.

Right Near My Camp Site - Click to enlarge For years I had to be happy to find the odd nugget here and there. In twenty years of detecting for gold I could find nothing larger than an ounce nugget. Not that I was unhappy, many others weren't even doing that well. Then my luck changed. From the one that always missed out I was now finding modest amounts of gold in patches that others missed. My biggest nugget to date, two and a half ounces plus many smaller ones, came from a spot where others had searched and had a very near miss, judging by the numerous holes surrounding the area. And it seems once your luck changes things just keep on getting better.

Over the following period of several weeks I found more patches of lovely gold nuggets where others had missed them. My best little patch was right next to a popular campsite where others had camped and detected over the last twenty odd years. It was also next to a very busy track and others drove past peering out at the lucky blighter digging nuggets they'd been driving past for weeks. How I chuckled to myself as I watched them slowly drive by shaking their heads and wondering how they'd never stopped there to search.

So If you have a bad run of near misses, don't let it get you down, just think, that other person who is getting the gold you missed probably had a long run of near misses, too. Everyone's turn comes, sooner or later.


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                   by Larry Lahey

    The world is littered with lost gold mines. Every country in the world has them. Some are found, but of course the richest are never found again. Lassiters Lost Reef a case in point. If ever that reef existed I am very doubtful. I�ll be one of the most surprised men in the world if it is ever found. I treat the stories of lost gold mines pretty much the same way as I treat stories of fairies at the bottom of the garden. Well at least I did, until I was part of the finding of one such lost goldmine.

    A friend of mine had heard rumours of a goldmine in a marginal gold bearing area not far from where we live, in the state of Victoria, Australia. Most people interested in gold and other minerals were aware that traces of gold and the odd diamond had been found there, but due to the geology of the area we reckoned there was little hope of finding anything substantial, then this rumour came along.

    It appeared the mine had been worked by four mates from a nearby town during the great depression of the thirties. They had no trouble making good money from the gold they found with the biggest nugget being just over four ounces. But no one knew just where they had their mine. It seemed the mates went off to fight in the second world war and none of them survived. It took my mate only a few months to narrow the area down to one possibility. Checking maps and geological surveys of the district we reckoned we had it nailed down to the western bank of a creek near the junction of another, smaller creek.

    En Route to the Hidden Mine - Click to enlarge Upon arrival we found the site on private property but had no trouble gaining permission to search for the mine. Indeed the owner was intrigued to find there might be a gold mine on his property.

    We searched all morning but of any mine there was no sign. We reckoned for a mine that had been worked for several years by four men there should have been plenty of sign. Discouraged, I sat down on an old log with my eyes gazing down at the quartz littered ground. I noticed where I sat was a shallow depression, and the ground was different there to the surrounding ground. Giving the log a bit of a shove I easily rolled it aside. Under the log was a hole not much bigger than a fox burrow. Looking carefully we could see the hole had been filled in with a bulldozer many years ago, but the ground had subsided further into the mine.

    Mick was first into that old mine. He had all the gear. Overalls and miners lamps and heavy boots. He spent nearly half an hour before popping his head out wearing a big grin. His report was positive so I followed him in. Four main tunnels made up the mine. It was an alluvial mine, not hardrock, but it had weathered the decades well. It took several tries before we established where the gold was most concentrated. First we tried the contact zone in the roof. That is, where the alluvial gravels of the ancient river had lain on the decomposed granite of the river bed.

    The Hidden Mine - Click to enlarge We found some gold there, but not very much, even after trying new ground at the end of each tunnel. It wasn�t until we sat back and took in the whole of the geological strata that a possibility occurred to us. Under the alluvials was the soft decomposed granite. The granite wasn�t a solid layer, it had originally been a jumble of boulders. Alluviums could be seen jammed down between the rocks where they had been washed by that ancient river, and as every prospector will tell you gold will always seek the lowest level possible. Eagerly we scratched out a couple of buckets of dirt and headed off down to the creek to try our theory. In no time at all flakes of gold gleamed back at us from the bottom of our gold pans. With more panning we actually found more heavy, shotty gold. It wasn�t a lot, but then we never expected a lot of gold from this mine.

    The thing was we had found a "lost gold mine" and had proved it produced gold in payable quantities. But before you get excited let me explain what "payable quantities means". Traditionally the value of an ounce of gold has been around a weeks wages. That is payable gold. And to find one ounce of gold you may have to dig, shift, and wash, several tons of alluviums. It never was an easy way to make a living.

    But these days, with the gold being fairly shallow, and probably in the order of several grams to the ton, with a sealed road only a short distance away and permanent water just down the hill, the old lost gold mine could be quite a money spinner. We haven�t done anything with that mine, but we still remember where it is. One day when the price of gold again goes through the roof, who knows? We could mine the Lost Gold Mine again.


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                 by Sue "Goldie" Reynolds

    The vast wheat plains that stretch north from Maryborough, Victoria, appear today as an area that would be devoid of gold. Just 5 miles or so due north lies the small enclave of Timor, pronounced Tie - More. To travel through this "one horse town", there is nothing to indicate a fabulous golden past with the gold here supporting up to 30,000 diggers for some time.

    A digger named McMillan was prospecting the region and found gold at Chinaman's Creek early in 1854. 500 diggers rushed the area, and within a month 18,000 diggers were at the field. A small town blossomed straddling Bet Bet Creek, and was originally named Coxtown, after a local butcher who constructed a bridge over the creek at his own expense. Perhaps his civic gesture had more to do with the fact that he owned a large "grog" shop in the town, but never the less the grateful folk bestowed on him this honour.
    In 1856 the town was renamed Timor.

    It was a thriving town. The main street over a mile long with a 60 foot wide main street, and a number of more permanent wooden buildings lining the street. It was a lawless community with robberies and murders a-plenty.
    Bushrangers were drawn to the easy pickings and there was many a shoot out with police and locals who were trying to protect their property.

    The police presence was increased and a number of "raids" organised to effectively "keep the lid" on the buoyant and thriving community. With such riches from the alluvial, Timor developed a fine reputation as a great producer of wealth for the inhabitants.

    By the early 1860's the surface wealth was diminishing, and population numbers began to decline. Many deep reefs had been discovered here and it was clear that companies would be required to organise and extract the wealth the lay beneath the surface here.

    In 1861, the Hit or Miss Mining Company began operations over a 7-acre lease on the Leviathan Reef. Other companies followed soon after, and over 40 companies plied their trade in this area at various times and over a period extending well into the 20th century.

    In 1862 The Old Leviathan Reef Mine opened. The United Gold Mining Company, and the Band of Hope Company followed soon after. In 1869 the Duke and Timor Gold Mining Company started operations. !870 the Magnum Bonum Company and by 1875 most of the major players along with a sprinkling of smaller operations were in full swing.

    Remnants of Old Mine - Timor - Click to enlarge Although surface water was scarce, water below the ground was plentiful and many lines that followed reefs to depth were required to install huge pumps to extract voluminous quantities of water to permit operations to continue. In fact up to 3.5million gallons a day were being pumped from the Duke and Bismark mines to allow operations to continue.

    In 1879 the plunger on the Duke mine broke flooding the mine, and a number of smaller claims in the vicinity. The Duke was unable to recommence operations for two years. The town economy almost collapsed as a result, but as the Duke recovered and the pumps became operational again, the economy of the town recovered.

    With so many underground activities deaths were prevalent from cave-ins and drowning in the watery mines occurred with frequency. One of the most tragic events occurred at the Duke mine in 1883. Four men had entered the cage at the lander to be lowered to commence their shift. The cable was attached to the poppet head and the operator, instead of lowering the cage raised the cage until the top hit the poppet head breaking the hook that secured it. The plunge down the 355 feet shaft resulted in instant death to the men. Several children were left fatherless. The engine driver was charged with manslaughter and was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.
    Among other hardships endured was a plague of measles that killed a number of children in 1875.

    Many of these mines were indeed deep with levels down as far as 2,000 feet. Although most of these mines produced well for their investors there were those whose luck was fleeting, and many of the smaller mines and eventually the larger mines were run by tribute. The miners working for a percentage of the take of gold recovered.
    In better days the Band of Hope Company recorded a record gold yield of 2,832 ounces on one 24-hour period.

    The details of just how much gold came from this region are sketchy, but to give some indication the following are recorded as accurate recoveries from the following mines.

    ALMA CONSULS64,000 ounces
    MAGNUM BONUM Co29,000 ounces
    SEAHAM Co 13,000 ounces
    GLADSTONE 13,500 ounces
    COUNT BISMARK 32,500 ounces
    DUKE AND TIMOR 216,000 ounces

    This is by no means a comprehensive list but an indication of the wealth that lay beneath the surface at Timor.
    By 1920 the last mine closed and the great gold field was no more.
    Old Pumphouse - Grand Duke Mine - Timor - Click to enlarge Many of the buildings in the town were pulled down and taken away and today the town is but a fleeting nuisance on the Maryborough - Dunolly Road. To drive through the village one could be forgiven for not knowing of the great golden heritage here as the area is almost devoid of any indication that great wealth once proliferated here.

    There are however, huge mounds of dirt and clay rising in steep contrast to the flat ground that now produces the golden harvest of wheat and other grains. These huge mounds, some rising to considerable heights, are almost hidden by the mallee scrub that now surrounds them. Just tell tale plaques near the fence line etched in wood, describes the mines.
    On the eastern side of the township the brick and granite remains of the pump house of the Grand Duke Mine lie derelict and forlorn. The huge engine with a cylinder that was 80" in diameter with a 10-foot stroke, which was connected to two 22" diameter pumps, is no more.


    15.  THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue

    • Cobb & Co in Australia - Part 4:
      The continuing story of Freeman Cobb's great Australian legacy.
    • Bulldozing for Gold
      The method used to find gold with bulldozers.
    • Over at Oberon
      A great detecting and sluicing trip to Oberon
    • The Lost Treasure of Frank Gardiner
      Where did Gardiner hide his treasure and what became of it?
    • Lost Mines
      Just where are these mines?


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