June 1999


  1. Editorial
  2. Sons of Gwalia - Tom Ferguson
  3. The Adventure of a Lifetime - Jim Foster
  4. The Eugowra Gold Escort Robbery - Sue "Goldie" Reynolds
  5. The Legend of Lasseter - Part 4 - Craig Wilson
  6. The Station With a Town Attached - Jim Foster
  7. The Ovens Valley - Ken Kirkham
  8. Flecks - Snippets of interesting info
  9. Ghost Towns and Gold Nuggets - Jim Foster
  10. Battle at Ballarat - Part 5 - Craig Wilson
  11. Strikes - Recent Finds
  12. Sluicing in New South Wales - Robert Read
  13. Adelong Gold - Catherine Knight
  14. Detecting Gullies - Jim Foster
  15. Next Lode - What's in next month's Gold Net Magazine


Here at Gold Net we are always seeking our readers input and comments. This is the fifth edition of the magazine and perhaps it is time to seek more comment from our readership, which I might add has exceeded our expectations to date.

Although we put careful consideration into the content of the magazine in the initial stages we are not averse to your comments, and will be flexible in the presentation of future editions. It is out intention to provide as far as possible articles of interest relating to Australian Gold. In particular the history, location, availability and access to gold sites for privateers will be our focus.

If you would like to know about specific areas, mines etc. please ask us and we will endeavour to provide what you request. Of course, we will not always be able to oblige, but I give you an undertaking that we will make every effort to satisfy our readership.


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          by Tom Ferguson

There are a number of large companies producing gold in Australia. One of the most prominent is Sons of Gwalia Ltd, a highly successful and profitable company with a strong base in Western Australia.

Although the company has in recent years diversified into other mineral resources including silicone sands, tantalite and lithium, the focus on gold production is exceptionally strong. With the majority of mining operations centred in the Kalgoorlie - Laverton region, the company operates a number of major gold mining facilities.

Miners - Sons of Gwalia - Click to enlarge In the northeastern goldfields the very large scale Sons of Gwalia mine is in full operation. The Red October Mine is due to be commissioned shortly. A number of other lessor mines operate throughout the area. In the Southern Cross Region, further south, the Marvel Loch Mine, the Yilgarn Star Mine, and the Bullfinch mining operations, focus on major gold production.

The Sons of Gwalia Mine is indeed a major operation. Massive open cut operations continue, making this site one of the most productive in Australia. This mine produces about 120,000 oz of gold a year. (About 3.3 tons) Reserves at this mine are extensive with exploration at depths of up to 4,000 feet showing yields of close to 1oz to the ton in some areas. On average the ground is showing about 1/3 oz to the ton, and with extensive reserves will profitably produce gold for many years to come.

At the Bullfinch operation substantial increases in production have occurred recently with the mine producing about 120,000 oz of gold per annum. This mine is extremely profitable as recovery costs are well below average and are in the vicinity of A$300 per ounce.

The Marvel Loch Mine produces about 80,000 oz per annum. Costs associated with extraction vary, but are in the vicinity of A$430 per oz. The Yilgarn Star Mine produces about 75,000 oz per year. Recovery costs are about A$440 per ounce. Both of these mines predict substantial cost reductions in the future.

Large Truck - Sons of Gwalia - Click to enlarge Smaller operations at the Marvel Loch Mine include the following. Golden Pig - producing about 5,500 oz per annum. The Ruapehu producing about 10,000 oz a year.

Bullfinch Operations include the following.
Copperhead (open cut) producing about 3,500 oz per annum.
Golden Pig (underground) producing about 38,000 oz per annum.
Golden Pig North (open cut) producing about 12,000 oz per annum.
Ruepehu producing about 12,000 oz per annum.
Cornishman producing about 53,000 oz per annum.

Yilgarn Star Underground Mine operations produces about 60,000 oz per annum.
Yilgern Star Low Grade produces about 2,700 oz per annum.
Southern Star Open Pit produces about 6,000 oz per annum.

Total production from all gold sources is just less than 500,000 oz per annum, with the company expecting this to increase by about 10% per annum.

Perhaps the most significant feature of the Sons of Gwalia is their extensive exploration of gold reserves. Development drilling at the Marvel Loch and Yilgarn Star Mines in the Southern Cross region has produced excellent results. The Golden Pig Mine near Southern Cross has continued to provide excellent drilling results along with the Cornishman operations.

Drilling Rig - Sons of Gwalia - Click to enlarge In the last few months the company commenced the first phase of deep drilling at the Marvel Loch, Sons of Gwalia and the Yilgarn Star Mines. Excellent results have resulted from all these mines at depth. With the majority of the companies focus being centred on exploration in the region of current mining operations the future of the companies projects appear incredibly sound. The current annual exploration budget is about A$25,000,000.

Development and expansion of mines is continuing throughout the companies operations and gold production has increased from about 100,000 oz in 1994 to the current 450,000 oz in 1999. 500,000 oz will be achieved in the year 2000.

Of interest are some of the test results from exploration drilling. The Sons of Gwalia mine gave an average of about 1/2 oz per ton. Testing at the Yilgarn Star Mine indicated as much as 1oz per ton, with an outstanding average of 2/3 oz per ton. These samples were about 1,700 feet deep while at depths of 1,000 feet up to 3 oz to the ton were achieved. An average at these depths indicates about 2/3 oz per ton.

The Bullfinch Operations have also displayed an outstanding result from 8 different test sites indicating an average yield of 1/2 oz to the ton. The Golden Pig underground has also displayed a similar average from test drillings.

Of interest is the fact that the current issued capital is just over 112 million shares. The company employs over 1,300 permanent employees. Gold Reserves are over 3.5 million ounces, and Resource Reserves exceed 7.7 million ounces, and are increasing yearly. Amazingly the company is able to achieve a sale price of about A$650.00 per ounce. Undoubtedly the Sons of Gwalia will continue to contribute to the great gold wealth of this nation.


         by Jim Foster

Western Australia! The gold capital of the world. A land of deserts and desolation. Where one can grow rich, or with one wrong decision suffer the ultimate consequence. To those in Australia, and for many in other countries, bent on searching for gold, the state of "Western Australia," is synonymous with gold.

For twenty years my wife Cheryl and I have wanted to prospect for gold in Western Australia. For twenty years we detected in the State of Victoria. Together we explored the famous Golden Triangle. We visited the amazing desert goldfields of Tibooburra in far northwest New South Wales, but always it had been our dream to visit that Mecca of all electronic prospectors, Western Australia.

Now our dream is about to come true. Come with us and share our dream as we travel thousands of kilometres from our hometown of Mount Gambier in southeastern South Australia to the capital of the Golden West, Kalgoorlie.

Our preparations have been meticulous. We have a four wheel drive dual cab utility towing a small wind-up camper trailer we converted for off-road. We have two of the best gold detectors money can buy, the world famous SD2200D gold detectors from Minelab Electronics.

These machines are without equal in the world of electronic prospecting. To compliment these wonder machines we have a selection of the newest search coils from Coiltek, also of Adelaide. For communications we have only a mobile phone. Our navigation will be by GPS - global positioning system - and compass, aided by maps. We will be self-sustaining for weeks at a time while we prospect the magical desert goldfields of Western Australia. We know it will not be easy. We will be away for about 5 months, living in our tiny trailer in the remote desert goldfields.

Showers must be outdoors and brief. Toilet facilities confined to a porta potti in the shower/toilet tent - behind a tree when away from camp. Never before have we been forced to live together in such close quarters for so long - but we figure the desert is a big place and one or the other can always take a long walk to cool down. After driving the 400 kilometres to Adelaide and spending 3 days in that delightful city catching up with business and family we finally headed west.

Driving north we found ourselves in Port Augusta, self-styled gateway to the Outback. Swinging west we drove until after dark. Pulling off the road we camped for the night. The morning dawned cool and foggy a colourful fogbow followed us for some time before fading away with the mist.

Coming down a long slope we found ourselves on the immense Nullarbor Plain. This is a treeless plain that stretches for hundreds of kilometres without a break. Soon after we came on the Head Of The Bite.

We stood on the cliffs overlooking the blue waters of the great Southern Ocean where hundreds of Right Whales come each year to calve. We paused and saw, then hurried on. At the end of the day, two thirds of the way across the Nullabor we again camped the night. Next day we drove on westward. At last we came to Norseman the first of the gold towns of Western Australia. Here we turned north for Kalgoorlie. A mining town of some thirty thousand people Kalgoorlie exists for only one reason, gold.

Goldfields Grave - Click to enlarge Since Paddy Hannon stubbed his toe on a large gold nugget the fabled "Golden Mile" of Kalgoorlie has produced gold beyond belief. For a hundred years tons of the stuff have poured from the mines under the golden mile, now the yawning chasm of the Super Pit, an open cut mining operation digs out the rock chasing the gold bearing ore ever deeper into the earth.

Then came our first days detecting in the golden west. Four years ago some friends had moved to Kal, as it is known locally. We stayed with them for a couple of days then they took us out detecting. Ninety kilometres of rough, dusty road later we turned off into the bush. With excitement mounting we assembled our detectors and tested them. With everything working the way it should we began. Ten minutes later Cheryl gave an excited cry. "I've got one." We all raced over to look. It was a nice little 2-gram nugget of solid Western Australian gold, our first, and the first of many we hoped.

Jim's Gold Find - Click to enlarge All morning we worked that area. Cheryl found another nugget nearby but that was all for the morning. After lunch we moved about a kilometre away. It didn't take long before Cheryl had her first from this spot, a pretty little 2.5 grammar. Flushed with success we worked away under a cloudless blue sky searching for more. It wasn't until mid afternoon I found my first bit of W.A. gold. Working on some cap-rock I got a faint signal. Clearing away some rubble improved the signal. Excited now I belted my pick into the earth. The pick struck the rock with a wicked clang and flew straight back up at me. Astounded I called Brian over to help; he had a heavier pick. Finding a crack in the rock I began the job of extracting the gold from the earth that had held it for so long. After about 15 minutes of intense activity I pulled out a large bit of cap-rock and threw it aside, noting as I did so a green stain on the side of the rock. Sliding the coil over the hole I noted the signal was no longer in the hole. I turned to that lump of cap-rock.

Putting on my glasses I examined the rock. On one side was the unmistakable gleam of gold, but it had a distinct tinge of green to it. Never having seen green gold I was amazed at its brightness. Carefully breaking away the host rock (not Quartz) I freed the nugget. It was rough and hackly and very pretty. Later it weighed in at just over 7 grams. Altogether for the day Cheryl found five nuggets and I found two Our first day out detecting had been a resounding success. These small gold nuggets we now knew were the first of many we were to find in this remarkable country.

The next day we left Kalgoorlie and headed north the two hundred and thirty kilometres to Leonora and the fabled Specking patch. Everyone on the detecting game has heard of the specking patch. Here gold has been found by eye without the use of a detector. We looked forward with keen anticipation to using our latest state-of-the-art detectors on this gold-rich ground.


We find gold on the specking patch before moving out into the wilderness goldfields where good navigation skills are essential to finding gold.


TAG ALONG $A 800.00

17 AprilWestern Australia
Ex Kalgoorlie / Leonora
14 daysDoug Stone
22 May Northern Territory
Ex Alice Springs
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10 JulyNorthern Territory
Ex Darwin
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11 SeptWestern Australia
Ex Karratha
14 days
9 OctVictoria
Ex Ballarat
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       by Craig Wilson

The exploits of Frank Gardiner, one of the most notorious bushrangers ever to take up the profession, ranks highly in Australian folklore. He was born at Boro Creek, near Goulburn, New South Wales in 1830. By the time he was twenty he was skilled in the art of horse and cattle stealing, and his exploits quickly gained him notoriety in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, where he operated.

To understand the public perception of bushrangers, one must address the obvious fact that a great number of settlers, now domiciled throughout the countryside, were themselves former convicts, and having suffered great depravations whilst incarcerated had some sympathies with these men.

The penal system was a particularly brutal and cruel system, with inhumane acts of barbarity committed by the authorities. In one instance in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), a young offender named Rares, but better known as "Boy Bandit" had at the age of 9 years been sentenced to 7 years for stealing a 2 penny apple and was transported. At the conclusion of his term he was re-sentenced to a further 7 years, as he had been a "naughty boy" during his first term. Escaping, he held up a number of local citizens gaining food and weaponry, and later joined with two well-known bushrangers and with them undertook a number of other robberies while under arms.

He was eventually captured, when the gun he was using to rob a farmhouse exploded blowing his hand off. Bleeding to death he was attended by a doctor who stopped the wound by applying a red-hot iron to the end of what was left of his arm. Lying near death he was convicted and then carried to the gallows and hung. He was 16 years old at the time. Such barbarity was not lost therefore on the former inmates of penal establishments in Australia.

However I digress. Gold escorts were implemented shortly after gold was discovered and to secure the large gold masses, much was escorted under armed police guard from the gold fields to larger settlements with more secure premises.

It was with some normality that on the morning of Sunday 15th June 1862, the gold escort coach left Forbes, with about 14,000 pounds en route to Orange some 115 miles to the east. John Fagan the driver, was accompanied by Sergeant Condell, who rode on the box with him. There were three other constables who were in the coach.

Mail Coach - Click to enlarge As they approached Eugowra Rocks, the driver noticed three bullock teams stopped along the road, and slowing the horses, Fagan negotiated the small opening left for the coach, unsuspecting that in fact this was a trap arranged by Gardiner and his gang. Reaching the critical point in the manoeuvre, they were suddenly confronted from behind the Eugowra Rocks by a band of at least 6 outlaws all wearing red shirts and armed to the teeth. Upon command they all fired a volley into the coach. One round struck Sergeant Condell in the side knocking him from the coach, and although several shots entered the carriage the three troopers inside were not wounded. In the panic they were unable to return fire for a few valuable moments, when,the six bandits withdrew upon order and were replaced with another six who fired a volley into the carriage again. By this time the troopers were returning fire, although one had been wounded, but the firing frightened the horses and they bolted into the scrub overturning the coach. Hopelessly outnumbered the troopers endeavoured individually to withdraw. They had lost some of their arms, all of the horses and the entire gold shipment.

As they withdrew and regrouped, they were surprised to find that they had all survived, each thinking that the others had been killed. Help arrived quickly, and word of the brazen robbery was soon echoing throughout the area. The police at Forbes quickly set out in pursuit, with eleven troopers, two black trackers and several civilian volunteers. The blacks tracked the bushrangers towards the Wedden mountains, and came upon their camp. They had left not long before and had left some of the mail. The police commander, Sir F. Pottinger split his force with Sergeant Sanderson, four men and a black tracker in a separate group.

Sanderson was a competent man and followed the fleeing bushrangers towards the Wedden Mountains keeping on their trail all the time. Some efforts were made by the bushrangers to disguise their tracks, but Sanderson kept up the pursuit. Eventually a lone rider was seen moving down a steep bush track and he was pursued with gusto by the sergeant and his men. During a minor skirmish one of the bushrangers horses broke loose and was captured by the police party, and a considerably amount of the proceeds were retaken, including a large amount of gold, and several firearms.

Pursuit was maintained until dark, when Sergeant Sanderson considered it prudent to ensure the gold was taken to a safer place and the party returned to Forbes as their horses had knocked up. Pottinger and his men were following tracks as well, towards the Riverina District to the southwest, and towards Victoria where he knew Gardiner knew the country well.

Pottinger was pushing hard towards Hay, some 200 miles south west of Forbes. The trail had gone cold, but their pursuit had been in earnest and a chance encounter on the road home, where they came across 3 well dressed young men mounted and leading a horse each. Pottinger became immediately suspicious and asked for proof that the horses were indeed theirs. A melee resulted and although two of the men were arrested at gunpoint, one of them escaped. A small quantity of gold and some pounds quickly identified as being proceeds from the robbery were recovered.

On the return to Forbes, both captured men were quite nonchalant and behaved casually. No wonder, for on the second day out the group was confronted by seven armed bushrangers intent on recovering their mates, and no doubt the gold and pounds earlier recovered. Although some shooting occurred, and the two bushrangers escaped Pottinger withdrew keeping the recovered property secure. He would live to fight another day.

The police party knowing that there was a strong likelihood of the armed bushrangers making an attempt to recover "their" booty travelled through the night to Narraburra. Incredibly the police in pursuit were now the pursued. Pottinger sent a messenger forward to Captain Bettye at Lambing Flat and he fortunately arranged for 11 troopers to converge on Narraburra to aid Pottinger. The gold was secured at last.

The bushrangers had by this time disappeared. The local police of the area had been busy after their initial forays in pursuit of the robbers. Several men were arrested in and around the gold fields, some of whom were probably not involved with the robbery, but some were undoubtedly involved.

Senior Sergeant Sanderson, recently promoted, arrested five more suspects at Wheogo, and he appeared to be hot on the trail as some money found on these men corresponded with money that had been stolen during the robbery. Gardiner was not among those arrested - he had simply disappeared.

Frank Gardiner - Click to enlarge The legal process began to bring the robbers to justice. While this process was being undertaken one of the arrested men confessed to Senior Sergeant Sanderson. He implicated others and exonerated some of those arrested. After three months of legal manoeuvering the case was to be brought before the Bathurst Circuit Court for the proceedings.

There was at this time a long backlog of prisoners awaiting trial on capital charges, and many prominent citizens of Bathurst fearing that the public would begin to sympathize with the Gardiner gang partitioned the Government to bring the prisoners involved in the robbery to trial immediately. The government in its wisdom granted the petition but moved the trials to Sydney Town. This disturbed the citizens of Bathurst as they well knew it would be much more difficult to obtain a conviction in Sydney Town.

At the first attempt at a formal trial for the first three who were charged with the robbery, the jury was not able to agree on a verdict and was subsequently discharged. On the second trial, 4 prisoners were tried and three were found guilty, and one not guilty. Those convicted were sentenced to death by hanging. Their friends and they were many, agitated and presented petitions with up to 10,000 signatures to the Government and eventually had the death sentences commuted to life in prison for two of the three condemned. One man named Manns, was eventually hung by the neck until dead, for this crime, despite please for clemency.

Of those involved in the robbery, only three were ever brought to trial. Others involved, namely Gilbert, Hall and O'Meally, were shot dead while involved in other unrelated crimes. Gardiner on the other hand was never brought to trial for this robbery although he was captured in Queensland and returned to New South Wales and tried for other unrelated matters, where he was given a long sentence of 32 years imprisonment. The majority of the proceeds from the Eugowra gold robbery were never recovered.

Frank Gardiner, served 8 years of his sentence before being granted a pardon and was released on condition he leave the dominions of "Her Majesty". He was placed under guard on a ship and eventually made his way to San Francisco where he became the owner of a popular saloon. It appears that here he remained, plying his trade for some years and died there a free man.


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New South Wales


        Craig Wilson

As the Thornycroft battled through the mulga, sand and spinifex, the mood of those on board was sombre. Blakeley was concerned at the delays. Without an aircraft to reconnoitre the huge expanse of country ahead of them the likelihood of the expedition being successful was in jeopardy.

In time they crossed the Northern Territory, Western Australia border, and a day later were stopped dead in their tracks as before them, as far as the eye could see, lay loose sand. Totally impassable in the Thornycroft, and probably impassible to any transport, even modern transport today.

A council was called and Blakeley summed up his options. They were few. He decided to return to Ilbilba, find Johns, who with his camels at least had a chance of crossing the sandy wastes. Lasseter would accompany him, and the rest of the expedition members would return to Alice Springs, and wait instructions from the directors.

Almost as soon as the party returned to Ilbilba, Johns re-appeared with his camels. Preparations were hurriedly made, and the camels loaded with stores. The remaining stores were secured, and as Lasseter and Johns prepared to leave, Blakeley wished them well, confirming they were to take no chances and to play safe in the forbidding country that lay ahead. Lasseter uttered the words, "If I don't find the reef, I am never coming back". Prophetic words indeed, that would haunt generations to come.

On a clear bright morning Johns and Lasseter with the string of camels strode away from Ilbilba towards the south west, and later that day the Thornycroft with the remaining members of the expedition began the journey back to Alice Springs. It had taken a full six months to get to this point, and the expedition seemed further away from their goal now than ever before. The return journey to Alice was uneventful, and upon arrival Blakeley wired the directors in Sydney, seeking instructions.

The response was immediate. Taylor and Coote were to establish contact with Lasseter as quickly as possible. The former would travel to Ayers Rock with camels and establish a base there, while Coote would prepare the aircraft and in due course fly to the prepared base at Ayers Rock, the huge monolith that was so easily distinguishable in the desert. As Taylor's mechanical expertise was so valued he was to prepare the aircraft for the journey before making the long camel trip himself to the Rock.

Ayers Rock - Click to enlarge Willy Willies are well known in the dry arid centre of Australia. They are small swirls of air, not unlike a mini twister, that amble across the dry wastes of Australia. They are generally harmless, and are ignored except when they disturb a campsite, swirling dust into eyes, and making a mild nuisance of themselves, before moving slowly on across the open landscape.

On occasions they can be more than just a mild nuisance and damage to property is possible, but this is rare. Rare or not, the aircraft waiting on the ground at Alice Springs was caught in a willy willy, that was just a little too strong and lifted the rear of the plane into the air, dumping it on its nose damaging the cowling and smashing the motor.

Taylor began the repairs immediately. He was an accomplished engineer and worked quickly to make the necessary repairs. Once done, he turned his attention to the other task at hand and was soon on the move with the half-caste camel driver, Paddy Tucker en route to Ayers Rock some 250 miles to the southwest.

Lasseter and Johns were making good time, and travelled freely through the open country reaching Lake Amadeus. A large expanse of salt stretching for 70 miles, barring their path. The camels refused to cross this salt lake, but with coaxing the party eventually crossed this natural barrier to their progress. In the distance to their left Ayers Rock loomed, and in front of them, Mt. Olga a large and imposing gathering of huge rocks, some 25 miles west of Ayers Rock. Here they camped. From this time the direction would alter, to due west. Somewhere in front of them through the Petermann Ranges lay their goal.

The Olga's - Click to enlarge It had rained in the centre, and water to this point had been readily accessible, but the further west the two men travelled, into the desolate regions of the interior, the dryer it was becoming. Care needed to be exercised and careful planning was essential. At times small groups of Myall natives would appear with the intention of drawing them away from known water soaks. Johns was an experienced bushman and was well able to find water in this unforgiving country. Lasseter was beginning to recognize landmarks, and criss-crossing the terrain, he knew he was becoming much more familiar with his surroundings.

They had been in the bush for some weeks, and water was becoming scarce. A huge downpour one evening drenched the ground with so much water, the camels were hardly able to lift their pads as they moved ever westward. Lasseter was sure of his bearings now, and within 20 miles of their goal they found themselves in a deep ravine with a large impassable bog ahead of them. Lasseter struggled on the last 20 miles alone. He found his Eldorado.

Johns was suspicious when Lasseter returned. The tension grew until during the evening meal, Johns called Lasseter a liar. He did not believe he had found the reef. Lasseter exploded, and the two men fought. A pistol was produced, and the two of them fought for it. The struggle was long and violent. Eventually both realized their precarious position and backed away from each other. A tense truce prevailed.

The return to Ilbilba was a sombre affair. Both men, who had been on such good terms, could barely tolerate each other, and they kept to themselves enroute. As the days passed the tension grew less intense and eventually the status quo returned. At Ilbilba, Lasseter replenished his stores. Johns was instructed to return to Alice Springs with letters to the directors. These letters explained what Lasseter intended to do. The route he would take, and how he could be followed and located. It was arranged that Johns would return to Ilbilba with a friend of Lasseters named Johannsen, and bring the food dump forward to Lake Christopher, across the Western Australia border. Johns carried out his instructions to the letter.

Lasseter, with two camels, well provisioned, headed off once again towards his Eldorado alone. He had begun his last ride. be continued



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        Jim Foster

Mark Twain is said to have described Maryborough as a railway station with a town attached. Built in 1890 this magnificent old building stands as a symbol of a people's confidence of a future that wasn't to be.

Designed for a population of about 80 to 100.000 people it now serves a population of around 8,750 who live in this busy central Victorian town amongst some of the richest goldfields in Australia. The long platform and large waiting rooms are mostly deserted save for the steady stream of tourists who come to admire the beauty of the foyer and marvel at the sheer size of this red-brick edifice. For any visitor to the city the station is a must.

If Mark Twain were to make a return visit to Maryborough I am sure he would approve of the changes made since his last visit. The High street, once described as so narrow two wagons had trouble passing, is still narrow but boasts a wide variety of shops. The parks and gardens are beautiful and well kept. The council operated Caravan Park is well sited next to a well-stocked lake just a few minutes through playing fields and gardens from the shops.

Railway Station - Maryborough - Click to enlarge Maryborough today boasts one of the finest collections of 19th century architectural grandness in Australia. Almost the entire town is an outstanding example of the grandeur of the era, and of the great wealth that flowed from gold.

Maryborough makes an excellent base for detecting excursions and when not detecting there are many things to do and see. There are lakes and rivers for fishing: beautiful old buildings to admire; mountains, wineries and other, larger cities, all within an hours drive. For detecting it is even better. Being right in the very heart of Victoria's fabled Golden Triangle with goldfields in every direction, beginning at the very edge of town, you couldn't find a better spot for a detecting holiday.

Post Office - Maryborough - Click to enlarge Gold was discovered at Maryborough in 1854. Within three months there were thirty thousand diggers on the field. With so many prospectors roaming the land it wasn't long before more major finds were made. Gold was found to be plentiful in the district. New rushes were being reported almost weekly. Many new towns sprang up within a few miles of Maryborough. Talbot, Amherst, Timor, Alma, all were rushed and supported at times by up to 30,00 gold fever crazed inhabitants.

Between these roaring gold camps smaller camps were scattered throughout the iron-bark bush with diggers camped on their claims to prevent claim jumpers and moonlighters from stealing their gold. The whole district was in a fever of excitement. Robbery and murder became commonplace as the rogues who preferred to let others do the hard work were attracted to the easy pickings. Maryborough itself is built over a main lead with many rich gullies only a short walk from the main street. The gullies close to the city were generally shallow with the gold being concentrated in a narrow gutter.

The names of the richest gullies ring with the poetry and colour of those wild and heady days that laid the foundations of the richest colony in the country. They were: Madman's, Deadhorse, Flagstaff, Shellback, Oldman's Mosquito, Bluchers, Smokey, )Whitehorse, Arnold's, Ironstone, Golden Point, and Nuggetty. Some of these gullies produced nuggets up to 700 ounces.

Courthouse - Maryborough - Click to enlarge Nuggets can be found as close to town as just over the back fences of houses. Good-sized nuggets have been found in earshot of children playing in back yards. Suburban detecting we call it. The hills and gullies around Maryborough still hold big nuggets just waiting for that lucky person with the right detector to come along at the right time and find them. The old diggings in the gullies still hold smaller nuggets while the slopes and ridges in between hide close those virgin patches of gold yet to be found. A new patch is sometimes discovered by the chance finding of one small nugget. Diligent detecting can sometimes then uncover a rich patch of Maryborough gold.

The gold producing area immediately surrounding Maryborough is so large that it can never be fully searched. Detector operators who have lived there for years are still finding good ground they never knew existed. And every time an advance is made in detector technology where the detectors can reach that greater depth the country is all open again. One patch of 80 nuggets, the largest nearly four ounces was recently found in an area where people had been detecting for twenty years. It was only the recent improvement in the Australian made Minelab detectors that allowed that operator and others like him, to penetrate the heavily mineralized ground and find the gold. Maryborough is about 3 hours drive northwest of Melbourne, Australia. It has plenty of excellent hotels and motels. The weather grades from sometimes very hot in the summer, 40 degrees Celsius, (104 Fahrenheit) to very cold in winter, the mean average temperature is usually very pleasant, about 23 degrees Celsius, ( 73 Fahrenheit). Best times to detect are April through to November with autumn and spring being the optimum seasons.


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        by Ken Kirkham

The Ovens Valley is one of the most picturesque and productive areas of Victoria. Nestled on the steep slopes of the western side of the Great Dividing Range, in north east Victoria, this valley carries a great deal of the enormous water reserves that feed into one of the great river systems of the world, the Murray River basin.

It is a rich and diverse valley that supports a myriad of rural pursuits and provides visitors to the area with glorious scenery that displays a pristine attitude leading from the famed high country of the Australian Alps. The productive plains that form the Goulburn Valley on the southern side of the Murray River and the Riverina Region on the New South Wales side lay just to the west of this area.

It was, a century and a half ago a wealthy and rich pastoral area well settled by those engaged in pastoral activities. With the discovery of gold throughout New South Wales and Victoria came the inevitable gold seekers threading their way along the creek and river beds in their endless search for that golden shine that made men rich.

In those days the area in winter was so wet that traversing the land was so difficult that re-supply often came by boat from South Australia, 500 miles to the west up the Murray River. That great river at that time was a superhighway of barges carrying produce down to the sea from the many ports dotted along the rivers edge. On the return journey, bringing much needed supplies to the upper reaches of the rivers. A convenient by-produce of the winter rains meant that the rivers were high enough for large vessels to gain access.

The Ovens Valley and the surrounding districts had more that it's share of gold. Perhaps shepherds tending flocks noticed gold in the creek beds, but it was not until Christmas of 1851 that the goldfields of the Ovens were publicized. The area where Beechworth now stands was soon to be the focus of the diggers as they searched for gold along the creeks and shallow alluvial diggings, as this was where the gold was most plentiful.

Post Office - Beechworth - Click to enlarge The wealth of the gold wrought from the Beechworth area can only be measured by the opulent behaviour of those that worked the area. Such displays of wealth are rarely seen. Men who bought clothes and when dirty they simply took them off and replaced them with newly purchased wear. Paying one pound for a bottle of champagne, and lighting pipes with paper money were all displays of the wealth.

It was at Beechworth then that a settlement of sorts was established, in those early days. As with other gold rushes traders would bring their wares to their tents and display a flag indicating a shop, and as rushes occurred in the area they would shift their tents, chattels and wares to suit the movement of the diggers.

Of course there were the usual murders, robberies, thuggery and debauchery born from a lack of civilian authority, so evident in those early days. The area in winter is deluged with rain and the diggers found a great deal of the terrain impossible to work for those cold bleak and wet months. A great deal of time was spent by diggers digging "tail-races". Long narrow trenches or flumes from creeks were dug to the claims, where at other goldfields the wash dirt was taken to the creeks - at the Ovens the creeks were diverted to the claims. A unique feature of this goldfield, that stands it apart from other goldfields in Australia. The diverted water was used to sluice the gold. A highly innovative and sensible method of gold recovery.

Because water was so abundant in the area sluicing was undertaken on a massive scale. Large pumps were brought to bear on the creek slopes and enormous water pressures applied to the creek banks making gold recovery one of the most energy efficient in Victoria.

The authorities reacted slowly to the moving tide of humanity as it shifted from goldfield to goldfield and it was almost 12 months before a gold commissioner was appointed to the Ovens region, with a base at Beechworth.

The majority of the gold was recovered east of the Ovens River. The original discoveries at Spring Creek and Reid's Creek were quickly followed by finds at the Woolshed field in 1953. Sebastopol and Napoleon in the Crimea war years, and later the Eldorado in 1856. Yackandandah, Nine Mile and Three Mile Creek systems were similarly explored. Gold was found at Myrtleford and Indigo and further up the mountain slopes at Buckland and the Upper Ovens River. Further east in the far reaches of the Mitta Mitta River gold was found and to the west at Benalla and southwest at Mansfield.

Sluicing - Ovens Valley - Click to enlarge The greatest finds however emanated from the upper reaches of the mountains near Bright running in a northwesterly direction through Yackandandah to Chiltern. Beechworth then became the centre of activity and resupply for the entire region.

One of the great legends that come from Beechworth relates to a horse shod with solid gold shoes. Perhaps as time has elapsed the legend has expanded somewhat and been embellished with poetic licence. The related narrative tells of the newly elected member of the Ovens Goldfield for the first Victorian Parliament. On 15th November 1855, to celebrate his election, Daniel Cameron rode this well shod horse a mile into Beechworth township followed by thousands of diggers pouring champagne into glasses for the amazed onlookers. It is suggested that the shoes lost one and a half ounces of gold during the journey. Some challenge the details saying that the horse had only the two front feet shod, and others say that the animal was from a circus nearby and borrowed for the occasion as this horse was shod with yellow coloured shoes. Whatever the truth of the matter, Daniel Cameron certainly enjoyed his popularity on that day.

In terms of population in the Ovens valley best guesses indicate about10,000 diggers were a the goldfields through the spring and summer months, declining to about 3,000 through the wet and miserable winters.

There is still "gold in them there hills" in the Ovens Valley. Perhaps not the abundant bonanza that the diggers of the 1850's found, but never the less a good quantity for the detector or sluice operators who are often seen prospecting the many creek lines that abound throughout the area.


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


  • 31.103477 grams - 1 troy ounce

  • 1.555 grams - 1 dwt (pennyweight)

  • 20dwts - 1 troy ounce

  • 12 troy ounces - 1 troy pound

  • 24 grains - a dwt

  • The term troy is named after Troyes in France not Troy of the Trojan Horse


         by Jim Foster

Australia has many goldfield ghost towns. Some like Amherst and Moliagul in the state of Victoria still have a few people Iiving where thousands of wildly enthusiastic gold miners once caroused. Now there is nothing to show where some towns once stood except a few exotic trees or flowering bulbs. These towns were thrown together overnight and often were abandoned in a day as their occupants rushed off to another show.

Some of the towns that once boasted tens of thousands of gold fevered occupants can still be gold mines for those in the know. I stress that this information is something that few people are yet aware of. Dunolly, in Victoria's Golden Triangle, had three major rushes. At one time, it is said, sixty thousand people thronged the streets of this wild and woolly gold town. The main street was three miles long and stores there sold every thing anyone could want. Today less than a thousand people live there.

What makes Dunolly, and the many towns around Australia like it, so interesting are the vacant blocks. Where once a canvas metropolis covered the ground, now there are empty building blocks. Where once stood bustling gambling houses and busy sly grog shops now nothing moves except a few sheep or maybe a pony or two. Where once men gambled using gold nuggets as play money only grass grows. In all the visits I have made to Dunolly I have never seen anyone using a detector on these vacant blocks.

Old Bakery - Central Victoria - Click to enlarge It isn't difficult to access these empty building blocks. Just knock on doors and ask who owns that patch of land next door. Seek out the owner and if you must, come to an agreement on your finds. Most people won't expect you to find anything much on a vacant town block and will often let you keep anything you find.

If the owners tell you that others have been there before you, don't despair. Ask how long ago that was, chances are it was quite a few years ago. If it was back in the nineteen eighties, then you still have a good chance of finding what they missed, especially if you have a late model detector.

While many modern coin detectors can find coins and relics in areas of low ground mineralization such as what makes up the majority of England, Europe, and The United States, it takes one made for local conditions to find the treasure. Minelab Electronics, based in Adelaide, Australia, make several models of coin detectors. The best model for the heavily mineralized goldfield conditions is the Sovereign XS Pro. This detector is an excellent coin detector for all soil conditions and because it uses BBS technology excels on the goldfields. (BBS stands for broad band spectrum). If there are gold nuggets it will find them. If there are coins it will find them just as easily while discriminating out any trash.

I have no doubt that in those innocent looking paddocks around the back of town and along the roads in and out of town lie many coins, some of them rare and valuable. Likewise there will be many gold nuggets. As the town was rushed three times the town itself was built over the abandoned diggings from the previous rushes. The old heaps that have long since been flattened out would contain many nuggets thrown out by diggers excitedly trying to bottom out on the shallow pay dirt. Many of these nuggets could easily be found using a Sovereign coin and treasure detector.

From old records we know that the main street at one stage was three miles long, today it is less than half a mile long. Think of what may have lined the main street of a roaring gold town of the 1850's. But what any treasure hunter should keep in mind is that no matter what the business, money changed hands. Where money changed hands, money was lost.

In the absence of banks many people buried their money for safekeeping. As murders were common on the diggings of those days some of those stashes must remain where they were hidden. Many stolen goods in the form of gold nuggets, gold coins, and other valuables must also remain in their hiding places just waiting for someone to come along with a good metal detector.

Old Maldon - Click to enlarge Unlike the United States, where treasure and coin hunting is more popular than nugget shooting, gold detecting is the preferred pastime of most Australian detecting enthusiasts. Coin hunting is popular, but mostly in towns and cities away from the goldfield areas. There are scores of ghost towns, or near ghost towns, in Victoria's Golden Triangle alone.

Few of these towns have seen much activity by people detecting within the town boundaries. Most of them prefer to search for nuggets in the surrounding goldfields. What this means is that there is thousands of acres of almost virgin detecting ground throughout Australia. Ground that could yield rich rewards for those willing to forget the thrashed goldfields outside town and concentrate on the less "obvious" fields in town. While Victoria has scores of these ghost towns other states have plenty too. The gold rich state of Western Australia boasts many ghost towns and abandoned gold camps. While the Minelab Sovereign reigns supreme in the eastern states it is the Minelab SD2200D that is required to search the old camps of the West.

The SD2200D goes four times deeper than any other gold detector and when fitted with the special Double D coil can discriminate out the acres of surface rubbish scattered around the old camps. Many of these camps were right on top of good gold bearing ground but because the ground is so heavily mineralized early detectors could not properly search the ground. SD2200D detectors are the first detectors to be able to ignore the heavy mineralization and trash, while still getting the gold and coins.

Anyone planning a trip to Australia can see the possibilities of searching old town sites with the latest metal detectors. It is the last chance for ghost tower's to search new ground. In a few years time this ground too, will be gone over and the easy stuff gone. Get out there now and get your share, soon.

Editor's note:

Ghost towning in Victoria is easy, as all services are close by. Other states, such as Western Australia may require you to camp out in desert country far from any services of any kind. Proper preparation is important. Seek local knowledge and advice before you venture out into the wilderness. Best times to search in the West, New South Wales, and Queensland are April to October. Victoria is accessible at anytime of the year.


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           by Craig Wilson
The skirmish at the gravel pits caused both sides to consider their positions. Commissioner Rede's intention was to restore law and order on the goldfields and this was the clear intention of the uncompromising Governor Hotham as well. On the other hand the disorganized diggers wanted reforms that would allow them to go about their lawful business in peace, without the harsh environment of the oppression that evidenced itself at the Ballarat diggings.

The Police Commissioner McMahon recommended taking conciliatory steps to Rede. This was rejected outright. Further re-enforcements were en-route from Melbourne, with artillery. The military officers knew what that meant. It was Rede's intention to crush the diggers.

On the other hand Lalor and his lieutenant's knew something had to be done. The diggers were disorganized and behaving like a rabble. Lalor acted. He called a meeting of those around him quickly, and at this meeting swore allegiance to the Eureka flag with about 500 other diggers. They then, together,set out on the road to the Eureka.

At the Eureka Lalor considered his position. He was not a military man and in fact none of the diggers were. They were miners and not skilled in the art of warfare. Many wanted to mount an attack on the Government Camp and overwhelm them before the re-enforcements arrived from Melbourne. Lalor was elected "Commander in Chief" at the Eureka.

The committee of the Ballarat Reform League resolved to send a deputation to speak with Commissioner Rede, and demand the release of the prisoners. This was arranged and the meeting duly took place. Of the eight arrested only two would be granted bail according to Rede, and although seeking an undertaking from the Commissioner that he would not undertake any more licence inspections in the immediate future, in view of the unrest among the diggers be refused to give such an undertaking.

On the morning of Friday the 1st day of December fortifications were commenced at the Eureka. At the same time the Government Camp was strengthened. By this time over 800 men were at the Eureka, building the fortifications with zeal. Rede and his officers were expecting additional troops at any time, but in fact they had not yet left Melbourne.

Commissioner Rede decided prudently to await the arrival of Major General Sir Robert Nickle, the Commander-in-Chief, who was personally bringing up the re-enforcements. The responsibility would be his. The stockade at Eureka was a primitive obstacle indeed, and not one that any military man would be proud of. The best defenses lay in the diggings themselves. The mounds of dirt provided good positions from which to observe, fire rifles, and provide protection from projectiles.

Rumours abounded that a further license hunt would be conducted that day, but as time passed it was realized that Rede had in fact withdrawn his intentions. Men of other nationalities joined those at the stockade. There were Americans, Germans, Armenians, Italians, Serbs, Irish, Scots, Cornishmen and Welsh among them.

Early Diggings - Click to enlarge The military atmosphere displayed at the stockade hid the incompetence in administering a body of 'soldiers'. There was no organized food or water. Each man had to provide his own, and was also required to provide his own arms and ammunition. This necessitated many of the men leaving to go home to be fed etc. Not a particularly well organized military establishment. Indeed it was more like a disorganized rabble.

Governor Hotham had considered his position and decided that if a fight was what the diggers wanted, then they should have it. Once they were defeated the ringleaders would be dealt with harshly, and the status quo would return. Both camps expected a fight and the waiting and watching was becoming a nerve-wracking experience.

The intelligence and information seeking from the Government side was working well. There was no restriction on who could come and go at the Eureka, and government spies easily gained information that was quickly relayed to Rede. On the other hand no one was permitted into the Government Stockade and the intelligence flow to the hierarchy at the Eureka was minimal.

There were false alarms at the Eureka, when a trooper would be seen near the stockade, and all inside would be ordered to 'stand to'. By now the Eureka was becoming more organized, and rifles, shotguns and ammunition as well as horses had appeared. Lalor had ordered no stores were to be raided, but it was clear that his orders had been ignored. Considering his position, it appeared sensible to assume that Rede would not attack until joined by General Nickle, and that would be at least the following Monday morning. The Americans suggested that it would be prudent to intercept the re-enforcements and attempt to capture the artillery, which would then turn the Eureka into a formidable fortress.

On the Saturday evening of 2nd December 1854, many of the diggers left the stockade. Most of the Americans had left, and only about 200 were left in and about the stockade. It was soon to be Sunday, the Sabbath, and no one expected Rede to attack, firstly on a Sunday and secondly without the support of additional troops and artillery. The element of surprise was to be his.

Commissioner Rede called for his officers. He had decided to strike, and his plans were already in place. A dawn attack was planned. In military terms the plan was sound, and included the element of surprise, with foot soldiers directly attacking the stockade, flanked by mounted troops on either side with cavalry in reserve.

During the night Commissioner Redes troops moved silently from their camp and moved towards the Eureka. At about 3am sentries at the Eureka woke the camp fearing an attack because noises were heard in the bush nearby. It was a false alarm, but Lalor surveyed his troops. There were no more than 120 men in the camp. This was worrying. The troops had moved into position in readiness for the attack. The sentries in the Eureka again sounded the alarm at about 4am, but hardly anyone moved, believing it to be another false alarm. At dawn the troops were readied and the word passed. "Advance". The responding "Stand too, redcoats. Stand too, redcoats" resounded around the Eureka. The battle was about to begin. be continued


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Having owned an SD 2000 and two SD 2100's and now a SD 2200D I went back tot he areas where I had detected with previous SD's. I found more nuggest with the SD 2200D in the same ground especially where it was hot ground. There is definitely an improvement in hot and deep ground. The photos are from a six-week trip which produced just over 16.5 ozs all using the SD 2200D. I generally work in highly mineralised ground and the SD 2200D has enabled me to find more gold in very hot ground.
John Hudson
Les Hamilton - Australia
"My SD 2000 was an excellent detector, which I had great success with. When using the SD 2100, I found it to be more sensitive to smaller and deeper nuggets, the biggest was 48 grams. Now I have the SD 2200D. This detector is the ultimate. Within 1 hour of beginning with it, in an area considered to be worked out, I located a signal. 24 hours later my SD 2200D over a hole 18 inches deep through solid rock.

I finally unearthed a beautiful 20 oz nugget. Further nuggets from 0.5 gram upwards have also been located at regular intervals. I am the envy of my fellow prospectors."

Les Hamilton
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11.  STRIKES       Recent Finds

MayAvoca30 oz
MayNorthern Territory8 oz
MayLeonora6 oz
MayNear Bendigo15 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.
8 ounces



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            by Brian Montgomery

There are a lot of rivers in New South Wales. Those predominantly with their headwaters deep within the Great Dividing Range, have a golden history that continues to produce good quantities of gold throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales.

In these days of modern metal detecting, gold bearing creeks and rivers have to some extent faded in popularity. The gold these waters continue to give up is a constant stream of wealth that is just waiting to be collected, if you are prepared to put in the effort and the hours.

It should firstly be stated that access to many of these creeks and rivers is via privately owned land and permission is always required from the landowner. My experience is that if you are honest and sensible and approach the landholder in a positive manner, most of these people are receptive and usually allow access. However, once granted access it is up to you to make sure your demeanour reflects positively on the land holders impression of prospectors per se. If you open a gate, close it again and never leave rubbish, even buried rubbish. Animals can easily unearth it and the contents may be strewn about, polluting the environment. Take a bag with you and carry it out again. Remember it is your behaviour that will reflect on ALL prospectors.

I always like the area around the Bathurst region to sluice for gold. Since 1851 when the first gold was recovered from the Fish River this area has continued to produce good quantities of gold up to the present day. Other rivers in this area including the Campbell and the Turon give an agreeable amount of gold. Many of the small creeks that lead into these rivers also produce their share. Government authorities deny access closer to Lake Burrendong for environmental reasons.

Turon River - Click to enlarge There are a number of accessible areas near Sofala, and many tourist orientated activities that can make a family day a real pleasure. The Fish River in the Oberon region is easily accessed and the spectacular countryside the general surrounds make the days spent there rewarding even without getting the added benefit of gold. Access to most of the rivers and creeks are via private property, so always ask permission before entering.

Most of the rivers in the New England Region of Northern New South Wales carry gold. Perhaps the most productive of these lie in the hills east of Tamworth. The topography of this area is quite steep and care must be taken in travelling into and out of these areas. Again most of the rivers and creeks are accessed through private property. The area is a maze of creeks and tributaries that feed into large rivers. In particular the Peel and MacDonald Rivers, and further north the Namoi, with their many creeks and tributaries.

A favourite spot in this area is the upper reaches of the Peel River, near Nundle and as far up as Hanging Rock. Venture there and you may find the odd prospector fossicking about and I am sure a good yarn or two over a boiled billy (Ed: cup of tea or coffee) will make the day pass in a pleasant manner.

A little further to the east is the rural community of Walcha. Nestled at the top of the Great Dividing Range, the area surrounding this quaint community contains a number of gold bearing creeks, most feeding into the Apsley River. Could I suggest avoiding this site in the dead of winter as this area is well known for the bitter cold nights at this time of the year. Leave it for the spring, the weather is exhilarating and much warmer at that time of year.

Further north again there are a plethora of rivers and tributaries that produce gold. I used to visit a friend at Bingara, and would often try the Gwydir while I was there. Perhaps not so well known for its gold, the area is one of nature's beauty spots on this earth. Many of the smaller valleys around the Armidale Region produce more than their share of gold. I have a favourite spot near Armidale and regularly stay at a delightful spot at Beambolong. . Truly, one of the most picturesque places in the region. A little further east and not that far from Coffs Harbour there are a lot of creeks and a great deal of good gold in the region. The area is well stocked with gold and here I often stay at the Rain Forest Resort at Wilkies Wilderness, Always a delight to wake up in this neck of the woods and just drink in the grandeur of the area.

Fossicking - Click to enlarge Travelling further north try the upper reaches of the Clarence River, more towards the Tooloom Creek and the Maryland River. The gold reserves here are quite obvious, but access is difficult in this area. Still, this country is so spectacularly beautiful the getting of gold may become secondary if you are a nature lover.

Dropping back to the southern end of New South Wales, the country around Bombala and further south west has a good variety of locations that provide good gold from the creeks and tributaries to the Bombala and Delegate Rivers. Cold in winter here, but the country produces good results right down into Victoria and further south. As far south as Delegate and on to Bendoc in Victoria the pickings can be quite rewarding.

Perhaps the best gold in New South Wales for sluicing operations is locked away further west than the areas discussed previously. A great deal of gold still lies on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range, and the country West of Parkes and Forbes has enormous reserves of gold lying in creek beds. This area lacks the water required to extract the golden flecks. After good rains could I suggest that this country would be one of the best prospects for gold recovery from gold sluicing anywhere in New South Wales.

Although there are many areas and rivers not discussed in this general overview, perhaps the closest and most accessible site to Sydney is the Shoalhaven River. A long and complex watercourse displaying magnificent natural beauty, running almost due north adjacent to and fed from the Deua National Park and the Budawang Range to the east and the Great Divide to the west. This river contains a great deal of very fine gold and I personally know of one man who for two years worked this river and never got less than 1/2 an ounce a day. Albeit some years ago, but it displays the wealth still abundant close to Sydney.

Great Dividing Range - Click to enlarge Martin Marks, who owns and operates a business in Sydney, based on sluicing equipment, uses this river to train his clients in the finer points of gold recovery. His high tech gear developed over a long period of time is well capable of recovering the fine gold found in this river. Martin is one of Australia's foremost authorities on gold recovery from river systems in New South Wales, and will gladly assist new comers to this fabulously rewarding past time. Martin is often seen giving his time to instruct in the finer points of sluicing along the Shoalhaven. Martin Marks can be contacted by phone on (02) 9838 0397, business hours, and after hours on (02) 96882815, International 61 2 9838 0397. Email: [email protected]

What is not generally known is that there is a small army out there, quietly and methodically recovering good gold from the upper reaches of obscure waterways throughout New South Wales, year round. I am well aware that an operator of moderate ability can recover about one ounce per week. A good operator in a remote area giving good gold with hi-tech gear can wash 2-3 ounces a week. Perhaps most of these individuals keep their secret locations to themselves, and I don't blame them. I too, enjoy my little secret spots. After all isn't that what prospecting is all about, keeping your secrets.


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               by Katherine Knight

    Twenty tons of gold was taken from the Adelong gold field in New South Wales. A neat quantity in any language. Adelong is situated in the northern Snowy Mountains of Southern New South Wales. It is about 50 miles due west of the National Capital, Canberra. It is very picturesque country but bitterly cold in winter.

    A Mr. Williams found gold at Adelong in 1857. It was found on the crest of a hill later known as Victoria Hill. Gold was also located in the Adelong Creek nearby and in an area later known as Golden Gully. With this discovery the area was rushed and it is estimated that the alluvial gold taken from at the time exceeded 3 tons.

    Hand Puddling - Click to enlarge The geology of the areas is similar to most other auriferous areas in Australia and is an extensive area. From about 10 miles south of the town the gold bearing reefs extended north for about 25 miles, mainly following the creeks in the area. There is a proliferation of granite rocks in the area, forming part of the Maragle Batholith, designated the Wondalga Granite, while at Adelong itself there is a prominent norite intrusive body. To the west of Adelong a belt of intermediate to mafic igneous rocks extends almost the entire length of the gold bearing ground. Quaternary alluvial sediments are prominently developed along Adelong Creek.

    The greatest amount of gold that came from this region came much later in time when the larger companies began mining the area and the extensive number of gold bearing reefs that abounded at depth. The Great Victoria Gold Mining Company commenced operation at Adelong in 1877, and worked at depths of up to 1,000 feet. In 1892, mining began on the Gibraltar reefs and this mine produced almost 4 tons of gold in its 24-year history.

    Large scale dredging operations commenced on Adelong Creek in 1901, and were continued intermittently until 1940. A number of companies operated these ventures. Major players were the Grahamstown Gold Estates later becoming the Kiershaw Gold Estates Pty Ltd. (1901 - 1914) Adelong Creek Dredging Company (1911- 1928), Golden Valley Mining Company (1933 - 1939). With the closure of the Golden Valley Mining Company in 1916 an era of reef mining came to an end in the area. Although there were small operations from time to time that sought to recover gold all reef mining ceased in 1942. Total production from reef mining up to 1916 was estimated at about 9 tons.

    The area was essentially deserted for about 20 years until in the mid 1960's, exploration mining companies again began assessing the viability of recovering gold from Adelong. Planet Gold Ltd., Central Pacific Minerals N.L., and Carpentaria Exploration Co. Pty. Ltd. Were among the main players. Carpentaria Exploration Co. continued explorations into the mid 1980's.

    The reef gold at Adelong occurs in 12 main lines of reefs. The Gibraltar, Donkey Hill, Middle Reef, Donkey Hill, Fletchers, Currajong, East Currajong, Poverty Point, Victoria, Middle Caledonian, Old Hill, and Camp Reefs. The majority of the gold bearing reefs are quartz fissure lodes associated with basic dyke emplacement at the boundary between microgranite and granodiorite.

    The Granite Reef was the most important and productive at Adelong. The main workings were at the Gibraltar Mine and the Sir Henry Parkes Mine. Depths reached exceeded 1100 feet, and the production from this reef exceeded 3.5 tons up until 1916.

    The Great Victoria Gold Mining Company mined the Victoria Reef successfully until 1909, with the Williams Gold Mining Company operating earlier, closing in 1888. Just over 1 ton of gold was recovered during this period.

    The Currajong Gold Mining Company mined the Currajong Reef at moderate depth until 1902. The area was again worked during the 1920's. A tunnel was driven from Adelong Creek for some 800 feet between 1926 and 1932 towards the old diggings.

    The Caledonian Reef lies to the east of Adelong. The Caledonian Gold Mining Co. worked the reef intermittently until 1904. Depths were at about 600 feet, and gold mined at this reef exceeded 2 oz to the ton. Total production is estimated at about 3,500 oz.

    The Old Hill Reef was worked by the Crown of Old Reef/Challenger Gold Mining Co. Adelong Gold Mining Company and Our Own Gold Mining Co. The shafts here reached 1,100 feet in depth.

    Middle Reef was vertical and shafts reached about 200 feet. Donkey Hill Line an unusual name had three separate veins nominated as the Donkey Hill, Middle and Fletcher's reefs. The reefs occur in mafic igneous rock, with an intrusion of gabbrioc composition present, as well as numerous lamprophyric dykes.

    Lady Mary Reef is situated alongside the Adelong Tumut Road, and little is known of these workings.

    Gadard Workings are situated about 2 miles east of Adelong and are of limited size. Adelong Creek itself is a direct tributary of the Murrumbidgee River and about 18 miles from Adelong runs directly into that large river, not far from Gundagai. Almost the entire length produced good quantities of gold and after good rains many privateers can be seen panning even today.

    Dredging operations along this creek were extensive and records show that the following companies operated. Davies and Kershaw Gold Estates Pty Ltd operated in the Grahamstown area from 1901 - 1914. The Adelong Gold Estates N.L. began operations in 1913 with two dredges about a mile apart. They concluded their operations in 1928. Adelong Creek Dredging Co. N.L. operated along the creek from 1911- 1928, between Mt Horeb and Adelong Crossing. This operation was dredging at depths of up to 30 feet. The Golden Valley Mining Company N.L. operated a dredge on the western side of Adelong Creek near Mt. Horeb dredging to depths of 50 feet. Operating from 1932 - 1942 the dredging company operated profitably for its entire life. Total production from the Adelong Creek dredgings amounted to about 13 tons of gold.

    In recent times, Adelong Consolidated Gold Mines commenced exploration at Adelong in 1997, after securing a gold lease over the entire gold field. The explorations have been extensive and very promising in some areas. It is anticipated that in mid 2000 the area will again be mined. Decisions have yet to be made on the locations and mining methodology to be adopted. Once again Adelong will become a source of wealth for the area and contribute to this nations great gold history.


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               by Jim Foster

    Lately it seems that no one wants to detect the old diggings. Almost everybody is off after that batch of nuggets on new ground. There's nothing wrong with that it's the way to find the bigger and sometimes more nuggets, but there's gold yet to be found in the old diggings. Few people, other than those, using them, understand the advantage of using the latest gold detector from Minelab Electronics. The DS2200D is the best gold detector on the market.

    When detecting old diggings the mineral content changes from heap to heap, this means you have to spend a lot of time adjusting your ground balance to compensate. Many people don't bother; they put up with false signals and a noisy background. This is one reason why a good deal of gold is missed.

    The SD2200D doesn't need constant ground balancing; it tracks the changing ground mineralization and adjusts as it goes. The result is no background clutter and any hot spots or hot rocks can be cancelled out by simply passing the coil across the suspect signal several times. I emphasis here that the SD2200D will not tune out any gold or other metal no matter how heavily mineralized the ground. The target signal if it is metal will continue to sound off just as loud after several sweeps. Gullies that have been thrashed by conventional detectors for years, and now for the last few years with earlier SD model detectors, will give up more gold to the SD2200D. But to increase your chance of finding gold on old gold diggings that have been thrashed for years here are a few hints.

    Detecting Gullies - Click to enlarge For a start you have to think a bit different from the mobs of people who have been here before you. Most people will work their way up or down a gully, following the flow of the gully, but stop and think for a minute. Why are those diggings there? And what is the nature of the metal you are searching for?

    Eroding out of where it was deposited gold was washed down the slopes and into gullies where it continued to move down, forever searching for the lowest levels. Nature, in the form of gravity and water, strove to move the gold along, to concentrate it in the cracks and crevices, in the gutters of forever changing stream beds. This is why the old time gold diggers looked for gold in the gullies, this is why their diggings followed the deepest gutters of the stream bed, and they followed the greatest concentration of gold.

    One rule I have always applied is to look for the greatest concentration of diggings. The more gold that the diggers were finding, the more likely they were to be a bit careless and lose some. The more they found, the more they lost. Because most people just follow the flow of the gully they usually cover the same ground over and over again, different people, same ground. One day I was watching some other people head off up a gully and decided to note their behaviour patterns. I did this several times and asked myself the question; if I used a different approach would I find gold that had been missed? I did.

    My approach was to simply work back and forth across the diggings. By using this simple but different approach I was getting my coil over ground that most other people were missing. This approach still works well even today, and will work well with conventional detectors too. But it works much better with SD2200D for a number of reasons.

    The first is that the S2200D goes at least four times deeper than any conventional detector. This gives you an incredible advantage. The SD2200D also goes about 30 percent deeper than its nearest cousin the SD2I00.

    If you don't own a 2200 you can still find gold on those flogged out diggings. First of all you must of course work back and forth across the diggings, but watch others at work. Do they search all of a particular heap? No, they seldom do. Why walk for miles bypassing good ground? The answer is, don't! Search every heap as if you know there is a gold nugget in that heap and you have to find it. Overlap your sweep so that every inch is covered. If you find a nugget and the heap has a covering of leaves and twigs, rake the heap clean and go over it again. Its unusual not to find more targets on a raked heap, not that they are always gold, but they could just as easily be. Remember that first truism; the bottom of the shaft is on the top of the heap and the bottom gravel usually held the most gold. But on top of the heap isn't where all the gold will be. Larger, heavier nuggets that were thrown out on top of the heap sometimes rolled down the heap to become deeply buried over the years by the eroding mullock of the heap. Sometimes they stopped their roll on the softer earth between the heaps and quickly sank until coming to rest deep down on harder clay or gravel. Don't disregard the ground between heaps I have known bigger nuggets to come from the soft ground between heaps than off the heaps themselves. This softer ground is often covered by grass and leaves to a depth beyond the capability of the detector to get to the dirt let alone to penetrate the ground itself. If the ground was rich it can pay to rake off this ground between the diggings and search it thoroughly, you'd be the first person to put a detector over it close up.

    A friend of mine noticed another quirk of human behaviour. We were camped with about twenty others right next to some very good diggings. Sitting at the fire watching others leave camp he noticed they walked several metres into the diggings before switch their machines on. Accordingly he worked right in close to the camp and found several good nuggets amongst the caravans while the others tramped miles over the diggings.

    Detecting Near Camp - Click to enlarge Often it will happen that a run of gold will continue out of the bush and on out into private land. If you are detecting a gully when this happens look over the fence and see if the run of gold continued, most times it will but can often be hard to see. As the gully enters lower ground the gully often flattens out. Landowners often bulldoze old diggings flat and plough the ground for crops or pasture. Don't be put off if this happens, as it can often be a good thing. Some of my better gold has come off private land just like that described above.

    First, find the landowner and gain permission to search. Never search private land without permission. Then follow the same procedure on the flattened diggings as you did back up the gully. Sometimes it is a bit hard to see just where the old diggings were but with a little practice they will become as easy to spot as camel poop on a road. Look for where different types of grass grow. Some grasses won't grow on the gravel thrown out of the diggings but do well on the surrounding soil. Often the old filled in shaft will sink an inch or two. It is here that clumps of rushes will often grow in the sour damp soil. Over the years I have done very well off this kind of ground and you can still get good gold off old diggings whether it is on public or private land. All it takes is a different approach.


    15.  THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue

    • The Adventure of a Lifetime - Part 2
    • Sovereign Hill - Ballarat
    • Daylesford Gold
    • The Australian Gold Panning Championship
    • The Omeo Gold Robbery


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