Recently the Western Australian government announced a change in policy towards fossickers. Legislation is to be introduced into the parliament which will alter the Mines Act allowing substantially improved rights to fossickers. In the past, lease holders of EL (Exploration Licenses) have jealously guarded these leases and in some instances have moved to prosecute trespassers, and in extreme instances have sought forfeiture of gold detecting devices as well as the vehicles used for transport. It is pleasing to see that this draconian impediment to gold exploration by the privateer is to be abolished. This has the effect of opening up some 65,000,000 acres to the privateer. Only hand held devices will be permitted, e.g. present metal detectors, and gold can only be taken from the first 2 metres. (6 feet). The only other requirement is that the lease holder must be given written notice of their presence on the registered lease holder.
We commend the Western Australian Government for having the courage to make this decision against expressed opposition from large companies involved in gold mining. The object of the exercise is clearly to stimulate gold exploration and discoveries via a broader base.
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2. COBB & CO. IN AUSTRALIA - PART 1
by Craig Wilson
Freeman Cobb arrived in Australia during the winter of 1853. He was accompanied by a business partner called Mowton, who hailed from San Francisco. Cobb had been domiciled in New York, and together they had considerable experience in coach transport. Cobb " Co. in the USA were a very well known and respected means of transport. Cobb and Mowton set about establishing the same type of facility in Australia.
They had come well prepared and had brought several express waggons with them, although more supplies and men came on a later ship. Apparently the business plan was to establish a company called "Adams and Company. Great American and European Express". To Cobb's disappointment Mowton decided that the time was not opportune to continue with this venture, so he gathered some of his friends who he persuaded to join him in their own transport company, which they called Cobb & Co.
There were four partners. Freeman Cobb, John Murray Peck, James Swanton and John B. Lamber. They were all experienced in different facets of the business and in quick time they commenced carting goods of all kinds from the coastal ships to the growing city of Melbourne in July 1853.
Cobb recognized the difficulty of this venture and approached Mowton who was still in Melbourne, suggesting that passenger services would be a huge success. Mowton was inflexible and refused his support. By November Cobb and his partners had decided to give up the carrying business and try their luck at passenger coaches. The service was in full swing by the end of the month. The dynamic nature of Cobb and his business thrust was evident even at this early juncture.
Shortly after Cobb arrived in Australia, another American, G.F. Train arrived and started a business selling all kinds of merchandise including coaches, some imported and some which were manufactured in Melbourne. They were quite different to the English coaches with the bodies suspended on leather bands of 6 or 8 thicknesses. Initially the number of passengers that could be carried was somewhat limited, but as time progressed and different models produced, passengers carried could be as many as 15 or 16 in comfort. Some inside the coaches, and some on the top, beside and behind the driver, on suitable seating.
Cobb & Co.'s first passenger service beyond Melbourne was to Forrest Creek, (Castlemaine) 74 miles distance. Two separate coaches were used for this route with a changeover half way. The service was quickly extended to Bendigo, some 36 miles further on. This service commenced on the 30th January 1854, with the fare being 8 pounds, which was later reduced to 7 pounds. The newly imported American coaches caused quite a stir, as nothing like them had been seen before. They were light, quick and effective and most of all affordable. Their brightly painted yellow wheels caught the eye of all nearby.
Although Cobb & Co tendered for the mail runs, they were not particularly successful in procuring them. Records from the early postal service in Victoria are scant and there is little evidence that Cobb & Co at least in the early years, held mail contracts. Cobb himself, when giving evidence at government inquiries at times referred to tenders submitted, but it appears that the contract requirements were quite strict. To avoid future litigation Cobb obviously and wisely erred on the side of caution, with higher tenders being submitted. Clearly the successful tenders intended to "bend the rules" so to speak, when they were required to undertake a daily mail run, and on many runs the mail was only carried twice a week.
The appalling condition of the roads from Melbourne to Castlemaine and Bendigo, caused all passenger services to be suspended during the winter of 1854, as the roads, or what are described as roads, were impassable. The drivers pay was continued, and they were permitted to go to the diggings while other employees reconditioned damaged coaches. In the spring the service was reinstated. At this time more coaches, of a sturdier and larger nature were produced. They had more carrying capacity and although it was usual to only use 4 horses, 6 were often used in the wetter months. Eventually it appears that the company settled for five horse teams across the board, one leading and two sets in tandem.
When the service was re-introduced the Melbourne paper The Argus, said:
"Travellers to and from Castlemaine will be glad to find by the advertisement which appears in another column, that Messrs. Cobb & Co. who last season won golden opinions from all sorts of people for the punctuality and speed which characterised their mode of conducting their business as proprietors of passenger coaches between Melbourne and the diggings, have reappeared on the field of action."
It was clear from this newspaper report that the reputation of the Cobb & Co coaches was well respected. They had been a welcome addition to the fledgling colony, and were well-supported wherever they ran.
Cobb & Co extended their passenger runs from Melbourne to Ballarat, a run of 78 miles, which cost 5 pounds with the run taking less that 10 hours. The run to Bendigo was extended with two coaches leaving daily, with a number of other towns included on the run. During the winter of 1854 the coaches were able to continue running with a regularity and punctuality that was well recognized and respected by all, including business rivals.
Business was progressing exceptionally well into 1856, but by May the weather was playing havoc on some runs. There were times when they had to be suspended for days and even weeks at a time. Freeman Cobb was clearly distressed by this on-going problem, and without warning or apparently consultation with his partners he dropped a bombshell and sold out.
He had built the genesis of a successful business, and for his efforts he was well respected. Many gatherings were held in his honour, before his departure back to America. He left Australia on the 24th May 1856, escorted to the docks by three coach loads of his friends, on the "Royal Charter" bound for the America's. The first chapter in this great saga had been written.
3. THE PLOUGHMAN'S NUGGET
by Sue "Goldie" Reynolds
From time to time one hears of nuggets being found that are "huge".
In fact I got the information in the form of a message left on my mobile phone, and the message went something like this. "Hi Sue, guess who? I have some bad news for you. I know you were going to Stuart Mill next week, well let me tell you that I just heard a specimen piece of gold was found yesterday weighing 2,200 ounces containing 1,200 ounces of gold. So sorry you missed out. Chuckle, chuckle". He was right. He got the reaction from me, although I would never admit it to him.
As soon as I got the message I phoned back after I had composed myself and got further details, of the exact location the specimen piece was found. Now I don't intend to disclose the exact location save to say that Stuart Mill is a fairly accurate description of the location. I had detected this area before. Although the area is not known as a prolific producer, I had found a few good slugs that were more than worthwhile. Ironically, I have friends in the area and had on several occasions detected their private ground, which, as it turned out was frighteningly close to where this great golden monolith was reputed to have been hauled from the ground.
Being the ever-indulgent optimist I decided to take a look for myself, as I was most definitely heading in the direction anyway. With that sort of nugget coming from the ground one could reasonably expect a rather busy week or two in the vicinity from others who had heard the news as well. Clearly I would not be the only one taking a look in the area. Just as clearly I would be the only one on the private ground adjacent to the State Forest where this nugget was presumably found. Well that was what I thought when I set out for the latest detector "rush".
Knowing exactly where the nugget had been found was really a positive disadvantage, as if I went straight there others would see me and follow. There are few secrets in the bush with gold like that mentioned in gold circles. I stopped a fair way from the location and wandered around, detector in hand. I could see the location I wanted to get too, but yes I soon picked up movement off to my right and then more movement in front of me. Perhaps today was not my day to slide my trusty detector over the site. I fiddled around for over an hour with the other two apparently doing the same. This was no good, so I withdrew and went to my friend's house, which was quite close by.
Now a good old yarn can take up a lot of time, but on this occasion the intelligence from that friend was invaluable. Apparently only two days after the alleged find the area was a sea of detectors, particularly over that first weekend, but since then the "detector heads", as she called them, had slowed right down. Late that same afternoon, close to dusk I returned in company with my friend to the actual site, first having made sure that no one else was taking a peek at what we were up to.
We found a number of diggings in the vicinity, and right where I had been told it was, there was a rather large hole, that had been sort of filled in, but had clearly been gone over by those "detector heads" coming along behind looking for the spoils. I wasn't totally sure that this was it, but it sure looked like it. I know that the finders had carefully detected the whole area nearby without even a hint of another speck, but try and tell that to the hundreds who had also heard and had poured into the "rush".
We both sat in that forest and watched the sun sink over the Pyrenees, marvelling and talking about this fabulous find. At least it certainly looked genuine. Eventually the mosquito's drove us away, and I dropped my friend back at her farm house and made my way back to camp for the night. I had found what really looked a genuine find, but actually seeing it in the flesh or at least a photo was the least I was going to settle for.
When I got home I took to the phone. Well I must tell you I reckon I talked to 400 people that day. Well, perhaps 30, but it seemed like 400. Most had heard of it, and the details were accurate to a tee, but see it or know who got it, I couldn't find out one detail. Undeterred, I kept up the inquiries around the traps. I heard there was a photo of it, on several occasions, but no one had seen that photo and no one knew who even had the photo. However after a fortnight of asking I was no closer that when I started.
At last, a break through. My friend at Stuart Mill phoned me telling me she had some further information. I headed off to Stuart Mill in haste and when I got there listened intently, over coffee, to an old yarn that some old blokes had related many years ago and had been lost over the years.
It seems that during the 1930's an old workman had been ploughing the ground near Stuart Mill in mid summer, with a couple of heavy horses and had, so the story goes, found a very large nugget. He was ecstatic at his find and had replaced the nugget and covered it with dirt to conceal it.
In his delirious condition he was not believed although some locals knew him to be an honest man and not prone to tell lies. Unfortunately the dehydration was far too advanced and the old ploughman died a short time later. Although some efforts were made by locals to locate the nugget, where the old ploughman said it was, he had concealed it so well, it was never found. That gave lie to the local legend of the "Ploughman's Nugget". Some 70 years later the memory of the event had been almost lost, except to a couple of very old souls who recalled the event.
I continued to search for the nugget's finders without success. Right throughout the Golden Triangle, it was known and talked about but try as I might I just couldn't find out any more. Some prospectors are cunning aren't they?
Well it if does surface eventually, I sure know what it will be called. "The Ploughman's Nugget" might just be found to be real after all, and yes, I sure will detect at Stuart Mill again. Might even make it this weekend. Yes, this weekend sounds fine.
4. THE AUSTRALASIAN
GOLD PANNING CHAMPIONSHIPS
by Jim Foster
The 1999 Australasian Gold Panning Championships were held at the provincial city of Maryborough, Victoria on the weekend of 23 - 24th October 1999. Competition as usual, was expected to be strong, with an international team from New Zealand, participating.
Saturday was reserved for practice, and it dawned a cold morning with a chill lazy wind that lasted the whole day, making conditions just a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless, if you are a prospector you are used to those conditions and accept that as par for the course.
The organizing committee was pleased to have as their guests, Mr. Lauko Launoen, World President, representing all affiliated world gold panning bodies. He was accompanied by his gracious wife, Inkeri Syrjanen, who is also Secretary to the world body.
During the day we were entertained by a variety of country and western bands and with several stalls, including food stalls, we were all well catered for. Saturday was quite a success for those participants and practice was well attended and organised.
Sunday was the day of days, when the "real" action got under way. The weather by this time had taken a turn for the better, with the temperature reaching a very pleasant 21°C (72°F).
In all the events were on time, with a few minor exceptions, and all went well for the participants. Again the country and western bands played a prominent part in between events and the catering tent did a roaring trade.
What was obvious was the camaraderie among all the contestants and spectators alike, with many people from all over Australia and for that matter the world, renewing old friendships and developing new relationships. The atmosphere was most pleasant.
The culmination of the day came with the individual event that decided the Australasian Gold Panning Champion. Martin Marks, from Sydney, won this event in emphatic style. Among his prizes was a trip to Poland for the World Gold Panning Championships in August 2000, where Martin will represent Australasia at this most prestigious event. There is no doubt that he was a worthy winner, and will be a prominent competitor on behalf of this region at the world championships next year.
Below is a presentation of photos from the day, with captions.
5. GOLD IS ELUSIVE
I would have to win first prize for the world's worst finder of gold. For years I have laboured away with the knowledge that one day I would find just one piece, but now some 8 years later, I am still looking for that very first nugget. I have always been told that patience and persistence is necessary to successfully find the darn yellow stuff and I reckon that after eight years I have been patient enough.
It all started when I happened to stop overnight at the caravan park at Ararat in Victoria, and we just happened to be camped alongside a bloke and his wife who were retired and spent most of their spare time wandering the gold fields with detectors. And they just happened to show me some of their gold that they had dug up in the previous week from the gold fields nearby.
With this bug biting me, I took a long hard patient and persistent look at the detectors that were available on the market at the time, and after much ado, consultation, testing etc. I decided that the Minelab 2100 was the machine for me. So armed with this state of the art gold locating machine, I ventured off to the gold fields once again. Now I thought this machine was developed for finding gold. Well that's what the bloke said that sold it to me anyway. I have to tell you that machine was not developed for finding gold, I am sure, because all it found in my hands were bottle tops, bullets, (it was very good at that). Cans, nails, metal buttons, screws, old tobacco tins, and every bit of ferrous junk that every miner ever dropped on the ground for the last 150 years. But gold; not even a sniff.
Now after managing to accumulate a huge collection of this stuff, that the trouble and strife (wife) got pretty sick of me bringing home, I might tell you her attitude to my hobby, was somewhat tainted. Threats of leaving to start a new life with someone who wanted to live a normal life were often made. She used to come with me but kept getting her back up somewhat when I wanted her to dig out the junk all the time. I was soon left to my own devices. However the long suffering dear continued to put up with me, and all the junk I inevitably brought home.
I must say that I had been very patient in my gold detecting endeavours, going out at least once a month, into the known gold fields, digging up all the ferrous junk and then coming home. It wasn't quite what I thought gold detecting was all about. I could never understand why others were showing off their gold while I was showing off my bottle tops, bullets etc.
Well I have to tell you that after about four years, I began to reckon that something was wrong. Must be the detector, couldn't be anything else. I knew how to work it and I was going over old gold diggings. There just had to be gold there, but this detector must be crook if after 4 years it couldn't find a skerrick of gold. Well I told you I was patient and persistent. I persevered for another year or maybe two, with the full knowledge that the detector was a bit crook, but I kept digging up the ferrous stuff.
Eventually, I decided to take it back to the bloke who sold it to me, and I complained long and hard. Now this bloke was a pretty good bloke, and he even offered to test it for me there and then. So in his presence we went outside away from all the electrical interference and he dropped a little gold slug on the ground and waved the detector over the gold. Blow me down the darned thing screamed it's head off, gave one hell of a signal that almost blew my eardrums into next week. It actually worked on gold. I was astounded.
The bloke that sold it to me, who will remain nameless, mainly to protect my identity, offered to take me with him the next time he went prospecting.
I gladly accepted. At last after about 6 long years, I just might, yes, just might be on the right track.
When we got to his spot, I was rather surprised to see there were no old diggings nearby. I protested loudly, but he quietly persisted and advised me to detect along the slope next to the creek, while he would detect along the opposite slope, keeping a little behind me, so he could observe what I was doing. I didn't know why he wanted to do that. Here I was, a very experienced detector operator, being treated like a beginner, geez.
I ended up miles in front of him in what seemed to be just a few minutes, and when I stopped and waited for him to catch up, boy was he moving slowly. I hadn't even picked up a bottle top, when I saw him stop and dig. Thought I, "bottle top or bullet". He beckoned me over. Holy smoke it was actually a piece of gold. About 2 grams, but yes it was gold. I couldn't contain my excitement. There was actually gold here. I talked him into letting me work this side of the creek because I knew there was nothing on my side, as I had been there, done that.
He agreed and I stepped off again on his side, with the full knowledge that gold was actually there. It looked like being my day, at last.
I detected for about another hour up that creek not realizing that I had lost site of my mentor again. Doubling back, with not a thing to show for my work, other than the usual junk, I found him resting on a fallen tree, with would you believe 3 more little nuggets, that he had apparently found with my Minelab 2100.
I was beginning to doubt this bloke was for real, and I suspected some skullduggery might be at hand. He assured me his finds were genuine and I challenged him to find another piece with my detector, which he promptly did.
Well he had proved that the detector could find gold, that's for sure, but why in his hands and not in mine, I haven't got a clue. Anyway, I am resolved these days to just being content with my share of bottle tops, buttons and bullets.
6. THE COILTEK STORY
Coiltek Pty. Ltd. has experienced a meteoric rise since developing a range of coils suitable for the SD range of Minelab Detectors. In fact the spectacular success of these coils has seen several prospectors re-enter the industry on a full time prospecting basis.
Not since the introduction in the late 1980's of the Minelab SD 2000 has there been such interest in gold recovery in Australia. What has pre-empted this renaissance has clearly been the ability of these coils to substantially out perform all others, and recover copious quantities of gold that other machines are incapable of detecting.
What then makes Coiltek tick? We asked the MD, John Kah some pertinent questions about his company and the future direction of the organization.
Q. John, the success of your coils has been exceptional. Can you tell us why these coils have been so successful?
A. We believed that coils could be improved, and we set out to develop a range of coils that were suitable for all conditions in the Australian gold fields. We wanted a coil that was quiet, yet capable of finding gold at depth. In consultation with a number of professional and semi professional prospectors who were highly experienced in detecting right across Australia we tested various coils extensively. These coils were developed by prospectors for prospectors. We wanted a range of coils that worked right across Australia in all States. Auriferous areas in Australia vary considerably and developing coils suitable for all these varieties has proved to be quite a task. However we believe that we have produced products that are suitable right across Australia and that has been borne out by their success.
Q. To date you have produced a range of coils suitable for the Minelab SD range, that are best suited for the Minelab 2100 and 2200 detectors. Are you planning any further additions to your range?
A. Yes, to date we have produced both Mono and Double D coils for the SD range, and that includes the 2000 as well. It is our intention to develop coils for all the Minelab range of detectors. To this end we are at the pre-production stage for the 15" Sovereign, and the tests conducted on this coil have produced excellent results. Further coils are under development, and these will be added to our range in due course, when they have been thoroughly tested throughout the industry and achieve the required levels of efficiency.
Q. Your range has been quite extensive to date. Ranging from your pin point coil right up to your largest coil that is about 24" wide. Why did you produce such a broad range?
A. Gold comes in all shapes and sizes, at different depths and in differing ground. Auriferous ground varies dramatically throughout Australia and we wanted a range of coils that had the ability to extract as much gold as possible from these wide varieties. Each tract of gold bearing ground differs, and our range was developed with this in mind. Clearly, just one coil will not extract all types of gold from all areas, and after extensive research and development by prospectors across Australia we came up with a range we believe best suits the Australian gold fields. All of our coils have both mono and double D configurations except the 10" elliptical, which come in mono only.
Q. Your company has been aggressive in research and development. Are there any further developments on the horizon for improved coils?
A. Yes, we are testing a number of products at the moment. We believe that in the near future we will be releasing to the market a "patch finder" coil. This is a large coil, up to 4 feet wide that will be capable of locating "patches" of gold, such as those found in the broad tracts of Western Australia.
Q. A coil of that width could clearly not be hand held. How would it be operated?
A. There are a number of ways it could be operated. Pushed on a trolley, towed, etc. The object would be to locate patches of gold quickly, particularly in the gold fields of Western Australia, which was so extensive. The aim would be to reduce time in locating these patches, which could then be marked and later recovered by using smaller coils.
Q. With these developments do you see the company expanding into off shore markets?
A. Yes, we have an excellent distributor in the United States, and we will be expending at a moderate rate throughout the world in due course.
Q. We have heard that you are developing a detector. Is there any truth to this?
A. Developing a detector is an aim of ours. However, at this time we are not involved in developing a product of this nature. In due course, as I have said, it is an aim of ours to develop a full range of products, which will include a detector. That is something the company can look forward to, but in the immediate future it is not a priority, as we intend to continue with a complete range of coils and other products first.
Q. You mentioned other products. Are there any developments in that area as well?
A. We have already sourced a number of accessories, including back packs, batteries, signal enhancers, picks, full length fibre glass shafts, battery leads, and of course our own range of cords, which are thoroughly tested, and are, we believe, the best and most rugged available. These are available from our distributors and from this office as well.
A. I don't believe the company will ever be developed into a large cumbersome organization. I would rather keep it a small close knit committed group, which remains sensitive to the needs of prospectors and their needs. However, although we have no plans for extensive development one cannot totally rule out expansion in the long term. Times change, and we will keep an open mind on those issues, but our preferred option is to remain compact.
Q. It is clear from all in the field that you have an excellent reputation with your clientele. What do you attribute this too?
A. We set out to work with the industry and develop products they wanted and in fact, we felt were needed. We believe we have done this successfully. Pride in our after sales service and quick response to guarantees has been an essential part of building a rapport with our clientele. It is important to us that our clients know that service to the industry is vitally important to us, and has a high priority throughout the organization. We are very proud of our achievements to this end.
7. THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
by Ian Charlton
After the debacle of the ill-fated Londonderry fiasco the gold prospectors and fossickers of Coolgardie were a sad lot wandering the town and nearby bush in low spirits. There had been no new Rush of any size for some time and many were beginning to lose hope in the spring of 1894. Then the electrifying news. A rich strike in the Jaurdi hills! Just west of Kunanalling and north west of Coolgardie these hills were only 65 kilometres away, an easy two days walk for most miners of the day.
John Dunne had been prospecting the area for some time and had finally tracked the alluvial gold to the reef shedding specimens of quartz so rich his camels were carrying several thousand pounds worth of the stuff. Dunne reported his discovery as a "Wonderfully rich find," he named it the "Wealth Of Nations."
The sight of such splendidly rich ore, all laced through with gleaming gold, displayed in the bank had men In a lather of excitement and hundreds immediately began preparations for the march north. While many were fortunate enough to ride a camel or horse, the majority of men walked, and they walked fast. One eyewitness who took part in the rush said it was as if the men were participating in a walking race. Indeed they were. The earlier you got to the site of the rush the better chance you had of securing good ground. As there was a goodly area of rich alluvial ground surrounding the locality of the gold bearing reefs many men were lucky.
But as always some were luckier than others. Right on the first day of the rush there was a "Roll Up." A man stood beating a rackety tattoo on a tin panning dish calling for a miners court to be formed. It seemed there was a dispute over ownership of a large nugget found by a miner named Tom Love. He had picked up a seventy-ounce specimen nugget on the line of Dunne's claim, about 100 yards from the reef itself. As mining law of the day allowed alluvial miners to work right up to within 20 feet of the reef cap, the Kangaroo Court (Ed: A Court whose decisions were generally pre-determined) decided in favour of Love. Love then turned to the crowd and said, "That was the baby. Now I'll find the old man." Towards the end of the day he dug a specimen weighing 196 ounces from further down the gully.
Dunne was one of those lucky prospectors who had made good. He had pegged the Lone Hand, the True Blue and Brilliant Mines at Kunanalling, or the Twenty Five Mile as it was often known. Dunne represented a syndicate and was the prospector for that group. One day the syndicate members made a visit to their Wealth Of Nations Mine and as some rich specimens were being handed about among the men and being admired, one, a sixty ounce lump, disappeared in the changing of hands and was never found.
In October 1894, after the syndicate had taken out gold to the value of $46,000, the mine was sold to a Colonel North for $292,000, an enormous sum for those days. North and his company then poured thousands of pounds into the mine to develop it and their other leases to their full potential. At its height the Dunnsville mine as it became known, employed over a thousand men in its various leases and mines, but even a thousand men will not stave off the inevitable when the gold runs out.
One man who had taken part in the early rush to Dunnesville visited the site nine years after the event, in 1903. He climbed the Wealth Of Nations Hill and looked down on the flat where the town had once stood and saw only scraps of hessian blowing in the wind and the glint of sun on empty bottles.
WEALTH OF NATIONS TODAY
Very little exists to show a town ever stood here, let alone the bustling excitement of a full-blown gold rush. But gold is still being found here with gold detectors. As the locality had several areas of alluvial gold it stands to reason there may be more, yet undiscovered ground where nuggets may be found. But even the old ground, picked over time and again is still yielding good nuggets to those using the latest high technology gold detectors.
8. FLECKS ! - Glints from here and there
9. BRINDABELLA BLUES
by Ian Grigg
Tucked away in the Brindabella Ranges not far from the small enclave of Brindabella itself, lies old diggings close to the Goodradigbee River.
The countryside throughout this area is some of the most picturesque you will see in Australia. Farmhouses dotted throughout the valleys, surrounded by steep hills covered with the dense foliage of untouched eucalypt forests. This is known as "High Country", with bitterly cold winters and cool summers.
Alluvial gold was found here as early as 1860, but the real activity got under way in the early 1880's. Gold was alluvial and most was recovered by hydraulic sluicing. In March 1864 two local miners, Michael Sheedy and John McDonald reported to the authorities in Queanbeyan that they had found gold at Brindabella. Although it was reported that in October that year, that a group had recovered several ounces in nuggets, the area was not rushed, and Sheedy and McDonald continued to work the area quite successfully for some time, developing races to provide water to wash the pay dirt. With fortunes in hand they eventually abandoned the field leaving considerable gold behind.
Their occupancy was followed by an old hermit named Bowerbank, who was an eccentric and private soul who single handedly constructed a race to bring water to the old diggings around an almost perpendicular mountainside.
The area was attracting pastoralists, and one prominent member of this fraternity was instrumental in initiating considerable activity in gold mining.
In 1884 with the area growing rapidly a post office was opened nearby. However a lack of water during this year reduced the recoverable gold to minimal levels. In 1885 a tunnel was driven partly through a hill almost 100 yards to assist in bringing water to the wash dirt. Another 200 yards was required before completion of the project, and this was apparently carried out over a period of almost a year.
In 1887 a company known as the Brindabella Gold Mining Company was formed. Although a number of men were employed constructing water races very little mining took place. About 4 miles of water races were constructed but still more work was required to provide the water needed to wash the alluvial dirt.
Reid could see great potential for the area and applied for a hotel licence for his house with the intention of turning the dwelling into a hotel. The police objected to this application, and in May 1888 the application failed. By this time there were reputedly about 40 men along with their families camped nearby.
By 1889 the head race had been completed, but the tail race needed more work. In 1890 sluicing commenced, but returned a paltry 64 ounces for the entire year. By 1891 the company was in liquidation.
The ever optimistic Reid still agitating to recover the gold beneath his farm became engrossed in massive litigation proceedings that were to be his undoing. In the initial year of 1888 Reid transferred interests to the Brindabella Gold Mining Company, and they in turn transferred those interests to the Goodradigbee Gold Mining Company in the same year, in clear breach of the agreement. Reid successfully sued, but was denied recompense as the company went into liquidation. The Bank of Queensland was threatened with litigation as well and they eventually transferred ownership to Reid under conditions, but after substantial delay that resulted in the tunnel collapsing, making the mine useless.
Reid then applied to the Warden's Court for a summons against the bank, which was refused. The Bank in the meantime had obtained a writ for non-payment of interest against Reid. Reid again applied and on this occasion a summons was granted, but he lost this case on a technicality. It was Reid's position that if the original application had been successful against the bank the bank would not have been in the position to make application for bankruptcy against him.
A further company was established and rebuilt and repaired the races in preparation for the sluicing operations. Mr. Reid's troubles were far from over as litigation was commenced in 1910 when muddy water from the diggings entered the recently constructed Burrinjuck Dam.
This effectively concluded the mining operations at Brindabella, but Mr. Reid was not yet finished with litigation. In 1912 he was embroiled in a property dispute with a man named Johnson and in 1913 a man called Bolton took legal action against Reid for a series of trespassing offences.
Let it be said, that the Brindabella gold fields were very successful for a few souls, but for the companies involved and Mr. Reid, the results were certainly less than satisfactory.
WE BUY GOLD
GOOD QUALITY NUGGETS REQUIRED
TOP PRICES PAID
Currently seeking half ounce nuggets and upwards.
Gold nuggets sold on consignment
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10. GOLDEN GENESIS - VICTORIA
by Laurelle Murphy
The discovery of gold in Victoria was not a single event. It occurred slowly and it occurred more by good luck than by a single orchestrated event. It was to develop into a great golden bonanza that was to change the face of Australia forever.
Australia is still a young country. Victoria today is only just over 150 years old, although there was some settlement from New South Wales prior the proclamation of Victoria as a State.
The first attempt to colonise Port Phillip was in 1803, when 400 convicts landed there under military guard, but after a few short months the attempt was abandoned. The great explorer and pastoralist John Batman landed in the bay on 1835 and upon inspection of the area was so impressed be honestly purchased 500,000 acres from the local aborigines, paying for the land with blankets, knives, flour, scissors, mirrors and other trinkets. Aborigines did not recognise ownership of land as the Europeans did, and obviously there was some misunderstanding of the meaning of the transaction.
Another group also colonised the area during the same year and there was some altercation between the two groups, but with the vastness of this great southern land, there was more than sufficient for all. It took all of a year for the population to reach 50 souls. There were 1,400 sheep, 100 cattle and 6 horses. During this year, exploration was carried out in all directions. To the west the Henty brothers settled at Portland Bay. Major Mitchell crossed the River Murray to the north and was exploring the great northern plains south of the river. Residents of Sydney became aware of the great opportunities to the south and many began to migrate to this land of opportunity.
A Colonial Act was passed in Sydney in 1837, this Act annexing all the lands of Victoria under the control of the administration of New South Wales. At this time the settlement of Melbourne began in earnest, with half-acre lots being sold by auction. From 1838 until 1840 this small enclave grew at a rapid pace, including 2 and 3 story buildings of a substantial nature. Victoria was on the move.
In October of 1839, Charles Latrobe was appointed Lieutenant Governor and set about putting in place the infrastructure necessary for the fledgling colony. The area was recognised as an outstanding grazing opportunity and many graziers from the Sydney area joined the rush to procure grazing rights. Free settlers from the United Kingdom began to arrive and settle. By Christmas of 1840 the population was just over 10,000.
By 1841, the economy of the region was in tatters. The high prices previously got could not be maintained and insolvencies among traders were increasing alarmingly. A depression followed, and in 1842 it was successfully addressed and the economy began to recover. During 1842, the New South Wales administration divided into three sections. The southern section was known as the Port Phillip District. Agitation began shortly after for the colony to be proclaimed a separate colony in its own right.
Large numbers of immigrants were pouring into the colony, mainly from the United Kingdom. The treacherous reefs along the southern coast of Australia claimed dozens of ships and hundreds of souls were lost in site of their goal, having travelled half way around the world to this great south land. The history of the wrecks along this coast is legendary, and is undoubtedly among the great graveyards of sailing ships, but that is another story. In any case the population was increasing rapidly. Melbourne was at this time thriving, but still no gold had been sighted in this neck of the woods. How things were about to change.
In March 1847 a shepherd sold some gold to a jeweller in Melbourne that he had found under the stump of a fallen tree. This was the first record of gold having been found in Victoria. In July 1848, another shepherd found a few grams of gold and in the same year a young shepherd found gold in the Pyrenees. Although these were well documented, the great rush did not occur in Victoria. In fact with the discovery of gold in California in 1849, a considerable number left for the United States, to try their luck. If only they had known that the greatest gold bonanza the world has ever seen was under their feet in Victoria.
In fact as the miners were embarking for San Francisco, a youth was selling 22 ounces of fine gold to a Melbourne jeweller. The jeweller, encouraged by this find arranged for an assayer to accompany the young man back to the Pyrenees. However after a verbal altercation, the lad refused to show the assayer the location and he returned to Melbourne empty handed.
On August 1st. 1850, the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain passed the Bill creating the colony of Victoria. News of this event reached the colony on November 11th resulting in a spontaneous demonstration by about 20,000 people who filled the streets and celebrated for almost a week. By December that year the population had reached 73,000. Quite a healthy increase, in just over a decade.
In 1851, an event occurred that was to decimate the fledgling colony. These events still occur in southern Australia, the most notable in recent times being in 1983, when over 70 people lost their lives. During February of 1851, the day dawned hot and dry, by 9am the temperature was over 100 degrees, and a strong north wind was blowing. By 4pm the temperature was over 113 degrees. The country was tinder dry and in mid summer. Fire began and raced across the countryside consuming everything in its path. Dry grass, buildings, trees, stock and any humans that could not outrun the advancing flames. Black Thursday, as it became known, wiped out huge sections of the colony. One station alone reported 7,000 sheep had perished in the flames and this was by no means an isolated incident. Just how many people lost their lives was impossible to calculate. In any case the destruction was enormous.
Only one week later, rich gold diggings were reported in New South Wales. The news became public on February 12th, and a considerable number, seeing their prospects dwindling away left for the diggings, near Bathurst. Some enterprising men realising the ground in Victoria may contain gold began to search the ground around Melbourne. The reputation of gold in Victoria was gaining momentum, slowly but surely.
Shortly after the government was approached to offer a reward for payable gold found within 200 miles of Melbourne. From this time on, gold began to show up in ever increasing amounts. On 16th July 1851, the formed "Gold Committee" proclaimed that Victoria was in fact a great gold field, and the search for the great wealth locked in the soil of Victoria had begun.
11. STRIKES Recent Finds
12. THE TWENTY FIVE MILE
by Jim Foster
James Speakman and party found gold twenty-five miles north of Coolgardie in December 1892. Speakman pegged a lease and began working it but was forced to leave through shortage of water. Failing to apply for an exemption to leave the ground for lack of water left the ground open for re-pegging by another.
This was duly done by a man named Adams and although Sneakman appealed his case in court Adams won the case and sold the claim to a company who developed it into a very rich mine. Other good ground nearby was soon taken up and a town, Kunanalling, soon sprang up to service the area.
The original lease was named the Premier and retained the title of richest mine in the district for its earlier years. Its total production up till the end of 1900 was 34,000 ounces of gold from 43,422 tons of ore. Other leases on the surrounding rich ground helped keep the town going for many more years. One such lease was the True Blue, later re-named the Blue Bell. This was run by C. H. Ware and partners after 1904. Having their own battery they treated not only their own ore but that from many of the surrounding small mines. Had the Blue Bell not had a battery available to the smaller miners the town would have died a lot sooner than it did. Mr. Ware eventually bought the property outright and continued the mine until 1928. But he was not alone in having a profitable mine in the area. Blacketts Star of Fremantle and the Shamrock also made a tidy profit. In the early years of the century Kunanalling reached its peak as a town. It boasted three hotels but little survive today to show where the miners slaked their thirst.
Much of the liquor sold in those early hotels was of questionable origin and a wag of the day, "Outback Joe," wrote a poem called "A Legend of the Twenty Five Mile." Part of it reads;
The old road to Menzies passed through Kunanalling. Cobb and Co. had a station there and provided a daily service from Coolgardie north to Menzies. But as surrounding mining centre towns shrunk and died as the goId ran out Kunanalling continued on as the main shopping centre for the smaller miners and prospectors still working the area. For a brief period the town actually became the most important centre in the area north of Coolgardie, but as all gold towns do when the gold nuns out, it too died a slow death, the last resident leaving in 1942.
Today Kunanalling is only a thirty-minute drive north of Coolgardie on a good dirt road. There are many acres of good nugget hunting ground around the old town. Indeed good ground runs from Coolgardie right up past Kunanalling and north as far as the abandoned mining town of Siberia, and east to Ora Banda, (Spanish for Ring Of Gold) about a hundred kilometres north. Having such rich detecting ground so close to major centres such as Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie means you don't have to camp out if you don't want to. You can be camped snug in a nice motel or hotel and journey out for less than an hours run to any of the good ground to the north. The largest known nugget to come from this area in recent years weighed in at a massive twenty five kilograms of pure gold.
13. MUDGEE'S GOLDEN MUD
by Dale "Drongo" Doering
Now Mudgee is a name that is not easily forgotten. Like a lot of names in Australia it is a corruption of our local black fellers language meaning "a nest".
The word in aboriginal lingo sounds something like Moothi, and over the years it developed a distinctly anglo saxon corruption to Mudgee. Now don't ask me how Moothi became Mudgee - but it did.
Now it's rumoured in the locale that the first white bloke that dragged his rear end into this part of the world was a bloke called James Blackman, whose brother was the local chief of police at Bathurst. Now I don't suppose it matters one way or the other, but between the cops and the "grunts", (foot soldiers), they were wandering around there for some reason about 1821, probably looking for tucker (food) and water. At least they found the Cudgegong River, and don't ask me what that word means, because I haven't got a clue, but it sure has aboriginal origins.
Someone mentioned that they were trying to find a way through the Blue Mountains, but what they were doing snooping around this area, is beyond me, as anyone knows that this area is some of the most impenetrable in the Blue Mountains. Perhaps they were just a mob of dills.
As it turned out the river was pretty good at running all year round, and that was a rarity in Australia at the time, and so it became a mecca for settlers. In 1851, gold was found in quantity just south of Mudgee on the Fish River. Now I know how that river was named. Well it was actually because it had fish in it. Clever, aren't I? Well Mudgee at that time had about 200 people scratching a living in the donga from stock and crops and from trading in the town.
Now at about that time, 1852, there was this Government Geologist bloke called Stutchbury. Now that's a name I recognise as being from the old country. Yes, good old England. Well this bloke went wandering around the hills and found himself some good samples of gold surrounded by quartz, which he crushed and he got this stuff from all over the place. Top of the hills, in the gullies, and eventually he worked it out that there was gold there. He must have been pretty bright this bloke. I'm not sure just how bright because after that he told everybody and all the local papers spread the news and all of a sudden there were heaps of blokes all over the place, digging up the stuff.
I must say that there was one real bright feller there, who owned quite a spread and every time he dug a posthole he kept finding gold. He was so bright that he kept digging postholes, and building fences. If I were him, I would have been digging all over the place for the gold stuff, but not this fella. He wasn't interested in gold, or so it seems. And on top of that, he told everybody about the gold. They bred them bright in those days.
Well he did end up owning 20,000 acres, so he must have been doing something right.
He was actually finding diamonds in the ground as well this bloke, or so the story goes.
I suppose he kept the stuff, but the records don't tell you that.
The Gudgegong River, was a good source of gold and continued to produce good quantities for about 20 years, until the majority of the flecks were drying up. Right throughout the area, in all directions from Mudgee itself, gold was found. In creeks, in the gullies, on top of the hills, and even deep down in the quartz areas, gold was everywhere.
The town of Mudgee itself grew quite rapidly, and of course the authorities built the most necessary building first. They built the gaol. Ironically, that was often the first building built in towns, and throughout Australia old gaols of that era still stand proudly overlooking towns as a grand old statement to the convict past.
Now the ground around Mudgee gave up some pretty fair nuggets. The Kerr Hundredweight came from Hargraves just down the road to the south, and that was a grand old find. Made the area world famous it did. Well that's what the old fellers tell me, that the Holtemann Nugget as it was also known, made the area world famous.
Quite a few good sized nuggets came out of the ground as well. Although not as prolific as Victoria, there were a number of nuggets in the 100 plus ounce range that were dragged out around good old Mudgee.
Now a gold field in Australia of any size wouldn't be without a Chinese influence, and it was so at Mudgee. Well let me tell you, that those Chinese blokes, (there were no sheila's) (women) well, those enterprising little heathens as they were called, didn't just dig up more gold after the white blokes had finished, they also grew veggies, the surplus of which they sold.
Smart little buggers these blokes. No wonder the white fellows took to giving them a hiding later on, down at Lambing Flat. These days, all the tourist organisations recognise what these little blokes did here in Aus. And there are lots of memorials dotted right throughout the gold country in honour of their contribution.
Another famous nugget that came from this area was the "Maitland Bar Nugget". This nugget weighed 352 ounces, and was found in 1877, and the blokes that were working in that patch called the area the "potato patch", because nuggets of potato size were dug up all over the place. Bright blokes they were thinking of that name.
In 1883 the Canadian Gold Mining Company was established to rework the old Canadian Lead. This was one of the most successful in recovering gold of the many ventures that were undertaken, with the company getting about 30 ounces a week. As it happened the gold ran out and the company eventually went into liquidation in 1886, when all the assets were sold.
Mudgee today is a regional centre supporting the rural area. The population is about 12,000 and it even boasts about 1,400 businesses. Quite some place is Mudgee, these days. Mining is no longer a part of Mudgee, but no one can deny that the heritage of this town is steeped in the golden traditions that only a town called Mudgee could nurture.
14. KEEPING THE GOLD FIELDS OPEN
by Chris Theyer
The goldfields of Australia are immense. They are also very accessible to all.
At the moment! Just how long will the accessibility of the gold fields remain as it is at present? That indeed, is the $64,000 question.
Mining groups, however, are always locked in negotiations with various organisations, who are hell bent on denying the privateer access to these areas. From time to time some bizarre events occur that defy logic.
Having recently witnessed such an occurrence in the One Tree Hill Park just east of Bendigo, the damage done was far more than would have been done by 1,000 vehicles driving down these simple tracks. Anyone knows that if you dig up and disturb ground washaways may result. It was a tragedy to see such a silly reaction by a government instrumentality. Unfortunately, this type of reaction is not an isolated event.
In recent times Parks Victoria, otherwise known as the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, bulldozed the historic Mystery Mine Hut at Moliagal and set fire to the remains, which resulted in a great hue and cry from all fossickers, who, in the main are great conservationists.
The Mineral Resources Development Act was enacted to control and regulate economically effective mining in Victoria. Mining was considered a State Government responsibility, and almost all local government organisations accept this. Recently the Lodden Shire Council, which locally administers an area that covers a fair proportion of auriferous ground in Victoria, adopted a policy that will in fact have the ability to thwart mining operations in their area.
In Western Australia, accessibility to the many millions of acres of auriferous country has been a minefield for the privateer. The sheer volume of Exploration Leases granted over this extensive area is too numerous for the privateer to have any reasonable knowledge of infringing.
Fortunately the Western Australian Government is introducing legislation to open up all the auriferous ground to the privateer. Only hand held gear will be permitted, e.g. a metal detector, and EL (Exploration Lease) ground can be accessed by a simple notification in writing to the lease holder. Minerals can be taken from the top 2 metres of ground (About 6 feet) with impunity.
A constant vigilance is required by those involved in gold recovery in this country to ensure that access to auriferous ground remains open. The Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria has joined forces with the Australian Mining Council, a powerful organisation that makes representations to governments and in general protects the industry.
The same organisation recently applied for membership of the Public Land Council. This organisation is the umbrella organisation for all Crown land uses in Victoria. It includes the Victorian Chamber of Mines, the Association of 4WD clubs, Apiarists Assoc. Mountain Cattlemen's Assoc. and the Forest Protection Society. The obvious advantages of membership of this organisation, gives the organisation flexibility in liaising with government and other organisations that use Crown land extensively.
We all hope that the people's land will remain open to all. Then there is the question of Native Title, but then that is another question, and a big question it is indeed, that will be looked at in another article, soon.
15. THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue