REMINISCENCES OF THE OLD GOLD DIGGERS.

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HOW TO DIG FOR GOLD.

BY AN OLD DIGGER.

There are many men walking about the city of Melbourne who read of gold being got daily, and would like to go and do likewise. But they don't know how to go about it, being perfectly ignorant of everything connected with digging, If they want to learn to be carpenters or bricklayers or plumbers there are plenty of teachers. Do they wish to study agriculture there are two colleges. But if they want to learn practical alluvial gold-digging, the greatest and most profitable trade, that has yielded 325 millions in 40 years in Australia, there is no one to instruct them. There is no "gold chair" at the University. The Working Men's College doesn't teach digging, and the race of old alluvial gold miners is nearly if not quite, extinct. Ah! if these hardy old fellows with all their practical knowledge and experience bud but taught their sons the tricks of their trade what a different story there would have been to tell to-day ! The great bush with its free air, healthy life, and independent existence was not good enough for the descendants of the pioneer diggers factory life in town working for wages they hankered after and they got it. Much good it has done them.

You want to go digging, and you are ignorant even of the A B C of it. You have never been further away from the city than Brighton Beach. Very well, then I will endeavor to explain the why gold is sought for and dug as we did it in the old days. In the first place, if you intend seriously to prospect, you can't put up at hotels. You want a swag. This should consist of two pairs of blankets, two course flannel shirts, two Crimean shirts, half-a-dozen pairs of socks, a couple of towels, and a pair of mole skin trousers, a billy and pannikin, a frying pan, a bucket, a tin dish (this dish has sloping slides, a rim at the edge, and is about 2ft. in diameter), a saw, hammer headed tomahawk, some nails, a couple of black-handled dinner knives, a pick and shovel, a compass, and as much tucker as you can carry. If you can afford a horse (and you can pick up one for a pound or two nowadays), so much the better, us then you can carry a small six by eight tent and plenty of tucker, ie flour, tea, sugar, salt, soup, and baking soda. A gun in the day time and a noose at night will provide you with flesh food, and you must trust to luck to come across some place where you can get a bit of salt or fresh meat occasionally. Now, most of the tools above described speak for themselves, but the use of the tin dish require explanation. It is for prospecting. That is to say, to wash the soil in which you think there is gold. This will be further illustrated later on. It is also useful to make your damper or "Johnnycake," in which serves you in place of yeast bread. A Johnnycake is made thus: Put a couple of handfuls of flour into your dish, with a good pinch of salt and baking soda,' Add water till it works to a stiff paste. Divide it into three parts anti flatten out into cakes about half an inch thick. Dust a little four into your frying-pan and put the cake in. Cook it slowly over the fire, taking care it does not burn, and tossing it over again and again. When nearly done stand it against a slide in front of the lire, and let it finish baking while you cook the other two. These, with a piece of wallaby and a billy of tea, are a sweet meal enough after a hard day's work.

Now, where to look for gold. Well, remember this, that, with the exception of iron, no metal is more widely distributed, and that in nearly every creek gold will be found, it not in one spot in another. It is there, depend upon it. All it requires is a little perseverance and " nous." The easiest and simplest of all methods is "fossicking." An old diggings is the place for this work, because there you will lean the kind of country, formation, and spots to look for gold when you want to break new ground. "Fossicking" means going over old workings, turning up boulders, and taking the clay from beneath them, exploring fissures in the rock, and scraping out the stuff with your table knife, using your pick to help matters, Pulling up of trees, and clearing all soil from the roots, scraping the bottoms of deserted holes, and generally keeping your eye about for little bits of ground left between workings by earlier miners who were in too great a hurry looking after the big fish to attend much to small fry. All this material you have gathered you put into your bucket and when it is full you take it and your tin dish to the bank of the creek for washing or "panning out Into the dish you put half your bucket of stuff and place the dish on the bank just so hint the water can wash into it now with both hands (the fingers open) commence to chum the stuff vigorously breaking up the large lumps of clay and throwing out the stones as they come to the surface let plenty of water into the dish but do not allow any of the material to escape out of it Alter churning for a few minutes take the dish by the sides and give it a circular swirling motion, still letting the water well into it churn again with jour hands throwing out the smaller stones repeat these processes until you have got down to about a handful of fine stuff keep this at one end and lap in about a pint of water Make this gently rotate round the dish, and it will gradually wash away the clay, leaving the black sand exposed, in which the gold, if any, will be seen Dont be disheartened if you should not come across a nugget fist time think yourself lucky if you get a good "colour that is half a dozen specks this tells you, you are near it. The next dish, and the next, and a dozen others may give you nothing But a quarter of an ounce may be at the bottom of your twentieth dish, and this means tucker, and a bit over for a fortnight ' This is fossicking, and the man who goes about it by himself is called a hatter. If the field you are working on turns out good enough the tin dish will be found a very slow process. You will want something quicker, which will wash a bucket of stuff in half the time a tub and cradle now are the things half a barrel will serve as a tub the cradle is a very simple matter to make the ordinary household cinder sifter, with an end out, the bottom lengthened and fitted with ripples, being the model the tray at the top, instead of being of open wire work, is made of perforated iron with holes about the size of small marbles into this, after being well puddled at the tub, the stuff is put, and as water is poured on to it from the billy it is rocked backwards and forwards, the big stones being thrown out, and the fine stuff falling through the sieve and along the ledges to the riffles, which catch and hold the gold.

After having learned so much, the desire will come to break new ground If you have a mate all the better. The chances of a "big thing, and the very biggest things are with in your reach are greater in new workings there are plenty of creeks in this country that have only so far been scratched a hole sunk here and there and abandoned no luck, no perseverance, and so the place has been set down us a duffer, or, us the old diggers more expressive term had it, a shicer. The selection of a creek must be left a matter entirely for the intending digger to decide for himself all that can be done here is to indicate the way gold should be looked for on the field. A shaft has to be sunk to got to the "bottom where the gold is to be found now, bottom is rather a difficult theory for the green digger to decide on, and has often deceived old practical miners say, for instance, that your shaft (and it should be three foot six by two feet- Chinamen sink round shafts, and tiny get down much quicker) is going down by the side of a bank whereon clay or sandy slate dipping at a slight angle crops out. It is almost certain that the bottom will also be slate, covered by a layer of pipeclay of varying thickness. It is in this clay that the gold will be found, especially when the clay is packed tight between the fissures and crevices of the slate. Here the pick is required to break up some of the bedrock, or bottom, for the cradle if there is gold in it not a scrap should be lost, for it is the easiest thing possible to miss a pennyweight or two the main object in sinking is to get on the gutter, that is the deepest part of the ancient buried river where, the mineral impregnated water for ages has been flowing and depositing the gold, and left it patchy, thick, scant, or not at all It must also be borne in mind that the present bed of the creek or river is not the true one, and may be only a channel relatively speaking, of today Therefore, the diggers object is to find the ancient watercourse, which, may hap, be some distance from the present stream, or only a few feet away Sinking a shaft is a dip in the lucky bag, you may bottom dead on a golden gutter, or you may not If you do and it is wide, you are in the best of luck If narrow, follow it up , it may open out, and it may run for miles. I have seen pipeclay out of a gutter with gold in it like plums in a Christmas pudding. Sometimes, on bottoming your shaft, the pipeclay, although not carrying gold to any extent, may yet look so promising that it is worth while driving This, if the reef dips means following it down by means of a small tunnel, sending the stuff in a bucket up to your mate on top, in order to get it out of the way.

Very often surface gold is to be found on sloping river sides, and as these deposits are generally shallow, "sluicing is the means used to obtain the metal for the purpose of sluicing it will be necessary to have sluice boxes, and these can be easily knocked up they are male of inch and a half planks, a foot in width The length is about five feet there is a bottom and two sides, the sides being held together by two ties nailed across at about four inches up at either end a false bottom, that is an inch and a half plank with holes the size of a crown piece bored through it in rows, with 3m spaces between each hole is placed in the box, butting against a narrow piece of wood nailed across the mouth culled a riffle the false bottom is generally in two pieces, with a riffle between them as well as at the end of the box a string of these boxes, with sapling supports at the joints is set from the hill side to the creek at a slight dip, say 2ft for the whole distance. It is now necessary to bring a head of water through the boxes. For this purpose a race that is a ditch a foot square is started at a point sufficiently high up the river to allow of its being brought along the side of the hill to the mouth of the boxes. When all is ready and the water begins to flow slowly through the boxes, if there are two mates at work one shovels in the stuff while the other forks, that is, with a five pronged fork slightly curved he walks up and down the edges of the boxes and churns the mullock, doing with the fork what your outspread fingers did in the tin dish. The fine stuff and the gold falls through the holes in the false bottom and lodges against the riffles or ripples to clean up the bottoms are taken out and the ripples cleared.
A favorite theory of diggers is that all gold comes from reefs, because reef gold sometimes with quart? attached to it is found on alluvial workings. But this is certainly not so as the gold are quite distinct the reef gold is fine, fantastic in shape, sharp edged, and inferior in quality to alluvial. Very probably the reef gold may have drifted down from quarts veins worn away by the process of time together with the surface of the hills that carried them where quarts gold is found amongst the alluvial in all probability reefs will be found in the neighborhood. It will always be worth while prospecting for these. This may be treated in another paper.

Mention has been made of snaring wallaby for food when a butchers meat is scarce and there is not much time to do any shooting. Along the banks of creeks will be noticed narrow tracks coming down from the hills and leading to the water These are kangaroo or wallaby water tracks to snare them take two sticks about a foot in length, with a slit at the top. Stick these at either side of the track facing each other. Now make a strong, noose, and fix it upright in the track about 3 inches off the ground, held by the slits in the sticks tie the other end to a tree. The kangaroo coming slowly down on all fours gets his head well through the noose before he feels the strain then he tries to clear, and of course strangles himself.

The Argus
Saturday 10 March 1894

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/

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A Digger's Cradle.

(By Ixion in the Australasian.)

A paragraph in the Argus mentioning that Mr. Cosmo Newbery had had a digger's cradle and sluice-box made for exhibition in the mineral department at the Melbourne Technological Museum led to unlooked for results. Against his will they turned Mr Newbery into a public lecturer. It was no uncommon thing to see him followed about the grounds by thirty or forty stalwart men thirsting for information on the subject of gold seeking. He has even taken them as far as the excavation at the side, of the Supreme Court Buildings in order to show them " bed rook." His pupils have not always listened to the master in silence. Some of them " argufied," while others have spoken disrespectfully of washdirt, quarts, and even of the cradle itself. "What I want," said one student, "is to know exactly where I can put down a hole and come on gold. I don't want to waste my time digging one hole after another to find nothing at the bottom of it." The teacher explained that it was not given to him to be able to stand on a certain spot on the earth's surface and say, "Beneath me at a distance of 8ft. there is lots of gold. The only way he knew to find out was to sink and see." Another man put the following conundrum to Mr. Newbery: " Hasn't gold got an affinity for quicksilver?" " Yes, clean gold and quicksilver have," he Answered. "Well, then, if I went about the diggings with some quicksilver in my hand and held it near the ground, shouldn't I tell by its creeping that it was near gold?" The only advice that could be given was " to try." The white and grey washdirt was shown to the classes and commented on. Said one member, "Is it always them two colours ?" " No," answered Mr. Newbery, " it's sometimes brown." " And is there always gold in it ?" "If it always carried gold there would be no further trouble," was the reply. It took time to make the classes understand that gold had to be looked for as churchmen say with abundant diligence, and caused shades of sorrow and regret to pass over the faces of the students. It was not exactly what they had bargained for. The cradle has not given entire satisfaction to those who have seen it for the first time. One difficulty was, "How are you going to save the nuggets from slipping through the little holes in the hopper ?" The general idea was that gold was obtained in pieces the size of walnuts, or even larger. When Mr. Newbery explained that the usual run of it was about the size of a split pea downwards the appreciation of gold depreciated a good deal.

The Queenslander 1894

http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/

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https://nqheritage.jcu.edu.au/110/
 
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Sorry, here are more details . Goldfield Reminiscences. Castlemaines Golden Era . ISBN-0-9596725-0-8

Lot of reprints from the public press of the time . Detailing gold found .

One for sale on E-bay $39 plus postage .
 
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Points for Prospectors.

(BY C. B. SMITH.)

Men only search for gold when the more comfortable ways of earning a livelihood fall them. It was this driving force of economic necessity that sent men from the towns and cities In the past, and led to the discovery of many of Australia's richest gold fields.

History is now repeating itself. Almost dally news comes of another gold discovery, and lured by the success of others, thousands of men throughout Australia, who are not content to merely hang about the cities and towns and eke out an existence on a Government dole, are leaving for goldfields, old and new, in search of the precious metal.

In support of the statement that gold-seeking is the last resort of men made desperate by unemployment, I advance the following Interesting figures:
In the "gold rush" year of 1852, Australia's total gold production was valued at 12,279,000. In the following years It steadily declined until It reached 5,231,000 in 1891. This decline was due to the fact that In the cycle of prosperity prior to 1890, men renounced the hardships of mining camps for the comforts of towns and cities, where work was available.

Then came the last great depression in Australia commencing in 1890. It was world wide in its ramifications. Prices of wool fell alarmingly, and on top of this came the great drought of 1892, and the following year the "bank smash." But the point that interests us to-day is that as soon as depression set in, men went back to search for their first love gold. It is claimed that over 100,000 men in Australia were engaged in gold production back in the 'nineties. New reefs were discovered almost every day, including the Wyalong field (1893), which yielded in six I years 181,268 ounces, valued at 712,358; the Hillgrove field (about 1892), which in seven years produced 251,991 ounces of free gold valued at approximately 900,000; and the Wentworth goldfield (near Orange), which gave a total of 224.703 ounces, worth 796,000, from 1892 to 1899, and several others. Properly directed labor will lead to further valuable developments over the whole length and breadth of our auriferous areas.

This intense gold-seeking activity in New South Wales was typical of all States after the last economic depression, and the happy sequel was that Australian gold production increased at the rate of about one million sterling per year until it reached the record figure of 16,302,000 in 1902. From that year a very gradual decline set In, and as the new cycle of prosperity gathered momentum, gold production went down and down until it reached the miserable figure of 1,807,000, In 1929-the lowest recorded since the discovery of gold in 1851.

GOLD STILL WAITING.

Some may conclude that this decline was due to the fact that gold production Is based on a law of diminishing return. Many authorities, on the other hand, hold the view that the mineral resources of Australia have scarcely been "scratched." The 629,659,000 worth of gold that has already been won from the fields of Australia is a mere bagatelle, they affirm, compared with the gold that still awaits the Midas touch of the prospector and the gold-mining company. The geology of Australia bustles with indications favorable to persistent gold production. Briefly, these indications are in the age of our sedimentary rocks and the abundance of igneous intrusions over wide areas.

It is quite reasonable to assume, therefore, that there are still vast gold resources in Australia awaiting development. The chief reason for the great falling-off in its production was undoubtedly the "borrow, boom, and bust" policy of successive Governments, which lured men away from the comfortless life of the open spaces to the soft cushions of the cities. This policy also increased production costs to a point that made the working of scores of mines unprofitable. Gold production decreased in the same ratio as Australia became puffed up with bogus prosperity.

THE PROSPECTOR'S CHANCES.

Thousands of men In this State to-day are turning to the quest for gold as a means of tiding themselves and their families over the lean years ahead. All classes will again unite in the camaraderie of the goldfield, from the basic wager to the briefless barrister, the skilled artisan out of a Job to the young doctor whom the Great God Depression has denied a practice. All these, and more, will be caught up In the gold fever that seems to come just as regularly as the cycles of prosperity and depression.

These men are reading every day where some fortunate prospector has made a small fortune, but their first and greatest question is whether or not they will be able to make a bare living.

Thirty years ago (1901), gold production gave employment, officially, to 70,972 men, and unofficially, to another 30,000, but in 1928 gold seeking only gave employment to 5686. It Is not unlikely that 100,000 men throughout the Commonwealth will be earning a livelihood in gold production within the next two years.
Let me at the outset of these articles sound a timely warning to those who possess no practical knowledge of prospecting for gold. The men who go away, ill-equipped with experience, to search for this precious, but illusive, metal in some remote reef are courting disappointment. Reef mining calls for know- ledge based on practical experience, and every party of amateur prospectors should have at least one practical man among their number to save them from misdirected effort and ultimate failure.

KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED.

Before setting out in the actual search for gold, men should make themselves familiar with the following points:

1. How to use a prospecting dish correctly, i.e., how to pan alluvial gold.
2. How to identify, broadly, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, particularly such igneous rocks as granites, dlorites, felspars, porphyries, and felsites.
3. How to identify gold, and be sure that it isn't "new chum's gold," pyrites or golden flakes of mica.
4. The specific gravity (weight) of minerals and rocks.
5. How to sample ores for assay purposes, so that the portion taken may fairly represent the whole body.
6. How to construct a cradle and sluice box for washing alluvial deposits.

The Department of Mines at George-street North, Sydney, gives demonstrations on most of the above points every day, and is doing great work to cope with the host of inquirers after information. To those who cannot avail themselves of this export advice, I suggest that they get In touch with some competent prospector In their locality, who is generally only too happy to pass on, to the best of his ability, all that he knows.

Of course, while a certain amount of geological knowledge Is advisable, one must not over-emphasize Its Importance. Neither geologists nor experienced prospectors possess powers of divination, and do not pretend to know exactly where payable gold will be found. At most, they can only Indicate where gold is likely to occur, or even say authoritatively where it will not be found In payable quantity. The slogan of the old prospectors was that "gold Is where you And It."

The element of luck plays a tremendous, and a romantic, part in gold finding, and the inexperienced might strike a rich alluvial patch or a gold-bearing shoot of quartz near where the most competent prospector, following all the orthodox Indications strikes a "duffer." i.e., a shaft that produces nothing. Still, this is the exception rather than the rule. As In every other field of enterprise, a "little training is worth a world of straining." and the "new chum" on the prospecting field Is well advised to acquire all j the knowledge he can with a view to making his chances of success more favorable.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday 21 February 1931

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/
 
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ALLUVIAL GOLD HAPHAZARD METHODS UNPROFITABLE VALUABLE RECORDS AVAILABLE.

Much waste of capital and labour might be avoided in the search for gold if the seekers began properly, took advantage of the recorded experiences of others, and applied right methods. The man who sets out to find gold carrying a pickle bottle to put the precious metal in is either an optimist or a foolor both. One who utterly disregards the known principles and methods of tracing and treating auriferous materials is equally foolish. There is probably more labor being expended in South Australia to-day than for many years past with the object of locating gold deposits, and many earnest seekers are unaware of the amount of valuable. information available at the Mines Department for their guidance. In convenient form official details may be obtained regarding operations during the past fifty years or more in the gold-bearing districts. Many later day prospectors have been surprised to find when they have "bottomed" in their search for alluvial the broken rusty tools of men who had worked the ground many years ago. and have been unaware that the total gold yield of this State exceeded 1,250,000 a quarter a century ago. Encouraging Prospects At the same time, provided the proper course is pursued, there are encouraging prospects for further discoveries. Men walked over Larcombe's Golden Eagle nugget at Widgiemooltna more than 30 years ago. and Italians had more recently cut down the trees above it. New chum prospectors should obtain all the available information regarding the district for which they intend to operate. They should remember that an ounce of gold to a ton of material is worth while, and that a "colour" in a pan of dirt may be payable. They should remember that one grainit takes 480 to make an ouncemay be spread over 56 square inches, that gold is 0 ductile that a grain may be stretched a distance of 500 ft, while an ounce could be made to cover a silver wire reaching from Adelaide to Sydney. Alluvial and reef the gold "lived" originally in reefs, veins, or lodes, and from these formations, with the crumbling action of the elements and the wearing away of the rock, particles were washed away and became the alluvium deposits else where. Naturally, it would be in the bed of the watercourses of the time, but these channels have also been changed in their course by the passing of time: and while there is no set rule, the alluvial miner combining his perhaps limited geological knowledge, locates the probable course, and then looks for "red rock," the strata to which the gold by its weight has gravitated and rested. His next task is testing the percentage of gold in that "bottom." The depth of this strata has been found to vary in South Australia from practically the surface to 20 feet or 30 feet, or more. Methods of testing the novice looks for nuggets: the experienced man for "colours." He adopts one of several methods. If water is available, he uses the "pan," and taking about two-thirds of "pay dirt." or gold-bearing material, he fills his pan with water, and, by careful washing, while keeping the dirt and the water in motion, takes off the lighter earth, and allows the gold to drop to the bottom. There may be only a "colour," or a comet-shaped trace or tail of gold left. He needs no pickle bottle, but with a wet finger carefully lifts the particle and saves it. The process is repeated while there is "colour" visible The inexperienced might regard it as not worth saving. If water is not available, the same gold may be won by dropping the loose earth from one dish to another, allowing the wind to blow away the lighter dirt as it falls. The cradle may be the most useful method where sufficient water is available, and expert advice in its construction may be had from the Mines Department. A diagram will probably be published by the department for the assistance of prospectors The "dry blower" has gladdened the hearts of many fossickers, with a form of blacksmith's bellows forcing air up through sieves. Thus the lighter earth is blown away and the heaviest metal remains. Sluicing and puddling are only possible where there is an ample water supply. Where the prospector is in doubt, however, regarding the value of the ground he is working, he may take samples and have them assayed free of charge by the authorities in Adelaide. The old prospector trusts to his "dolly pot," by which he pounds up a small quantity of earth or rock, and is able fairly accurately to estimate the percentage of gold in the material being worked. Points to remember the main point to be remembered and observed by the seeker of gold, who might be taking up the search for the first time, is that he should obtain all information possible regarding the district, the trend of the alluvial or loads, the depth of the "bottom," and the probable position of the reefs or veins. The fact should be remembered that only a comparatively small layer may carry the whole of the gold, and that it , takes a very small quantity of gold per dish of dirt to produce an ounce to the ton treated, and that where water is available it should be the best way to save the gold, but by the dry process carefully carried out it is possible to separate the gold from the debris. The precious metal has been found and worked, over a very wide area in South Australia, and in varying conditions. Information may be obtained from the Mines Department of localities where gold can be found. Much work has been done, and that gold has been mined, particularly for alluvial, under various conditions and methods. The wisdom of taking advantage of the experience of those who have blazed the track cannot be too strongly urged.

The Advertiser
1931
http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/
 
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Prospecting Experiences.

Of the proposed Townsville prospecting party, the " Northern Miner" states that last week Mr. M. Cameron, the leader, was appealed to for further information. Mr. Cameron proceeded to relate some of his experiences on the goldfields of the colonies. Perhaps it is not generally known that he was on the West Coast of New Zealand in its palmiest days ; that he was at nearly every rush on the Sydney side ; that he took part in the first rush to Gympie; was at the Cape, Upper Cape, the Gilbert, the Etheridge, spending four years on the Percy. At the Percy he made a 'great rise,' taking 1600 worth of gold out of a rich leader in a few days." Mr. Cameron has his memory full of moving Incidents, and the " Miner" gives some sensational bits in his digging days on the Palmer :" It will be remembered," he says, " that the first rush on the Palmer took place at what was soon known as the Lower Township, where Mr. Howard St. George, the warden, had his headquarters.
I pushed on up the river to a place which I christened Revolver Point, about thirty-five miles above the Lower Township. M'Leod was at German Bar, about half-a-mile below Revolver Point. I was travelling with two horsesone carrying rations and tools, while I rode the other, and some swagmen followed me for protection, because I carried a revolver, and the blacks were said to be bad, though I never had any trouble with them. I got to a place where a bar ran across the river, and taking the packs off and hobbling the horses I went down to have a look. There was the gold on the bar as thick as plums In a pudding. The water was quite clear, and you could see the goldbeautiful amongst the wash, the bottom being a nice soft slate. Well, from the first dish I got 4 oz." He continues :" I didn't peg off any ground that evening ; but the swagmen coming up saw where I had got the gold, and pegged off every foot I was first on the spot the next morning, determined to have my rights as the prospector of the find. I was there before daylight, and afterwards a man came up, and said that I was on his ground. I claimed the ground as mine, as I had found it. He said that it was his, and would stick to it, at the same time presenting a revolver at me, and saying that he would shoot me. I jumped to one side and rushed at him.

bitting' him one under the Jaw, which sent him sprawling:. Then I got hold of his revolver, and chucked it into the middle of the waterhole, and turned"., round to the others and said' I'll do to any man who tries it on with me the same that that fellow threatened to do to me, and I'll call this place Revolver Point !' That is how it came to be called Revolver Point." Here is the end of the matter :" I was left in the place, and single-handed, just with the tin dish, I washed 900 Worth of gold in a fortnight. It was a deep waterhole with rocky sides, and I used to sit and puddle the clay in the dish, and get the gold very nicely every day, - Sometimes the: gold would be thick on the under side' of the pieces of slate, and I would brush it off into the dish with a little bit of bush. Ah! there's nothing like prospecting. You never know, when you are in good country, but what you may turn up a nugget, you never feel tired. The excitement of It keeps your brain active all the time, and. you are. always ready for work. If I were a, single man now I would not take a pound a day and remain in town. After we are dead and gone a hundred years gold will be found in North Queensland, and there are better chances of making a fortune prospecting than in knocking about town."

The Queenslander
Saturday 15 June 1895
http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/
 
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Thanks Jemba Re from above ( Ah! there's nothing like prospecting. You never know, when you are in good country, but what you may turn up a nugget, you never feel tired. The excitement of It keeps your brain active all the time, and. you are. always ready for work. )

Thats why I like detecting, especially in Northern WA.
 
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Thanks mate, yep your spot on prospecting dose keep you on your toes. :Y:
 
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LIFE ON THE DIGGINGS. ROBBERS' EXCHANGE OF GUNS

By C. R. C. PEARCE.

The great army of diggers at Bendigo did an immense amount of work in an incredibly short space of time. Vast areas of ground were turned over to the bedrock and rifled of their treasures. Forests of great ironbark trees, with their dense underwood, quickly disappeared. So thick and dark were these forests that people had often lost their way in the daylight. After the winter of 1852 almost all the natural beauty of Bendigo had disappeared. Earth and clay reduced to a powder, lay on the roads ankle deep, and the slightest puff of wind raised it in blinding clouds.

Mr. George Mackay, in his "Annals of Bendigo," relates that Mr. Joseph Crook, who afterwards lived in South Yarra, camped with three mates at the bottom of Long and Ironbark gullies in April, 1852. They lost a horse, and in searching for it in a dense ironbark forest they discovered a very rich gully, in which they picked up 9oz. of gold from the surface in two hours. In order to find their way back to this spot they cut marks in the trees when passing on their way to American Flat through California Gully. A rush to California Gully occurred on the following day (Sunday), and on Monday so much timber had been destroyed that Mr. Crook and his mates were unable to find the track. At a new rush diggers were shovelings up the gold between one an- other's legs, but Mr. Crook's party could not get within a mile and a half of the scene, as all the ground had been taken up. At Pegleg they got gold at 2ft. 6in., but not in large quantities. Thinking that they knew all about their claim they moved on. They were chagrined later to see men whom they regarded as new chums shovel up gold almost in bucketful's.

Eluding Black Douglas.

Black Douglas and his gang were the terror of diggers when they were taking their gold from Bendigo to Melbourne in 1852. Mr. Crook, it is recorded in the "Annals of Bendigo," related how he chiseled four chambers 8in. by 3in. by 4in. in the bed of a dray, and after placing four chamois leather bags in the chambers covered them up with wooden lids and filled the crevices with clay. Mr. Crook and his party were not "stuck up" by Black Douglas, but a neighboring camp of diggers was robbed at Carlsruhe on the night they were there. A successful digger, who had fortunately sent his gold to Melbourne by escort, was robbed on his way to Melbourne. The robbers took all his money with the exception of a few shillings. They also took his double-barreled gun and gave him an old single-barreled gun in exchange. The digger took this gun to England as a memento, and some time afterwards a young friend tried to draw the charge. The first thing he pulled out was portion of a 5 note. A blacksmith unscrewed the breech and took out notes amounting to 150. A man at the third White Hill valued his horse at 150, and he used to sleep with the bridle rein round his wrist. One morning he found that the rein had been cut and that the horse had been stolen. About three months afterwards he found the horse outside his tent with a new saddle on its back and 20lb. of gold in the saddle bag. The owner of the gold never appeared.
Diggers when they entered a store to make purchases emptied the contents of their matchboxes, filled with gold dust, on to white paper on the counter. The store keeper blew the dust and put the rest in a fine sieve, afterwards paying for it. Mr. H. Brown, in "Victoria as I found It," says that he saw innumerable grains of gold in the dust on a counter and directed the attention of a storekeeper to the loss of gold. Laughing, the storekeeper brushed the gold off the counter with his sleeve, and said that the dust was worthless. It was only when alluvial gold became scarcer that this fine dust was saved.
"The police have commenced their search for the licenses of gold diggers" wrote the Bendigo correspondent of "The Argus" on October 17, 1853. "They have dropped the musket and bayonet, and have taken to the baton."

The principal objection of the diggers to the gold license was the method of collection. In the "Annals of Bendigo," it is recorded that some diggers were chained to logs for hours in the blazing sun. It is to the credit of the diggers that the first balls which they attended were held in aid of the foundation of hospitals. At the first diggers' ball in Bendigo, the "ladies numbered 60 or about one in ten to the gentlemen, and they did credit to the classes on the diggings. Despite the assurance of the committee that full dress would not be exacted a great number of the men were attired in garments that exhibited a gentlemanly taste. The scarcity of women dancers is reflected in the reports of other balls which followed at Forest Creek and Ballarat. At the Forest Creek ball 600 people were present, but there were only 100 women among the dancers. At a Christmas ball held in Bendigo in 1853 some of the dresses cost 10. The program ranged from the opening quadrille to Sir Roger de Coverley.

New rushes were frequent in 1853 and 1854, but an exciting rush which occurred at Bendigo was not for gold, but for cabbages. An enterprising man brought from Brighton to Bendigo late in 1853 the first cartload of cabbages seen on that field. The cabbages were quickly sold at 3/6 each. Commenting on this "rush," the correspondent says"The promise of the surveyor-general to give every digger a cabbage-garden near the mines is hailed with gladness." How well the miners of Bendigo and Ballarat and other districts took advantage of the opportunity to grow vegetables, fruit, and flowers was shown in later years by the beautiful cottage gar- dens which adorned the mining towns. Though the price of flour was decreasing the bakers were charging 3/6 for the 4lb. loaf on the White Hills in 1853. Cats were in great demand on the Bendigo field. Good mouse cats brought from 2 to 3 each.

Cricket at Back Creek.

The first cricket match in Bendigo took place on January 2, 1854, between the married and single members of the Bendigo Cricket Club. The bachelors were "shame- fully defeated," and the correspondent re- corded:"The wicket was pitched on a tolerably level piece of ground at Back Creek. In a spacious tent an excellent dinner was provided for the members of the club. The wines were excellent, and were pretty fully discussed, so that towards the close of day the meeting of cricketers wore anything but a dull aspect. Several gentlemen from the Camp, commissioners, and others visited the tent during the afternoon, and the best possible feeling was displayed toward them." On the Back Creek cricket-ground in later years Mr. George Mackay and Mr. Angus Mackay, sons of the recorder of this first match, gave an impetus to cricket on the Back Creek ground which resulted in the production of many fine players in Bendigo.
Mr. R. Brough Smyth, in the "Goldfields and Mineral Districts of Victoria," re- corded that in 1858 147,358 adult miners, including 23,673 Chinese, were employed on the goldfields. In 1856 2,985,9910z. gold, valued at 4 an ounce (11,943,964), were exported. From the discovery of gold in 1851 to 1868 the amount of gold exported from Victoria was 147,342,767, and Mr. Brough Smith calculated the average for each man at 1,699/8/3, or 98/10/4 a year. "But these figures are not a true test of the success of individuals," he added. "The measure of success of the gold-mining industry must not be summed up by the exports. Immense sums were expended in the construction of roads, rail- ways, and other public works. Large towns, with fine buildings, good streets and parks, supplied with water from reservoirs of large extent, arose, so that no small share of the wealth the mines have yielded has been profitably used in turning a wilderness into a habitable abode."

The Argus
1930
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THE TOWNS OF THE OLD TURON GOLD-FIELD (NEW SOUTH WALES)

By IAIN McDOUGALL

A SLUMBERING half-century of isolation has served to embalm in almost perfect character the two small hamlets of Sofala and Hill End, once boom towns of the old Turon gold field, which lie between Bathurst and Mudgee in western New South Wales. Hamlets they may be now, but until their wealth petered out they were thriving centres filled with the lusty folk of the gold rush. At the peak of its fame Hill End had a population of 30,000, ranking next to Sydney amongst the States towns, while Sofala was not far behind. Their streets echoed the dialects of the world, the drawl of the Californians, the motley languages of Europe, and the sing-song chatter of the Chinese.

The discovery three years ago of the Holtermann photographs in a Sydney . Miners cottage at Hill End, New South Wales. Notice the roof built of bark slabs weighed down with saplings, and chimney of iron sheets. home briefly focused attention on them. The photographs, which have since been on exhibition throughout Australia and have been published in newspapers, magazines and books, are vivid reminders of mining life along the Turon in the seventies. They show the shops, the shanties and the activities of those far-off days, and the principal charm of both little towns today is that they have managed to keep progress and change at bay and to remain graceful miniatures of their former bustling selves.

This fortunate circumstance is due principally to their isolation from the railway and the Great Western Highway, and to the fact that gold prospecting and fossicking, using methods that have changed little since the time of Hargraves, continue to engage the attention of nearly all residents, either as a hobby or as a part time livelihood. The road to the Turon Valley leaves the main highway at Kelso, and almost at once carries the traveller into the atmosphere of other days. Peel, a collection of mud-brick houses and the vanishing remains of a hotel, was once an important staging centre on the road to the gold fields. the road climbs steeply up the mountains, round bends that pay tribute to the bullockies and coach-drivers who one negotiated them, to Wattle Flat, an old diggings town the subject of a poem by Cecil Poole in the Bulletin Reciter. Wattle Flat is on a plateau, and from there the road descends to the valley where Sofala nestles beside the Turon. The atmosphere of the roaring days clings to Sofala. Shipped to Hollywood it would delight a producer requiring a ready made set of a frontier town for a Wild-West film. The weatherboard hotel, built in 1862, is perched on the river-bank.

There are no footpaths; the shops and buildings, including the hotel, have doors that open directly on to the street. The only modern structures are the small hospital and the bridge that carries the Ilford road across the Turon. Payable gold was discovered on the Turon within months of Hargraves dramatic announcement that he had found gold at Ophir, near Orange, in 1851. Thousands of diggers flocked to Sofala. And the banks of the Turon were alive with their activities until all the richer patches of alluvial gold had been won. In their path came the Chinese, who worked over the old ground. Last of all came the dredges, which tore methodically through the gravel and boulders of the river-bed.

The Turon of to-day is untouched, except for the occasional dish washed by a casual amateur prospector, the more sagacious locals concentrating their fossicking on the small creeks that feed the main river. A crystal-clear stream from which rise rocky bluffs and outcrops, the river flows quietly through Sofala towards its unction with the Macquarie near Hill End. The rusty remains of dredges here and there along its course are the only indication that the river was once literally sieved for its yellow wealth. Most of Sofalas population of 150 are interested in sheep farming, running small flocks on leased country or small stations, many of them making their homes in the town. Although subject to long periods of dry weather, the hilly country grows fine merino wool, and fleeces from nearby Pyramid have topped Sydney sales in the past.

Mining around Sofala is confined to the part-time efforts of individuals. The last big reef mine worked, the Queenslander, closed down in the early part of the last war, while such famous old mines as the Homeward Bound, the Shakespeare, and the Britannia ceased working many years ago. The hill sides and gullies abound with the ruins of old mines shafts, races, primitive dams, rusty boilers and decrepit poppet-heads. Sofala is thirty miles from Bathurst, Hill End a further twenty-eight miles. The road climbs a second range, the Monkey Hills, crossing the Devils Finch, a steep spot no doubt so named by an irate bullock-driver.

While Sofala retains the somewhat stark atmosphere of the frontier town, Hill End has the comfortable, settled look of an English village, but its past was just as stirring. Gold was first found there towards the end of 1851, and the inevitable rush followed. The name of the discoverer is unknown, but it is generally believed that two prospectors working out from the Sofala field struck rich alluvial gold at Oakey Creek. Within a few months Hill End and its nearby twin town, Tambaroora, now just a name, were flourishing mining camps. The creeks running into the Turon and the Macquarie Oakey Creek, Saw Pit Gully, Nuggety Creek, Hill End Creek, Specimen Gully, Golden Gully, Foremans Gully, Tambaroora Creek were thronged with men of all nations gouging at gully sides and creek banks for their share of the bonanza. Some broke their hearts, many made fortunes. It would have been difficult to believe, in those early days, when fortunes were being made almost daily by lucky diggers, that even greater wealth would remain hidden at Hill End for a further twenty years.
Gradually the easily won alluvial gold became more elusive. The mercurial diggers heeded the call to other rushes along the Bland and in Victoria and Queensland The Chinese came, worked through the tailings, and also departed to other fields. By the late sixties Hill End was still an important gold-field, but the boom was over.

The rebirth of the towns fortune was due to reef mining. This form of mining was illegal in the early days under an edict of Governor Fitzroy, but was carried on surreptitiously at Hill End by a miner named Collison, Australias first reef miner. Five years later, after the Governments ban had been removed, Collison formed a syndicate which imported the first stamp battery from England, as well as a party of Cornish miners experienced in reef mining.
In 1861 a man chasing horses on Hawkins Hill, almost within the precincts of the town, picked up a sizeable nugget and immediately pegged out a claim. His discovery attracted the attention of others, and a number of shafts were sunk which proved there was an untapped source of wealth in the hill, which had hitherto been neglected in favour of the more easily worked gullies and creeks.
By 1870 the Hill, as it came to be known, was crowded with claims, and the returns from the reef operations showed that great prospects lay ahead. In that year 18,698 ounces of gold were produced. Next year the figure was 42,073 ounces, and in 1872, the peak year, 80,592 ounces.

Hill Ends second boom attracted the investing public as well as the individual miner. At one time there were no fewer than 225 companies operating mines on the Hill, some genuine, others just the opposite. Sydney and London investors rushed to sink their savings in what promised to be a veritable hill of gold, and it is quite likely that many a mid-Victorian dabbler in shares had reason to curse the name of Hill End.

One company, later exposed as bogus, chose the fetching title of Trust and Try. Of its 40,000 capital, 2,000 went into mining operations on Hawkins Hill, and the balance into the pockets of the promotors. The shareholders of an honest company, the Great Western Undaunted, had no better fortune. The company spent 40,000 on mining operations without recovering a single ounce of gold. Share trading took place in the town, and the volume of mining business trans acted was indirectly responsible for the formation of Sydney Stock Exchange in May 1872.

The height of Hill Ends glory arrived on October 19, 1871. The Holtermann and Beyers Syndicate had driven their shaft on Hawkins Hill to a depth of 130 feet. The partners set off a charge of blasting powder against the face of the exposed reef, and when the smoke cleared they were confronted with a gleaming wall of gold. Cutting round the seven-foot mass, they broke off a portion but managed to remove in one piece from the shaft a specimen of almost pure gold nearly five feet high, forty-two inches wide and four inches thick. It weighed 630 pounds, and was the largest single specimen of reef gold ever recovered in the world. It was worth 12,000 at a time when gold was less than a quarter its present value. Next day the partners took their treasure into Hill End, where they exhibited it to the entire population (it was too heavy to steal), and proudly had them selves photographed beside it. When Beyers and Holtermann eventually sold their claim the former, in gratitude to the district for the fortune it had given him, planted English trees throughout the streets of the town. These trees, now grown to glorious maturity, give Hill End a distinction that many much larger towns would envy. Hill Ends boom population of 30.000 has dwindled to about 300. Of the fifty two hotels that once served grog to thirsty miners, but one remains. Built in 1872, it has been conducted by the same family since 1891. A great coaching lantern swinging beneath the veranda is a reminder of the days when Cobb & Co. negotiated the tortuous roads from Bathurst and Mudgee. Early prints and photo graphs adorn the walls, and a collection box on the bar counter solicits money for comforts for the Sudan Contingent.
Empty buildings abound, and there is no housing shortage at Hill End, although its residents are quick to resent its being referred to as a ghost town. The police station and the post office, both granite built, are furnished with cedar. The large churches are empty except when a priest or a minister visits the town on circuit.

There is no trace to-day of the five banks and two newspapers that once served the town, and the twenty prosperous shops of the past have dwindled to one general store. Behind the shutters of empty buildings are to be seen such diverse articles as dust-covered billiard tables and a horse drawn hearse. The Hill Enders are proud of their town and its glorious trees, and are especially proud of the golden past. In 1951 they staged a centenary celebration which lasted a week and included a re-enactment of the discovery of the Beyers, Holtermann specimen. There is still one mine working, burrowing deep into Hawkins Hill, and hopes are confidently expressed in the little hotel bar that a lucky strike at the Hill will bring a third wave of prosperity to the town. The residents of Hill End enjoy their peace and solitude They welcome visitors, but they do not relish the prospect of the flood of tourist traffic likely to descend on them if the projected road between Mudgee and Orange is built. Both Sofala and Hill End are picturesque spots, and both have attracted the attention of artists. Russell Drysdale won the Wynne Prize in 1947 with his painting of Sofalas main street, and a large oil of the mountain road between the two towns hangs in the Australasian Pioneers Club in Sydney. The district cast its spell over the late William Morris Hughes. In his book Crusts and Crusades he describes a visit to Sunny Corner, a few miles from Sofala :

Amongst these old mining towns, none have had for me such an irresistible lure as Wattle Flat, Sunny Corner and Sofala this last name as soft as clear, running water rippling over smooth, flat stones, beneath overhanging willows. And about five of the clock on the afternoon of a beautiful day, when the air was full of scent of the wattles and the tender red shoots of the young gums were and lovely, I rode into Sunny Corner. Perhaps no further commendation of the natural beauty of the area is needed if it was capable of arousing such sentiments in the tough bosom of Australias irascible elder statesman.

Walkabout. Vol. 23 No. 2 (1 February 1957)
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Miners pick head used on Hill End or Sofala goldfields

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L.H. Hart, tobacconist, Hill End

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A VETERAN MINER.

OLD TIME REMINISCENCES. The death has occurred at Hill End of William English, one of the oldest miners on the goldfield, at the age of 82 years. Deceased had a remarkable mining career. He came from Northumberland, England,, landing in Sydney the night before the Dunbar was wrecked. With several others he started out for the Snowy Mountains, carrying his swag, and, after some prospecting, he came on to the Turon River. Wild blacks were plentiful on the Macquarie at this time. English carried large amounts of gold from the Turon River to Sydney, and in the time of Gardiner and Hall, the bushrangers, who frequented the roads, it was a risky undertaking, and nearly in possible to get away with any amount of gold. English had chamois bags in the flaps of his saddle, and carried only a few ounces on his person. He and David MArthur were the first men to bring a quartz-crushing plant on the Turon. After making some money on the Turon River, Mr. English went to Hawkins Hill, and marked out a claim next to L. Byers, deceased, and B.O. Holtermnn, of North Sydney, who unearthed the famous nugget, measuring some feet square, and valued; at 12,000 pound. Mr. English sold out of his claim for 1200 pound Just before the gold was got in thousands of ounces by Krohmann and party, who later procured from the same claim a ton of gold at one crushing. He next opened up a claim called the Excelsior, whore he got about 16oz. to the ton. :

Gold-digging in Australia [picture] / W. Ralston

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Horse and cart bogged in what was originally a gold digging outside Meares flooded Criterion Store, Clarke Street, Hill End

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Gold Diggings, Forest Range.

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Diary of a Digger

THOMAS LAW McMILLAN

AT five o'clock on the morning of 28th February, 1853, S.S. Cleopatra passed through the entrance to Port Phillip, a narrow rocky channel, and, 16 hours later, dropped anchor off Williamstown. It was too late to go ashore, and, though the ship fired guns and burned blue lights, the Custom House officers did not visit us. During our first day in Melbourne a tremendous sirocco, or hurricane, with winds blowing from the north, filled the atmosphere with sand and 'obscured the sun's rays. Business was suspended till noon. Welcome rain fell in the evening, and the weather cleared up.

We made preparation to start for the diggings on March 3, but, when Thursday came we were disappointed in getting a team. My friends and I consoled ourselves by hiring an open carriage, and, all dressed in our mining toggery, drove to Collingwood and Richmond. We then crossed the river and walked round Emerald Hill, arriving back in time to attend a concert conducted by Winterbottom at the Great Bourke Street Rotund. I was very much pleased, it being the best music I had heard in the Colony.

On Saturday we started on our journey to the diggings. It was a bad start, as I was poisoned by eating some kind of fish (mullet) at breakfast, and, also, we missed the cart. We decided on remaining the first, night at Flemington. From there we packed our knap- sacks 35 miles to the Bush Inn, Gisborne, arriving very tired with feet sore and blistered. We waited at Gisborne until the dray came up, and then walked with it to a camp near Macedon, where we rested another day. Two more stages and we camped by the Colombine. The night was very cold and the horse fell sick. We left it and the luggage cart and walked on to Bendigo, reaching there about 2 p.m., March 11, after seven days on the road.

We straightaway took out our licenses and went searching for a place to begin. We fell in with several acquaintances, and finally camped with some Scottish friends. Next flay we took up a claim on the Seventh Hill, where we proposed to sink a pit. We bought tools, collected all our luggage, and pitched our camp in a place convenient to our work. We wrought hard at our hole for three weeks At first my hands were sore and blistered, and, very often, we were very tired at the end of a day's digging, but we were young and cheerful and full of hope. At 15 feet down we had to get the help of a windlass. At 50ft, having blasted our way through a bed of solid free- stone, and no change, we concluded that we had reached the bottom. A blank!

We sank several shafts in Bendigo Creek and on Bendigo Flat with no success. They were all sheisers I began to get mentally depressed at our bad luck, so took a walk up the Bendigo to look out for a situation. The weather, too, had been wet, and we had spent some very uncomfortable nights in wet clothes and damp blankets. Our tent did not protect us, the calico was too light. One day, the hole at which one of our parry was .working showed gold. We all lent a hand and brought home 4oz. 18dwt., the first fruits of our labors! We were jubilant that night, for we had been laboriously digging for four weeks. Fortunately, I had been able to make a few pounds here and there. Word had been passed round that I had some medical knowledge and experience, and I was called upon to attend casualties and to prescribe in illness. The mine shafts were close to one another, and accidents happened frequently a roof would collapse, a man might receive an injury from a shovel either accidentally or feloniously inflicted, or maybe a fight would end in a broken head.

We took it in turns to be cook, and on Sundays we did our washing, patching, and letter writing. Visitors were always welcome to break the monotony, especially if they were newly arrived at the diggings, and could give news of Melbourne friends or of Edinburgh. We tried two more holes on the White Hills, but they were sheisers, too. We decided to try our luck in Long Gully, across the Bendigo. This time we determined to build a more substantial home, as it was wet, foggy, disagreeable weather. I was occupied for several days among the woods searching for proper timber, and managed to lose myself several times. A number of aborigines watched our house building-tall, athletic, but savage-looking fellows. At this time there was a rush to McIvor Creek. Some of our party went off to prospect. I, myself, carried on at our Long Gully hole, and I also had patients to attend to. l had to operate on a man's foot to extract a shark's tooth, which had been lodged in it for upwards of six months. Another case was of pleurisy. The patient had caught a chill from sitting on cold clay and coming up out of the shaft into the cold air!

while perspiring freely. Hundreds left Bendigo that day and the following day thousands! moved off. Report came back that many of them were stuck up on the road. Our friends returned bringing! favorable news of the McIvor, but we resolved to try Eagle Hawk first. We dismantled our frame-tent and! Re-erected it at Eagle Hawk. Again we had an audience of natives. The nights were cold and frosty, water freezing to thick ice, but it did not deter the natives from holding pow wows opposite our tent most nights Their music was lively, but of a very peculiar diameter. A horse and cart became a necessity after attending horse sales at Sandhurst unsuccessful!, we finally brought a horse and cart by private bargaining, paying 50. We set to in building a stable. We chopped wood, and had a busy day rolling and lifting, and got the walls and frame finished meantime, we had much trouble with the horse. He lay down in a waterhole and was nearly drowned. As we found that he needed much petting and urging, we took him back to his old master, according to arrangement, but the man refused to have the horse back. On Sunday I had to drive five miles for a cart load of grass for the horse.

We continued to puddle and cradle, getting small amounts of gold. We hewed out a trough 24ft long and 3ft wide the largest longtom in Bendigo Symions and I went over prospecting to Dead Horse Flat, five miles away. We pitched our small tent and commenced a hole. We managed to bottom it, though water was coming in, and we had to fight to keep it bailed finally, water burst in like a torrent from some old holes. The bank gave way, and covered tools and everything I thought I was drowned, but managed to get our safely with the assistance of a rope. On American Independence Day the Yanks, of whom there were a large number at the diggings, all went on the spree, firing musketry and playing and singing Yankee Doodle. I, myself, spent the evening quietly reading, as usual I was accustomed to the din of the natives made outside our tent at nights. There was no shortage of books, and they were readily passed from one reader to another. The loan of an old newspaper, however, was an event A copy of the Argus cost 3/. A friend and I discussed the idea of opening an album for the reception of literary contributions, to be read every Saturday night. Finally, a literary society for young men is formed.

Sometimes, we attended a concert at the Crystal Palace Restaurant, or perhaps Burton's Circus might be in Bendigo Maybe, we would look in at a miners' meeting There was agitation to have the license fee reduced to 10/. When we went along to purchase groceries or clothing, there was always some added excitement, certainly a pugilistic encounter, occasionally a Chinese funeral conducted with much colorful ceremony, some times a runaway horse, or most diverting of all, a chance meeting with friends from Melbourne or Edinburgh usually a cup of chocolate with friends at the Argus office would fortify us for the walk home. One of our neighbors was put in goal for taking dirt which belonged lo another party we believed in our friend's innocence the shafts and dirt heaps were very close to one another A mistake could 'happen. A gold escort sets out from Castlemaine on the road to Melbourne. I reasoned with the prosecutor, and then applied to the Chief Commissioner, and had the man released.

In settling accounts with my partners, I found that, after five months of incessant toil, there was only one pound for my share! I felt rather queer. Also, I realised that I did not find my enjoyment in the animal existence we were leading. I longed to be restored to society once more. However, when, on August 22, we heard most exciting news from Goulbourn, I resolved to go with my friends to see for ourselves. We hurriedly made our arrangements, and set off at 10 a.m. the next day. The days were fine, in fact they were translucently beautiful, and we enjoyed the walk very much. We spent the first night beside the Campaspe River. It was my night to watch the horses. There were many people on the road, but we managed to indulge in some pistol shooting as we proceeded on our journey.

We reached the Goulbourn diggings at 2 p.m. on the third day, and camped within a mile of the lagoon. The frame tent we put up was much approved. We heard varying and conflicting accounts of the diggings. The general opinion was that wages could be made if water were nearer than the lagoon, four miles away. People streamed in all day. More than half the diggers seemed to be Americans. We prospected for five days with out much result. Returning after having attended an aggregate meeting of diggers anent the license question, some of our party decided to quit. We commenced our journey to Melbourne the following day.

For the first two days the weather was fine and the roads good. We passed troops of mounted police, and, also, many diggers on the way to Goulbourn. As we moved south, however, conditions worsened. It rained all day and the roads were terrible. By the time we stopped to camp in the mire near Kilmore, I had caught a cold and was very tired. The rain continued, and the ground was soaked by the time we made our next camp at Pretty Sally Hill. I crawled miserably to my very uncomfortable bed under the cart. It was a cold, stormy night, and by morning the weather was still wet and boisterous. After a cheerless breakfast we proceeded through the mud. That night we put up at an inn by the roadside, 10 miles from town. An ordinary bed seemed a novelty after six months of sleeping on the ground!

We reached Melbourne at 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the 7th September, 1853. Having purchased new clothes and donned them at the public baths, we went to the theatre to hear Mr. and Mrs. Stark, of America, and were well pleased! Thomas McMillan advertised in the columns of The Argus and found his cousin, Mr. Daniel Blyth. Within six months time he had married Mr. Blyth's , sister-in-law, Miss Staley. he had gold enough to make the wedding ring. He and his wife moved to Kennsington, near Geelong, where he practiced medicine for 12 months. Friends and relations at the diggings urged him to sell the practice and join them at the Blackwood diggings. This he did. On the road thither, storms and floods arose, and we had queer and soul stirring experiences before we reached Blackwood. Of course, we got little or no gold, yet there was a strong fascination about the wild life of freedom which carried us in buoyant and cheerful spirits. We were all in the heyday of youth, and nothing was a hardship to us. We made our tents comfortable, and each kept lots of fowls. Blackwood was a very romantic spot. 'We got patches of gold now and then, but not enough to satisfy the wishes of any ordinary, rational being.

One fine day I took matters into serious consideration. I saw that this digging was a mere will o' the wisp, and that no permanent good could come of it. I resolved to go home, to Edinburgh and furbish up my knowledge of medicine, which, I had so foolishly neglected for so long.

The Argus 1950.

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Barkly Navarre Goldfield

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Barkly Navarre Goldfield

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http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/188630

Barossa Goldfield S.A

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https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+6182

Gold miner cooking in an outside fireplace

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https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+47257
 
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Thanks guy's, yep I love reading the old yarns. They tell how it was and the way they worked, that in itself is very good information to have, when working within their locations. :Y:
 
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The old yarns are good to read, but they also hold a lot of information that one could use in regards to the numbers of prospectors on the field in question. How rich the field was, the way in which the field was worked and most of all location of the field. No matter weather you are into detectors or wet water prospector the information should hold the same meaning. Just to make mention of some of the information obtainable from such articles.
The visual information from photos is just as important as the yarn, so in a nut shell this is my view and take on how to obtain information. As an example in the below photo I have noted the below.

1 No Water for washing. And where did they wash?
2 The wash was deep {shaft work}.
3 Where the tacks were.
4 How they transported pay dirt to the water.
5 where the camps were and so on.

As I say this is just my way of understanding the yarn I am reading, and I may be way wrong in what I am saying. But information is information no matter where you come across it. But be warned you do get hooked on the old yarns there top reading and I just love them.
Cheers
Jemba

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