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Early Gold Finds in Tasmania

Famous Tasmanian Prospectors, Explorers and Track Cutters

Moderator: Philski

by admin » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:11 pm

The Early Discoveries
As far back as the early '1840's Gold was discovered "by Europeans" in Tasmania, but very little attention was paid to the metal by them until Interest was aroused by the fabulous tales of fortunes drifting through from the Californian diggings and later Victorian Diggings and the prospecting knowledge gained thorough faster overland communications and improved shipping.

The history of Gold mining in Tasmania has been that of spasmodic excitement, during which some large sums of money have been embarked on tempting ventures which have lured speculators from near and far, followed by long and dreary Intervals of depression. Now the outer fringe of another "revival" has been reached. Old gold fields are being scratched over again, and prospectors are also out in other localities where indications of formations are likely to lead to reefs. The far "West Coast", where Osmiridium In places is associated with Gold In rivers and creeks, has its quota of searchers.

A couple of assigned servants employed as shepherds on. the Tullochgorum Estate, near Fingal. it was said, they brought in a few specks of Gold, and offered to prospect the ravines of Tower Hill, a short distance away, if they were relieved of their jobs, and found In rations. This was agreed to, and a couple of dwts (pennyweight's) of Gold were brought in fortnightly when further rations were drawn. This went on for some, time,and the regularity in the weights of the Gold caused some suspicion. It then leaked out that instead of dwts. many ounces of alluvial Gold were being won. It seems astounding that the discovery was not followed up, but it was not until 1851 that miners were actually engaged in searching for the precious yellow metal in the narrow valleys which descend from the south-east face of Tower Hill. Alluvial mining in this locality met with indifferent success, but in 1858 a great stimulus was Imparted to quartz mining by the discovery of auriferous reefs at Mangana, and subsequently at the Black boy (Mathinna).The famous Black Boy rush set In. All the alluvial of Mathinna were worked, and some exceptionally rich finds were made. The Gold was course, and at times nuggets of good size were obtained. When the alluvial flats where considered to have been worked out many of the miners left for the other fields which had sprung up at Nine-Mile Springs (Lefroy), Anderson's Creek, and Brandy Creek (Beaconsfield), Waterheuse, Warrentinna, the Hellyer, the Den, and elsewhere. But some remained at Mathinna to pay attention to the lodes from which the alluvial had been shed.

The discovery of the Miner's Dream reef at Mathinna, a short distance from the New Golden Gate (the latter mine yielding Gold of the value of £883,071, and paying shareholders £11 2s for each 10s share), after the spot had been tramped over for years, is interesting. A prospector told his mate one morning that he had had a dream that he had discovered a lode close to the Golden Gate workings. He gave the exact locality and after some persuasion his mate joined him in the search. Sure enough' just below the surface the lode was found. About 140 oz. of Gold, valued at £4 oz was taken out. Subsequently a syndicate took over the area, a company was formed, and a line battery installed, but the Gold petered out when shareholders had received only a little return for their outlay.

The Lisle field, about 20 miles from Launceston, where Gold was discovered by the Bessell Bros? at the end of 1878, has baffled the prospector, and the mining expert alike. Over 250,000 oz. of alluvial Gold, or, roughly, £1,000,000 worth was obtained from an area not exceeding a mile and a half square. The remarkable feature of the field is that no reefs have been found either in the valley or in the surrounding hills. That the parent reefs which shed the alluvial will be discovered ls in the minds of nearly everyone whe has worked on the field. 'Several schemes have been attempted and some big money spent, but the source of the alluvial remains unsolved. The Lisle field-was very active for three or four years, having a population of close on 3,000, the township, consisting of a number of stores, four hotels, several private schools, three churches, etc. the alluvial began dropping off, and with the Temora rush in New South Wales, Lisle became practically deserted. however, now there is a good deal of prospecting going on, and some mining men from the East are carrying out a big sluicing scheme in the Ringarooma, Gladstone and Pioneer areas.

To throw away dirty yellow metal as worthless and then to subsequently discover that he hud been handling heavy nuggets of Gold was the experience of John Gardener, near the Tamar. It was in 1847,
and he was employed by" Mr. Robert Doolittle at the Tamar lime works at Beaconsfield, a short distance from where the famous Tasmanian mine, which yielded over £3,000,000 worth of Gold, and was for many years located. the lime quarries became flooded, and Gardener was engaged in sinking a shaft for the purpose of putting down pumps. While so employed he came upon several pieces of coarse looking yellow metal, some of lt weighing about 41b, which he threw out of the hole. He did not know what It was. nor did anyone else when he showed it to them, considering it other than some worthless stuff. Nuggets of Gold were unheard of in these days,' the virgin metal being usually spoken of as Gold dust. And lt was never suspected by Gardener or his associates that the stuff was so plentiful as found by them, it was of little if any value. The shaft was sunk to a depth of 25ft. to 30ft., but the object for which it was put down had to be abandoned, owing to the fact that water came in too fast to enable the men to work. On the discovery of Gold in Victoria Mr. Gardener proceeded to that colony, and there for the first time his eyes were opened. he saw Gold in the quarts! and recognised that he had been shoveling the almost pure metal Into the River Tamar. Most positively in the same spot the Dally Brother discovered the famous Tasmania reef later on. This was one of the best Gold producers In the Southern Hemisphere from 1887 till it first closed because of ground water inundation. Although equipped with the most powerful pumps known, the water could not be controlled, but mine experts have expressed the opinion that as much Gold remains In the workings as was taken out, a scheme in which the hydro-electric power will take another important part is being evolved to again tackle the reefs.

As a Gold producer, the Lefroy field,
discovered in the 70's, was the richest In Tasmania. Like most Goldfields, it was first opened as an alluvial diggings, and though this branch has never been of importance compared with the reefing, a certain amount of lt has been done more or less contonuously, and a good deal of Gold has been raised. Practically all the work has been shallow diggings. Companies sprang up like mushrooms, notations being made in many instances
on what should be in the ground but was not. Although many speculators in thc "wild" cats" were' badly bitten,, The successful mines paid handsomely at about £7 million Pounds Sterling worth of gold.

The art of using a divining rod for discovering something hidden in the earth is of Immemorial antiquity, and Is now being used in parts of Northen Tasmania in prospecting for Gold. Its use in this direction was applled by prospectors for minerals in the Hartz Mountains in Germany. Many present day
prospectors, however, are very sceptical to its powers of indicating the presence of metals in the earth.
old-timers say it was tried on this field and that, 40 years ago, and they have heard nothing of it turning out a success. But there no getting away from the fact that where Divining has been brought into use at Beaconsfield, Lefroy, Karoola and Mathinna and encouraging prospects have been obtained in the shafts sunk. Not too long for the detection of Gold has the divining rod been used. Mr. Clark of Launceston; when in his spare time is assisting prospecting parties here. Before coming to Tasmania he was attached to Scotland Yard to assist with the rod in unraveling crime scenes'
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