Some gold of the gold fields within the Gold Trails had a defining influence on the broader development of the NSW goldfields.
Adelong was one such place and the Tumut region provided the backdrop for this iconic field's story.
The township of Adelong today is both defined and surrounded by its golden heritage.
When you visit Adelong, the hills that rise immediately to the north of the town mark the start of the chain of mines that traced the course of rich quartz reefs. Today little remains of these except mullock heaps. The real focus for the visitor are the ruins of the Reefer quartz crushing mill that won the gold. This is an extraordinary place.
A viewing platform, network of walking tracks and interpretation on site provide an understanding on the history of the Adelong gold fields. The Adelong Alive Museum features a model of the Reefer ore crushing mill and has a comprehensive collection of documents and photos relating to the Adelong and district gold fields.
The first alluvial gold was discovered here in 1852 by miners heading south to the Ovens District Goldfields and beyond. Needing to go no further they sparked a rush that soon spread along the creeks in the district.
Adelong's proximity to the Victorian fields meant it was the first NSW field to pick up the Victorian's then new passion for reef gold mining in 1858. It was also the first to adopt the Victorian's focus on investment in the latest technology crushing mills to extract as much of the gold as possible from the gold-bearing quartz.
Further to the initial discovery of gold here in 1852, the Adelong Gold field was proclaimed on 15th February 1855 by which time 2000 miners were working the area. In May 1857 reef ore was discovered by William Williams who played a significant role in the history of Adelong and wider district.
Following the discovery of reef ore a greater rush of men of several nationalities occurred which was evidenced by the names of the various camps: Cornishtown, Yankeeland, Germantown and Irish Point.
With the development of reef ore mining came the need for heavy ore crushing mills with several both large and small set up to crush the hard pyritic ore.
The ruins of one the most efficient and innovative ore processing plant - the Reefer quartz crushing mill - are what remain today. The unique ruins provide an understanding how reef ore was processed including a water race to the remains of a dam one mile upstream that stored the water that powered the mill.
The Adelong Alive museum is integral to visiting the Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins as it features a scale model of the mill and other models of ore crushing machinery. The museum also houses many important documents and photographs relating the discovery of gold in the Adelong and wider area.