Alluvial gold is gold that has been eroded free of its original rock casing and distributed along river systems. Reef gold however is the “motherlode” – the original rock source from whence all the riches came.
Prior to 1858 most of the real excitement on the diggings in NSW and Victoria had come from alluvial gold discoveries. Rich though these may have been, it usually doesn’t take too long for a determined mining community to pick an area clean.
Reef gold though has no such limitations as you can keep tracing the gold bearing veins down deep into the earth, extracting and crushing the ore and hence getting the gold from its source.
1858 was the year when the gold changed its focus – when the real excitment came from the potential of exploiting these vast gold reserves.
Left: Quartz crushing and amalgamating mill, 1857.
Reproduced courtesy State Library of Victoria Image No: mp016899.