The tenor of the debate changed in 1876. Enough already of of the company collapses and the problems with raising capital. The time had come for some heavy lifting from the Government and so the focus was on the future with rewards for the discovery of new goldfields and also for proving payable quartz veins existed below 800 feet in depth in NSW.

Then there was the positive afterglow resulting from a successful investment in a major NSW gold exhibit at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in the US.

“Though the result of only a few months labour in collecting and arranging, we have made known to the world that the mineral resources of this Colony are exceptionally great, and have attracted to the Colony visitors from the continent of Europe, some of whom say they had scarcely even heard of such a place as New South Wales until they visited the Philadelphia Exhibition.”

Left: Mines Department Annual Report 1876. Image and content presented here from this report reproduced courtesy of NSW Trade & Resources, Minerals & Energy

Gold returns in 1876 indicate a serious falling off in the yield of our gold mines, from whatever cause or causes it may have arisen.

“No doubt it may to a very great extent be traced to the effects of the long drought which in some localities seriously retarded, and in others put a stop to gold-mining…

“A false opinion that prevailed amongst some of our gold miners that our reefs would not carry gold below certain depths has had the effect of deterring many from deep sinking.

“Except in a very few localities, our quartz veins have not been tested below two or three hundred feet, and in some places to a depth of only a few feet.

“It is hoped that the recent explorations at that depth undertaken in a bid to secure the Government reward for the discovery of payable quartz at a depth of greater than 800 feet will be effective.

“Two companies at Adelong are reported to have reached the required depth, but one of them, owing perhaps to a fault in the vein has not yet found gold. The other, The Great Victoria Company has claimed the reward.”

Section of Harrie Wood’s Gold Summary for 1876

In the second annual report of the new Mines Department created in August 1874, there is significant focus on the extent to which the new department is getting through the backlog of outstanding leasing claims and much more talk of future prospects – especially once the drought breaks.

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BATHURST DISTRICT – Bathurst, Oberon, Rockley, Trunkey And Tuena Divisions

The news from the Bathurst District fields was not good for gold, with the drought which was then 2 years on having a very major impact.

An interesting note in the report is that “Copper mining is more favourably looked upon by capitalists, and I have no doubt many good mines will be found in the districts of Tuena, Rockley, and Bathurst.”

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BATHURST DISTRICT – Orange and Carcoar Divisions

Nor was the news from the Carcoar and Orange Divisions very promising – at least as far as gold was concerned.

“I have no doubt that this year will prove copper mining in the Carcoar district to be highly successful and have great hopes that I will be able to give a better account of gold in my next annual report.”

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Tambaroora, Hill End and Turon Mining District

A feature of the report from Hawkins Hill are the comments from the warden about how crucial the need to amalgamate companies was for the field’s future.

Owing to the very small size of the claims and the fact that at deeper levels the veins would angle out of the company’s lease area, there was no incentive for even the famous claims to invest in deeper sinking and chase after the government reward for proving payable gold below the 800 foot level.

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Mudgee District

The news from Mudgee was not too cheery that year. The general feeling was that the best of the Gulgong alluvial field was worked out at the current depths of sinking, but that a positive future still awaited mining if additional investment was forthcoming.

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Lachlan District

Unfortunately the Lachlan and Adelong Districts report in the annual report are of poor print quality and not amenable to translation into text. An article from the Sydney media on the Lachlan field in mid 1876 gives a good overview of proceedings in that gold district.

Elsewhere on the fields, developments as noted above were underway at Adelong in relation to the deep sinking of its shafts to below the 800 foot level. A map of the field from the annual report is shown below.

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