“Considering the extent of the auriferous deposits in this Colony (estimated at 35,000 square miles), it is quite evident that the number of miners (7,074) engaged in gold-mining, and the amount of capital (£306,532) invested in gold-mining plant, is altogether inadequate. In the absence of proper appliances, the few miners we have may be said to have performed wonders; but there is a limit beyond which they, unaided by suitable machinery, cannot go.

“Hence it is that in most cases our larger quartz veins and deeper alluvial deposits have been neglected, because, to be worked profitably, they must be worked systematically on a large scale, aided by all the labour-saving arrangements and appliances available. It is true that extensive works are in operation on some few of our gold-fields, but they are barely sufficient to show what can be done by good management and well-directed enterprise.”

Left: Mines Department Annual Report 1878. Image and content presented here from this report reproduced courtesy of NSW Trade & Resources, Minerals & Energy


“Some Companies at Adelong and Hill End are still engaged in testing the quartz veins at depths varying, at the former place, between 800 and 900 feet, and at the latter place between 700 and 800 feet, and at both places the indications are encouraging.

“If these Companies’ labours be as successful as they deserve, they will confer a material benefit upon the mining community, by proving the existence of gold-bearing stone at depths not hitherto reached in this Colony.”

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BATHURST DISTRICT: Bathurst, Oberon, Rockley, Trunkey, Tuena, Orange and Carcoar Divisions.

“In the early part of the year, water was very scarce; in June it was more plentiful.

“Sluicing operations began afresh that had been suspended for many months for want of water; the country not having been saturated for three years the soakage did not continue long, the creeks soon became dry, the sluicing was again consequently suspended.”

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“The Hill End Division labours under an immense disadvantage in not having any extent of agricultural land in the vicinity of the mines, which miners could cultivate, and thus unite the two industries of mining and farming.

“The Sofala Division owes its partial prosperity to the fact that the miners have been enabled to take up small portions of land, which they cultivate, and with the assistance of a few cattle and other stock, which depasture on the commons or reserves, many of them make a comfortable living.”

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“It has always heen the opinion of the most experienced miners on this and other goldfields that the lower portions of the best and most celebrated leads have never been adequately tested.

“In the vicinity of Gulgong proper the great depth of basalt and the invariable presence of water have tended to shut out such enterprise from all but the capitalist.”

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LACHLAN DISTRICT: Parkes, Forbes , Grenfell

“The plains of the Lachlan District, often are dead level for many miles, and entirely devoid of watercourses, the alluvial surface presents but few indications of the subjacent formations or the course of the ancient channels; hence the difficulty in prospecting new ground or picking up lost leads.”

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“All told, there are about a hundred European diggers, and say twenty-five Chinese, employed on this gold-field. The quantity of gold raised in 1878, taken in round numbers, amounts to 2,143 ounces, and of the aggregate value of £8,145. This distributed would average £65 per man for the year.”

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But when it comes to pessimism, you’d be hard pressed to beat Mr Warden Vyner. Didn’t anyone tell him that the mines at Adelong had just won a Government reward for finding payable gold at levels below 800 feet.

It’s one thing to talk up a field’s prospects – but sledging seems a strange game.

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