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GOLD PROSPECTING LOCATIONS
Gold in South Australia
South Australia’s earliest goldrush was sparked by William Chapman when he discovered gold near Echunga in 1852. Prospectors then moved west over Chapel Hill and into Long Gully. In 1868 the news of a rich strike at Jupiter Creek just to the south of this area attracted over 1,000 people in the first few weeks. A mining township with two stores, a hotel, a wineshop and huts was established on the hill above Long Gully.
Once the alluvial deposits were worked out, companies were formed to exploit the gold reefs. Although many reefs were worked, no significant amount of gold was produced and the companies went into liquidation by the end of the 1870’s. Prospectors continued working the area along with sluicing companies. Many of the men lived on the goldfields in crude huts constructed from flattened kerosene tins and 44 gallon drums. One of these places, Hewlett’s Hut, was in use until 1957 and is still standing.
The Jupiter Creek Diggings produced an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 ounces of gold. Very little remains of the old township due to salvage operations and the temporary nature of many of the buildings. The site is now exempted from mining and is listed on the register of State Heritage Items.
While the quantity of gold being found in the Echunga area was fluctuating through the 1870’s, the discovery of the Blumberg (Barossa) goldfield near Birdwood in the Mount Crawford district was attracting the attention of prospectors.
A rich strike was made by John Watts in 1884, in the gully that is now named after him. News of this discovery leaked out and prompted a major rush in 1885. More gold was discovered in the nearby areas.
In the next few years, the attention was turned to other goldrushes occurring in both the central and north-east part of the State. These include: King’s Bluff, Luxemburg, Manna Hill, Mount Grainger, Tarcoola, Wadnaminga and Waukaringa. Possibly, the most extensive and major goldrush was at Teetulpa.
OVERVIEW OF GEOLOGICAL DATA & MINING ACTIVITIES
Gold has been worked from a number of alluvial deposits and auriferous veins throughout the State. Without a doubt, most gold was obtained from shallow and deep reef mining. The gold-bearing rock was then crushed for its gold values, as in most cases free gold did not often occur in these types of deposits.
Information has not been included in this article on the many mines worked. It is not to say that gold will still not be found at these localities. In fact, there is always the possibility of finding some gold which was missed by the early mining methods.
However, important information on those major and alluvial gold areas which would be of interest to the gold prospectors of today using metal detectors have only been dealt with here.
In the alluvial deposits, gold has been eroded from veins in basement rocks and concentrated in younger sediments. For example, at Algebuckina, along the Neales River, gold derived from nearby Archaean rocks has been concentrated in the basal conglomerate of a coarse-bedded sandstone of Cretaceous age. The amount of gold won from nearby lodes has been small, probably because the alluvial gold was derived from numerous generally insignificant individual veins or ‘leaders’.
The Echunga goldfield consists of three areas: Jupiter Creek, Donkey Gully and Chapman Gully, where gold occurs in alluvium, sands, gravels, and ironstone conglomerate of Holocene and Tertiary age which unconformably overlie metamorphosed and kaolinised slates and schists of Torrensian (Adelaidean). Quartz reefs in these older rocks are common either parallel to the bedding or nearly perpendicular to it along joint planes.
Other alluvial deposits were worked at Teetulpa, Barossa, and Ulooloo. Auriferous quartz veins are confined to basement rocks. Gold is associated with granite, in veins cross-cutting interbedded slates and quartzites, at Glenloth and Palmer, but elsewhere in the Mount Lofty, Flinders Ranges and Olary area, gold-bearing veins are enclosed by crystalline rocks or Adelaidean sediments. Gold is often associated with fault structures or along limbs of folds, e.g. at Mount Grainger, Waukaringa and Wadnaminga. The Bird-in-Hand mine near Woodside is situated in an area disturbed by faulting as are the Balhannah, Lobethal and Birdwood mines.
At Echunga and Wadnaminga, there appear to have been two periods of reef formation; the earlier quartz veins are barren while the latter gold-bearing veins were emplaced in fractures parallel with or crossing them. Gold at Wadnaminga has been found at the intersection of older and younger veins.
Associated minerals include copper at Wallaroo-Moonta, bismuthinite at Balhannah, arsenopyrite at Waukaringa, galena at Wadnaminga and barite (baryte) at Kersbrook.
At Tarcoola, 420 km west-north-west of Port Augusta, gold was derived from cross-cutting quartz veins in inclined quartzites and slates of Proterozoic age. Gold is concentrated adjacent to the slates but the veins are impoverished where they are enclosed by quartzite. Workings at the Tarcoola Blocks extend to a depth of almost 100 metres.
The Mongolata Field is about 16 km north-east of Burra. Gold mostly occurs in a complex system of branching veins which occupy a zone of fracturing in sandstone and slate. Some small shoots of very rich ore in association with oxides of iron and manganese (gossan) have been found at places where there has been slight displacement of the original veins.
The Wadnaminga goldfield produced gold from several relatively narrow reefs.
The Manna Hill goldfield was based on veins, which conform with the bedding of calcareous slates, limestones, and sandstone.
The Mount Grainger goldfield, was mined from 1894 – 1915. Here, the main source of gold was a zone of hydrothermal wall rock alteration in the lower part of the Apilla Tillite. The zone of alteration is influenced by local folding and shear jointing.
The Woodside goldfield lies in an area of extensive faulting, adjacent to a swarm of porphyrite dykes. The lodes in the eastern part of the field carry pyrite with quartz; in the western part the lodes also carry galena and chalcopyrite. The most important mines were the Bird-in-Hand and Two-in-the-Bush.
At the Deloraine group of mines, near Kersbrook, copper is associated with gold in fissures cutting Precambrian phyllites and marbles.
The Wallaroo-Moonta mines produced a small but consistent supply of gold (about 5 grains per ton of crude ore = 0.32 grams per ton) as a by-product of copper mining from about 1900 to 1923; approximately 34,000 ounces (1 tonne) were recorded.
IMPORTANT GOLD PRODUCING AREAS
Sailors Gully discovered in 1872 contained a lead of gold extending the whole length of the gully. The sinking was in hard and dry alluvium, and to a depth of 6 to 15 feet. The largest nugget found weighed 4 ounces. Other areas included Spike Gully which was very rich and the gold was nuggety, ragged and smooth. At Nuggety Gully, gold nuggets up to 1 ounce were recorded.
Hamlin’s Gully which is just located below ‘The Lady Alice Mine’ (Humbug Scrub) produced good gold, much of which was rough and large. The largest nugget found here weighed 3 ounces.
Watts Gully was discovered in 1884 by John Watts (hence the name of the gully). Many gold nuggets were found here. Gold was also found in many nearly gullies.
These locations include: Sailors Gully, Baynes Gully, Talc Gully, Blood and Thunder Gully, Speck Gully, Kerosene Gully, Watts Gully, Dead Horse Gully, Snake Gully and Avenue Gully.
Possibly one of the popular locations for gold prospecting close to Adelaide is the Mount Crawford Fossicking Area / Zone which is controlled by the Woods and Forests Department. Permits to fossick are obtainable from the Mount Crawford Forest Headquarters. They have an information sheet / map showing in detail the locations of creeks, gullies and mines where gold mining took place. For the mineral and gem fossicker, this map also shows where gemstones can be found. Access to this Fossicking Area / Zone is by way of the Gumeracha – Williamstown road.
It is also interesting to note that a minor gold rush occurred in this area in the 1930’s when a 20 ounce gold nugget with some smaller pieces were found near the surface during pine tree planting.
ECHUNGA GOLDFIELD: (32 km South-east of Adelaide)
Incorporating the KUITPO (Chapel Hill and Jupiter Creek) Fossicking Area / Zone
These areas are also controlled by the Woods and Forests Department. Access can be gained to these two areas / zones by obtaining a permit to fossick from the Kuitpo Forest Headquarters. A map showing the details of these areas can be collected at the same time.
The Chapel Hill Diggings can be found on Diggings Road, off Berry Road (which runs from Echunga to Mylor). The Diggings incorporate the Christmas Rush and New Rush mines as well as the National Gold Co. Battery. This area was also rich in gold and it was reported that at 'Sandy's Lead' a nugget weighing 6 ounces was found.
The Jupiter Creek Diggings can be found at the junction of Field and Rubbish Dump Roads, the latter road is the continuation of Berry Road which turns off to the Chapel Hill Diggings. The Jupiter Diggings incorporate the Phoenix, Beatrice, Crystal and South Crystal Mines as well as Fosters Gully and White Gully, and Battery Creek.
History: At Jupiter Creek and the southern portion of Long Gully gold was discovered here in 1868 by Messrs. T. Plane and H. Saunders. The shallow diggings which included White Gully, Surface Point, Fosters Gully and Golden Point which drained into the main gully were all payable. The gold was nuggety, the largest nugget found was approximately 13 ounces.
Nearby, at Blackwood Gully, situated in Section 626, many alluvial nuggets of moderate size were found here in shallow ground. It was reported that on the 5th October 1895 a nugget weighing around 500 grams was found by Mr. W. Randell. Many rich gold specimens were found here as well at a depth from 10 to 20 feet. At Hahndorf Gully, gold was discovered in the years 1856 – 1857. Here, the gold was rough and rugged and was found by sinking to depths from 7 to 20 feet. At Biggs Flat a good quantity of gold was found here in 1877 by sinking to a depth of 25 to 30 feet. Some nuggets were found weighing up to 2 ounces. Sawmill Gully yielded gold nuggets, the heaviest being 1 ounce. Gold in quartz was also found here. Sinking ranged from 1 to 10 feet.
FOREST RANGE DIGGINGS: (Hundred of Onkaparinga near the Eclipse Mine)
In 1854 gold was found at Stony Creek. During 1896 it was reported by Mr. A. Baum that a nugget weighing over 10 ounces had been found on Section 65 close to where rich gold was found several years previously including a gold nugget weighing 48 ounces.
KING’S BLUFF GOLDFIELD: (6.4 km North-west of Olary Railway Station)
Discovery of alluvial gold was made here on 4th March 1887 in a dry creek into gully 400 metres wide by 3.2 km in length.
MINTARO Alluvial Diggings: (18 km South-west of Clare, Section 2153 in the hundred of Stanley)
Several water-worn nuggets of a few ounces were found here in the surface loam and gravel and in red clay and wash underneath from a depth of 6 inches up to 1 or 2 feet.
MOPPA GOLDFIELD: (4 km from Greenock)
This is mainly an alluvial goldfield and during the years 1893 – 1895 much gold was won here including a nugget weighing over 19 dwts.
TARCOOLA GOLDFIELD: (466.6 km North-west from Port Augusta and 193 km North from Denial Bay)
This quartzite – sandstone range stretches some 6.5 km from Kychering Soakage, about 32 km west of Tarcoola near which place it abuts on the granite. Colours of gold were obtained in ironstone and quartz and also a colour from the alluvial wash. Dry Blowing operations took place at the western end of the range with some success. Here, several pennyweights of slightly water-worn gold was obtained. There were many reef-type mines also in this area which will not be dealt with here.
TEETULPA GOLDFIELD: (40 km North-north-east from Yunta Railway Station)
This goldfield is situated about 24 km East from Waukaringa and about 40 km North-west of Manna Hill. It was discovered on 6th October 1886.
The first gold was found in what is now called Brady’s Gully. Several pieces weighing a total of 1½ ounces were dug out of the cracks of the slate. At one time between 4000 to 5000 people occupied this field. The first nugget found of any size weighed 8 ounces 14 dwts. The largest nugget weighing 29 ounces 15 dwts was found in a claim about 18 metres north of Brady’s claim. Other nuggets of 14 ounces 16 dwts, 13 ounces and 10 ounces and many smaller ones were found more frequently.
Later that month, another rush occurred in the upper part of the gully on the southern side of Brady’s claim by a man who found a 15 dwt nugget together with 5 dwts of small gold. this discovery later proved to be extremely rich. Many nuggets weighing from 14 ounces downwards were found in many claims. The gold lay in gutters and pockets, and from one of these as much as 19 ounces was taken.
Goslin’s Gully lies East of Brady’s Gully running North and South and joins Brady’s Gully about 800 metres below the prospectors’ claims. At this place a Mr. Hugh O’Kane struck a pocket containing about 24 ounces of rough nuggety gold, the largest piece being about 4 ounces at a depth of 5 feet. This gully soon proved to be as rich, if not richer, than Brady’s. Nuggets of good size, from 11½ ounces downwards were obtained and the washings were extremely good, many of them going 7 ounces, 4 ounces, 3 ounces and 1 ounce to the load of dirt.
Strawbridge Gully lies South of Brady’s Gully and runs in a North-easterly direction, emptying near Tonkin’s Well. In one instance a prospector located a pocket holding over 6 ounces of gold including a nugget weighing 5 ounces 5 dwt.
At Deep Gully behind Hospital Hill, West from Brady’s Gully a 13 ounce nugget was found.
At this point it is interesting to note that the gold of this area show no sign of have being derived from quartz reefs. Most of them are partially coated and have their hollows filled with travertine limestone (sinter); ferruginous limestone rock and iron oxide is frequently found adhering to them.
It is difficult to estimate the amount of gold obtained on this field, but it would have been in the region of £300,000. This area, according to many present-day geologists, requires prospecting thoroughly where such a vast area of similar country exists.
ULOOLOO: (9.6 km East of Ulooloo Railway Station and 32 km North of Hallett)
Gold was discovered here in 1870-71. The alluvial gold was worked on Noltenius’s Creek and Coglin Creek. The gold found was coarse and nuggety and some but a little water-worn. About 3.2 km North-east from the above location, a small patch of alluvium, named ‘Twigham’ was worked for gold. No further reports are available.
WALLACES GULLY: (Approx. 150 km North-west of Leigh Creek in the Yudnamutana district)
It was reported that a lone prospector working this area for about six months in the late 1800’s, obtained nearly 100 ounces of nice rough gold. The largest nugget found weighed a little less than 2 ounces.
WAUKARINGA: (40 km North-north-west from Yunta Railway Station)
Johnsons Gully (16 km North of Waukaringa) In 1894 several nuggets ranging from a few grains to 3 dwts were found here.
WOODSIDE: (32 km East of Adelaide)
The Brind mine was located on the Western side of Section 5256, Hundred of Onkaparinga, adjoining the Bird-in-Hand mine, produced nuggets, one of them being 16 ounces and others of 9 ounces, 7 ounces, 5 ounces and 4 ounces when a portion of the surface at the southern end of the reef was sluiced to a depth of 3 feet which produced a total of around 50 ounces of gold. Reef mining also took place at the Bird-in-Hand, New Era and Ridge mines.