Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS.

Go down

Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS. Empty Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS.

Post  Guest on Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:44 pm

SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS.

(By an Old Colonist.)

"Why, I was a young chap, working in the Burra mines in 1849. I came out from the old country in the early part of that year, and in 1851 I was one of the many Burra boys who left South Australia for Victoria when the great gold rush broke out. My word, that was a rush. We all went pretty -well dotty on gold in those days, and there was something to go dotty over, when a man could secure enough to keep him for life in a few weeks. Some of the Adelaide shopkeepers used to put up their shutters and write across them in chalk, 'Gone to the Diggings, leaving their stuff behind them, for they could not sell it, as there was no money to pay for it in those "days." So said a hale and hearty-looking old gentleman I met at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, early one morning recently.
"We did not think much of the island in the fifties," continued the elderly conversationalist, "and this is the first time I have ever landed on it. I come from New Zealand, South Island, but I have made a trip to South Australia every three years to see my relatives and learn how things are going on. While in Adelaide I heard there was a bit of a stir on Kangaroo island, and mines and things of that sort, so I could not help coming over to have a look. Can't help it, you know. The old feeling will rise. I shall never forget the Burra days. They were great days for South Australia. It wasn't the Burra only, though. There were ever so many other mines. Some copper, some silver lead, some gold, for gold was got in South Australia before it was found in the other States. South Australia in the early days was the mining State of Australasia. Mines and minerals were the things that brought Adelaide in closer touch with Europe than the other colonial capitals. There was another thing, too, that lifted South. Australians a step above the others. This State was never a convict settlement, and we used to fancy ourselves a cut above the other colonies.
When the Mount Alexander rush broke out I was charcoal burning for the Burra mine, and hearing of the gold finds in Victoria, a party of us clubbed together, bought a heard of bullocks and a dray, laid in plenty of tucker, and went eastward in search, of Victorian gold. We had a rough time of it. When I say we, you must understand we were only a few out of thousands. South Australians in those days were miners first, and anything else they could make pay afterwards. By the Victorian rush this State lost the bulk of its male population, and those left behind were mostly women and children. Folks used to sell (or mortgage, if they could) their houses and land, or business, or whatever they had that they could raise money on, and clear" but for the diggings, taking whatever money they could get along with them. At last there was scarcely any coin of any kind left in Adelaide. The Government were hard up, and had no money in their coffers, and, at the end of one quarter, were unable to pay the salaries of the Civil servants. I don't know whether they paid the police or not, but I know the early gold escort struck for higher pay. And what did they do in the face of these conditions?
"Do? They had to do the best they could. The big bugs and bankers, and business men left behind put their heads together with the idea of getting some of the gold back to Adelaide. The banks bad a restricted note issue in those days, and there was no money to pay for dust and nuggets, even if it did come here. You must know that over 15,000 men left this State, some by sea, and some by land, as we did, and they all took money with them. They wanted it, too, in Victoria. A sovereign was about the standard price for pretty well everything. Those who were lucky got plenty of gold, but when they had it the difficulty was to get rid of it. Two pounds eight shillings an ounce was the ruling price on the Victorian fields when we got there. Don't I remember the first gold brought back to Port Adelaide by sea!
It was worth about £50,000. and it had been got in a few weeks. It was in nuggets and dust-alluvial, you know - and worth over £4 an ounce. Some of it was sold for 55/ and 56/ an ounce, and the rest was sent back to Melbourne as there was no money in Adelaide to pay for it. The banks could not issue notes, unless they had gold in hand-not gold in nuggets and dust or bars, but in sovereigns So the bankers and business men, or the bulk of them, urged the passing of what was known as “the Bullion Act “
"This Bullion Act was the salvation of the State in more ways than one. A Government assay office was started, which smelted and assayed the gold, and stamped the bars with their value. These bars were held by the banks as gold reserves, and notes issued against them, and that is how we got money once again in circulation in South Australia. Melbourne then began to give £3 an ounce for gold, but the Adelaide Assay. Office gave £3 11/. an ounce, and the gold began to pour into Adelaide by escort, from a ton and a half to two tons at a time. They used to employ a spring-dray and pack-horses, and never got stuck up by bushrangers nor otherwise. The first Australian Mint for coining sovereigns was also founded in Adelaide.
Those who brought their own gold back with them could always get the best price in Australia for it from old Montefiore, the goldsmith and, jeweller, in Hindley street. He smelted it and gave you £3 14/ an ounce for your gold, and paid you in sovereigns too. Did you ever see an Adelaide sovereign?
On admitting that I had not the old gentleman produced his watch-guard on which was suspended a well-milled but somewhat worn gold coin, rich in color, and of the size of the ordinary sovereign of to-day. On one side the following inscription was stamped on the-coin:- "Weighty 5 dwt. 15 gr., value one pound 22 carats. ' On the reverse side-"Government Assay Office (a raised crown), 1852. Adelaide."
"These old Adelaide sovereigns were called in many years ago," continued my. informant "as they were found to contain gold to the value of 21/9. Adelaide must have handled a few million pounds' worth of gold in one way and another in those days. Everyone could talk mining then, and most people had something or other to do with it directly or indirectly. As I told, you just now, Adelaide was Australia s head centre. Of course, the Victorian gold fields shifted the interest for a bit so far as gold was concerned, but Adelaide was the best market nevertheless. The Burra, the Kapunda, and other mines which were turning out splendid copper in the fifties, were almost shut down for want of men A big lot of machinery Was being carted up to the mines, but the men in charge all left it half-way between Adelaide and the Burra, and there it remained on the track until a lot of fellows had got over the gold fever and came back to ordinary work again.
"Oh, no! Moonta and Wallaroo did not come on until ten years or more later. The sheep found those mines by grazing the roots of the grass away, and exposing the copper. Genuine prospecting was, however, going on north and south of Adelaide, and in the hills. We all thought we had learned a bit during the Victorian boom, and a good deal, of work was being done in searching for minerals. In those days the mining wasn't done in King William-street, and roost people had a soul above or below sheep and crops, pigs, and politics. There was a Governor here then whose name was Young, but who had a fairly old head on his shoulders, for he was one of those who encouraged the Bullion Act and helped to make Adelaide the market for gold. The Governor then appeared to be able to do what he thought was right and proper, and others said ditto. That was before constitutional government."

The Advertiser 1906
http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/




Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS. Empty Re: Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS.

Post  Guest on Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:09 pm

thanks for sharing james...i always find your posts interesting
cheers

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS. Empty Re: Newspaper Article SOME UPS AND DOWNS. MINING IN THE OLDEN DAYS.

Post  Guest on Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:50 pm

Thanks mate cheers. cheers

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum