Movie GOLD MINING IN SOUTHERN CROSS WA WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

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Southern Cross
A mixture of wheatbelt and goldmining town
Located 357 m above sea level and 368 km east of Perth on the Great Eastern Highway, Southern Cross can be seen as either the last town on the edge of the wheatbelt or the first town on the Eastern Goldfields.

Southern Cross¹s importance is based on its status as the first major gold discovery in the huge Eastern Goldfields region.

Indeed, as the authors of The Mile That Midas Touched observed, Southern Cross, because it predates the larger towns to the east, has a special relationship with Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.

ŒThe Cross, too, had its heyday, first as a mining town, then as ³head of the line² before the railway was pushed further inland. It was the ³mother town¹ of Coolgardie, ³the old Camp², and at least the grandmother of Kalgoorlie and the Golden Mile.¹

Explorers had passed through the area decades before gold was discovered. H M Lefroy, for example, in his Journal of the Eastern Exploring Expedition (1863) declared that the area had great agricultural potential. The area had also been explored by the indomitable Charles Cooke Hunt (who duly sunk a few wells) and John Forrest.

Some pastoralists had moved into the area by the 1880s but it was really the discoveries of Thomas Risely and Mick Toomey in 1887­88 which established the area as an important goldfield. Risely and Toomey claimed they had been led to their discovery by the Southern Cross and they named the goldfield after the constellation.

Thomas Risely¹s account of the discovery gives an insight into the hardships which were to confront the settlers of the area.

ŒMyself, Toomey and Charlie Crossland, started out from our camp at Barcoyton. After prospecting the belt for some days our water gave out. Our blackboy whom I call Wheelbarrow, said he knew plenty of Gabby (water) at Koorkoordine. When we got to Koorkoordine we found one of Hunt¹s dry wells, just as dry as we were. We decided to start back through the night and return to our camp, distance about 40 miles, and we travelled by the Southern Cross - taken to stars to the north - thanks to Charlie Crossland¹s knowledge of the stars. Or our bones would be bleaching in the scrub now, as we were two days without water at this time. We had to remain at our camp until rains came, them myself and Mick Toomey set out again. We discovered gold four miles from Koorkoordine. I named the place Southern Cross.¹

There was a small goldrush but it was short-lived (this was an area of reef gold not alluvial gold) because on 17 September 1892 a young Queenslander, Arthur Wellesly Bayley, rode into Southern Cross with 554 oz of gold which he had discovered at Fly Flat (now Coolgardie). The discovery started the greatest gold rush in West Australian history. Overnight the miners who had flocked to the Southern Cross diggings moved to the more lucrative eastern fields.

The town¹s growth was dramatic but it was never a boisterous centre like Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie. In 1891 the Eastern Goldfields first courthouse was built. By 1893 it had become a municipality. And in 1894 the railway arrived giving the town fast and reliable access to the coast.

Today the area produces oats, barley, wheat, sheep and gold but the average annual rainfall of 279 mm means that the land is marginal. In recent times the fluctuating price of gold has seen renewed interest in the Southern Cross area with both Broken Hill Metals NL and Golden Valley Mines NL being the main operators in the region.


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