FORTUNES AT A STROKE OF THE PICK.

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FORTUNES AT A STROKE OF THE PICK. Empty FORTUNES AT A STROKE OF THE PICK.

Post  Guest on Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:20 pm

TALES FROM THE MINES. FORTUNES AT A STROKE OF THE PICK.

(By R. M. Cochrane.)

According to the official records, a convict discovered the first gold in Australia. He was promptly voted a reward of 150 lashes "for stealing a gold watch from some person unknown and melting down the case." The authorities in those days were not deficient in a certain sense of humour. It might have occurred to the officials that there was an easily discernible difference between alluvial gold, with the quartz and red alluvial earth adhering to it, and a button of bright smelted gold. But the official mind sometimes moves in strange, mysterious circles its wonders to perform, and the convict was duly made happy with a reward of 150 lashes. Early in 1851, Hargreaves, the friend of Marshall, who first discovered gold in California, claimed the reward offer ed by the Government to the first per son who discovered a payable field. Hargreaves discovered gold at Summerhill Creek, near Bathurst, and won the reward. The local residents, ex cited by the news, caught the gold fever. The excitement rose to fever heat when it was announced that a black shepherd had discovered a nugget weighing 1,272 oz. at Meroo Creek. The local paper said:--"Bathurst is mad again. since the discovery of the great nugget was blazoned to the world several gentlemen of our acquaintance have shown undoubted symptoms of temporary insanity." Gold was next discovered at the Plenty River. Later on it was discovered in considerable quantity, in Ballarat, in August, 1851. The excitement engendered by one discovery had barely time to cool before it was again inflamed by the news of reputed -rich discoveries elsewhere. The most famous fields opened up were Bendigo, Ballarat, The Ovens, Mt. Alexander, and Forest Creek. The sensational yields obtained from the richest claims fired the imagination of the whole people. The mad rush to the diggings was al most without a parallel in the history of the world. Like hiving swarms of bees, men and women swarmed from every ,nook and cranny towards one or other of. the new finds. The roads leading to the diggings were covered by an endless procession of the most motley, nondescript collection of the most hipless ever gathered together, to say nothing of the army of swagmen whose wives and children frequently accompanied them. The one word on every tongue was "Gold! gold! gold! Gold! Bright and yellow, hard and cold,' Molten, graven, hammered and rolled, Heavy to get and light to hold, Hoarded, bartered, bought and sold, Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled, Spurned by the young, but hugged by the old, To the very verge of the churchyard mould." Some of the famous claims have be come historical. The most famous of all, probably, was the Blacksmith claim, Ballarat. The first shaft was sunk by new chums, "lime-juicers" they were called in those days and it was more crooked than a dog s hind leg. When they reached the alluvial wash they panned off all the stuff they could see, without putting in a drive. Then they sold it, believing it exhausted. As they took out £12,800. they considered they had done well. The next party, ten in all, knew very little more than their predecessors, but, working in shifts night and day, they took out £10,000. Not a bad return from a claim which cost them £77. They then let it on tribute for a week while they took a week off to blow in the: £10,000. The tributers were miners,, and they put in two drives. In the week they took out £14,400. The owners, having finished their spree, worked a week and took out £9,000. Believing that now at least it was finished, they sold it to a storekeeper for £100. He put in miners to work on shares, and in a fortnight they took out £5,000.- One of the storekeeper's partners under mined the props just before knocking off on Saturday. By Monday morning the workings had fallen in. He then, according to the regulations, marked out a claim comprising the same area. He sank a new shaft, and the first tub full of wash (four bucketfuls) yielded 401b. weight of gold. Altogether he recovered £4,000 from the claim before it was finally worked out. Thus. this claim-24 square feet-yielded in all £55,200, which is probably without a parallel in the history of alluvial mining. One claim close by, called the "Gravel Pits," yielded £36,000, and another, the Red Hill Lead, gave its owners £20,000, but these were stars of the second magnitude compared, to the Blacksmith's claim. While The Ovens had no individual claims to compare with those enumerated above it was remarkable for the consistently high yield over a large area of ground. Every party who se cured a claim along the creek made a great fortune. The holders usually employed a number of men, whom they paid one guinea and a half per shift. This they could well afford, for in the palmy days several claims yielded £20,000 worth of gold per week. On Saturday (pay day) it was customary for the owner to hand one or other of the Beechworth publicans £100 for liquor for his hands. Frequently the "shout" was £300. Nowhere on the diggings was money spent with more reckless extravagance. A few months afterwards some of these spendthrifts were literally without a sixpence.. Great discoveries were sometimes due to the most trivial circumstances. Some Chinamen, driven by the diggers from pillar to post, camped near Mt. Ararat. Fossicking around in what was after wards known as "Chinaman's Hole." they soon accumulated 3,000 oz. of gold. Afraid of being robbed, they sold the gold, and the sale made the discovery public. For long afterwards the same claim continued to return washing stuff which yielded 28 oz. per load . This led to the greatest rush Victoria has ever known, for very soon 60,000 people were camped on the new diggings. Another great rush was that to Mt. Alexander. This was the site of Per severance Hole. A party of five men sank several holes, some 60 ft. deep. without seeing a colour. They decided to sink one more, and in this. the seventh hole, they obtained £5.000 worth of gold in eight hours. The Mt. Alexdnder diggings were phenomenally rich. From January 6, 1852, to February 24. roughly about seven weeks, the official records show that the miners on this field won Gold to the aggregate value of £328,350. In the year 1852 the total gold reported from all sources was 2.738.404 oz., and in the following year 3,150.021 oz. In round numbers, £23,500.000 were distributed among the working miners in two years.

Newspaper Article

The West Australian
1907 http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/




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Post  Guest on Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:29 pm

Great post James, considering all we do these days is scratch at the surface! Makes me wonder how much was missed by so many of the misfits back then not wanting to reveal there clam, Worked "Out" to them by them, and then moved on, with no records to ever show what actually happened in not said location.
Misfits was not the right word, but you get the gist!
Cheers~Chris.

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Post  Guest on Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:00 am

someday wrote:Misfits was not the right word, but you get the gist! Cheers~Chris.

Chris. mate I do Smile cheers mate cheers

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Post  Imadogman on Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:09 pm

Thanks 101 -- a stunning story of the glory days for sure.
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