A History of Sebastopol (Victoria, Australia) with special reference to gold and mining by Evan D Jenkins & Arthur J Jenkins
This book goes to print in the year 1980, the year which co-incides with the 125th anniversary of the naming of Sebastopol. This event must not be confused with the settling of the area, which occurred in 1838 or the celebration of the Constitution of Sebastopol which happened in 1864. It has as its theme the mining and production of gold which was after all the reason why the Borough was so firmly established. The gold era finally came to an end in 1918 and like many other towns Sebastopol's progress for the next 30 years was at a slow rate. Following the Second World War there has been an upsurge in growth, accelerating each year until now, Sebastopol has become one of the principal residential areas in central Victoria. Industries are continually being attracted to the area; recreational facilities are being developed and education through its many schools compare more than favourably with any other Municipality in the State of Victoria. The population now exceeds 7000 whose citizens are both proud of the Borough of Sebastopol, and as this book relates, its history.
We are indebted to the generosity of local historian, Arthur Jenkins, who has provided us with some of his research material on the history of Sebastopol, Victoria, Australia.
Evan David Jenkins, affectionately known as "Bub" researched and wrote most of the mining history in this book. He is also the Author of "The Centenary of Sebastopol, 1864-1964".
In his younger days he played football, to some success, with Sebastopol and Ballarat Imperial clubs. He was also a prominant competitor in Ballarat athletics in the 1930's.
He was seriously injured in Europe during the Second World War - a contributing factor to his early death.
At the time of his death he was a member of the Ballarat Historical Society and the Sovereign Hill Park Committee.
Arthur James Jenkins the compiler of this book left school at the age of 13 years.
He played cricket almost all his life, playing his last game at the age of 60 years.
Together with Evan he was an elder of Carmel Welsh Presbyterian Church serving as Treasurer for 27 years.
At present he is President of the Sebastopol Historical Society and Vice-President of the Sebastopol Community Centre. He is a regular bowler with the Sebastopol club and paints for relaxation.
THROUGHOUT the year 1837 the stream of settlers continued to pour into the thriving countryside from Melbourne to Geelong, the land being over-run with sheep from Tasmania.
New mobs of sheep arriving had to push inland to the south and west.
In August, the vanguard of land hungry squatters was forced by the increase of these mobs to keep out in front, always seeking new pastures.
By this time, the mobs had reached a place with water called Muddy Water Holes (Lethbridge), a group of men now decided to rest the sheep and view the country from the top of a mount away on the horizon.
W B Withers, Ballarat historian, 1870, says their compass bearings were not well kept. They went astray in the bush. A strange and baffling story.
These men, Dr Thompson of Kardinia Sheep Station, Geelong; Henry Anderson from the Barwon River; David Fisher of the Derwent Company; Captain Hutton, East India Company; Thomas Learmonth, and Captain D'Arcy, a government surveyor, from the top of Mount Buninyong eagerly looked with gaze swinging quickly from one quarter to the other, picking out Lakes Burrumbeet and Learmonth (to be) in the distance with tall timber along the line of the Leigh River.
From the high elevation almost under their feet as they looked west, from the mount to Lake Burrumbeet, the lay of the land is slightly undulating. These men would not make a trip like this without a telescope or two, and could pin-point features quite easily.
Coming down from the mount a strange thing happened, some of the party were bushed; turned around, and made for home. (A great sense of direction for bushed men!)
It is claimed they fasted all the way home, but they would surely be carrying guns into the unknown, a means of, at least, feeding themselves as game was plentiful.
The rest of the party pushed west another day with the cart and the tucker, to Lake Burrumbeet. When these men arrived back at Muddy Water Holes, did they conceal from the others what they had seen out west - all good sheep country, some of the best in the colony?
This story takes a strange slant again.
Five months later, Thomas Learmonth and brother Somerville; Henry Anderson; William Cross Yuille and John Aitken (probably Thomas Learmonth and Henry Anderson were in the split party who made it to Burrumbeet the first time), left with John Aitken from his station, a couple of miles north-west of Sunbury, and headed for Mount Alexander (on Major Mitchell's Line), through wild rough harsh country, then circled back to Lake Burrumbeet and on home to the Muddy Holes again.
They certainly had no use for a compass after the Great Dividing Range had been crossed.
Mount Buninyong dominated the eastern skyline like a lighthouse, and in later years beckoned on travellers returning down the Pyrenees road to the sanctuary of Buninyong Village, and on to the seaboard at Geelong.
A month later, two of the original party, Learmonth and Anderson headed west once more to country they had proved the first time.
The Learmonth brothers were a mite slower off the mark this time. Henry Anderson having teamed up with William Cross Yuille, and his cousin Archie arrived on the site of Sebastopol at the Wool Shed Creek a few days before the Learmonths, who settled on the Dog Trap Creek south-west of Buninyong.
It also proved how thousands of sheen colic A" move quickly through country where men had been bushed a year earlier.
It was early in the year 1838 when these squatters moved in.
This is not a censure of these intrepid men, but it would appear a fair bit of hedging went on somewhere. Anderson and Yuille cooled off; Yuille moved to a fresh water swamp, now famous as Lake Wendouree while Anderson settled five miles south of Ballarat at Cambrian Hill on a creek with brackish water, calling his sheep run "Waverly Park".
Stranger than fiction is the fact that where each of these men settled, golden treasure lay under their feet, unknown to them, but to be reaped by another breed of gold hungry men in the years that lay ahead.
On June 28, 1850, John Winter took over "Waverly Park" calling the run "Bonshaw". When the Yuille's moved on, Winter took over the whole of Sebastopol and Ballarat.
While the Yuille's lived there, cousin Archie built sandstone foundations for a home on the brow of the plateau in about 1840, but Withers states the house was never finished.
The plate where the sandstone was hewn from virgin rock is a far greater excavation, than if only the foundation stones came out of it. Their wool shed was on the east bank of the Yarrowee River - a water hote or spring ruined by pollution many years ago - and located at the east end of what is now Bala Street Sebastopol.
Albert Street, Sebastopol is a part of an historic road, probably the oldest road in Western Victoria.
Anderson and the Yuille's blazed this track early in 1838, hugging the eastern margin of the plateau overlooking the Yarrowee River, running parallel with the White Horse Range, then halting at the Woolshed Creek. Grazing their flocks over hill and range for a brief sojourn, Anderson and the Yuille's like Abraham and Lot, soon parted.
The wheelmarks of their drays in the virgin ground became a way-mark at the latter part of 1838 for Pettett on his way to Dowling Forest, closely followed by Waldie, who settled about three miles north of Lake Wendouree near the present line of Gillies Street. (There is a map of 1854 in the archives of the Ballarat Historical Society showing the homestead site).
On the outskirts of Wendouree the track forked, the left hand branch running north by west to Burnbank and the Pyrenees Range (a William Miller, one of the earliest settlers of the district founded the Pyrenees Store and Burnbank Inn), right through Miners Rest to Camerons Run on the site of Clunes.
The Rev Thomas Hastie who came to Buninyong in 1847 would follow this now well worn track on his visits to Waldie and his hut keeper. He travelled through Sebastopol, then along Skipton Street, Ballarat. On about the line of Armstrong Street the track swung north west up the rising ground of the Creswick Road, skirting the old Cemetery into Burnbank Street where the teamster's had a camp on the shores of Lake Wendouree.
All of these portions of road were so busily engaged and running obliquely, that when the Town of Ballarat was surveyed into rectangle blocks, sections of the road were found impossible to interfere with, and now stand out as waymarks in their own right.
Many notable people probably used this road: Cameron of Clunes and Coghill of the creek would have hauled wool and supplies to and from the seaboard at Geelong; James Esmond who first discovered gold in Victoria at Clunes, on his way from Clunes to Geelong with his precious sample of gold leisurely pursued his way along this road to Buninyong and Mother Jamieson's Hotel, a haven for weary travellers.
Alfred Clarke of the Geelong Advertiser would certainly have used it in 1851 on his rambles to the Golden Point diggings - a road which had already had twelve years of wear and tear before he travelled it. Further more the road overlooked the Golden Point diggings, only a rifle shot distant from the line of Grant Street.
And Governor LaTrobe would settle for this easy going road at this time through a landscape with a park like appearance.
There were hosts of others, not forgetting the stream of goidseekers on their way to the fields to the north and west. There was no other road.
An interesting tract of country on our southern border seems to have been neglected by local historians.
Two old roads, one blazed by Captain Ross in 1839, the other by Holmes and party of Colac in 1851 (which was to become the Colac coach road to Ballarat) were to be found.
1851 was to be an eventful year, with Esmond's exciting find of gold at Clunes in June, being released to newspapers in Geelong, almost at the same time as Hiscock's find at Buninyong on August 8 hit the headlines.
As Holmes of Colac would know of this early village, fifty miles to the north, exciting events quickly took place.
During the latter part of August, gold was found at Golden Point, Ballarat. Holmes and his mates would get the news of this event at Mother Jamieson's Hotel.
Later, the first week of September, they were found at Golden Point diggings and on good gold.
At this time the only road serving Colac was one from Geelong, so Holmes blazed a new track north from Colac across the plains, the high country of the Misery Ranges quickly showed on the horizon above Dereel, (these hills are a part of the ancient shore line). Six miles from here they would come across one of Learmonth's old Sawyers Camps. During the gold era this camp probably became the Log Hut Village.
W B Withers said after the battle at Eureka Stockade, on Sunday December 3,1854, Black and Kennedy, to avoid being captu red by the troopers, made their way to Geelong by way of the Misery Ranges but, becoming bushed, stumbled onto a camp, which was, without a doubt the Old Sawyers Camp.
Three miles from here they reached a locality called Dog Trap Creek, now known as Napoleons, where the Learmonth's first settled on the junction of the above creek with the Ross and Yarrowee Rivers.
Why the name Dog Trap ? After 130 years of close settlement, we hear no more of the dog called a dingo. In the early days they were roaming at will and the Learmonth's evidently had a trap line along this creek, hence the name.
On the rising ground south of this creek still stands Valley farm, a bluestone cottage built by James Davies in the early 1850's. His son attended Rev Hastie's school at Buninyong, crossing the dog trap they came on to the track of Captain Ross. Turning east, then across the Yarrowee, turning north, another mile or so found them entering the Portland Bay -Pyrenees Road near the Buninyong Cemetery at Hiscock's Diggings.
This old road, blazed by Holmes and his mates, is west of the present road running through Napoleons and Enfield and east of the river from the Dog Trap to the Cemetery.
The road was still in use up to 1864, when the Shire put in a more direct route to Sebastopol from the Dog Trap, but it was not the fault of the Shire this road took so long to be built. They were blocked by the Bonshaw Gold Mining Company holding freehold ground through which the road should have gone. Eventually a narrow strip of freehold ground was purchased for a road which is still with us, a few feet wider than the original with barely room for two drays to pass each other.
As for Captain Ross, the only important name-sake left behind is his name given to the creek which is in the Crown Portion,113 Parish of Yarrowee. He moved on in 1845 when he purchased a station over the range west of his place called "Moppianum", which he held till 1849, selling the pre-emptive right to John Browne who then called the station "Brownvale". He in turn sold to the Scarsdale Gold Mining Co. and the "Galatea in 1856, for £10,000. Browns Diggings was narned after Browne.
When the Captain moved out a family named Kennedy moved in and cleared the first land at Ross Creek. Descendants of this family are still at the Creek.
W B Withers said that Mr Gaynor who had put Peter Lalor behind a pile of slabs for safety after he had been wounded in the Eureka Stockade, "is now a respectable farmer at Ross Creek - a rather quaint way of putting it!
Many people feel the question as to who was the first settler in Sebastopol and where did he settle is all very simple.
But after reading the many versions of the arrival of the Yuille Brothers, Anderson and the Learmonth Brothers and evaluating them all I have arrived at the following conclusion:
When 18 year old William Cross Yuille, his brother Archie and Henry Anderson (who also was a young man) pushed their flocks through from Lethbridge, they kept on the move so as to keep ahead of Thomas Learmonth. They never really stopped until they reached an area i n Sebastopol to the east end of Bala Street. There they remained for some time, and while here a meeting was arranged with T Learmonth, who by th is time had settled to the south west of Mount Buninyong. My conclusion is this meeting was held at the camp in Sebastopol and at that meeting the four men decided to take land separately, remaining three miles from one another.
William Cross Yuille settled on the south side of The Swamp (Lake Wendouree). Archie Yuille remained on the original site - the junction of the Woolshed and Yarrowee Creeks, three miles south east of his brother.
Henry Anderson went south three miles to the junction of the Saltwater and Yarrowee Creeks.
Thomas Learmonth settled another three miles south east of Anderson on the Dog Trap Creek.
Following this these settlers, who no doubt had shepherds and hired helpers, started to go back and forth to Geelong, and with other settlers following in their tracks, a small settlement sprang up at the foot of Mount Buninyong. Thus it was that Buninyong became the main stop over place for travellers in this early part of settlement in the Ballarat area.
Not one of these first settlers stopped for any great time, all shifted on to new areas. The remarkable thing about it is that at the original site in Sebastopol, which would have been a very beautiful place, and still is, there has never been built a house, even to the present day. The house that Archie Yuille started to build was never finished, and the foundation stones were used to build the Cairn which was erected near by during the centenary of the Sebastopol Borough in 1964.
The man, or men, who rode point looking for water, feed and easier going creek crossings, water courses, or hill tracks showed the instinct belonging to our finest bushmen.
Even now, one is amazed at the skill shown.
At the time of the gold rushes, between the years 1851 and 1861, thousands of gold seekers from every clime just coasted along tracks already made by the squatters. Even into the timbered ranges the tracks were found.
The squatter had a ten year grace to roam wherever he wished, before the sudden influx and being of an adventurous spirit, he certainly did just that. The seekers also found they could lean on the squatter to provide in time of adversity meat, flour and medicine.
Within a few weeks of the discovery of gold goods of every description poured along these same tracks from Geelong, Melbourne, Tasmania and Sydney.
The first stock route running north west from Geelong entered the early village of Buninyong from the south by way Of Meredith, Mt Mercer, Grenville, Hardies Hill and Durham Lead, known as the West Road. After a period of time, in the year 1864, the Prince of Wales Company was calling it the Great Western Road.
Three miles west of Buninyong, we find the Yarrowee River crossing spanned by a new concrete bridge. In May, 1864, the Buninyong Road Board reported repairs to the Western Road Bridge costing £29. This same bridge in 1858 was called by the 'Miner and Weekly Star' newspaper, the Star and Garter, stating that Holmes and Porter had a fivehead battery there.
The bridge took its name from the Hotel, one of the early houses (1853) kept by mine host John Barron.
This hotel stood on the corner of the old miner's road, running north through Magpie Gully and the approach to the new concrete bridge at Winters Flat.
Arising out of a case of litigation between the Bonshaw Freehold Gold Mining Company Private Land, Manager William Henderson versus Henry Gee and sixty others representing the Alston Weardale Gold Mining Company, holders of miners rights, and despite some doubt by local historians the following proves the correct position of two roads, the Portland Bay Road to Geelong and Melbourne; and the Pyrenees Road in the early years of settlement.
"that by a deed of grant, under the hand and seal of Charles Joseph LaTrobe, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Victoria, dated the 9th day of January, 1854, all that piece or parcel in the colony of Victoria, containing by admeasurement 640 acres, which was bought by John Winter in 1850 for £600 was now sold by him for the sum of £20,000 to the Bonshaw Freehold Gold Mining Company, be the same more or less situated in the county of Grenville, Parish of Cardigan. Section A, commencing at a gum tree marked "A", on the west side of the Yarrowee River, bounded on the south by a line bearing west sixty eight chains (68) fifty links (50), on the west by a line bearing east one hundred and two chains (102) fifty links (50), on the east by the Yarrowee River, preserving two roads passing through the section to Portland Bay and the Pyrenees Range, the area of which has been allowed for in admeasurement, being the land granted to one John Winter under the regulation of the 28th day of June, 1850, his heirs and assigns".
(Melbourne 'Argus', October 16, 1863, at the New Court House, Barkly Street, Ballarat, October 15, 1863, (the old Court House was at Buninyong). Before his Honor, His Justice Molesworth).
Two miles west from the 'Star and Garter' were the Round Water Holes - the name only remains. The holes were destroyed by flood water in the Bonshaw Creek after the hillsides had been denuded of their timber.
The bridge there was also repaired in May 1864, costing the Road Board £59.
Looking back at the original bridge on the Yarrowee, a flood took it out in 1870. Further up stream the mines discharged sand and tailings into the river for years. The rains came, floods came up, and thousands of tons of spoil smashed into the bridge.
It took a century before the new concrete bridge went in.
At the Round Water Holes was the first store in inland Victoria, built by D S Campbell and Wooley of Melbourne.
It was in this locality in the early 1840's where Ted 8Oley, one of Learmonth's shepherds was murdered by aborigines.
A mile or so further west is where the Portland Bay Road swung south west through Ross Creek. Still pushing out into the sunset the Pyrenees Road went through Haddon, Carngham, Trawalla, Waterloo Flatt then wound over a low spur range to Raglan (the site of an early Police Post), on through a notch in the hills to Elmhurst, on the present Pyrenees highway, to join up with the track made by the men of the north who had pushed down from New South Wales.
There are five sections of this old road with the wheel ruts still visible - three in the Buninyong Shire, and two in the Grenville Shire.
The latter two are now enclosed with barbed wire, their significance lost. The ruts in one section extended to nearly 400 yards on what was known as the Haddon Common less than a mile north east of Haddon. In the Buninyong Shire between Grenville and Meredith is a fine example of solid going where drays and waggons have worn it into a sunken road.
To preserve this part of our heritage these wheel tracks should be protected and waymarks placed, just as the Americans have done with their waggon train trails to Oregon and to the goldfields of California. The Americans were the first to use this word 'waymark' and give it real meaning.
This act would commemorate the men who drove into the sunset before the infant village of Melbourne on the Yarra River had shed its swaddling clothes.
Now that people are becoming more aware of the history and environment of the surrounds of the district in which they live, it would be an adequate time for the Sebastopol Borough to relieve the Shire of Buninyong of these old roads situated only a quarter of a mile from their southern boundary, giving them two of the oldest roads in the Central Highlands Region.
Within a few years maybe the Pyrenees road will be a busy highway again.
By the late fifties, toll gates were in full swing on the early roads.
There were two on the stock route Albert Street - one on the Smythesdale road, and one at the Western side of the Water Holes Bridge. The cost to the traveller can be seen from this example taken on September 3, 1858.
Tolls were payable one way only for vehicles going an returning on the same day. Three-fourths of the above rate were charged for any vehicle when the tyres or wheels were not less than 4Ω" wide and perfectly flat and level throughout their whole width.
On his way to Geelong from Clunes (or Cameron's Sheep Run) with samples of gold, while passing through Buninyong, it is possible he could have yarned to Thomas Hiscock about the quartz and surface gravel on the hills near Butters Hill in California compared with the local hills.
Maybe he let the blacksmith see the sample of gold he was carrying.
Maybe this is just speculation, but why should Thomas Hiscock pick a quartz covered slope of the White Horse Range to look for gold so soon after Esmond had passed through the area, unless his eyes had been opened to the possibility of gold by a prospector on his way to Geelong.
Thomas Hiscock found gold on August 8, 1851 near the present Buninyong cemetery.
The news of this event, so soon after Esmond's sample of gold had reached Geelong, startled the seaport again.
Another minor rush followed on the heels of the men who had already set off for Clunes. But it was the next news reaching Geelong that triggered the major rushes of the next ten years.
The first groups of men on their way to Clunes were side-tracked at Hiscock diggings, where they searched for the precious metal, with poor results. The wet weather then prevailing and Mother Jamieson's Hotel being close by, they were snug enough. Small parties prospected along the White Horse Range, between August 21 and 24, 1851.
Then John Dunlop and his mate James Regan, who were prospecting on a ridge between One Eye Gully on the east and Yarrowee River to the west, discovered gold.
The ridge became known as Poverty Point.
The outcome of this find was that new diggers arrived, spreading themselves across the north-west slope of the ridge.
They could not miss the alluvial gold as they sank holes in the shallow ground. This is when Golden Point was born.
The best researched account of the discovery of gold and of early days on the Ballarat Gold Fields has been written by the late Harry J Stacpoole in his book "The Ballarat East Goldfields - It's discovery and development".
It's a country of low winding ridges, separated by flat bottomed gullies.
These are the old buried gold leads with their small, seldom-flowing streams.
At first one is apt to lose sight of the fact that the whole is one broad valley. Down its centre, from Black Hill in the north, through Mt Pleasant and the White Horse range, stands a long ridge, cut through here and there by streams flowing west to join the Yarrowee River.
This ridge divides the valley into two strips which are imperfectly separated. The constant wearing of the old hills, by streams and rain, has broken down a good deal of the surface, while the rest of the country has been lowered by the ceaseless rasping of sand laden streams.
The surface of the land, while it stands above the sea, is ever changing.
From about the plateau south of Sebastopol, the country is covered by bluestone or basalt, while the plain which spreads north from there past Lake Wendouree, and out to the west, has been covered by flows of molten (lava) which filled the old valleys and spread out over all in a vast level sheet.
Beneath this, the miners tell us, are old hills and valleys formed from the bedrock, filled with vast beds of gravel and sand.
The plain spreads far to the west, past Lake Burrumbeet and through south-western Victoria, which was one of the great volcanic areas of the world.
Time after time, the volcanoes burst from the north and north-west of Ballarat, and the molten floods of lava flowed down the valleys.
Many centuries passed, gravel and clay spread over them, and again a lava flood followed by another layer of gravel.
This happened five times, known from what miners have found underground.
The last of the lava flows must have been a terrible sight as it rolled 150 feet thick across the land through Alfredton to the south east of Sebastopol where the first layer of bluestone is 160 feet deep in the Newcastle shaft.
The layers of bluestone are curiously numbered from the surface in reverse order to their age.
The top layer is called "first" and the bottom layer "last". The lava did not cover the whole of the Ballarat Valley.
The Yarrowee River and several tributaries descending westward from the White Horse Range, were blocked by the edges of the flows. Behind these dams a series of lakes was formed. Gradually, the waters overflowing from the lakes began to break down this edge of the lava flow and the lakesl were drained.
The present Yarrowee Valley was carved out of the ancient rocks.
East of the Yarrowee River, remnants of bluestone cap a number of hills.
After the chain of lakes had broken up, vegetation soon covered the silt and drift of the old lake beds, slowing down the rush of waters from the east and lessening its attack on the massive bluestone shield of the plateau.
This growth also prevented the lowering of the lake beds and locked in the great golden treasure until the men of the 1850's opened up this rich gold field.
All the alluvial leads running through Sebastopol had theirs source on the western slope of The White Horse Range.
They were flat bottomed at their beginnings.
Taking the experience passed on by the Ballarat East diggers they were eagerly sought for and, when found, wrought with great energy.
The heads of the gullies were shallow, gold being found under the grass roots to five feet. Some crab holes averaged 20 ozs of gold to the tub, holding roughly 100 lb weight of dirt.
These rich yields were shed from quartz lodes on the indicator line of country, running north and south on the White Horse Range.
There are several indicators between this range and the Sebastopol quartz lodes.
The main indicatorwas named by Morgan Llewellyn in 1871: It is a vertical seam about an eighth to half inch wide, consisting of zinc blend (otherwise sulphide-of-zinc, known to miners as BlackJack ); galena-sulphide of lead; and a little mundic-sulphide of iron.
This seam runs from the surface to an unknown depth, and where a flat make or body of quartz crosses it, it throws nuggety gold in profusion.
This found its way into the gullies over the long period of weathering of the caps of the lodes and the range so releasing the free gold. The bulk of it, never travels far.
Deep leads become poorer unless enriched in their course from lodes or spurs cut by the gutters, or being close to a gutter.
The Sebastopol mines were fortunate to have three main quartz lodes cut by these gutters, besides many small quartz formations.
Between 1851 - 61, people rushed from gold field to gold field. But the rushing soon ceased as the majority of miners were intelligent, courageous and God-fearing men, who pulled their flimsy churches down and set up again as the leads moved west. During the late sixties, early seventies, a more established way of life crept in.
Men, who had been tradesmen in their homelands returned to their old way of life. Some had been engineers, blacksmiths, tin and copper-smiths, coopers, builders, bakers, chemists, brickmakers or brass founders - all types of trades.
The shallow ground being worked out hastened this change, along with the companies and their deep mines on the plateau clamouring for all types of tradesmen.
The miner who continued to pursue his calling came up with a never ending range of new words or mining terms. One such word was that used for water course - a "gully".
When the gully became deeper and eagerly sought as a sure repository for gold, they called them "leads" or "gold leads". When sinking reached 100 - 400 feet in depth, they were called "deep leads" or "gutters" - where the gravels were deep and rich
A new phase of mining began when the shallow leads from the east ran deep under the immense layers of basalt or bluestone rock of the plateau. This had to be hand drilled and blasted through. This type of mining called for a miner who understood and could work the rock. It was the hardness of the rock, plus the great volume of water in the trap rock, sand drifts, small shafts, primitive methods and tools which all combined to slow down the rate of sinking.
These men had courage, and learning through trial and error, they mastered the many difficult phases of the deep alluvial mines and became pioneers of this type of mining in Australia.
When the shafts had reached the required depth and the miners had opened into the wash dirt, from then on and throughout the life of the mine, the shafts had to be kept in a constant state of good repair. Due to the strain and pressure of heavy ground and water bursting timber in the shaft, many of the deep mining companies employed two or more men to work in the drives replacing broken timber caused by the swelling and heaving of the reef.
Latter day quartz miners working on the same plateau marvelled at the stamina of these men.
The heavy flow of waterfrom the trap rock into the shafts was partly controlled by puddling with clay and tarred blanket behind the timbers or walls of the shaft. These shafts were always puddled up after each layer of bluestone had been blasted through, starting from the clay foundation found between each layer.
Many shafts had tons of clay to clean out after the clay softened and gave way due to the pressure of water. Short pipes were inserted where the flow was heavy and directed into cisterns cut in the rock. The sand drifts were a frightful and dangerous hazard to contend with. On the plateau these are found between the first and second, as well as the third and fourth layers of basaltic rock.
The worst drift was called "the deep one", or sands of time and was always found close to the wash dirt. Being up to 60 feet and more in depth, of wet loose sand, with air getting in to it, it would quickly surge into shaft and drives.
Then would begin a slow process of close timbering. Very, careful work was needed or the shafts would be swamped by the heavy wet sand and water. It was nothing new for small; shafts to be twisted out of line and lost in the drifts.
They used slabs, called "drift slabs", which were driven down into the sand and secured on each side with sawn timber. The very best sinkers and timber men were used in these drifts. These men were renowned for their skill and steadiness in these conditions.
When the shafts reached bedrock, they sank 50 to 60 feet further to keep below the deepest part of the gutter. The shaft now consolidated' more cisterns were cut for the flow of water; the pumps lowered into the well, a plat or chamber was then cut into the side of the shaft. Some of these plats were huge in comparison to the small shafts - ten feet high and angling back 30 feet.
Many of the alluvial mines put in reef drives from the flat "Y" shaped to open up the wash dirt more quickly.
The frame or opening set was built of 16" x 16" sawn timber.
The plats held two sets of tramway with rails weighing from 14, 16, 18 and 21 lb per yard. Some floors were lined with flat iron to run the trucks of wash dirt or mullock on. The platman could spin the trucks on these sheets straight into the cage, for hauling to the surface.
The horse stables snug and dry, were built off the ends of the shaft and housed four or six horses. The main reef drive cut in solid bedrock from the end of the plat was driven to the deep gutter, then the "speaking trumpet", as it was called, to communicate from the plat to the brace and engine house on the surface.
The size of drives varied from mine to mine, but were usually two sets of rail, with an average height of 8 feet with a width of six feet. This was inside the legs and caps. These were a set of timber to hold up the roof or back of the drive. Water channels were cut into the floor in preparation for tapping the water overhead in the gutter.
After the main reef drive had been driven to the boundary of the claim, a series of blind shafts would be cut vertically up under the gutter. A hole was then drilled to break into the gutter and left to drain.
In the case of a reef drive, driving head-on into a gutter, face boards were inserted between the legs end wash dirt and left to drain - that is, if they were not washed out.
After the bore holes in the blind shafts had lowered the flow of water in the gutter, they were opened into the wash dirt (called "the main wash drive"), and driven the length of the gutter to the boundaries of the claim.
Many of the blind shafts became shoots to the reef drive, however some of them were rigged as a balance whip for the down full-truck bringing up the empty one. So that the wash dirt would not be shifted again until it was tilted into the puddling machine on the surface from off the main wash drive, cross drives were cut across the width of the gutter in preparation for blocking out.
Into the wash and cross drives went the pick of the virgin forests - millions of super feet of logs and sawn timber with some of the gutters three to four hundred feet wide. Crossing these, the miners battled against sudden burst of drift and water.
The cross drives to the high reef were kept open while blocking out was carried on in the gutter, leaving blocks or pillars of wash along the sides until the high reef washes were stripped off.
Then a systematic retreat would take place back to the main wash drive (the high reef wash was where the early gutters spread their gravels across the flats and built up by weathering of the ancient hills, helped by years of torrents of flood waters the gutters were deepened, leaving the wash dirt on the flats high and dry, you can say that the bedrock is higher on one. side of the gutter than the other).
The blocking-out drives ran with the course of the gutter and flats. The timber in these drives was much lighter, but not the laths used over the back or roof. These usually remained at a standard size of 2" thick, 8" wide x 4'6" long. They had to be handled quickly as most drives were only open for a few hours as the overburden of headings consisting of gravel, large boulders and drift settled on the roof of the drives.
This was standard practice in the alluvial mines, after a number of panels had been blocked out. It was not safe to go back into them - only in the cross drives was it safe.
In the Red Jacket mine a section 60 feet x 80 feet, between two cross drives had been blocked out and was to be stowed l up with mullock, but before the miners could do so the heavy ground settled, crushing the wooden props into the soft reef.
One of the main causes of heavy going in the Sebastopol alluvial mines was the fourth layer of basaltic rock. As the clay and headings settled on the roof timber, large sections of this rock, known as "rotten rock", would come away from the main rock. In the Sebastopol mines at least a foot of the bottom orb bedrock was stripped off. In the Nelson and Wellington claim, while sinking a leg or timber support into this bedrock or "pipe clay", they uncovered a run of gold. Backtracking along this section, a little over a thousand ounces of gold was won.
It must be borne in mind that the bedrock was never completely flat for any given distance. It was undulating with hollows and ridges. Some of these hollows held thousands of gallons of water. Many reef drives broke through into these hollows and the mine was for a time flooded out.
A number of sudden bursts of water occured in the mines and were traced to hollows formed between the bottom of the trap rock where it bellied down into the wash dirt in the gutter and the clay below it. These hollows filled with water draining out of the trap rock. The weight of wafer teeing too much for the clay to resist, would burst through the headings into the drives choking them with drift, clay and loose timber.
Heavy sticks of timber were a must when working below in the alluvial mines and many miners ruptured themselves while handling the timber due to them lying in water for a day or so, thus adding to the weight of each piece. The timber used were called props and laths. The props came from the forest in three sizes 10',12' and 14' long; big end 12 to 18 inches in diameter; small end 7 to 10 inches.
These were let by tender with prop orders at six to ten thousand at a time and at £1.2.0 per hundred, laths from twenty to fifty thousand at £10 per hundred.
The bush swarmed with timber getters or fellers. They lived in two lively camps, one called "Log Hut" west of Enfield, the other a part of Ross Creek overlooking the old station of Captain Ross.
In 1863, on the Frenchman's lead alone, 50,000 logs, 150,000 laths, as well as unknown quantities of sawn timber went underground. The same year, the Prince of Wales Co was using sawn red gum timber from Echuca. By 1865 this company used 50,000 logs, 150,000 laths or slabs, and for good measure one ton of belmont candles.
The boilers on the alluvial mines for all their great size were using mostly 4" diameter spas. Wood was ordered at the rate of 15,000 tons a time, to be at the mine before the winter rains.
The first cage used for hauling miners and wash dirt up and down shafts was at the Gravel Pits shaft in 1857. The buckets were on the average 80 gallons in capacity.
Two years later on June 27, 1859, at the United Albion shaft, an unfortunate accident happened when a man named John Cameron was killed by falling off the bucket when it was 45 feet from the bottom. He was one of many.
The miners had the courage to live with this hazard. Lives were continually being lost as a result of the bucket catching against the centres and sides of the shaft.
The early alluvial shafts were very narrow and while the buckets had nothing to guide them they swung freely until steadying. With men standing on the rim a margin of overweight would cart the buckets causing the bottom to brush the timber, tip the bucket, resulting in the men being swept off and falling to the bottom of the shaft.
Later a pot bellied iron bucket was used and while it was safer than the cage, it was far from being fool proof. Many of the old type cages used in the alluvial mines had a chain attached to each of the four corners. They were efficient and hauled millions of tons of wash dirt up the shafts at great speed. Miners even rode up and down on their roofs, but they never had a safe name.
In 1864, north of Ballarat at the Great North Western Company on the Dead Horse Lead, they had a simple contrivance for protecting the men from the risk of falling while standing on the rim of the bucket when being lowered or raised up the shaft. It consisted of rings of iron attached by means of three links of a small chain to the chain on which th bucket hung and large enough for the hand to be put through. The men could catch hold of these rings and get a secure hold.
A shoe at the top of the ring prevented the hand being jammed against the chain. This was much better than having to hang onto a thick wet chain or rope.
In 1865 a Mr Hillman of Skipton Street invented a safety cage designed for hauling. This cage was fitted with a powerful spring on each side, with cams holding chisel shaped section slightly curved, and held back from the timber guides with the spring and a trip plate, in case the cable, chain or rope broke.
In the event of this happening the trip was released, the chisel sections sprung open and, bit deep into the guides thus slowing the cage to a stop.
The guides were continuous lengths of squared timber about six by three inches, which ran down the centre of the hauling compartment of a shaft. The distance between each couple of guides was just enough to admit a cage working up and down between them. These cages were in great demand throughout the mining districts.
The "Adze Eye Pick" was also Hillman's. This type of pick is still in use, and has never been surpassed. Likewise the use of an oil-bearing on underground trucks instead of the old grease-bearings was the work of Mr Hillman.
What with miners underground thinking up new ideas, an tradesmen above producing them, it was in October 1869, the some men of the Ballarat Mining Board thought it was time young men were trained in the field of mining.
Harrie Wood, government mining registrar, and famous for his notes on the Ballarat gold fields; R M Sergeant, legal manager of Sergeants Freehold Mine; H R Casselli, architect,, and others, established a School of Mines at Ballarat, the oldest of its type in Australia. The school drew its students from, every state.
By the 1890's, many of the students were found on most of the mining fields of the world.
It is astonishing how mining techniques developed so rapidly. By the end of the first week in August 1851, at Golden Point, Ballarat, the tin dish and cradle were in action. Within a few weeks they were on the field in great quantities. Every man arriving at the diggings had no trouble in picking one up.
To handle more wash dirt a day, puddling in a tub came next, using a shovel to turn it into a slurry, which went through a cradle more easily.
By 1853, the horse-powered puddling machine appeared, built into the ground and lined with wood. The wash dirt was churned into a slurry by wooden harrows, then put through a sluice box. In 1854 they were lined with boiler plate. By 1855, the foundries turned them out in cast iron. Later, they were driven by steam.
James Salkeld invented chain driving gear to work these machines, with the majority of the Sebastopol mines working five or six machines.
An early invention was the horse powered "whip" for hauling spoil up a shaft. By using sawn or round bush timber sunk into the ground, the whip" was erected so that it leaned with the top end over the shaft. Here, a pulley wheel was fixed on an axle. Another wheel was placed just above the ground, back from the leaning timber. The hauling rope ran under the ground pulley, then over the pulley above the shaft. A horse was then harnessed to the rope. The horse walked straight out from the shaft to raise the bucket, and backed to lower it.
The remains of an old whip track and the collar of the shaft it served may still be seen on the edge of the plateau about 300 yards south of the Frenchman's Lead, although it is now partly overgrown with blackberries.
The bucket usually had a short chain attached to the centre of its floor. It was hauled up, then lowered a fraction, so the; chain was caught on a hook attached to a post. It was then lowered again, the top of the bucket tilted and spilled its load into a truck, shoot or barrow.
The cornish horse-powered whim was another cheap way of hauling and were very efficient to a depth of 500 feet. Two ropes were usually arranged around a wooden drum, wound i n Opposite directions to allow for a full bucket arriving at the surface, and an empty one landing at the bottom. The drum revolved freely in a socket as a horse harnessed to a yoke with a Swivel bolted to a cross-bar, walked in a tight circle. The swivel allowed the horse freedom to turn around while hauling and lowering.
In 1860, over the range to the south west of Sebastopol at Browns diggings, a Mr McGrath invented "fanners" or doors for the brace on which the cages landed. These were first used at the Star of Hope whim shaft, and were quickly used as a safety measure throughout Victoria and the rest of Australia.
The Engine Houses were the show places on all the big mines.
The drivers drew the line at anyone walking across the floor with muddy boots. They took pleasure in keeping their domain clean. Floors were covered with linoleum and showed off rows of pot plants and ferns. Lamps were brightly polished, the railings around the winding engine and winding drum sparkled and the copperwork polished to a warm glow, were familiar sights. With the huge flywheels spinning, the engine driver sat in his big chair, foot hovering around the brake, and all the time looking over the winding drum to the mouth of the shaft, in readiness for the emerging cage, carrying men and spoil from below.
Day or night, rain or shine, the drivers on the early alluvial mines worked their engines, always accepting the tension that was placed upon them.
Some of the drivers chairs were solid and fine to behold, but others were flimsy and had a neglected look.
James Salkeld, engineer at the Band of Hope in 1863, introduced an indicator, mounted on the winding engine.
It was a clock face without numbers on it and measured three feet in diameter. A hand indicated to the engine driver the position of the truck and cage, while being drawn up the shaft. The distance travelled from the plat to the landing brace was shown by the hand moving over more than half the face of the dial. It was set in motion by a tangent wheel and screw working obliquely, driven direct from the winding gear shaft. A bell was also connected and it would ring when the cage arrived within fifty feet of the brace. The indicator was placed in front, a little i on one side, and within a few feet of the engine driver's chair.
This was a long way from the old method of tying a piece of spun yarn, or marking the hoisting gear with chalk to act as a guide.
These ropes were flat manilla measuring from three to six inches wide and five hundred feet long. Some had been mended two and three times. They frayed and rotted in the wet.
The flat wire ropes were efficient but they too frayed, stretched and rusted, and by 1866 were £3.15.0 cwt. The urge to seek out new techniques by artisans surrounding the mines was always there.
A man by the name of W S Round, introduced to the mining fraternity his patent - a hand-made flat iron hauling chain at £250 per thousand feet. His manufacturing works was at the corner of Urquhart and Lyons Streets and called the Cosmopolitan Iron Chain Works, named after the Cosmopolitan Gold Mine in Windermere Street.
They were the first to use this chain in June 1859.
It could be called the "golden chain of Ballarat". in the next ten years no other make of rope hauled up the breath-taking yields of gold as did these chains.
The chain was used in the Band of Hope Mine on the famous Golden Point gutter (the best part of the nine and a half tons of gold was won there), close by the Great Redan extended had used it, so too the No. 3 Albion, (where the famous gutter went astray) Next door was the famed No.1 Albion on the Woolshed Lead which yielded a mere three quarters of a million pounds worth of gold while the chain was also to be found on the Frenchman's Lead, the Nelson Mine and their neighbours in the Working Miners-claim.
It was also used i n the grand old Prince-of-Wales Mine on the Cobblers Lead, where a thousand feet of this chain ran down the shaft like quick-silver when the spider on the winding drum broke, scaring the daylight out of the miners below. It took four days to get it out again. No wonder these chains were a clanking success hauling up the rich yields from these shafts. The "golden chain" had a longer wearing life than the flat manilla and flat wire, and they were well used for a number of years. Years later it gave way to the round steel wire which is still being used today.
The same chain was around the playing arena of the Sebastopol Football Ground for nearly a hundred years while a section of it is the front fence of the Sebastopol Bowling Club.
Strange to say, but, some of the companies stopped using the flat chain in 1865. The Garibaldi Co. swapped their chain for flat wire rope. The Prince-of-Wales Co. using a new idea called charcoal wire rope the same year. Some claimed it took less power to work the engines, by using flat wire ropes. Yet again these same flat wire ropes had to be taken off the winding drum and run through a fire to keep them from turning brittle.
Working in shallow ground down to 30 feet, in a fairly damp shaft, where the well was bailed once a week or less, the dangerous carbon dioxide formed close to the water.
The first ten feet up the ladder was where most fatal accidents occured as a result of miners not lowering a lighted candle on a line.
When this gas formed a candle was quickly snuffed out. A couple of buckets of water thrown down the shaft soon cleared the air, especially a two compartment shaft. The water went down one, the foul air forced its way up the other.
In shallow ground a steady dripping of water made a sweet shaft. Shafts sunk to around the one hundred feet level, sprouted what was called a "windsail" made of calico suspended from a pole above the shaft. A section called "wings" was kept open by cords tied to pegs. This could be swung around to catch the slightest breeze. Calico, in the form of a pipe, attached to the sail hung down the shaft.
The reason windsails were rigged over shafts was to catch the hot north winds in summer time. These winds are light so blowi ng over a shaft without a sai I they rarely penetrated to any depth.
In the alluvial mines below 300 feet, a furnace built at the bottom and connected by pipe to the chimney stack on the Surface caused an updraught to suck up smoke and fumes. This in turn created a down draught of fresh air from the surface.
In 1863, the Defiance Company had three of these furnaces trying to clear the foul air in the mine.
The United Albion Company put in an air pump called a "duck" machine - a simple contrivance that consisted of a square air tank like a diving bell with a hollow tube in the centre, forced down at every stroke of the bob into a cistern of water. As the air tank rose a valve opened which let in the air. The downward stroke forced the enclosed air down the air pipe to any part of the mine, wherever needed. Thus, the drives were blown sweet and clean.
In the Albion No. 1 on the Woolshed Lead, they used what was described as a very ingenious contrivance - a lead pipe down the shaft, supplied by water from the surface. At the end of the lead pipe, was a box with four jets playing from it into a zinc tube, fifteen feet long and fastened to the air pipe which passed around the mine. A box at the end allowed water to escape into the well. These water jets carried a strong current of air to the whole of the mine.
The Band of Hope Company had an air pump with a cylinder thirty inches in diameter - the same construction as the cylinder of a steam engine, only the piston worked the air instead of the steam working the piston. It had a double action with a stroke of thirty-six inches, and sent down 260 cubic feet of fresh air per minute.
This took over the place of the old duck machines.
The St George Company in the early stages used what was called a "water-fall"; water running down the shaft from a tank on the surface to break up the foul air, as well as a steam jet leading from one of the boilers.
For bailing water from the early shafts, canvas, hide, wood and iron buckets were in general use.
As the leads headed west into deep ground, poppet heads were mounted over the shafts. Iron tanks were then used with a trip or catch above the collar of the shaft at the surface so placed to engage a trap door on the tank, releasing its load of water. This method of bailing was slow, cumbersome and expensive, so when the first steam driven pump was installed, and proved more efficient, most mines scrapped their bailing tanks.
The favourite on the Plateau at this time was the Cornish draw lift pumps, averaging 12 to 22 inches in diameter and driven by either vertical cornish beam engines or horizontal engines from 12 to 90 horse power.
They operated the great wooden shaft rods which transmitted the engine power to the actual pumps in the shaft. The fly-wheels of the horizontal rotary engines were 14 to 20 feet in diameter, weighing seven to ten tons.
These engines, built for strength were the best for heavy pumping. The constant strain and jerking of the pumps mean solid bluestone foundations, cemented and bolted together t keep the engines steady. These engines were christened by, each company and had such names as "Old Faithful", and "Ever-Ready".
Take the Band of Hope engine, the "Lady Bessy" as example. A single action nine foot stroke; 30 inch cylinder; pump stroke eight feet; working 12 strokes per minute, forking or throwing 30,000 gallons of water per hour. The housing of such a tall iron monster, the engine house, was quite unique, rising 42 feet on solid foundations sunk 12 feet into the ground. It was three stories high with an inside measurement of 14 x 18 feet. The ten ton beam of the engine was 35 feet above the ground floor. This 70 horse-power vertical beam engine was working double pump plungers.
Ironic, isn't it! The miners were battling the water below, and bringing it back again for the life-giving air.
Curiosity led us at intervals to visit Sebastopol Hill, the stronghold of rock punchers and water bailing, showing the strain on the muscles and pockets, and the patience of the miners.
We have watched and recorded the beginning and growth of this famous place, Sebastopol. We must record it bears now but a faint resemblance to its former self.
The piles of rock and clay, tailings and abandoned shafts indicate that it was once the scene of busy industry. The numerous ruins of turf and stone chimneys, the scattered heaps of bones, bottles, rags, earthenware and old iron, indicate that the surface was once the dwelling place of numerous population, but the grass is fast growing over the heaps of debris, silence and solitude are beginning to make themselves felt.
The great Dutch Harry Hotel, (which was opposite the present Ritchies Supermarket), more like a huge barn than a place of public resort for amusement and good cheer, and the solitary store over the way whose keeper is also the Postmaster, and his neighbour the publican in the National Hotel, are well able to do all the trade that is left.
The Cumberland, Durham and Cornish Companies' mine are at present the chief interest on the Frenchman's Lead.
The surface works are on the shaft, formerly occupied by the United Miners Company, with the usual engine and boiler house and steam puddling machines, which distinguished the larger mining companies. The ponderous beam of the pumping gear, of solid colonial timber 25 feet long, 20 inches thick, bound and clamped with broad bands of iron, trembling and vibrating, as it slowly swings up and down with each stroke of the engine, indicates at once the powerful machinery ate work, and the heaviness of the volume of water to be raised.
This rotary horizontal steam engine of 70 horse-power costing £1800 driving the pumps to raise 30,000 gallons of: water per hour was made by Tennent of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Accompanied by the secretary W G Fraser, we descended the Old Kangaroo Shaft on the south-east corner of Albert and Taylor Streets. The descent was by ladder, a novelty in al Ballarat shaft. By eleven of these ladders, each resting upon a slab at the foot, we descended the narrow compartment of the shaft, in which, with ease, a man could suspend himself b bracing back and knees against the opposite side. Part way, is quite dry, then water begins to drip.
By the time we landed at the bottom, it was a real shower.
The company sunk for a depth of 185 feet and lance shallow on the reef: -they drove an incline at a dip of three-and a-half to one through reef until the gutter was reached at depth of 312 feet. Down this incline or marvellous stairway b 444 steps cut in the reef; water and foot worn, until scarce footing is left.
We descend to the centre of the gutter and found ourselves in a huge chamber with the bluestone traprock bared, sloping towards the centre for a roof, ridges of reef under our feet streams of clear and sweet water trickling and gurgling in current along the gutter. The junction of the Frenchman's an White Horse leads was found here, but the access to these ol mysteries was walled up, to keep out intruders from other shafts, and partly to moderate the draught of air which no circulates for many thousands of feet along the abandons recesses of the old workings.
The trap rock overhead descended in the centre of the gutte to within a few inches of the bed rock, almost kissing the be rock (using the technical phrase) then rising at the side twelv: feet up, for a distance of 185 feet, we travelled the rocky drive, i over old logs, boulders, pools of water and mullock.
The drive was worked without the usual heavy timbered because of the bluestone roof which on the Township leads - Ballarat - shuts out the sight of the wonders of the deep ground; passing through a trap door in a wall stretching across the gutter, we entered the huge chamber opened out to admit the horizontal pumping engine for the drainage of the working drive, and emptying of the tram waggons and filling of the buckets at the bottom of the hoisting shaft.
At this point, the gutter has reached a depth of 340 feet, the pumps are working in the large well, the working drive is supplied at the face with air driven by steam from the surface through a double current.
A feeling of oppression is felt as we go from the shaft, a tramway runs along the drive, the waggons are drawn to the shaft chamber by an engine. The tremendous work accomplished impresses at each step, rock is all around.
The space driven out is large, like looking into a huge underground quarry where the wash dirt has been removed extending away into outer darkness as it were another 186 feet; along the course of the gutter we come on a peg in the roof of traprock which indicates the boundary of the claim of the United Miners, and Round Tower claim.
The space driven out becomes narrower, the volume of water increases, the engine ceases to operate on the increasing stream of water. We come on a man sitting astride a box draw pump and guide drain, water pouring on him from above: he tells us unconcernedly his spell on the pump is six hours, once every eleven days. Some of the earlier shafts working in the gutter without access to reef drives had to lift the water three times by hand pumps to reach the shaft as the lead dropped away.
Two hundred feet from the boundary peg we find the shifts of miners at the face of the drive, water is pouring around in torrents. Everybody is drenched to the skin, the water proofs are abandoned. There are twelve or more in this rain of water, sea of mud, drift and wash dirt, boring and blasting heavy boulders and ridges of reef. We can see no more, so, after a cheering cup of welcome, quaffed with gusto, which had been telegraphed for by the miners message carrier, a slate enclosed in wood and leather envelope, sent up in a bucket, we returned to the surface the way we came, bearing with us portions of the charred wood of one of those remarkable trees which on this lead were found growing out of the gutter, with trunks twenty inches in diameter through the solid bluestone trap, having been overtaken by the sea of molten lava which in t he far back night of time filled up the rugged valley.
When they discovered one of these trees in January 1857 they took out the old gum, wattle or she-oak it is anyone's guess, the imps of mischief let in a flood of water.
On top once more standing and looking west are the chimney stacks of the Round Tower, Defiance, Nelson and Wellington and Working Miners claims, short strong stacks, half stone and half brick. The brick portions looking like red Slides of a telescope, pulled out from a dark coloured sheath.
The United Miners Shaft, mentioned above, is the same one the Governor, Sir Henry Barkly, went down in January 1858, to be greeted at the plat in a perfect blaze of light, its black rocky sides sprinkled with candles.
The letters "V R" and "Welcome" shining in stearine (type of candle) on the grim basaltic roof of the entrance drive, to throw a ray of light on the candles, they were fairly expensive; bought by the ton weight, imported from Russia and France, in chests containing nine boxes of twenty-four one pound packages called Brandon Nevas at ten pence per pound.
Some independent or adventurous miners went prospecting through the ranges where they hoped they would not be disturbed by troopers, but wherever gold was wrought the troopers sought them out.
On one licence hunting excursion through the bush the troopers came on several parties of diggers in a narrow shallow valley. They must have been in a good frame of mind because one trooper named Benjamin Keirl, observing the number of magpies flying about idly remarked that this gully should be called Magpie, and the name stuck to the district.
The miners' track coming from Buninyong to Ballarat at this time was a series of tracks on the Western side of the White Horse Range, swinging wide on soft going and converging as one track on hard ground.
On a well drained gentle slope of the track some 500 yards west of Magpie Gully, its name now firmly established, a bustling village sprang up on each side of the track consisting mainly of business houses, hotels, grog shanties, skittle alleys, play houses and tents. It was as lively as Main Street, Ballarat and extending over a distance of a half mile when the Frenchman s and Chinaman's Leads opened up.
The man who suggested locating on the track in this position was a wily thinker. It not only caught the busy traffic, but also they had first pick of the freelance store drays on the way to the Ballarat diggings. To clinch the position there was an extensive patch of wild cranberries between the gully and Village. The goldfields children of that time have handed down and boasted of the cranberry tarts thei r mothers made. Today a remnant of the patch remains but, when the natural trees were replaced with pines, the fruit would not develop.
At the end of 1854, when the smoke of the Eureka Stockade battle had blown away, came a man from Bakery Hill who built a hotel at the end of the street close to a small creek flowing from the east to spill into the Yarrowee River. He was a friend of Carboni Raffaello named Carl Wiesenhavern, a genial German who had kept the Prince Albert Hotel at Ballarat East. Carbon called Carl his good Samaritan and now Carl kept the fla flying by calling his new hotel "The Southern Cross".
Carboni said he followed the mob to Magpie Gully an described the place as "the Magpie of Ballarat". He said n search for a gold licence ever took place there.
As the Frenchman's and Chinaman's Leads rapidly go underway the village became a thriving centre, looking to the needs of about 4,000 people on the various gold leads.
A lead called the Lord Raglan was found under the south end of the village, then again to the south, The Cobblers, Long Gully, Paddy's, Crawfish, and the Prospect Leads opened up.
Magpie Gully then extended from The White Horse Lead in the north to The Star and Garter Hotel in the south, about two bush miles in all. It must have been 'some' place indeed to attract the famous French tight-rope acrobat Charles Blondin.
Mr Abrams witnessed and passed this knowledge onto Magpie historian J R Aubrey. He spoke of Blondin performing on a tight-rope stretched across the village street from the Lord Raglan Hotel to another hotel. This event was watched by a multitude from the various gold leads, and in the narrow street they crowded close together - eyes all turned skywards to witness such a feat. These hotels were two stories high.
At the close of 1854, water for drinking, cooking and washing became a problem. Fifty yards west of the village, near the ancient aboriginal camp ground, a good hole lay in the shade of lightwood and blackwood trees, but taking the pitcher to the well too often the level fell quickly and this water then had to be boiled to stave off dysentery.
Fifty years ago one could still pick up flint chippings. The camp site is on the shore line of a small ancient lake, now dry. A few gum trees remain but, when the lightwood and blackwood wattles were cut out a heavy growth of grass covered all. The whole of this area is now settling ponds for the sewerage works.
The church life of the locality is a bit sketchy.
At the north near the Southern Cross and Golden Age Hotels was a flimsy building known as the Welsh Chapel. At the south, as early as 1854, a piece of ground had been set aside for a Wesleyan Church. West from here a broad band of sandstone, some ten feet higher than the river, was variously known as Pulpit or Cradle Rock where the good news was preached in fine weather until a slab walled building was erected.
In this rock are three clefts, cradle-like in size, and it has been told how each of these had sheltered a sleeping child during each service.
Half a mile to the south the primitive Methodists in 1856 worshipped in a house belonging to Thomas Aubrey at Winters Flat. For many years a plaque setting forth this fact hung on the wall. A remnant only remains of the house.
In 1851 Dunlop and Regan, as they crossed Winters Flat on the way to Ballarat mentioned the dog barking at the house over the hill. It is believed that this was the same house, near the Lady Mary Mine. George Lansell's Long Tunnel Mine was a stones throw from the house.
The women in the flat-bottomed valley north of the village, but, in a sense part of it, were the unsung heroines, suffering many and varied privations.
They were the water carriers, drawing the first buckets o water in the morning before the miners stirred up the clay in the shafts, as well as keeping the camp fires burning. In the hot summer, when the ground baked as hard as a brick, in this valley would be dogged by the ever present flies, which spread sickness abroad. The "grim reaper" passed this way during the hot summer months claiming an infant here and there from resultant diseases.
On most goldfields where there is a cemetery can be found written in stone the same story - Mary Ann, one week; Jane three weeks; Andrew, one month; John, two months.
Through all tribulations, at most times the lot of the people was a favoured one. Gold was plentiful, lawlessness was unknown.
There were a few petty thieves, but the yarns of lawless people on the goldfields themselves is over done, though a bit of spice made a good yarn!
By the middle of 1855, this village had moved west onto the Sebastopol plateau.
The old track up the plateau is still visible today.
These people belonged to the original Magpie Gully (known as old Magpie Gully), White Horse and Frenchman's, not to confused with the Magpie township that grew up south of the church.
My great grandfather, William James, came off the flat in 1857. By 1858 he had built a bakery known as the Monmouth in the infant Cobblers township. He was a foundation member of the Carmel Welsh (Calvanistic Methodist) Church.
As these people, who came from most of the best educated families of the old world, looked back from the plateau with their inner most thoughts, there is nothing more heart rendering than to gaze on a deserted village where they had first suffered the joys and sorrows in a strange new land, especially those who had lost a loved one in this place. Now they and their children, have all walked forward into the sunset.
Today the old village is choked with furze from end to end and across its whole width the flat valley is the sewerage settling ponds.
The original Magpie Gully is now planted with pines.
The sandstone foundation of the bakery is still visible at the head of the gully near what is known as Job Gullocks, but nothing remains of the old village and campground.
"They both slumber and sleep".
The first two claims to the west of the river were The Royal Standard and the Moonlight. The gold was patchy, but solid. The lead dipped fast to the west.
In 1858, a shaft near the brow of the plateau yielded heavy gold. The lead still dropped away.
A new claim, the St George ran out of funds, and in September 1863 it was sold to another St George Company. This company and several other companies, The Hercules, Potomac, Victory, Trafalgar, Rodney, Gladiator, Dauntless, Defender, Unicorn Neptune, British Queen and J P Fawkner amalgamated to form the St George United Company. They sank through four layers of bluestone to a bottom at 380 feet
The bottom ten feet of the second rock was very porous. Some frogs were found in it. The shaft was sunk by contract nine feet by 3'6" with three compartments. The timber in the shaft being 4" thick x 8" wide.
The terms of contract were the company to supply steam power, engine drivers, bracemen, timber, firewood, air pipes; the contractors to find blasting powder, fuse, tools, and have to fix the pumps. Payment for sinking in the shaft per foot was: Clay £1.10.0; soft rock £3.15.0, hard rock £9.10.0- drift sand £8.10.0; reef £7.0.0; puddling up shaft £7.10.0.
They worked west and struck the workings of the Albion Company The gutter at this point was 500 feet wide. They also Worked a large quantity of drift sand between the third and fourth layers of bluestone.
In 1866, one thousand trucks of wash dirt were raised each day There were twin plats in this shaft opposite each other, each 40 ft long making it easy to load the double decker cages f ram each side. But one plat was sited level with the top deck of the cage. As this cage was being loaded its mate in the next compartment of the shaft was being emptied on the surface.
In 1868 the St George United Company united with the Extended Band of Hope to form the St George and Band of Hope United.
In 1869, the claims of The Guiding Star and Red Jacket were taken up. From September 1863 to 1872 they employed 380 men for a yield of gold worth £346,811.
In 1864 Miss Charlotte Rodier christened the engine "The Dragon". Thomas Gray was the first manager.
The next shaft west, the Albion Company No.1 won gold to the value of £621,180 and was surpassed only by the Prince of Wales Company.
On February 1, 1863, they opened up an abandoned shaft. The manager reported that he found it in a bad working state. He did not name the claim, but did say there was " not a drive fit to use". The western level had to be relaid and to cap it all, the bottom was so soft a man sank up to his knees.
"We had to place a foundation of firewood from end to end, and on the main line east, it was so crooked we had to cut three different courses to make it straight, to drive to the St George claim for air, with the bluestone resting on the reef".
This shows the effort some companies went to, to obtain the precious air, as well as the gold. Then in July 1863 a miner lost his life on their southern boundary in an underground battle with the United Miners Co.
The Albion No. 5 due west of No. 1. On July 10, 1863, the Mining Court granted the company the right to mine under the water reserve, the highest point of land in Sebastopol.
This mine was flooded out in 1875. Rakes of trucks laden with golden wash dirt are still there. It was during 1875 that all alluvial mines were washed out and abandoned.
The Bulls Run Lead between the Woolshed and Terrible Leads started on the flat east of the river.
It ran west into ground held by the St George Company. There were only four claims - three not named and the Alexander Company.
The shaft was sunk in October 1862 through 50 feet of loose boulders, 50 feet of bluestone,45 feet drift sand and worked by a horse whim.
This is all that has been gleaned.
It is probably the run that let all the water into the first shaft of the South Star Company.
The Terrible Lead. Fifteen claims were registered on the plateau in July 1856, but records remain silent as to names and gold yield.
The lead was opened in August 1855 on the slope of the range between the Golden Gate Mine and Barnetts Lease. It was joined by Whites Lead and functioned with the White Horse under the plateau.
It is known the walls of this lead were high and fast dripping on both sides. The drift sand was bad to sink in while the ground was poor standing and had to be close timbered all the way.
The White Horse Lead. Discovered in 1854, between the later quartz mines, Dalzell-Buchanan and Lady Jane.
A point of interest is these two men, Dalzell and Buchanan, strayed on to Barnetts Lease.
He kindly showed them a likely spot to sink outside his lease. They hit the jackpot first time. They lost the lead for two years, but it was picked up again in 1856,to be joined by the Nuggetty and Little White Horse.
West of the river, the lead cut through a small seam of lignite. On May 13, 1856, 82 claims were pegged out and registered as frontage claims.
No. 1 claim The Lignite Co, two, three, four, five, six and seven united and worked from No. 6 claim. Eight to ten were known as Swipers Mob. They found coarse gold in the drift between the first and second layers of bluestone. They reckoned it was not good enough for them to work. This shaft bottomed at 210 feet.
Eleven to 13 had no names; 14 to 16 The Royal Charter; 17 to 19 Victoria; 20 to 22 White Star; 23 to 24 Flying Dutchman; 25 to 26 Champion of the Seas; 27 to 29 Oppossum; 30 to 32 Heart and Anchor; 33 to 39 Leviathan; 40 to 44 Eldorado; 45 to 48 Pilot; 49 to 53 Tam O'Shanter; 54 to 58 Golden Horn; 59 to 64 Red Jacket; 65 to 82 United, this one was abandoned for the simple reason there was no more lead left. Some had been swallowed up by the Frenchmans Lead.
The Red Jacket shaft went down in May 1856 to a depth of 400 feet and was worked by hand windlass, till the mine was proved. Its drying room or miners change house was a shed built on the brace and heated with a wood stove. They also worked part of the Wellington Lead as well as two small gutters known as the Red and White, bythe colourof the wash dirt they Contained. One hundred and twelve men, 20 boys and seven horses worked below. This company took out gold worth £64,772.
The mine for a short time was worked by a party of tributers. It has been told how these men were sometimes chased up the shaft by bursts of water 40 to 50 feet, from abandoned ground which had burst through collapsed drives. They said it was the roaring of the released water and air that always gave them warning.
The Golden State Company, the Forty Thieves and the Last of the Mohicans Company lay near the junction of the Terrible Lead with this one. When the Golden Horn Company was swamped out on July 31,1857, they used canvas buckets of 90 gallons capacity, but were only good for 24 hours of continual bailing.
Talking of buckets, on this lead they were also using Glasgow Iron Buckets, claimed to hold twice as much ask American buckets which were slow bailing. Judging by the: names on this lead, it is hard to say whether they were groups of seafaring men or the names of ships they arrived on.
The Frenchman's Lead was next door to the White Horse Lead opened in June 1854 (near the site of the British Queen Quartz Mine on the indicator). Heavy gold was shed into the gutter, running through shallow ground, so giving the diggers very rich yields for little work. Up to 3 lb weight per tub from crab holes was yielded on this section.
This lead was enriched by the Chinamans and Old Magpie Leads in this section.
Some of the shrewd heads had noticed the gold in the sand drifts of these leads and about a year later, when the pumps on the big mines had lowered the volume of water, they sneaked back to work the old ground without fear of encroachment by other diggers. To combat the dangerous fire damp which had built up, a small fire was kept burning at the foot of the shafts, to burn up the gas.
Along these lines of shafts, as not to be left out, women and boys cradled the tailings and fire places where the diggers' huts and shanties had been for good results.
It was the digger's habit each night to dry the day's return at his fire. The fine and small specks of gold were too tedious a job to extract and were cast into the ashes.
From the source of these three leads to the river there would be at least 500 shafts. No trace of any records of the names or gold yields has as yet come to light.
As the gutter ran west under the Plateau to the deep ground, it was then proclaimed a frontage lead.
In March 1856,122 claims were pegged out. No.1 claim with 160 feet of first rock was the Newcastle; two, three, four and five, no name; No. 6 Black Flag; seven, eight, nine, Yankee Company, worked by hand windlass to 275 feet.
At one time, twelve men, working day and night for twelve weeks could barely keep the water down, using 32 gallon buckets.
Claims ten to twelve, The Twelve Apostles; 13 to 14, no name; 15 to 19 Co-operation; 20 to 22 Alma; 23 to 27 Enterprise; 28to31 Hand in Hand; 32 to35 Equitable (the third rock found in this shaft).
The first steam engine on the lead was erected at this latter shaft by James Cuthbertson from Newcastle on Tyne, England). His father assisted Robert Stephenson to build "The Rocket" in 1829.
Claims 36 to 47 no name; 48 to 51 Redan; the fourth rock found in this shaft; 52 to 55 Kangaroo; 56 to 62 United Miners; 63 to 66 Round Tower; 67 to 70 Cumberland, Durham and Cornish. This company worked from the abandoned United Miners Shaft, and had a joint control with the Round Tower, and bought the Kangaroo Shaft. It cost this company £27,000 for a return of £24,300.
The Defiance Company with 125 men and 22 boys bought their ground from the Cumberland Company for £1,000 and had no number; also the Queen and Co and Penzance Co under manager Henry Lewis.
The shaft was 5' x 3', bottomed at 355 feet; 580 feet south of the shaft, the fourth layer of bluestone lay on the wash dirt, and to get it out, they sank a blind shaft 7' x 3', 50 feet deep. A huge chamber was cut, and the shaft was worked by a horse whim. The first time underground.
During the month another horse was purchased, lowered down the shaft, and introduced to an underground life.
In June 1862, twin reef drives were cut 2,500 feet long under the gutter. In January 1865, the sludge from the puddlers was reclaimed and put through a gold saving huddle. They had a run of flower gold, proved over a length of 500 feet by 300 feet.
This was proved again in the 1930's, when a trail of this flower gold was worked in the sludge dump. This claim yielded 31,222 ozs of gold.
This mine like all of the deep alluvial mines had a furnace for roasting the black sand which accummulated in the bottom of the puddling machines. This sand contained a fair amount of fine gold. In February 1866, they got 42 ozs, which would have been thrown out with the tailings.
Claims 71 to 75 Leviathan; 76 to 79 Bullock Horn, this company was named from the practice of blowing a horn at the change of shifts. 80 to 82 Nelson Company. These three companies began sinking in May 1856, but the volume of water in the trap rock was too much for the pumps. In March 1858, they united under the style of Nelson Company. They sank the shaft commenced by the original Nelson to 240 feet, but the water swamped them. This shaft was abandoned in 1859.
They then worked the shaft of the Leviathan Company after the back-breaking work, they bottomed on July 16,1861, rich in the gutter in rich wash dirt at a depth of 415 feet. In May 186 they found the Wellington Lead, twenty feet lower than the Frenchmans. Now they called themselves Nelson and Wellington.
In August 1863. prior to installing new bottoms to the puddling machines (these bottoms weighed two-and-a-half tons), the gold yield had been falling off. But then they had pleasant surprise. From under the first machine they found 36 ozs, 13 dwt, 19 grains, and under No. 2 283 ozs,13 dwt, worth £2,500. In December 1864, as was the liberal custom of the directors, they gave the wages men a holiday on Boxing Day!
The depth of the lead then was 284 feet, width 300 feet. They cleaned up 61,000 ozs. David Owen was killed in the shaft by a slab falling 300 feet from the surface.
Claims 84 to 98 united under the style of Working Miners Company. Depth to gutterwas 390 feet with aworkforce of 220 men. The No. 2 shaft was used as an air shaft 475 feet deep.
There were six shafts flooded out here. They were first taken over by the Union Company, then by the United Working Miners Company. It was twelve years before a dividend was paid. They worked a run of wash between the third and fours layers of basaltic rock for a time.
99 to 114 Evening Star Company. In 1866 their engine and boiler houses were burnt down but luckily missed the shaft 115 to 122 United Albion Company.
In January 1857, they bored for the deep ground, 23 bore were put down for a total depth of 5,000 feet. It was very expensive because of the quantity and hardness of the bluestone. This Company was the first in Victoria to bore to the deep alluvial. John Tynan of Ballarat was the first in the colony to make these boring rods. There was a great demand for them throughout Australia for shallow boring, as they were cheaper than the diamond drill.
The shaft went down on June 4,1858, through bluestone,l the rate of ten feet a week - 20 inches a day and using black gun powder at 7d per pound and fuses at 10 pence. Depth of sheaft was 475 feet, and was 9 feet 4 inches by 4 feet. It was timbered by planks8 inches wide by 5Ω inches thick, and they were such first class they could have been used as sleepers on a railway.
The gutter was 400 feet wide and gold showing two feet up in the wash dirt. A flat rope, 3Ω inches wide, 575 feet long weighing one ton and cost £80 was used for hauling. The "signs of the times" show up here. A contract was let for £1 000 and entailed cutting a plat, using 16" x 16" timber and a reef drive 500 feet long.
The shallow ground had been worked out, labour being cheap. They reaped gold to the value of £254,000.
The gutter turned south to be swallowed by the Cobblers Lead. Over the entire length of this famous Frenchmans Lead on the plateau, nearly as much money was put in to work the mines as the value of gold obtained. There is no doubt it would have been to advantage with less shafts to work. But to them it was less shafts going down to help with the water problem -one-and-a-half million gallons a day, with inadequate machinery at most times.
These miners were a legend in their own lifetime. No other lead had surpassed this one for feats of endurance and sheer courage.
There were at the least 50 shafts on the lead and the fringe averaging 300 feet through four layers of bluestone, although only two layers on the edge of the plateau. This is 15,000 feet of solid rock, taking five and six years to bottom.
Hand boring holes and blasting through this rock took time and patience. After the hole was bored a piece of sail cloth or a water proof coat was held over it to keep out the water spraying from the rock higher up the shaft. The hole was then dredged out with a piece of rag or bag to make it as dry as possible. Loose gun powder was poured in and tamped with dry earth and clay to make it water tight. When fired, the blast left a fairly good fracture in the rock which was worked on with spelling hammers and bars, although some shots produced only a hat full or more.
The trials and tribulations these men faced have been handed down and still remembered by many Sebastopol families. Looking back on those days, miners spoke of them with a sense of pride, "I worked in the rock shafts".
These miners were all good rock sinkers worth £2.10.0 per week working eight hour shifts. Sebastopol would have remained a sheep station or run for many years if this lead had been quickly worked out. Why, there would not have been a Place called Sebastopol, for it was on this same lead the miners named it Sebastopol Hill in 1855.
The Lord Raglan Lead. This was found in 1855, near the Magpie Gully Methodist Church.
It was not reckoned a good lead. A bit better than a mile in length. Records are silent here. One shaft, the Flat Catchers Company, reported in March 1858 battling with a gutter choked with bluestone, with boulders up to seven feet high and wide. They had to be hand drilled and blasted out.
The Cobblers Lead. This lead had a lively and self-contained township called Cobblers - home to many Welsh folk, now the southern part of Sebastopol.
The lead came off the range in 1854, through Magpie Gully. was poor at the river. The Consols Quartz lode passed deep under the gutter. Within half-a-mile it cut the Guiding Star an Albion lodes, so enriching the gutter. The first shafts west of the river were the Red Funnel, Engine Company and Try Again Camp. In this claim at a depth of 285 feet was found, on the edge of the gutter, trees with trunks two feet in diameter, encased in bluestone and in a good state of preservation.
Next in line were the Cambrian, Blue Jacket, Long Funnel, and the Sebastopol shaft. Next was found a famous Company, The Prince of Wales, working three shafts and employing 400 men and 33 boys, the backbone of Cobblers Township. It was registered in February 1857, taking four years to bottom. The shaft was 387 feet, through 258 feet of solid bluestone; four layers of it, with a fifth layer in the deep ground west of No.1 shaft. The shaft was 7' x 4' with two compartments.
The first hauling rope was a 6" flat Manilla, followed by W S Round's handmade flat chain. The cages carried two trucks, one above the other, then adjusted to take four, landing two each side of the shaft. The cage was raised 30 feet up the shaft by one stroke of the engine, from the bottom to landing brace in 30 seconds.
1,500 trucks were landed every 24 hours. In 1867, 134,000 trucks were handled every three months. The trucks were 2'7" in length, 1'9" wide, 1'10" deep, holding 8.2 cubic feet, or approximately As of a yard. They were made by W S Round for £5.0.0 each. By 1865 they had so many trucks in the mine it was costing £7.0.0 per week just for oil for the wheels.
The horse power of the engines varied to suit different operations, for winding, pumping and crushing batteries, ranging from 12 to 90 horse-power. One battery was a 16 head with square stampers, and one standard 40 head. The wearing parts of this battery- wipers, shanks, discs, stamp heads and shoes - were made by Vivian and Company of Castlemaine.
Four boys fed the battery by hand. The boilers at No.1 shaft were 35 feet long by 7 feet diameter, with the other 26' x 6'. During this early period, they were working quartz and alluvial. One clean up in June 1863, resulted in: gold yield quartz 747 ozs. 16 dwt, 12 grains; alluvial 748 ozs, 8 dwt, 6 grains.
In April, 1864, from 1,541 tons of quartz the gold yield was 7 dwt, 17 grs, per ton. The first quartz was crushed at the Standard Company s battery at Hiscock's, where gold was first discovered in the Ballarat district. When they erected their own battery, no one had experience in battery foundations.
Eleven layers of logs 14" square and 17 feet long were put down, giving an elevation of twelve-and-a-half feet from the surface. On this platform was the 16 head battery. In 1863 when this lode was opened, they worked up from a reef drive, 20 feet, and broke into the alluvial workings. They then worked along the cap of the lode 200 feet in workings 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep. A future floodgate opened, which hampered operations when the alluvial ground became water-logged. In March 1863, tenders were called to drive the pumping engine in twelve hour shifts, seven days a week. The two lowest tendered were £6.15.0 equal to three men's wages of £2.5.0, so three shareholders elected to drive it themselves. In 1862, a share sold for £1,290.
While the ground was still hard and dry, a contract let for digging a dam 150 feet by 175 feet by 3 feet deep cost £45. In May 1864, while putting in reef drives from No. 1 and No. 2 shafts to work the Buninyong lode, they were surprised to break out of the reef into a valley filled with wash dirt. Here they had a run of nuggets from one to eleven ounces. This they called the Britannia Lead.
Another lead they broke into they called The Prince, and what a shock it was - only 40 feet north of the shaft. The managers, reports were no different than any other company on Sebastopol. All mines in the deep ground spoke of mysterious gutters running alongside the ones they were Working, separated by a wide bar of sandstone. They were spoken of with a sense of awe and wonder.
The No. 3, 1866 shaft was 410 feet deep. Its plat was 45 feet long, 12 feet wide and nine feet high, built with logs two feet in diameter. The wash dirt went through four iron puddling machines' end two sludge machines.
The paddlers were grouped together, each 16' 6" in diameter by 2'6" deep, holding 102 trucks to within six inches Of the top. They were placed 40 feet above the surface. The trucks of washdirt were run straight from the brace onto a tramway over the machines. A self-tipping 'gadget' was attached to the rails. Above the machines were ten 400 gallon water tanks. Below the machines were the sluice heads, where, through trap doors in the bottoms of the machines, the wash was discharged. The sludge ran from the puddlers into machines 14 feet diameter, two feet deep. The gravel and boulders were to forked into trucks from the tailings race, then on to the dump.
The company built a dam with a bank 700 feet long, 15 feet high with a road 12 feet wide, the water being reticulated to the three shafts. This is when they put in their own fire fighting service. This dam now St Josephs Home lake.
When the workings were abandoned in the face of rising waters, they were getting gold off a high reef. A match box of this gold was heavier than a box-and-a-half from the gutter. It was heavy shotty gold known by the miners as peas and beans.
The mine had produced gold worth £700,200 at a time when the main shaft was only 700 feet deep on the quartz lodes Management of the mine at this time consisted of Manager FW Thatham; Chairman of Directors Alexander Dempster; Treasurer, Thomas Lewis; Engineer, Peter Matthews;. Underground Manager, Richard Uren; Battery Manager, James Boughtman.
The mine was originally started by a band of Welshmen, but many were forced to give up before the rewards came round. This was the mine where the first 'stink pots' were used.
The United Albion Company encroached into their ground and underground warfare broke out. The fumes given off by the infamous 'stink pots' were deadly in the confined space underground. The miner who poured the nitric acid on the pieces of scrap copper must have had a warped sense of humour!
At the No. 3 shaft fresh drinking water was piped down the shaft to the plat where a boy kept the miners billies filled.
The Main Lead. As the Frenchmans - Cobblers system of leads trend south from Cobblers township, the gutter was now known as The Main Lead, fed and enriched by gutters from a spur of the White Horse Range at Magpie Gully, the Long Gully, Paddy's, Crawfish, and Prospect. Where the Long Gully joins can be found the Prince of Wales and Bonshaw on Bonshaw Creek, the ground, 640 acres, being bought from John Winter for £20,000 in 1857.
The company was reaping two golden harvests here - gold from below, and above the rental from four farms. They only needed the hole from which the gold came out.
The company won gold worth £380,000. They built a beautiful dressed bluestone foundation for £1,000 to take a 90 horse-power pumping engine, and a chimney stack 98 feet tall, but dwarfed by the poppet head.
A thousand yards south east at Cambrian Hill, on the Colac Road were two mines, the Bonshaw Freehold No. 1 and Alston and Weardale, working the prospect lead. The former claim was working 50 feet from the Alston ground, and was suddenly swamped by an inrush of water. The last cage to leave the plat held two men, one tall, the other short. The water rose fast and the tall one held the short one up to keep his head above water. For three days the horses would not go up the north drive, only when forcefully persuaded. It was as if they new disaster was at hand. Finally the 50 feet of ground between the claims could not hold the pressure of the water from the flooded Bonshaw, and it burst through drowning the horses that had given the miners warning, but not heeded.
This shaft was only 100 yards from John Winter's home.
In one section of this mine, the cap of a quartz reef struck up from the bedrock about two feet. As told by a twelve year old lad, Thomas Watson, one day a miner idly tapping his pick on the reef, broke off a lump. He was amazed to find the whole cap studded with gold. This incident led to the forming of the Ballarat South Mining Company. They applied for a lease on January 15, 1948.
After cutting down the old Leviathan shaft, they opened out shallow, to the west. The main gutter was 100 feet below their workings.
A mile down, the Colac Road on the left side was the Great Gulf Shaft. This company amalgamated with the Non-Such company. There were three layers of bluestone there. After a mere 203 feet, carbonic acid gas was struck in the second rock. They tried burning, but it was no good. The miners then hit on a plan. A jet of steam was used to break up the gas giving them time to puddle it back.
When the shaft caught fire from the underground furnace, four lives were lost. Also the puddling clay-behind the timber cracked and fell out resulting in the shaft being flooded. The cost of sinking this shaft was £14 per foot through basaltic rock and £17.12.0 per foot through drift sand.
A shaft 12' x 4' was then sunk 2,000 feet south west on the Colac Road at Black Lead, to work the Black Lead. They employed 279 men at the time.
In 1864, they were getting heavy nuggety gold up to 20 ozs slugs, but no reports of the quartz reefs which shed the treasure.
The same year a miner was reprimanded for not using the Davy Lamp, which was used for testing foul air in the mine.
Further south, overlooking the Ross Creek was the Leviathan No.2. Running west is the old track of Captain Ross who settled Ross Creek. He was still at the head of the creek in 1844. Three hundred yards south east at the junction of Ross and Dog Trap Creeks is where the Learmonth brothers first settled i n 1838. The Leviathan No.1 is at Napoleons, where the main gutter swings south east to Scotchmans Lead. This mine employed 109 men, six boys and six horses below.
At Napoleons, was the Sunbeam, Golden Era, Fortuna, Gympie, Sons of Freedom and the Waterloo. The latter was worked first as the Duke of Wellington, then the New Extended. Near the school house they were getting nuggety gold, while searching for the Jerusalem Lead, so-called by a party of Hebrews who had abandoned it five years before. At Scotchmans lead, the main gutter cuts through the indicator line of quartz lodes, running south from Ballarat. Here was al jumble of quartz and alluvial mines. The Homeward Bound, Lady Franklin; Monte Christo; Turntide; the Group of Freehold Mines; Bishops and the long line of mines on th quartz lode, the Desosa; Democrat; Dalcoath; Standard; Imperial No. 1 which worked for nigh on sixty years down to 400 feet. Later the New Imperial, (the site of the first discovery of gold in the district by Hiscock); North and South Imperial; British Empire and One and All Company.
Leaving Scotchmans, the gutter ran through Durham Lead, where the first stock route, the Pyrenees Road, came through from Geelong, later to be called the West Road.1 he leads were short but very rich. Here the main gutter was known as the Durham Lead. Here you find the shafts of the Old Forties; National; Great Britain; John Bull; Garabaldi; Try Again Company; Pioneer or Tunnel Company, where Miss Clara Maisey christened the engine, "Queen of the Leigh" on to Duke of Northumberland; Telegraph and Convention (all the wash dirt from this mine was sluiced and not puddled), Enfield, Duke of Cornwall; Leigh Consols; Wheal Fortune; Chryseis or golden Lady (a very wet shaft pumping 33,000 gallons per hour), Roseleigh; South Grenville Company; City of Manchester Company (the track into this mine on the west bank of the river Leigh was so rough and the ground so rotten that the huge boilers had to be cut into two and three pieces and put together again at the mine) and the Leigh Grand Junction near Shelford.
Where the gutter passes south it becomes lost in the ancient marine deposits which were made up of fast running sand drifts and water. All of the Leigh shafts took their names from the Leigh River on which they were closely sited.
In the autumn of 1857, a gold lead was fcund at the HardHills near the cemetery, running through Webb and Carriggs land into the Buninyong station, known as Learmonth's paddock (146 acres).
A company was formed called the "Buninyong Gold Mining Company" with 27 shareholders, three of them becoming sleeping shareholders, in consideration of having brought the negotiations with Thomas Learmonth to a satisfactory termination. And the results of their labour? 5% on the gross yield of gold for the first year, with 7Ω% for the second and third.
No. 1 shaft commenced in November 1857, finding gold in May 1858 on the Scotchmans Lead at a depth of 153 feet, close to the north west boundary. Before they could reach the boundary, two companies called the Road Company and Criterion, sneaked in under their ground. There not being any law as yet for mining on private property and not having the influence like the Bonshaw Freehold Company, they had to let it ride.
Five companies were on a line with the gutter at the south end of the paddock. The Sons of Rock, Enterprise, Young Australians, Monte Christo and West of England Company were tunnelling towards their ground, so they let a portion of ground to a mob of miners called The Excelsior Company.
After working out only 200 feet of the gutter and through the non-fulfillment by the new company of their contract with the Buninyong company, they were adjudged by a decision of arbitrators appointed to have forfeited their title and were compelled to abandon the ground. The underground drive conveniently fell in so protecting them from encroachment. In that 200 feet the Excelsior company won gold worth £9,500. The Buninyong company only received as their share £873.6.6, but probably smiled as they worked the rest of the lead - 6,000. feet of it - leaving No.2 shaft. No.3 shaft was put down nearthe Excelsior shaft. At this time, miners on the Union Jack, Sodawater, Stone Quarry, Gold Seekers and Devonshire Leads could see the leads trending into the paddock. Some of them tried to buy the paddock over the company's head, but the company quickly bought it for £20,000, thus winning the freehold.
At No. 3 shaft, the wash dirt was taken out over a distance of 900 feet by 150 feet wide, exposing the solid trap rock overhead. At this shaft two types of hauling gear were working along side each other: the W S Round's flat chain 7/16" thick, and an English flat wire rope 4" wide, 5/8" thick made by Morton and Company of Leeds, England. The pulley used for the flat wire was 7' 6" in diameter.
At No. 6 shaft, in June 1864, they cut a chamber 40 feet square, height ten feet, a thousand feet from the shaft, for a new stationery engine to haul trucks up an incline from the gutter. At the christening of the engine on June 8, 1864, 180 people jammed the chamber in 100 degree heat, 60 of them being ladies, who went down a dry shaft and rode on special trolleys made for the occasion. To save time, the men had to descend a wet one. The engine was christened "The Gold Finder" by Miss Cuthbert.
No. 7 shaft was the Old Union shaft on the Victoria Lead, cleaned out in September 1864 to act as an air supply shaft.
The poppet heads were erected NO. 9 shaft in March 1865. Also a built in water fall in the shaft to break up smoke from blasting operations. From 1858 to 1865 the company won: 52,699 ozs at £4 totally £210,796.
Road sweepers were very active during this period and for many years.
The early tracks around the mines had no bottom. Waggons and drays cut the tracks to ribbons. As soon as an alluvial mine opened up the wash dirt, great quantities of it was spread on the torn up tracks. Some of it carried good gold. On moonlight nights, the sweepers went into action. The moment the Council sought Police protection for their roads, it then became a dare for the young blades of the Borough.
Prince Street was the plum.
It was swept that often it became a shallow creek when it rained.
The Council of the 1920's was very tolerant. Many of them grew up with this problem, but when the depression of the early 1930's gripped the country, the street started to disappear, so the Council was then forced to build it up again with mullock, mainly hard slate.
Most mining companies set up their own rules and regulations on the deep alluvial mines as they saw fit.
Any claim owner under the influence of drink coming on the claim to work was fined £5. Any hired man committing himself in the same way, was precluded ever after f rom employment on the mine.
Any claimowner insulting another while on duty was fined £5. Every working claimowner, and every hired miner working below, had to be provided with two suits of clothes, the mining suit to be kept in the changing-house.
The mining clothes had to be put on before going to work in the mine, and be taken off and left at the drying house upon coming up from the shaft. Anyone refusing to conform to this law was not allowed to go to work, another miner being put on in his stead. A notice similar to the above was posted up on the change-house door of the Great Redan Extended Mine.
The object of the latter regulation was to prevent anyone secreting gold.
In July 1862, two claimowners from the Great Redan Extended mine refused to submit to be searched for what they considered an indignity. They were then prevented from working, so they then sought relief in the Court of Mines. The judge instanced the case of the liability of anyone, no matter whom, to be searched at the Custom House for the general benefit.
Claim-owners were bands of miners, who formed co-operative parties to work the deep ground. As many as ten to fifty men banded together depending on the area of ground held by miners rights, hence the flattering title claim-owner. From these men were elected a committee for the function and well being of a mine.
These lodes run north through Ballarat to Creswick and south to Mount Mercer, about 30 miles. Only about five miles have been worked.
These lodes were cut in the early alluvial mines in the 1860's, but only scratched where they outcropped into the wash dirt. They never had time to explore them fully. It was 'get the wash dirt out before we are washed out'. They reported cutting quartz formations carrying gold.
The Prince of Wales was the only alluvial show to have a good go at the quartz. It was not until the 1880's that the quartz mines blossomed, being the result of the Band and Albion Company cutting the rich Consols Lode, named in the 1860's "The Township Reef".
The lode systems under Sebastopol have laminated stone on their footwalls and cloud like stone on the hanging wall side of each make of stone. The sedimentary rocks are known as "lower Silurian". The word Silurian comes from the name of a rock in Wales, settled way back in times past by a tribe of people called Silures.
On the Consols Lode can be found the shafts of the Star of the East No. 1; South Star; Picton; Morgans; Gay-Star; Gays Band; Owens Freehold; Sebastopol Star and the Long Tunnel at Magpie Gully which was the most southerly shaft on the line, owned by George Lansell of Bendigo fame, but at 700 feet too shallow as the lode was pitching well underfoot. George Lansell was seen many times on his way to this mine, coming from the Ballarat Railway Station by horse drawn cab. On the , return journey he always walked the six miles to Ballarat to Catch the early morning train back home.
On the Guiding Star Lode was the Guiding Star, an early alluvial shaft on the Green Hill Lead. They took rich stone, 1600 ozs from 600 tons off the cap of the lode sticking up in the alluvial workings. The shafts on the line going south were the Star of the East No. 2; Central Plateau; Sebastopol Plateau; South Plateau; The Prince of Wales and Bonshaw. All the northern and central mines put their drives out west to cut the Albion or Bonshaw lode.
The Star of the East No. 1 started sinking in 1880 under manager Captain Hicks. They worked for two years driving and sinking, just making a go of it. Things were at a low ebb. Then, in 1882, they applied for a Government grant and received £400 to keep going.
On May 14, 1884, the mine closed down owing to the non-payment of calls.12,O00 new shares were struck at £1 a share, so they started bailing water again. In August 1886, they cut the Guiding Star Lode 1,800 feet west at the 660 feet level. The first crushing went just over an ounce to the ton.
In 1888, the Consols Lode was cut, working on "good shoots of gold" (this expression always referred to stone carrying good gold over a certain length of a lode as a shoot). From then, they never looked back.
The sill of the shaft was 1,380 feet above sea level - all levels at Sebastopol being taken at high-water mark at Hobsons Bay The strata sunk through ten feet of surface soil, 31 feet of basalt, nine feet of clay and only 50 feet to bedrock, thus missing the huge depth of basaltic rock the other mines had to contend with. Their No. 2 shaft was almost in a direct line - 1,650 feet west on the Guiding Star Line. Sinking began in September 1886. The sill of the shaft was 1,388 feet above sea level, sinking through 75 feet of first basaltic rock, 95 feet of second, 48 feet of third rock, and 51 feet of drift sand.
The Guiding Star Lode was cut with good shoots of gold being met on different levels. The lode was 70feet wide it being more like a bulge which occured frequently on this lode. The centres of a bulge were usually very rich, besides the foot wall gold. To open the stone more quickly, the old abandoned Guiding Star alluvial shaft was deepened to meet the drives coming north from the No. 2. They had quite a job finding this old shaft for in only a few years it had fallen in without trace. Yet the mullock heap was still there as a guide.
The quartz from the shaft was carried in side tipping trucks by a tramway, collecting trucks from No.2 shaft en route to No 1 half-a-mile away to the largest battery in the district. A staff of 40 men looked after 80 stamp heads under the one roof and 20 in another. There were six Cornish flue boilers supplying steam to the batteries. The winding engine had a twenty four inch double cylinder. They were able to crush great quantities of low grade stone at a profit. Many of the crushings however were far from low grade. A crushing of 2,966 tons from the 660 feet fever on the Guiding Star Lode yielded 4,672 ozs.
At No. 2 shaft, the volume of water from the alluvial was kept in check by a 70 horse-power Cornish beam engine, mounted in a three storey brick building about 40 feet tall, working at 50 lbs pressure from a Cornish boiler - the majority of boilers on these quartz mines were Cornish flue or Lancashire double flue with a sprinkling of galloway tube.
Water pumped from the 2,000 feet level came out of the shaft in a pretty hot state and was channeled into the Guiding Star dam where you could always find a number of boys enjoying the warm waters.
The water load in motion at each stroke would be near forty tons, plus the weight of the moving shaft rods bolted together by massive iron plates. The total weight is hard to calculate, however this would put a terrific strain on the beam or bob in the top floor of the pumping house. The saving grace would be that it was off set with a couple of balance bobs in chambers blasted out of the rock in the shaft.
Heat increased in the mine one degree fahr. to every 50 feet starting at 50 degrees.
No. 3 shaft, west on the Albion Lode became a holding shaft after being swamped out. To secure the ground from being jumped by other companies a notice was posted at the mouth of the shaft "reason heavy flow of water". An exemption from working was then obtained.
The No. 4 shaft was a real fluke. The ground on the flat near No.1 shaft had been let to a party to sink on the shallow alluvial and by chance struck the cap of a reef carrying good gold. Needless to say, the company claimed the reef, a spur, running up through the country from the Consols Lode. These spurs ran from the hanging wall and footwall of a lode to hundreds of feet in length. Most of them were rich in gold, especially when they joined to a lode.
No.1 and No.2 shafts closed down in 1910 es the water in the old abandoned alluvial mines over head was increasing in pressure, the former to a depth of 2,280 feet and No.2 at 2,260 feet.
This company was the pride of the quartz mines on Sebastopol. They crushed from 1886 to 1910, 508,539 tons of quartz for a yield of 256,758 ozs seventeen pennyweights of gold, worth £1,509,131 at £4 an ounce was re-covered.
Dividends paid totalled £284,400 - a good retu rn for an outlay of £21,000.
It cost the company £30,000 in royalties to owners of houses on land held by miners rights within the boundaries of their lease. The son of Captain Hicks, Thomas, was secretary of the mine for 23 years. Other managers were Robert Stephenson, Zill Dawe and Thomas Proctor.
An engine driver George Wilson had a record of 21 years service. In full production, the mine employed 400 men.
The South Star Company started to sink on September 29, 1886, to seek out the Consols and Guiding Star Lodes. At 238 feet they broke into the old St George Company alluvial workings well up on the high reef. This mine had been water logged for many years.
The water quickly rose 50 feet up the shaft. Every effort was made to lower the water without success, so a new shaft got under way in 1887.
In 1902, after the mines in the north and their own had drained the high reef, they had another go at bailing the first shaft and had the water under control when a burst of water from the deep alluvial swamped them again. Despite all the pumping, the water level could not be lowered one inch. The water pumped out was estimated to cover an area one square mile, 12 feet deep.
If the early alluvial managers had not been so cagey with their underground plans, this would not have happened.
John James of the famous Great Redan Extended was a manager, and the shaft quickly went down from level to level to a depth of 3,170 feet, or about 1,700 feet below sea level. The first level opened out at 720 feet, to keep 320 feet below the alluvial, which was a safe margin to work.
From the 2,000 to 3,000 feet levels, the miners suffered from the excessive heat as the cross cuts pushed out east and west, working on the three lodes. When the miners connected one level with another, from the lower level, the opening was called a 'rise' and when from the top to the lower, it was called a 'wince'.
180 men worked under ground in three shifts. Some of the stopes on the Guiding Star Lode were 30 feet wide.
The first stone was carted by drays to the Star of the East Battery, before they put in a battery of 60 heads of stampers.
The sand ran a quarter of a mile to the west bank of the Yarrowee River and treated by cyanide for the fine gold. At the least 100,000 tons of sand was discharged into the river.
The South Star Company had to give way to the rising waters, and ceased operations in 1908 after crushing 133,000 tons of quartz for approximately 65,000 ozs of gold worth ~68,950. The huge dump of mullock is now a part of the bank at the White Swan Reservoir. All that remains of the mine are the office buildings and part of the battery foundations Some of the managers were John James, David Hughes, George Fitches and William Emery. The house built by the company for its first Manager is still with us.
The Central Plateau company started sinking in 1887 on the Guiding Star Lode.
They sank through 216 feet of bluestone to a depth of 1,087 feet. All quartz was crushed at The Star of the East till the year 1901 when they put in a 20 head iron frame battery after cutting a good shoot of gold.
One crushing gave a return of 4,009 ozs from 4,391 tons.
Two men working in a rise cut a spur formation showing gold. They covered it up, hoping to work it later on tribute, but revealed it to the company during a lean period which helped to pay wages for some time.
A drain on the company was the paying of royalties to land owners within their lease. This money should have been used exploring underground.
Today surface damage per acre is the rule. In 1908, when the South Star ceased pumping, they had to call it a day due to the rising waters, although the lode lived below 2,000 feet. In September of the same year, they sank a No.2 shaft, roughly a mile west on the Albion Lode, the sill of the shaft being 1,385 feet above sea level. They built a solid bluestone foundation for a 20 head iron frame battery.
The shaft was only 900 feet deep when the mine closed down in 1918 after crushing 87,000 tons from the two shafts, for a yield of 34,789 ozs.
Some of the managers were M Rickard, H Bridson, N Williams, W Emery.
With the closing of this mine, the golden era lasting 63 years had ended. To many it was a time of thankfulness, that the cares, the worries and the broken health associated with the mining in those days had ceased.
The Sebastopol Plateau Company No.1 was established a good mile south of the Central. Their first shaft was swamped in the f i rst rock in 1886. The sill Of the second shaft was 1,335 feet above sea level, bedroc k being found at 92 feet. The best gold this company won was at the 288 feet level u nder the old Phoenix Alluvial M ine. This was a small spur from 18,000 tons. They were rewarded by 12,000 ozs. It was chased up till they broke into the old alluvial workings.
At this time, a 30 head battery was in operation. The mine worked to a depth of 1,100 feet.
The Albion Lode was 1,320 feet west of the shaft. It was not reckoned a good show, being abandoned in 1915 for a return of approximately £48,000.
Some of the managers were R Jeffrey, M Hopkins, R Dalzell-and J Carey.
This ground would be a good locality for any future mining to sink a safe main shaft, around 5,000 feet to have a go at the Albion and Consols Lodes.
The South Plateau Company was a º mile further south.
A ten head battery did most of its work, crushing wash dirt from the old Lord Raglan Lead with poor results. The South Star Company took over and called it the South Star Extended No. 2 and used it to sell shares.
The Prince of Wales and Bonshaw Company was the last on the Guiding Star Lode situated 200 yards north of the Portland Bay Road and 200 yards west of the Sebastopol, Buninyong, Road.
They erected a pumping and winding plant to operate to a depth of 3,000 feet. At a time when shares could be taken at; sixpence, a body of stone was cut 20 feet from wall to wall, carrying a good shoot of gold. Crushing proved it a rich reef. -. Shares quickly bounded away to pounds in value.
A forty head battery was quickly erected. Good shoots of gold were crushed on and off for a number of years. At one stage, they had a rise up under the old Prince of Wales alluvial workings, which were water-logged. This shoot was too good to let go, but they soon passed the safety margin, and the rush of water from the alluvial drove them out.
The mine ceased working in 1904, winning gold to>.4'' approximately £60,000 under the management of Andrew: Jenkin.
All the quartz mines expended much time and money searching for lodes, only to be suddenly cut off by breaks. These were small and large cross-courses or faults.
The Prince of Wales company drove 1,050 feet on a body of stone without a break in it, which was unique.
One night at the Plateau No. 1, a man on the brace wanted a' piece of quartz showing gold. The miners were to mark Oneida corner of a truck holding his specimen with an "X".
He had a busy night, as every truck arriving on the brace had an "X" on it.
In the same mine, a party of ladies were shown the underground workings. One lady became very alarmed when confronted by a door with a danger sign on it. Amid much giggling, she was informed it was the toilet.
In July 1858 The Danish Company on the White Horse Range worked on a quartz lode. Their first method of extracting gold was by way of calcining (burn to powder). The quartz was put on a bed of firewood logs two deep with side walls. In the centre crossed logs were built up forming a chimney ten or . more feet. On the bed and around the chimney the quartz was piled cone shaped to the chimney top. Fire was then dropped down the chimney, the walls slowly igniting during the process of combustion and reducing to powder. This was then treated in a machine on the White Flat, Ballarat for the extraction of gold.
A nerve racking experience probably confronted by most miners in the early quartz mines was that of having to climb up the ladders from a thousand feet or more straight up after a tiring shift below. Nothing was between them and the water far below in the well.
The climb was often due to an engine failure of a jammed cage in the shaft where a stick of timber had come away. In some districts they referred to this trial as walking up a shaft. It was tough going on the not so young miners, but they had a reserve stamina and the nerve to make a trip up.
After some years a safety measure was adopted. The ladders went down the walls of the shaft on an incline to a solid staging, where one walked around to the back of the leaning ladder lifting up a trap door shaped like a toilet seat and cover then on to the next section of ladder-way.
I have often been asked the following questions:
1) Why was the alluvial gold under the Sebastopol plateau, and where did it come from?
2) Why are the terms "Leads", and "Gullies", and "Runs" used?
3) Why does the plateau end so abruptly at the Yarrowee Creek?
I offer the following as my contribution to this debate.
When gold was first discovered in 1851, the area worked was on the eastern range of Ballarat, which was to be known as the White Horse Ranges.
During the formation of the earth's crust all this area was bedrock or sandstone without any topsoil whatsoever. This bedrock was interspersed with hundreds of quartz reefs. It would also appear the bedrock was much softer than it is today.
Over a period of millions of year through the action of torrential rain and wind, the bedrock was worn down, loosening the gold from the reefs and washing the residue down the slopes through canyons and gorges which had been cut into the bedrock. All these canyons and gorges, generally went in a westerly direction, each and every one gradually joining together, to form one canyon which turned and went south. It was later traced and mined as far south east as Bannockburn.
This canyon later became known as the famous Golden Point Lead or Gutter.
A good illustration of this scene is the Grand Canyon of Colorado USA. A million or so years ago the area of Ballarat West, Sebastopol and beyond would have looked exactly the same only on a miniature scale.
Leads and Gutters were names given to the canyons. When these were first discovered on the top of the White Horse Range, they were only a few feet deep. As they led the early miners along their course so they became Leads.
As the Leads became deeper they were referred to as: Gutters.
Runs were so named as a result of a run of gold being discovered in a shallow lead, and then following it along its entire length.
It has always been the theory from geologists and early mining experts, that the Plateau was very much higher than it is. today, but when the great volcanic action and lava flow took place, the lava ran up against this range. After many thousands of years this range has been worn away and remains as it is today.
In my opinion this is not so, because of the following reasons.
Firstly, the leads, as they went under the plateau, were already at a great depth. I quote the Frenchman's Lead as an example. Where this lead crossed the Yarrowee Creek it was at a depth of 130 feet which means it was there before the great lava flows.
Secondly, if this range had been worn and washed away then all the gold would have been along the course of the Yarrowee Creek, making it the richest gold producing creek in the world. This was not the case.
Thirdly, why did the lava flow end so abruptly? If a modern cement carrying truck were to empty its contents on a slightly sloping surface the cement would run a certain distance and stop, leaving a high wall of cement at its extremities. The flow of lava would do exactly the same, while each succeeding flow would stop at the same place.
If one could take hold of and lift off this huge area of lava or bluestone, I believe the scene as described in the answer to the first question would come to light.
It was built on a small hill, by a Mr Edwards in 1890.
The furnace fires were lit the same year and never went out until the year 1907 when a number of quartz mines were closing down.
The ores were dry crushed, then trucked into a furnace over a weigh bridge, where weig kits and samples of each truck were taken. This furnace was manually operated. Finally a Mr Edwards invented a mechanical gear-operated tilting furnace which was sought after by reduction plants in America, Canada, Africa and in Western Australia. On the Golden Mile Kalgoorlie, it was used for treating telluride ores and was self-feeding, continuously discharged onto the cooling floor and was further treated in a chlorinating room with chlorine gas under pressure.
The leaching was also done under pressure, ensuring a clean washing of the ore which was then precipitated on to charcoal, gold and all.
The plant ceased work in 1920. Between the years of 1907 - 20, small parcels of arsenical ores were treated, helped by the manufacture of sheep dip and the crushing of gypsum for the plaster trade.
When the plant first opened, the fumes from the chimney Stack poisoned a swathe of trees in the forest almost as far away as Buninyong.
The ravages of contact with arsenical fumes can still be seen today The old iron flues in the hillside being eaten away; the concrete work crumbling to powder. The large red dump is the remains of the roasted ore.
The native flora was preserved in all its beauty until the advent of these works, then all life was destroyed by the foul poisonous fumes.
Some wattle trees are still striving against the poison impregnated soil, as they slowly return to the hill.
The Press of the day gave it a further nudge early in 1864 -Ö"Sebastopol Hill Mining Enterprise has done for this locality something like what has been done at other centres of prolonged mining operations.
"The goldfields towns are, as the phrase implies, products of gold seeking needs and energy, and the deep leads at Sebastopol have become long since the nucleus of habitations numerous enough to merit the name of a village, and far more numerous than are to be found in many a 'township' that has name on Government maps.
"It has a look of quiet comfort or promise of permanent prosperity. When the Magpie Gully rush was on the wane, in 1855, Sebastopol was waxing in importance, and canvas tents had become very populous, jolly and even rollicking.
"There is no alignment of buildings worth the name of streets, only on the main road from Ballarat to the Durham Lead, then via Meredith on the Geelong Road, where the night mail coaches go through are the hotels, the shops, the chapels and the Police Station, while dwelling of all sorts are scattered about the hill.
"A break exists between the Frenchman's and Cobblers Lead. Only the Welsh Chapel, like a neutral territory, being a place of resort for the people on either side. The road to the Prince of Wales claim (now Queen Street) is close to the Cobblers portion of what we may call Cobblers Township.
"Here is found literature, reading rooms, temperance commerce and comfort in boarding houses, reading rooms, hotels and shanties. The Frenchmans side is much the larger portion and the more pretentious: here the Dutch Harry Hotel survives, where the Shire Council held several meetings. The (New) Exchange Hotel has a more modern frontpiece. The Wesleyian Primitive Church is a plain brick building with windows on one side only. The Welsh Chapel is of wood. The Police Station is between both chapels.
"The centre of the village is in the vicinity of the Mechanics Institute that is, and the Municipality that may be (and perhaps) ought to be, but alas, the parklike appearance of the place is fast disappearing ..."
The next shot fired was a one-man effort by Constable Darling, Inspector of Slaughter Houses.
He stuck his neck out by writing to the Chief Secretary, saying he was in favour of Sebastopol becoming a Borough. He was reprimanded, and nearly deprived of his office.
On Friday, August 5,1864 a deputation led by Dr Kenworthy and a Mr Foster, waited on the Honourable James McCulloch, Her Majesty's Chief Secretary for Victoria, staking their claim for Sebastopol Hill and Cobblers Township, that it might be raised into a Borough under the Local Government Act of 1863.
A map, showing the intended boundaries was produced. A certain area of district in the County of Grenville, bounded by a line commencing at the north east angle of the pre-emptive section of John Winter, thence north along the west side of the River Yarrowee 182 chains, more or less, to the south east angle of the Municipality of Ballarat West; thence west 92 chains, more or less, to the east boundary of the Parish of Cardigan; thence south 182 chains, more or less, to the northern section of Winters pre-emptive section; thence 39 degrees 38' east 90 chains, more or less, to the starting point, containing about 1,792 acres.
The deputation were introduced by Messrs O'Conner and Pope, MLA's.
In reply Mr McCulloch said he would be happy to give instructions for the necessary advertisement in the Government Gazette.
Doctor Kenworthy was an American Surgeon. Raffaello Carboni, writing of the Eureka Stockade in 1855, said that he and other miners thought the Dr was a spy for the Police camp.
Carboni was a mite peeved with the doctor for failing to be in the Stockade on the fateful Sunday morning of December 3, to use his talents as a surgeon on the wounded diggers. Maybe he was also steamed up for having to run to Dr Glendinning's Hospital on Pennyweight Hill to fetch Dr Alfred Carr's box of surgical instruments, (the doctor already being in the Stockade) but he had to go further to Dr Carr's Hospital on the Red Hill for them, a very trying two miles run.
The miners of Sebastopol Hill at this time, 1864, were a touchy mob who were still licking their wounds from recent underground battles. They would not stand idly by and let the doctor lead a deputation to the Chief Secretary's Office if his integrity had been tarnished.
Buninyong Shire Cou ncil looked not on this deputation with a fatherly eye, but wanted the Government to prevent, if possible, a diminuation of their revenue, and the folly of the formation of a small municipality with its necessary staff of officers.
A counter petition against the proposed Borough was signed by 400 people. Then the Shire received a letter from the Chief Secretary's Office stating that the greater number in the Buninyong petition were made by persons not residing in the district, therefore the petition was illegal and invalid.
On Monday, December 12, 1864, an election was held to elect nine members for the Council of the Borough of Sebastopol at the Mechanics Institute. It had been constituted a Borough on November 1,1864.
The successful candidates were Messrs Beverin, Richards, Robinson, Edwards, Dickinson, Miles, Tait, Rowlands and Vickers. This building was close to the shaft of the Mexican Company, and was built of handmade bricks. It was opened on April 28,1864, costing £530. Dr Kenworthy was the chairman of the building committee and the driving force behind its erection.
The centenary celebrations of the Borough Council were held in October - November 1964. A poem by the late William (Bill) Jenkins for the historical "Survey of early Sebastopol" missed publication by one day.
To all who are back to Sebastopol today,
We welcome you all from your places far away,
The scenes you once knew may look diff'rent to your gaze,
But still, it was here, that you spent your early days.
Dear old Sebas our home,
We welcome you home,
We welcome you home,
All friends we're glad to see,
We welcome you here,
For our first Centenary.
Remember the mines, with their batteries and their noise,
Remember the dams, where we used to swim as boys!
Remember the horse trams, and all the coaches, too,
Remember the old School, so dear to me and you.
Remember the Oval, with all its sport and games,
Remember the Hotels, with picturesque old names!
Remember the year when the Firemen won the 'Eights',
Remember down South, where they had the old Toll Gates.
Remember the Council, with all its wise old men,
Remember the Churches, we loved to go to, then,
The wars, the depression, with all their grief and tears,
So much that has made up our first One Hundred Years.
Simply put, it meant establishing a tunnel from the Durham Lead to Sebastopol, some eight miles following the old underground river course, where the level of the bedrock et the Durham would be approximately 400 feet below the level in the deepest sections of the deep leads at Sebastopol.
Had the scheme been implemented to a successful issue, it is difficult to conceive what might have been the state of affairs at Sebastopol. But it is certain that large quantities of auriferous stone which cannot now be mined because of the danger of tapping the heavy bodies of water overhead would have been exploited. Further, since the heavy expenditure which had to be borne in pumping the water would be materially reduced, it would then have been possible to profitably raise and treat quartz which under present conditions had to be left in the slopes.
Were the water-logged ground drained and rendered safe to the miner at shallow levels, enormous areas of reef washes would have been made available for operation and it is certain that it would have proved highly remunerative.
It was generally admitted by practical miners that in the Sebastopol Plateau there still exists reaches of alluvial wash,: in high and dry levels as well as in the lower levels, that will pay for lifting, and this has always been one urgent ground on which the more perfect drainage of the area had been demanded.
The Scottish and Cornish Company at Black Lead - south of Sebastopol withdrew their pumps in March 1865 and used only a tank under the cage for bailing. Their neighbours in the Leviathan and Great Gulf claims had pumped the gutter dry.
Great hopes were entertained at one period that the Government would carry out the scheme as a National work, but soon after the Royal Commission investigated the question, a stringency in the finances of the State occured and the undertaking was shelved.
In this day and age, if the price of gold was stabalized at its present level, the incentive to carry this scheme through would be highly rewarding and pay handsomely - far beyond the £5,000,000 worth of gold produced on Sebastopol from the 90 alluvial mines and the 20 quartz mines.