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The Eldorado Dredge

Posted 27/09/2022 in Gold

The enormous Eldorado Dredge worked for about twenty years from the mid 1930s, excavating huge quantities of the gold and tin bearing river flats on the Eldorado Plain. 

During this time, the dredge processed around 30 million cubic metres of river bed, obtaining over 70,000 ounces of gold and 1,383 tons of tin concentrate!

This is the largest surviving dredge of its kind in Victoria, and is certainly a sight to behold! Visitors can get an up close look at this incredible machine, boarding via a steel bridge, and there are several brilliant vantage points along the short circuit walk around the dredge hole. 

Information signs set within and around the dredge tell of the machine's rich history. They include detailed diagrams and fascinating photographs, along with a wealth of written information.

What is a gold dredge?

Gold dredges are large floating machines which use steel buckets on a rotating 'bucket line' to excavate material such as sands and gravels from river beds. 

The buckets lift the material on board and dump it into a hopper, leading into a trommel which screens the gravels, sending fine material to be cleaned up for gold. The Eldorado Dredge used jigs to extract the gold from the fine material. 

Larger material is sent out the back to be discarded.

Model of a dredge, on display at the Bright Museum.

Bucket dredges were initially developed in New Zealand, then were introduced to the Victorian Goldfields in the 1890s. 

Machinery on the dredge was initially driven by steam, then electricity from the 1930s. The Eldorado Dredge was powered by electricity, supplied via a floating cable from the shore. 

Construction of the Eldorado Dredge

The Eldorado Dredge was designed by Douglas Percy Fletcher, and was built by Thompsons Engineering and Pipe Co. in Castlemaine, for Cocks Eldorado Gold Dredging Co. 

Construction began in 1935, and the huge machine was assembled on site and opened in mid 1936. 

What makes the Eldorado Dredge so special?

At the time it was built, the Eldorado Dredge was the largest in Australia! It eventually weighed over 2,500 tonnes and had a pontoon length of almost seventy metres! It was hailed as a great advance in local engineering. 

The Eldorado Dredge is one of only two remaining bucket dredges in Victoria, the other being a small steel dredge located at Maldon. Click to learn more about the Porcupine Flat Dredge and Dragline at Maldon.

Can you look inside the Eldorado Dredge?

Yes! Visitors can board the Eldorado Dredge via a steel bridge, and explore the inside of this impressive machine from a secure walkway down the middle. Information signs are set up within the dredge, explaining the machinery before you and describing the operations of the dredge. 

Walking track at the Eldorado Dredge

Take a scenic short circuit walk around the dredge hole and take in views of the dredge across the water at several fantastic vantage points along the way.

The walk is a short, easy stroll beginning at the parking area. Be wary of uneven ground, loose gravel, and snakes during the warmer months.

Fishing at the Eldorado Dredge Hole

The dredge hole is a popular spot for fishing. There are several great spots around the shore to set up camp chairs and settle in for an afternoon of fishing. You'll have a great view over to the dredge while you're there!

How to get to the Eldorado Dredge

The Eldorado Dredge is located off Eldorado-Byawatha Road, in Eldorado VIC 3746. 

Eldorado is outside the Victorian Goldfields region covered by the Goldfields Guide website, being located up in NE Victoria, and makes a fantastic destination for a weekend trip. There is so much fascinating gold mining history to explore in Victoria's north eastern region.

Taking care of the Eldorado Dredge

Please observe all signage and do not cross any fences or barriers while visiting the Eldorado Dredge. 

Parks Victoria outlines the following restrictions at the Eldorado Dredge:
  • No dogs permitted
  • No camping
  • No fires
  • No firearms
  • No drones without a permit

Also of interest


Established in 1980, the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria is a voluntary body created to protect the rights and opportunities of those who wish to prospect, fossick or mine in the State of Victoria, Australia.

You can support the PMAV in their fight to uphold these rights by becoming a member. You'll also gain access to exclusive publications, field days, prospecting tips, discounts and competitions.

Check out the PMAV website for more information.




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