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Abandoned mines of the Victorian Goldfields

Posted 10/04/2018 in Gold

Tunnel Hill Mine, Talbot Victoria. Supposedly driven in 1861 and was briefly reworked in 1917 when there was some cyaniding carried out.

The impact of the gold rush is strongly evident in the towns of the Victorian Goldfields as well as scattered throughout the surrounding bushland. Mineshafts and mullock heaps are an extremely common sight throughout the bushland of the goldfields, and you can regularly come across abandoned mine tunnels, discarded boilers, machinery site foundations, remains of gold puddling machines (or puddlers), and cyanide vats. 

The 19th century gold mines which once dominated the region now lie abandoned. Buildings and machinery were removed or damaged and, slowly but surely, they were reduced to the relics and ruins we see today. Victoria has a forgotten underground where countless shafts and tunnels lie hidden beneath our feet.

Union Jack Mine, Percydale Victoria, features an impressive open cut as well as many open shafts and an adit. The mine is bordered by a fence for safety. This is a very dangerous mine site - keep away from the open shafts.

Many of the 19th century tunnels and shafts remain in remarkable condition. A lot have been covered with steel gates for safety, but many of them remain open - always be cautious of unexpected shafts if wandering off-track through the bushland of the Victorian Goldfields. Mine shafts can range from a few metres to hundreds of metres deep. 

The amount of work that went into digging these mines in the 19th century is simply extraordinary, especially considering the air-powered rock drill wasn't introduced in Australia until 1867, when the Mt Tarrengower Tunnelling Company in Maldon imported one.

Mt Tarrengower Tunnelling Company, commenced work in Maldon, Victoria in 1865, and were the first company in Australia to use compressed air-driven rock drilling technology. 

An excellent example of open mine shafts lies in the bushland just outside Moliagul. Here you will find countless mine shafts, all are uncovered and very deep. Take great care when walking through the area, don't get too close to the holes, keep dogs on a lead, and do not bring small children.

One of many uncovered mineshafts on Gypsy Road, just outside Moliagul Victoria.

The Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers Inc have explored these mine shafts and have kindly provided the underground image displayed below (click here to see more). They found that all the shafts connect underground as one mine. Please note that The Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers Inc are an experienced team who use safety equipment and sensors during their explorations - do not attempt to enter these mine shafts as doing so may result in injury or death.

Mine accessed from the shafts on Gypsy Road, just outside Moliagul Victoria.  Mine explored, and image supplied, by The Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers Inc.

The Red, White and Blue Mine in Muckleford, Victoria has a large mine shaft covered by a steel grate. These steel barriers are common safety measures at many abandoned mines throughout the Victorian Goldfields. This mine also features an impressive intact poppet head.

Steel grate covering the shaft at the Red, White and Blue Mine in Muckleford, Victoria.

Click here to discover more historic mine sites throughout the Victorian Goldfields

Another common relic of 19th century mining in the Victorian Goldfields are puddling machines. Puddling machines, or "puddlers" were pioneered on the Victorian goldfields in 1854. This technology was developed as an affordable way of processing gold-bearing clay on a large scale. Puddling machines are a very significant development in the history of Victorian gold mining, as they are the only technology or method developed entirely on the Victorian Goldfields.

Remains of a puddling machine along the M114 Track, Daisy Hill.

Of course, not all gold is discovered deep underground - the world's largest gold nugget, the "Welcome Stranger", was unearthed from its hiding place mere inches below the surface in 1869. Today the spot where the famous nugget was discovered features a monument, picnic area and fascinating discovery walk.

If you're interested in learning more about the abandoned mines of the Victorian Goldfields then there are two fantastic YouTube channels that you should definitely subscribe to, as these two groups record and publish their explorations in Victoria's abandoned underground mines:
The Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers Inc are a team of experienced professionals who explore abandoned mines throughout Victoria.

Also of interest:




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