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North British Mine and Quartz Kilns

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Parkins Reef Road, Maldon VIC 3463

Features

Explore the ruins of the North British Mine and Quartz Kilns in Maldon and enjoy a picnic lunch beneath the trees at the fantastic picnic area.

The picnic area features multiple picnic tables spread out between the trees on a grassy lawn, several wood fire barbecues, a water tap, a toilet block and an information board.

There are two walking tracks from the picnic area, one is the Parkins Reef Circuit Walk (2.3km return), and the other is a short walk which takes you through the ruins of the North British Mine ending at the Quartz Kilns.

The ruins are fascinating and quite extensive, and the quartz kilns are an excellent example of early mining techniques in Maldon. There is a large, open mine shaft surrounded by a tall fence for safety.

There are another set of quartz kilns a short drive away, the Grand Junction Quartz Kilns, and across the road from the North British Mine is Carman's Tunnel, where you can take a guided underground mine tour by candlelight for an excellent price!

Maldon is a fantastic town to explore - here is a great list of more things to do in Maldon.

The following text is displayed on information signs at the North British Mine in Maldon:


NORTH BRITISH MINE, 1926

This photograph shows the mine from the east in the year of its closure.

On the right can be seen the battery shed, the foundations of which remain.

In the centre is the poppet head above the main shaft.

On the left is the cyanide plant, which was introduced in 1901 for the chemical extraction of gold from sand tailings. The concrete settling tanks can still be seen to your left.

The dry depression behind you was the dam which is in the foreground of the photograph. It was once a favourite swimming hole for local children.


QUARTZ KILNS

Calcining (the roasting of quartz in kilns) was an early method of preparing gold bearing rock for crushing. Impurities were burnt off, and the quartz was made more brittle.

This process was continued at Maldon until about 1900, perhaps ten years longer than at other goldfields. This was partly because of the hardness of Maldon's rock, but some said it was because of local sentiment and conservatism about the kilns.

Quartz kilns came to be seen as a feature of Maldon, and these are some of the best surviving examples in Victoria.

Three southern kilns (on the right) were built in 1864 and the northern two were added later. A conspicuous break in the stonework marks their joining.

The most southerly kiln was partly destroyed in 1913 to construct a rock breaker, which was located over the concrete lined pit.


OSWALD'S FAMOUS WORKSHOPS

The path takes you between the battery and the boiler foundations to the remains of the quartz kilns and then to the shaft.

The path returns past the site of the workshop south of the winder foundations where Oswald's compressed air rock drills were manufactured. They became widely used throughout Australia.

The foundations of the air compressor, which had the capacity to provide air for twenty drills, are on your left.


A SOURCE OF LIGHT ... AND DANGER

The white chemical compound calcium carbide was used as a source of light above and below ground.

This large carbide dump was the waste from a gas-producing plant near this site. Gas was piped above ground to illuminate the mine buildings and workshops.

Miners also used carbide lamps to light their work at the rockface. The inflammable gas acetylene was produced from the reaction of calcium carbide with water. The gas gave a pure, white light but had an unpleasant garlic-like odour and was potentially explosive.

Underground work was dangerous, and many accidents occurred at the quartz mines. Terror struck the hearts of Maldon residents at the sound of prolonged mine whistling - a signal for disaster.



DID YOU KNOW...

  • Bushwalking is an excellent way to get outdoors and exploring nature.
  • Evidence of the mid-late 1800's gold rush can be found throughout the Victorian goldfields in the form of abandoned mine shafts and tunnels, mullock heaps, buildings and ruins, circular puddling troughs, remains of cyanide vats, and quartz kilns.
  • There are hundreds of fantastic barbecue areas throughout the Victorian Goldfields. Some are in parks/playgrounds, others are scattered throughout the bush. Many barbecue areas are located alongside amazing attractions and walks, so go out for a barbecue and get exploring!
 

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