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Battery Dam and Distillery

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  • 20170330 121753 Sign for the Battery Dam site, indicating the turnoff from Majorca Road onto Graves Track
Graves Track, Daisy Hill VIC 3465

Head out of Maryborough on Majorca Road and you will soon see a signed turnoff on the right for the Battery Dam Historic Site.

Features

  • Old machinery and other relics from gold operations
  • Educational signs
  • Two picnic tables
  • Two fire pits with BBQ plates
  • Walking track


The Battery Dam Historic Site is located just outside Maryborough in the Craigie State Forest. The area was used during the gold rush to crush and process quartz from mines in the area. After gold processing operations ceased, some of the equipment was adapted to be used for a eucalyptus distillery.

Today it features a picnic area, walking tracks, gold processing and eucalyptus distillery relics, and beautifully illustrated information signs.      

There is a clear picnic area with two picnic tables and two fire pits with barbecue plates.

Two walking tracks head off from the picnic area:
  • Walk to cyanide vats and puddler: only a few minutes walk, relics are right by the picnic area.
  • Bull Gully Rock Wells Walk: 1.4 km loop, 45 mins - 1 hr. Short steep hills, formed track, some obstacles.
There's a decent sized clear parking area alongside the battery dam site.

Another impressive distillery site can be found at the Ginger Adams Eucalyptus Distillery near Clunes. Be sure to also pay a visit to the Inglewood Eucalyptus Distillery Museum!

The following text is displayed on information signs at the Battery Dam Historic Site:

STAMP BATTERY

This is the site of a "ten head" stamp battery used to crush quartz from mines in the area.

Horse drawn drays brought the quartz to the battery. the drays were backed up the earth ramp and their loads tipped into the bottom of the battery boxes. Heavy stamps were lifted and dropped, pulverising the quartz into sand sized particles; enabling the gold to be retrieved.

The boiler produced steam for the battery engine. When the battery was closed, the boiler was adapted for the eucalyptus distillery.

CORNISH BOILER

Set in a stone wall like structure the boiler supplied the steam to operate the stamp battery which crushed the quartz rock. The second boiler was brought to the site at a much later date.

CYANIDE VATS

Set on part of the tailings dump (the grey white residue from the crushed quartz), are the remains of six cyanide vats. Sand from the tailings dump was re-treated in a cyanide solution to recover the gold left after the crushing process. Cyaniding enabled so much extra gold to be recovered that it became economic to re-process old tailings. Virtually all the old tailings were re-treted at the turn of the century, and many were done again in the 1930's. 

THE PUDDLING MACHINE

Puddlers were common on the goldfields during the 1850's and 1860's. Wash dirt containing gold was placed in the circular trough with water. The wash dirt was then broken up or puddled by a horse dragging a harrow type implement through the trough.

Step back in time

The local Jaara Jaara indigeonous people have occupied the Box-Ironbark forest area for thousands of years. The dialect for the local area is known as Djadjawurrung. The Jaara Jaara people have a special connection with the land they belong to. The forest provided the people with all the food and shelter needed to survive and in return they respected and looked after the land. As you can imagine, in this dry harsh country, water at times is often scarce. The Jaara Jaara people were able to overcome this problem by making rock wells that provided a reliable source of water during dry periods. An excellent example is the Bull Gully Rock wells only a 1 km easy walk from here. Take this opportunity to admire this significant site and imagine a life living on the land as the Jaara Jaara people once lived.

The arrival of European settlers contributed to the demise of the Jaara Jaara people as they were overcome by introduced diseases and traditional ways were restricted by European settlement. Their people and their way of living were drastically changed forever. Today the remaining Jaara Jaara people still share a special connection with the land and the Box-Ironbark forest. The Jaara Jaara people are strongly involved in forest management and continue to strengthen their culture.

Maryborough and the surrounded areas were infected with gold fever when the gold rush began June in 1854. The efficiency of the bush telegraph meant that Maryborough grew from a mere 100 miners in June 1854 to a chaotic bustling swarm of 25,000 miners in September 1854. The miners had it tough; living and working conditions were harsh and unsanitary. The quest for gold has left its mark on this area with hundreds of diggers' holes in the gullies and surrounding bush. Much of the Box-Ironbark forest was cleared to produce timber for mine shafts and boiler fuel. Later, on the most fertile soils, the forests were cleared for farmland and the timber was used for construction.

On your walk, look for the 'puddler', an early method for gold extraction along with the remains of a quartz battery and cyanide vats. You can also see the remnants of one of several eucalypt oil distilleries that started up in the forest early this century, producing Australia's first unique pharmaceutical product.

Explore our beautiful Box-Ironbark forest

Our Box-Ironbark forests tell a fascinating story of change and survival. How you use the forest today will shape our forests of the future. How will you shape the next chapter?

The Box-Ironbark ecosystem represents a precious and unique environment that provides habitat to numerous native plants and animals. Predominant overstorey species include Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), Red Box (E. polyanthemos), Yellow Gum (E. luecoxylon) and Red Ironbark (E. tricarpa). The large grey box located near the picnic tables is thought to be over 250 years old, this old veteran would have lived with the Jaara Jaara people before settlers arrived and later would also have witnessed the chaos of the gold rush era.

The understorey is made up of many different species including Golden Wattle, Hedge Wattle and Drooping Cassinia or Chinese Scrub. Wildflowers are abundant during the spring and early summer and include Black Anther Flax Lily and delicate Everlastings. Please help to protect the Box-Ironbark flora by leaving plants as you found them.

On your walk you will be greeted by the calls of beautiful Box-Ironbark birds. Listen and look carefully and you may find signs of Yellow Tufted Honeyeaters, White-throated Tree Creeper and Currawongs. If you are lucky you may come across some of the locals that call Box-Ironbark forest home including; Short-beak Echidnas, Black Wallabies and nocturnal Ringtail Possums. The Box-Ironbark forest is particularly important because it is the preferred habitat of several of Victoria's threatened species, including the Brush-Tailed Phascogale or Tuan, the Sugar Glider, Powerful Owl, and the Swift Parrot.

Today, Craigie State Forest is managed for multiple uses including tourism, recreation, honey production, firewood, timber and natural values. Sustainable harvesting and production of timber from the Craigie State Forest is monitored under the code of Forest Practices for Timber Production and through local harvesting prescriptions. The monitoring is designed to ensure the environmental, cultural and historical values of the forest are protected for this and future generations.

Things to do

Battery dam is a great place for a lazy picnic and a stroll through some historical sites left behind by the gold rush era. There are numerous other activities that can be enjoyed. Please help keep our Box-Ironbark beautiful by reducing your impacts and taking your rubbish home.

Prospecting
Prospecting can be an exciting experience that involves searching for gold, gemstones or other minerals. Many of the world's largest nuggets have been found in areas not far for Maryborough. All prospectors require a Miner's Right which is a permit for prospecting in Victoria and must be carried at all times while prospecting. Prospecting is permitted in most State Forests and many reserves. Please respect historical sites that you may find and fill in any holes you make.

Bushwalking
Bushwalking is one of the best ways to explore and experience Box-Ironbark forest. However, take care for mine shafts when walking through the forest. In State forest you can bring your dog along too, but please keep your dog under direct control at all times and for comfort of others, please keep them on a leash when in picnic and camping areas. If you are lucky and observant, on your walk you may stumble across some hidden relics of the gold mining era. In spring and early summer wild flowers blanket the forest floor and fill the forest with colour. Why not take a short walk through the beautiful Box-Ironbark Forest to Bull Gully Rock Wells?

Camping
Camping is permitted within the State Forests and is a great way to relax and enjoy the Box-Ironbark surroundings. Most of the camping spots are informal bush camps suitable for the self-sufficient camper who enjoys 'roughing it'. Be sure to leave your bush camp the way you found it and take your rubbish home.

Campfires
Sitting around a camp fire is a great way to enjoy the evenings camping out in the Box-Ironbark Forest. Take care with fire and observe all fire regulations and total fire ban days. Collect only dead wood from the ground for campfires and always use existing fireplaces where possible, if a fire place does not already exist then build your fire in a pit 30 cm deep. Fires must be less than 1 metre square and at least 3 metres clear of flammable material. Never leave fires unattended and ensure fires are safe and that they are completely extinguished when you leave.

Birdwatching
Grab your binoculars because the Box-Ironbark forest is home to numerous bird species and is an ideal location for bird enthusiasts. This area provides habitat for some endangered bird species including the Swift Parrot and the locally endangered Bush Stone-curlew.

Forest drive
Box-Ironbark forest contains a maze of interesting tracks suitable for a forest drive. Take care because minor forest roads can become boggy in winter, so stay on major roads in wet weather. Vehicles and trail bikes must be registered and roadworthy and may only be driven on designated public roads and tracks.
 



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!
  • Gold prospecting is the recreational act of searching for natural gold deposits in the ground using tools such as gold detectors, gold pans and gold sluices. The Goldfields region of Victoria is a popular destination for gold prospectors, with many of the world's largest alluvial gold nuggets found in the area!
 

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