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Hustlers Reef Gold Mining Reserve

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Niemann Street, Bendigo VIC 3550

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Features

  • Historic mine site
  • Site of Bendigo's worst mining accident
  • Miners' memorial
  • Short walking track
  • Detailed information signs
  • Bench seat
Take a short stroll through the Hustlers Reef Gold Mining Reserve and learn about the history of one of Bendigo's richest underground mines - and the site of the town's worst mining accident. Detailed information signs along the walking track present the operations and successes of the The Great Extended Hustlers Mine, along with the 1914 disaster which saw seven miners killed in an explosion 321 metres below the surface.

The walking track is gravel with a slight gradient and there is a bench seat along the way. The track begins on Niemann Street and travels through the reserve to Hustlers Road (but you can start the walk at any end of the track).

There is a stone memorial in the middle of the reserve dedicated to the seven miners who lost their lives in this mine. 

Miners' Memorial

A memorial plaque set in stone in the middle of the reserve displays the following text:

Below us lies the old mine workings of "THE GREAT EXTENDED HUSTLERS MINE" 1865-1921, consisting of 31 levels to a depth of 3454 ft (1053 m).

On the 2nd May 1914, at about 10pm, an explosion occurred on the 13th level at 1053 ft (321 m).

All seven miners working at that level were killed. Five widows & ten children were left to mourn their loss.

This was the worst mining accident on the Bendigo Goldfields.

MINERS KILLED:
  • Mathew George Forster, 28 yrs, married
  • William Ryan, 26 yrs, married
  • Herbert John Thomas, 30 yrs, married
  • William Crowther Blair, 40 yrs, married
  • John Henry Campbell, 31 yrs, married
  • Frederick James Chinn, 26 yrs, single
  • Leslie Duncan Martin, 23 yrs, single
Mining accidents on the Bendigo Goldfields claimed the lives of about 850 miners. 

Dedicated on 2nd May 2008 by Friends of Hustlers Reef Reserve. 

Information signs at Hustlers Reef Gold Mining Reserve display the following text:

Hustlers Reef Gold Miners Heritage Walk - Welcome to Hustlers Reef Reserve

During the gold rush, this site was one of Bendigo's richest underground mines. It was named after Thomas Hustler, who bought the mining lease in 1854. It was here that Hustler experimented with ways to improve the quartz crushing process and invented and patented a unique quartz crushing machine. 

Despite his best efforts, wealth and status did not come to Hustler. He died destitute in 1861 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Bendigo Cemetery. 

The lure of gold drew many people from across the world who came here seeking their fortune, from the African Americans who originally mined the site to the Chinese who sifted through the 'tailings', or mining waste, to find residual gold. 

Working in the mines was a dangerous job and Hustlers Reef was the site of Bendigo's worst mine disaster. In May 1914 an underground mine explosion killed seven miners, leaving behind heartbroken widows and children. 

Many miners lived close by and Hustlers Hill grew into a community that, over the years, established many community and sporting associations and clubs, including Violet Street primary School and the North Bendigo Cricket, Athletics and Football Clubs. Today, this community continues to care for the reserve at the heart of their neighbourhood. 

You can explore this site and read more about its history by following the signs ahead. This signage project has been funded by the Local History Grants Program. The City of Greater Bendigo gratefully acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government, Public Records Office of Victoria and the Hustlers Reef Reserve Advisory Committee for making this project possible. 

Hustlers Hill Recreation Reserve - Public land for all to enjoy

The Great Extended Hustler's Company ceased operations in 1921 and the mining claim reverted to the control of the Victorian Lands Department. 

The area at the bottom of the hill was a wasteland of sand heaps and old sludge dams. Dams became dumping grounds for household rubbish and dead animals. When it was dry, winds blew contaminated sand into people's home. 

Locals thought the top of Hustlers Hill should be a public reserve and began campaigning for it to become one.

In 1924 a formal proposal to make the area a reserve was put to the Victorian Lands Department, but was unsuccessful. 

The Hustlers Reef Reserve was eventually gazetted in 2008, after many years of campaigning by locals for this area to remain public and to have its history recognised. 

Caring for Hustlers Hill - Community efforts to restore a mining wasteland

The local community has been planting trees here to help rejuvenate the land for many years. Box Ironbark Forest species have been planted to begin a process of restoring the original biodiversity of the hill. 

The mine shafts have been capped and the sand heaps have been bulldozed into the sludge dams. The reserve is now a peaceful open space which has many educational and wellbeing benefits for the community. This heritage trail is part of the restoration process.

The native plants are now thriving, and given time, the trees will grow into a forest once again, and be a home for a variety of native fauna. 

Skills of the trade - The profession from top to bottom

Mining was a complex operation which required various skilled workers to successfully and safely extract and treat gold from the mine. Underground jobs included the mining engineer, drilling machine operator and labourer. 

At the surface the winding engine-driver winched up a small platform carrying a truck filled with gold-bearing ore or waste rock. A braceman emptied the truck into the ore bins or onto the waste 'mullock' heap. 

The winding engine driver also operated the bailing tank to collect groundwater from the bottom of the shaft. A stoker kept the boiler furnace going to produce steam to drive the winding engine. 

In the quartz stamper battery, workers maintained crushing and mineral concentrating machinery and scraped off gold amalgam from mercury coated copper plates to produce a gold 'cake'.

The Great Extended Hustler's Company - From boom to bust

Hustler & Company was formed in 1854, by reef quartz miner Thomas Hustler, storekeeper Jonathan Latham, and mining engineer John Watson. The company used a new steam engine powered quartz crusher, invented by Thomas Hustler. 

In 1856 Latham and Watson formed the Great Extended Hustler's Quartz Mining Company, buying out the mining claim from Hustler. They invested in more powerful machinery and a larger workforce. Company shares were sold to investors to fund the operation and a new mine shaft was sunk at the bottom of this hill. 

Significant quantities of gold were extracted from Hustlers Reef from the 1850s until mining ceased in 1921, making this reef one of the earliest and most successful quartz mining sites on the Bendigo goldfield. 


DID YOU KNOW...

  • 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.
 

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