Browse by Tag
BBQ
Educational
Free camping
Gold history
Gold prospecting
Swimming
Walking track
Search

Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve

  • Dsc 1314
  • Dsc 1318
  • Dsc 1332
  • Dsc 1311
  • Dsc 1327
  • Dsc 1315
  • Dsc 1329
  • Dsc 1310
  • Dsc 1309
  • Dsc 1306
  • Dsc 1330
  • Dsc 1303
  • Dsc 1305
  • Dsc 1312
  • Dsc 1320
  • Dsc 1323
  • Dsc 1325
  • Dsc 1271
  • Dsc 1273
  • Dsc 1274
  • Dsc 1275
  • Dsc 1279
  • Dsc 1281
  • Dsc 1284
  • Dsc 1285
  • Dsc 1287
  • Dsc 1289
  • Dsc 1290
  • Dsc 1292
  • Dsc 1293
  • Dsc 1294
  • Dsc 1297
  • Dsc 1307
  • Dsc 1262
  • Dsc 1263
  • Dsc 1264
  • Dsc 1265
  • Dsc 1268
  • Dsc 1270
  • Dsc 1333
  • Dsc 1334
  • Dsc 1267
  • Dsc 1308
  • Dsc 1277
  • Dsc 1280
Pink Cliffs Road, Heathcote VIC 3523

Explore other locations around this area using our interactive map

Features

  • Beautiful geological features
  • Hydraulic sluicing site
  • Walking track
  • Information signs
  • Lookouts
  • Picnic table
  • Climbing spot for kids
  • Dogs allowed on lead
The Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve is a remarkable area on the edge of Heathcote. Once a hydraulic sluicing site, mining activity in the late 19th century washed away the top layer of earth and revealed the dramatic, colourful cliffs on display today. 

Hydraulic sluicing at this site was carried out in the 1870's - 80's under the direction of James Hedley, a pioneer in the development of sluicing and dredging in Victoria.

Hydraulic sluicing is a mining method which employs high pressure jets of water to blast away large areas of earth, and wash it down to be run through a sluice box. Gold gets caught in the sluice and the remaining slurry is washed away. This method of mining is extremely effective, but causes significant environmental damage and impacts waterways along with agricultural operations. Hydraulic sluicing at the Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve was halted in 1890 due to such damage being wrought on the local landscape. 

A gravel parking area sits alongside Pink Cliffs Road, and has a picnic table, Parks Victoria signs, and the beginning of a 30 minute scenic circuit walk around the reserve. 

The Parks Victoria signs state that dogs are permitted on leads, along with a list of restrictions intended to protect the natural, historical and cultural features of the reserve. Visitors must not: litter or dump rubbish, remove firewood, remove soil or rock, or use vehicles off road.

The walking track takes you on an educational circuit walk, showcasing the stunning geological features of the Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve as well as providing information signs and lookout points along the way. The walk is well signed and directs visitors to both a lower lookout and upper lookout over the stunning pink cliffs, which are located at the back of the reserve. 

Signs at the lookouts ask visitors not to pass the fences, and to keep off the large area of pink cliffs. The ground here is extremely fragile and walking or climbing over them will cause a lot of damage and unnecessary erosion. Please observe the cliffs from the lookouts only, in order to preserve this significant site for years to come. There is another smaller section near the front of the reserve where you can get a closer look at the geological curiosity. Kids will have lots of fun climbing on the rocks and cliffs throughout the rest of the reserve. 

Information signs at the Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve display the following text: 


THE MINING PROCESS

Prior to the discovery of gold, this area was open box forest growing on red-brown soil over a layer of gravel. The first nuggets of gold were found in 1852 and sluicing began using the creek to wash the gold-laden soil.

In 1887 Hedley and the Hon JA Wallace began experimenting with hydraulic sluicing by pumping, instead of relying on the pressure gained from the gravity fed water race.

In 1887 sludge in the creek became a significant problem and The Sludge Inquiry Board was formed. In 1890 the Heathcote Sluicing Company's mining lease was not renewed due mainly to the decisions made by The Sludge Inquiry Board.

The colour kaleidoscope you can see today is the remaining granite sliced through with reddish brown cracks filled with quartz. The surface fine granite was washed by percolating ground water containing sodium, chlorides and carbonates, which helped to dissolve the iron ore minerals and weather the granite.

In the process, the granite became stained with iron rich solutions, the colour intensity being directly related to the amounts of iron ore minerals within the cracks. Erosion has proceeded at such a rate that the present surface still resembles a moonscape. 

For further information call into the Heathcote Visitor Information Centre, cnr High (main street) and Barrack Street, Heathcote.

HEDLEY'S WATER RACE

"The water was conducted to the sluicing site in an open channel which followed the contour of the ground to a well constructed flume, made of three sawn planks about twelve inches wide and one inch thick. The it went into a heavy canvas hose, to increase the pressure and at the end of the hose there was a nozzle made of stout galvanized iron tipped with cast iron." - JO Randall, 'McIvor'

In 1865 the McIvor Hydraulic and Gold Mining Co began constructing a water race from the headwaters of the McIvor Creek near Mt Sugarloaf at Tooborac, to convey water 'at a sufficient elevation to command the whole McIvor gold field'. The race anticipated to carry six million gallons per day, to operate 60 sluice heads. 

Initially only seven miles (about 11 km) was to be constructed. This required tunnelling for short distances, construction of flumes or aqueducts accross gullies as well as the formation of the race walls. 

The engineering feat of creating the fall of the water along the length of the race was measured using a beer bottle containing water as a 'level'.

In 1874 Thomas Hedley continued the water race to bring water to a holding dam he constructed in Long Gully (known now as Hedley's Dam) and on to Red Hill - a distance of 26 miles (about 42 km)

THE MINERS

In 1865 there were around 1200 European miners and 70 Chinese miners on the Heathcote goldfields.

Miners came from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland) and Europe (Germany, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Croatia, Russia and Spain). There were also Cornish miners and others from South Africa, China, South America (Chile) and North America. 

Some of these men were colourful characters - sailors leaving their ships, young men leaving their jobs or farms to seek their fortunes. 

Dutch and Irish miners would fire pistols in the air at night to indicate that they had guns to defend their gold. As a result, large numbers of pistol balls are still found by fossickers. Many of the women who accompanied their husbands or fathers to the goldfields proved to be excellent businesswomen, setting themselves up as bar owners or washer women, or providing hot meals to the many hungry miners at the end of the day. 

As access to gold became more difficult and the alluvial gold became scarce, many of the miners moved on to other goldfields or became employees in the growing deep mining operations that grew as surface gold became scarce. Some of the miners turned to the land and sought to make a living as farmers. 

FLORA OF THE AREA
Here are some that you may see on your walk.

In Winter
  • Early Nancy
  • Gorse Bitter Pea
  • Showy Parrot Pea
  • Running Postman
  • Small Rice Flower
  • Tall Sundew
In Spring
  • Showy Parrot Pea
  • Chocolate Lilly
  • Early Nancy
  • Pink Fingers Orchid
  • Wax Lipped Orchid
  • Gorse Bitter Pea
  • Running Postman
  • Blue Finger Flower
  • Small Rice Flower
  • Tall Sundew
  • Matted Bush Pea
  • Green Comb Spider
  • Orchid
In Summer
  • Pink Fingers Orchid
  • Nodding Chocolate Lilly
  • Showy Parrot Pea
  • Blue Finger Flower
In Autumn
  • Cranberry Heath


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 many great places throughout the Goldfields that offer gorgeous, panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
 

Comments

No comments

Leave a comment

Follow us on Facebook