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Grand Duke Mine

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Grand Duke Mine Road, Timor VIC 3465


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Features

Pack a picnic lunch and head out to the impressive remains of Timor's Grand Duke Mine, where a massive stone arch stands surrounded by mullock heaps and filled mine shafts. This remarkable arch is all that remains of the mine's pump house, which was constructed of stone quarried from nearby Mount Hooghly.

From 1869 to 1896, this mine was operated under a number of different company names (due to various mergers and floats) and produced some 216,000 ounces of gold! There were four main shafts, with the deepest reaching 360 feet. 

Mining in this area was both difficult and dangerous due to the groundwater, with the water table sitting a mere forty feet below the surface. To overcome this issue, a massive Cornish pumping engine was imported from England and mounted on the arch we see here today. This arch acted as fulcrum and support for an enormous 30 ton iron beam, the largest in Victoria at the time, which see-sawed to move the pump's plunger or bucket up and down. The pump raised 200 gallons of water per stroke, or 2,000 gallons per minute. In the later years, the water being raised from the Grand Duke Mine kept the Bet Bet Creek running permanently. 

A single picnic table sits in the shade alongside the arch, with a double-sided information sign sharing photographs and historical details about the site. Information signs installed around the arch supply further information and drawn diagrams of the huge pump which once operated here. 

The pump house and a filled shaft are surrounded by fences - for your own safety and for the preservation of the site, do not climb over them. 

A large parking area consisting of quartz pebbles is accessed via Grand Duke Mine Road. The road in has quite a few pot holes and can be very muddy during the wetter months. 2wd vehicles will make it through in dry conditions, but visitors may prefer to park off Bet Bet Creek Road and take the short walk in along Grand Duke Mine Road. 

The following information is displayed on an information sign at Grand Duke mine:

History of Grand Duke

Running through this reserve was one of Victoria's richest gold deep leads. From 1869 to 1896 this mine produced 216,000 ounces of gold, valued at over £885,000.

The Timor area was mainly mined by the Duke and Timor Gold Mining Company, later known as Duchess of Timor, Duke, and Grand Duke.

On 3 May 1869, at a traditional afternoon ceremony, the machinery was started and launched by the old process of 'giving it a name'. A baptismal ceremony was performed, with a Miss Eliza Watson dashing a bottle of champagne over the fly wheel on its first revolution and proclaiming its name to be 'The Galatea'.

The mine here was renowned for the massive pumping engine it boasted. Imported from England, the massive Cornish pump was an improvement that was added in 1874. It had a 30 ton iron beam.

The mine was the economic centre of this area, employing hundreds of men over its 27 years. At the height of its operation the company's proprietors boasted that nearly all the inhabitants of the nearby towns of Timor and Bowenvale depended on the mine for support.

There were some tumultuous times at the mine, with periods of financial strife as well as accidents. When the pumps broke down in 1879 the mine flooded and remained out of action for two years.

Mining was a dangerous occupation and a tragic accident in December 1883 claimed the lives of four men.

As the ground here was so wet, pumping water out of the mine was crucial to safely reach the gold. It was this pumping engine, reported to be the largest of its kind in Australia, and comparable in size to just two others in the world, that was the key to the success of the Grand Duke mine. Many other smaller nearby mines also had their water pumped out.

During the last seven years of the mine's operation it pumped out 2,000 gallons of water every minute, making this the longest and most continuous wet mine in the state.

As well as the pump house and engine, there were four main shafts, 12 Cornish flue boilers, eight iron puddling machines and one battery of 20 heads.

A massive pumping engine

The arch before you is all that remains of the pump house that served to remove water from this mine.

When mining started at Timor in the late 1860's the ground here was very wet. If miners were to have any success in reaching the gold they had to remove the water from the ground.

To deal with this challenge the company imported a massive Cornish pumping engine from England to pump water out of the mine. It was reputed to be one of the best pumping engines in the world at the time. The engine generated 270 horsepower and its iron beam, weighing 30 tons, was the largest in Victoria. The beam of the large pumping engine see-sawed on this pump house wall to move the plunger or bucket in the pump up and down.

The vertical cylinder was 80 inches in diameter with a stroke of 10 feet. The piston itself was eight inches in diameter and 17 feet high and the piston pump had a diameter of 22 inches. For such large engines a massive wall to support the beam was necessary. The piston operated on the downstroke and consequently the cylinder had to be anchored to a considerable foundation to overcome the weight of the pump rods in the shaft. The whole apparatus had to be contained in a tall building because of its vertical configuration.

The pumping engine's building has beam walls six feet wide and over 26 feet long which rest on foundations 16 feet deep. The granite used to construct the arch was quarried at Mt Hooghly, some eight or nine kilometres away.

GEOLOGICAL MAP OF THE MARYBOROUGH GOLD FIELD, EARLY 20TH CENTURY


Geological map of the Maryborough gold field which shows historical features in superb detail, including reefs, leads, gullies/flats, and old workings. Originally published by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey, early 20th century. High quality, durable A1 print in a satin finish. Large, 594 x 891 mm. Go to online shop.

GREEN AND GOLD PROSPECTING


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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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