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Waterloo Lead Puddler No. 1

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Reserve Track, Maryborough VIC 3465 - 150 m north of Reserve Dam, to the east of Reserve Track

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This gold puddler sits approximately 150 metres north of Reserve Dam, within the Paddys Ranges State Park, and is marked with an illustrated information sign. 

This puddler probably operated during the 19th century and is fairly weathered, though you can still make out the puddling trench and central mound. 

This spot is located very close to the Settling Pond Track Picnic Area, so be sure to head over and check it out if you're there for a picnic and bushwalk. 

Gold puddling machines

Puddling machines, or "puddlers" were pioneered on the Victorian goldfields in 1854. This technology was developed as an affordable way of processing gold-bearing clay on a large scale. 

Puddling machines are a very significant development in the history of Victorian gold mining, as they are the only technology or method developed entirely on the Victorian Goldfields. 

The characteristic clay earth of the goldfields region posed a problem to the 19th century miners - gold was trapped within the hard lumps of clay and in order to retrieve it, these lumps needed to be effectively broken up. 

A circular trough in the ground, lined with wood or bark, was filled with clay and water. A horse circled the trough and dragged a harrow through the clay mixture, breaking up the lumps and turning it into a runny sludge. The gold released from the clay would sink to the bottom, and the watery clay would be drained off from the top. The residue at the bottom of the trough would then be cleaned up with a pan or cradle to collect the gold.

The information sign has been damaged and faded by the weather, but you can just make out the text / image. This is the same sign as the one that stands before a gold puddler at the Battery Dam and Distillery (located in the nearby Craigie State Forest), which is in much better condition, so I will include it here.

Sign at the Battery Dam and Distillery, the same sign which stands at the Waterloo Lead Puddler No. 1

The sign displays the following text:

The Puddling Machine

Puddlers were common on the goldfields during the 1850s and 1860s. 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.

You may also be interested to check out our page on gold puddling machines of the Victorian Goldfields.

Also of interest


  • Bushwalking is an excellent way to get outdoors and exploring nature.


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