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Kong Meng Historic Reserve

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  • Historicmapkongmeng
Rodborough Road, Majorca VIC 3465

Features

Kong Meng Historic Reserve is a historic mine site from the late 1800's. The reserve is filled with interesting gullies and mullock heaps, and there are plenty of walking/4wd tracks throughout the area.

The mine site gets extremely muddy when it's wet, so be careful not to get bogged if driving a vehicle into the reserve.

The following information is displayed on an information sign at the Majorca Town Hall:

Majorca drew thousands of gold-seekers to rushes in 1863 just as diggings around nearby towns declined. Their first surface diggings soon gave way to complex networks of deep mine shafts, with a mass local workforce and capital investment from around the globe. The rich field of Majorca sustained its own local council that met in the town hall.

Amongst mining investors in Majorca was Lowe Kong Meng, born in Penang in 1853. Kong Meng imported Chinese foods to his Little Bourke St store before investing in the sugar trade and in mining. His mines at Majorca and Carisbrook helped keep the towns alive for more than fifty years. Around Majorca, remnants of the mining industry can still be seen in an 1860s standpipe, a whip from the 1930's and cyanide workings. Miners dug out the massive mounds of mine waste that even today shape local skylines.

As for Kong Meng, he emerged as leader to Victoria's Chinese residents. The Emperor of China proclaimed him "Mandarin of the Blue Button, Civil Order" for his efforts on behalf of the Chinese community.

The following information was printed in The Argus, a Melbourne newspaper, on Monday 2nd August, 1886: 


THE NEW KONG MENG MINE
(By Our Special Reporter.)
One of the most important mining " rushes " of late years, and of very little less significance than that at Creswick-Kingston of six or seven years ago, is now at its full height in the country contiguous to Majorca, Craigie, and Carisbrook, and within half a dozen miles of Maryborough-Simson's diggings of the olden days. The New Kong Meng mine has recently opened up a new run of ground, rich and extensive. The Napier Freehold, adjoining on the north, almost simultaneously struck either a continuation of the gutter or a new lead, and the inevitable result has followed. The country-side north, south, east, and west-has been applied for on lease for a score ot miles in length, both on and off the probable, and, need it be added, possible, course of the lead.
From old Back Creek (now Talbot) down to Carisbrook has-since the palmy days of 1864, when the flats and gullies swarmed with diggers-been worked in the shallow ground. The theory that all these leads (the shallow running into the deep) gradually converge and empty into the valley of the Loddon is slowly being developed, and though it may be many years yet before the absolute certainty is demonstrated, there is good reason to believe that miles ahead of the New Kong Meng will be as great a goldfield as that which had its rise in the neighbourhood of Spring-hill, and from which we have had such mines as the De Muraka, the Ristori, the Lone Hand, and the Madame Berry, and the Camerons, the Dykes, and the Loughlin and the West Ristori. In his report on the Loddon drainage area, the Government geologist, Mr. R. Murray says -
"Of the known leads of the western section of the Loddon drainage area, or that traversed by the Deep Lead and its tributaries, the principal in point of size is the Rocky Lead, which corresponds to the Bullarook or Birche's Creek 'This has been worked from near Daylesford down to within a short distance ot Bullarook, and will no doubt soon be traced further. The geological indications, as well as information obtained by means of boring, show that the course of the lead is adjacent to that of the Bullarook Creek, at any rate as far as the township of Smeaton. Considered simply as an ancient river, this lead is certainly the main head branch of the old lead system, just as its modern equivalent, the Bullarook Creek, is the main head branch of the present drainage system. Important in a mining sense as are the leads heading from Spring-hill, and contained within the Loughlin, Ristori, and Madame Berry, and other mining propeties, they are, when regarded in the light of rivers, only tributaries to the Rocky Lead in the same proportion as the surface watercourses heading from Springhill, and running northward, have to the Bullarook Creek. The junction of the leads running northward from Spring hill with the Rocky Lead seems likely to be somewhere about the Bullarook Creek, north of the Madame Berry property. As to the exact course of these combined leads there is little evidence to justity a decided opinion, but the general trend cannot fail to be in the direction of Horseshoe-hill, or westward thereof. Experiment alone can trace out the actual windings. Near Majorca the Mount Greenock, Talbot, and Majorca lead system, corresponding to M'Callum's Creek and its tributaries, debouches on the Deep Creek Valley, and will probably be found to join the trunk lead of the latter in the vicinity of the Moolort hill. Between the exposed Silurian rock near Cansbrook and that on the Loddon there is a wide extent of basaltic country, divided for some distance into two broad strips by a long, low, isolated rise of exposed Silurian rock, extending for three miles north from the Moolort Railway station. Under the eastern of these two strips will be found the great trunk lead, corresponding to the Loddon lt self, with the Joyce's Creek system added; under the western lies the trunk lead formed by the combination of the Deep Creek systems. The two probably unite about Laanecoorie, and continue as one great lead, which receives further tributaries as it goes northward "
A theory has long existed, because, I suppose, some of the tributaries south of the Kong Meng were poor, that north of Majorca granite was likely to form the bed rock, and that all the leads would deteriorate. There is certainly a granite area east of Majorca, but it appears to be of limited extent. The mine under notice, and also the Napier, has dispelled any doubt that may have existed in that direction.
About l8 years ago, Mr. Kong Meng, the well-known Chinese merchant, of Melbourne, held possession of the ground immediately north of the township of Majorca, and by the aid of his country men sunk a shaft several hundred feet south of the No 1 or main shaft shown on the plan above. Here, though the lead was shallow, the water was heavy, and after working several years with small pumping machinery, the mine was abandoned. Other ventures, not in the immediate neighbourhood, but around Carisbrook, were floated, and either worked with indifferent success or entirely collapsed. Seven years ago, Mr. E Morey, of Ballarat, took up the ground, and with the assistance of some of the Maryborough speculators formed a companv, which they registered as the New Kong Meng, in 20,000 shares The main shaft was sunk to a depth of 227ft, and powerful pumping machinery erected. They first drove out east to the narrow run shown above (not out to that still further east), put up a rise and lost it, a second went up with difficulty, but the wash was so poor that it scarcely paid expenses Then they, drove south to the old Kong Meng workings-not shown on the sketch-with no better result. Driving was started west, and the Robin Hood gutter, which is 50ft higher than the main stream, worked both north and south. occasionally they came across payable runs through the lead, but when the whole width waa taken out the balance was on the debit side. In 1882, with an indebtedness of between £2,000 and £3,000, and no brighter prospects in any of the drives, the then manager reported to the shareholders that, in his opinion, it was inadvisable to continue operations below any longer ; that a large amount of prospecting had been carried out in every direction where there was reasonable hopes of success without anything payable being discovered, and, in fact, that the company should be wound up Mr. B J Fink, who was then a large holder in the mine, urged that work should be carried on until the next half yearly meeting, and after a hard fight; to prevent the company being wound up, the resolution was adopted to leave the future working of the mine to the board of directors. Three years and a half ago Mr J Williams, the present manager, took charge, and started to block back on the main lead towards the shaft. Here it averaged 40ft. in width, and when the whole strip from No 2 rise was put through the returns just covered expenses. At No 3 there was a rich patch, which raised the hopes of shareholders by paying a small dividend. Then 12 months elapsed before a second could be obtained, owing to the heavy water and the wash spreading out From No 3 rise to No 6, as shown above, the gutter averaged 60ft. in width. At No. 6 the Robin Hood gutter (here worked on tribute) junctioned with the main lead. The former was 200ft. wide at this rise, and the latter had spread out from 60ft to 150ft. At this time the main reef drive was 2,250ft from the shaft, and the country very hard to work On an average only 15ft a week were driven. When No, 5 rise went up the manager reported the gutter split up, not so rich as at No 3, but better than No 4. From No 6 the returns began to improve, and the £3,000 that the company was in debt was paid from this block. Six months later the No 7 rise went up into payable wash, improving as it went north from this point the turn came for the mine; it has gradually increased its returns until regular dividends are assured. At No 7 the wash was steadily increasing in width, the main channel being 200ft, and the Robin Hood, which was still on high ground, 220ft A little over 12 months ago the return for the half) year was 6,000oz. of gold, representing nearly £24,000. The balance of the overdraft was liquidated, and 4s. 6d per share divided. The principal portion of this gold came from Nos. 7 and 8 out on the reef and Nos. 6 and 7 in the deep ground By this time No 8 rise had been put up, and here the reef wash made much narrower, while the deep ground widened out considerably The quality of the dirt also increased From No 8 the main reef drive was turned from due north to 10 degrees east, and the length was just upon 3,500ft from the main shaft. 

While all this work was in progress a tribute party had been working a block of ground well out east, at the southern end of the mine, and almost directly opposite the main shaft. They barely paid expenses, and threw it up. Mr. Williams was not satisfied that what appeared to be a new run of wash bad been properly prospected, and recommended the company to put on a party of men A few weeks' driving in a northerly direction brought them into better ground, parts of it going 9oz. to the machlne. The eastern drive was made secure, and as shown on the plan a large block has been cut up and is yielding fair returns.
At the northern end No 9 rise was put up towards the latter end of last year, and in opening up from this spot it was discovered that the Robin Hood gutter, or more properly speaking the reef wash, had fallen over into the main lead, and had diverted the course of the latter from an almost due northerly direction to 30 degrees east. As the plan shows, it then became necessary to alter the course of the main reef drive to east and a little north. Drives were opened up across and up and down the lead with very gratifynig results.
The foregoing is a detailed history of the mine up to within a few weeks back. As the drives went out east from No 9 rise, the quality of the wash increased to such an extent that the stereotyped 205oz. per week (this had been the regular output for months) was increased to250oz. From this it gradually increased, until an average of 350oz has been reported every Thursday. It is at this part of the mine that the greatest interest now centres. The length of the main drive from No 1 shaft is over 3,000ft, necessitating the services of horses below to truck the dirt from the northern workings. All the ground from No 8 rise to No 9 is cut up, and blocking is now rapidly taking place. The drive from No 8 south and by east is out 120ft from the main level, and No 81 is driven 720ft due east No 9 is 700ft, which makes the ground wider at the eastern than at the western end. The best portion of the wash is between No8 1/2 and 9 rises, crossing the gutter at right angles, as indicated by the two dotted lines and the words "best gold here ' The small piece in the centre blocked out is the richest yet discovered in the mine. The ends of the drives north of No 9 and south of 8 1/2 are all outside the gold.
The gradual bend in the gutter gave rise to the opinion that it might take a much more easterly course, and after some finessing, the details of which would provide a fund of amusement 75 acres were secured from Mr Napier, the owner of the freehold on the east. Should it continue due east the New Kong Meng will have a length of 3,100ft And this naturally gives rise to the future course of the lead, a problem not only difficult to solve, but one open to the widest discussion Even among the practical men, both above and under ground, I found a vast difference of opinion. The Napier Freehold joins the New Kong Meng 1, 400ft north from the top end of the latter workings , at present the gutter appears to be making east ot north, and at the present rate would have to male a sharp curve to reach the Napier drives But the development north in the Kong is not sufficiently far advanced to determine whether the lead takes a sudden trend east or whether, after the Robin Hood lead has fallen over into the main stream, it does or does not continue north and a little east Nor is it at all certain that the Napier Freebold are into their deepest ground coming east. One fact, however, cannot be overlooked, viz., that the water in the Napier and the claims ahead is affected by the pumping in the Kong Meng. If the Napier have the same run they will in all probability have much better gold even than they are getting further out and higher up on the reef. The great distance of the northern workings from the main shaft, and consequent increased expense of trucking, induced the directors to sink a second shaft, 3,000ft away from the No. 1. This is bottomed, and the reef drive is expected to be in far enough to rise up to wash in a couple of months. A drive will also be started out west and a little north, to meet what is known as the western lead, and which was poor back at the shaft shown on the plan.
Coming back to the eastern ground, of which I shall ever have good cause to remember, through the breakage of a rotten ladder in No. 2 rise-the gold now being worked in the best part is about equal to that coming from No. 8, and out of which dividends were paid prior to meeting the rich run at No. 9. The drive from No. 1 shaft ia out 600ft east, and a branch drive 800ft north off the -main drive, reaches the wash at that point. Here the run is about 250ft. across, but not payable the whole width. The average yields here have been 25dwt. per fathom, and at the top end about 3oz, A bank of reef about 3Oft in height divides the eastern from the western ground. About 600 trucks of dirt are put through the puddlers in the three shifts, from all parts of the mine, but as aoon as the No. 2 shaft is down and the drives are into wash, a much larger quantity will be raised. The yields will average 35Ooz. per week, occasionally varied a few ounces one way or the other, for the next eight or nine weeks ; after that the returns ought to be up to 5OOoz. a week. The machinery at No. 1 shaft consists of a 20 1/2 in. pumping engine driving two 16 in lifts, a 16 in. winding engine, and a 14in. engine for driving the three puddling machines. At No. 2 there are 14in. winding, 12in. pumping, and 12in, puddling engines.
Mr. J. Williams, one of our most experienced and reliable mining managers, has charge of the whole of the works. The directors are Messrs. Mason, Jenkyn, and Glover, of Melbourne, and Morgan and Page, of Maryborough. The legal management is in the office of Messrs. Chalk and Cahir of Ballarat.
The market value of the mine rushed from £20,000 to nearly £150,000 within a month, and has been steady the last few days at £100,000. The effect of the discoveries has infused new life into the townships of Maryborough, Carisbrook, and Majorca, and there is every reason to believe that the New Kong Meng mine is the pioneer of one of the largest alluvial fields of the colonies



 

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