Place Details

Send Feedback

Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, Chewton Rd, Castlemaine, VIC, Australia

Photographs View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record
List National Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (27/01/2005)
Place ID 105683
Place File No 2/06/092/0064
Summary Statement of Significance
Castlemaine was one of the major gold rushes of Victoria and of Australia.  In 1852 the goldfield had acquired a population of 30,000 and was by then regarded as the richest goldfield in the world.  Significant mining continued for many decades, and some mining has been evident right up to the present.  The goldfield, which played a major role in drawing overseas immigrants to the colony, and in raising from the ground so much of the golden wealth which flowed into Australian and overseas markets, played a substantial part in all those changes which gold wrought on Victoria and Australia: increased population, increased wealth, the growth in manufacturing, the improvement in transport, the development of regional centres and townships, the further development of a middle class, democratization of political institutions, reform of land laws, the genesis of an Australian Chinese community, and so forth.  Its impact was felt beyond Australia as well.
 
The Castlemaine Goldfield has an association with defining events and processes in Australian history which have fundamentally shaped the modern nation, as described above.
 
Castlemaine Goldfield has one of the richest collections of mining sites and landscapes in Australia.  These range from large areas of high integrity remaining from the early alluvial phase of the 1850s, through the more technologically complex alluvial workings involving races, puddling, ground and hydraulic sluicing and dredging, deep lead mining, and then reef mining sites which contain a large variety of individual types of sites.  The Castlemaine Goldfield’s collection of mining sites is, in terms of diversity, integrity and time-depth, possibly the most outstanding in Australia.  In addition there are large numbers of habitation sites and groups of sites which form a rich tapestry depicting the pattern of settlement on the goldfield.
 
Castlemaine Goldfield possesses sites and landscapes which reflect the whole period of gold mining in Australia, and has particularly important large areas relating to the early phase of the great Australian gold rushes.  In this regard, the goldfield is a very rare entity.  Some of the types of sites represented are very rare, such as the expanses of early alluvial workings, roasting kilns, Cornish technology, the Vaughan Chinese Cemetery, large numbers of puddling machine sites, the unusually well preserved hydraulic sluicing sites, the early reefing sites which are among the earliest surviving in Australia, and an early Chilean mill site.
 
The goldfield is associated with a large range of earlier forms of gold mining which are no longer practised, and earlier forms of habitation which are now foreign to most Australians.  Mining in Australia has for some time been almost wholly the preserve of mining companies, and the era of independent gold miners is long passed.  The work and life of these miners is well represented on the Castlemaine diggings.
 
The goldfield’s numerous mining and habitation sites have potential to yield new information about the conduct of Australian gold mining over a lengthy period, and particularly during the nineteenth century.  These sites include the early alluvial landscapes, the cemeteries, the later alluvial sites reflecting various technologies, the many reef mining sites, and the habitation sites which are likely to yield further evidence of living practices during the goldfield’s lifetime.
 
The goldfield’s many mining sites provide key examples of early and later alluvial workings (ranging from shallow pits and shafts to puddling machines, races, ground sluicing, hydraulic sluicing and dredging, and deep lead mining), and many reef mining processes over a lengthy period of time with sites reflecting a large number of the elements of the reefing process.  In addition to individual sites, the area contains excellent examples of cultural landscapes consisting of multiple elements.
 
The many habitation sites scattered through the goldfield are exemplary of ruined miners’ huts and houses.  Consisting in general of mud mortared stone chimneys and hearths, they reflect the major characteristics of remnant dwellings in a goldfields environment.
 
Similarly, the mining sites illustrate the main characteristics of the goldminers’ working way of life, with its emphasis on manual labour, hardship, the utilization of natural resources, the dependence on water and a lifestyle intimately connected with the earth.
 
The goldfield as a whole reflects very well the land use of gold mining.  The mining sites and the habitation sites combine to characterize this form of land use.
 
The Castlemaine Goldfield is redolent of a sense of the past.  Situated within regenerating box-ironbark forest, the mining remains and habitation sites immediately convey to the visitor a feeling of passed ways of working and living.  The great number and extent of remains reinforces to the visitor the historical significance of the goldfield.  The degree of alteration of, and intervention in, the natural landscape makes a strong impression on visitors.  The Castlemaine diggings are a place of strong aesthetic significance.

Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
Castlemaine was one of the major gold rushes of Victoria and of Australia.  In 1852 the goldfield had acquired a population of 30,000 and was by then regarded as the richest goldfield in the world.  Significant mining continued for many decades, and some mining has been evident right up almost to the present.  The goldfield, which played a major role in drawing overseas immigrants to the colony, and in raising from the ground so much of the golden wealth which flowed into Australian and overseas markets, played a substantial part in all those changes which gold wrought on Victoria and Australia: increased population, increased wealth, the growth in manufacturing, the improvement in transport, the development of regional centres and townships, the further development of a middle class, democratization of political institutions, reform of land laws, the genesis of an Australian Chinese community, and so forth.  Its impact was felt beyond Australia as well.
 
The Castlemaine Goldfield has an association with defining events and processes in Australian history which have fundamentally shaped the modern nation, as described above.
 
Castlemaine Goldfield has one of the richest collections of mining sites and landscapes in Australia.  These range from large areas of high integrity remaining from the early alluvial phase of the 1850s, through the more technologically complex alluvial workings involving races, puddling, ground and hydraulic sluicing and dredging, deep lead mining, and then reef mining sites which contain a large variety of individual types of sites.  The Castlemaine Goldfield’s collection of mining sites is, in terms of diversity, integrity and time-depth, possibly the richest in Australia.  In addition there are large numbers of habitation sites and groups of sites which form a rich tapestry depicting the pattern of settlement on the goldfield.  (Pearson, Lennon, Marshall, 2002)
 
The attributes include the early and later alluvial workings (pits, shafts and other earthworks), stream diversions, water races, puddling machines, dams, ground sluicing sites, hydraulic sluicing sites, dredging sites, deep lead mining sites, the extensive range of sites associated with reef mining (eg stamper batteries and remains, building remains, buildings, roasting kilns, all other elements of reef sites), Chilean mills, Cornish technology, landscapes of multiple mining sites, habitation sites ranging from intact structures to ruins, tracks, cemeteries and other sites.
Criterion B Rarity
Castlemaine Goldfield possesses sites and landscapes which reflect the whole period of gold mining in Australia, and has particularly important large areas relating to the early phase of the great Australian gold rushes.  In this regard, the goldfield is a very rare entity.  Some of the types of sites represented are very rare, such as the expanses of early alluvial workings, roasting kilns, Cornish technology, the Vaughan Chinese Cemetery, large numbers of puddling machine sites, the unusually well preserved hydraulic sluicing sites, the early reefing sites which are among the earliest surviving in Australia, and an early Chilean mill site.
 
The goldfield is associated with a large range of earlier forms of gold mining which are no longer practised, and earlier forms of habitation which are now foreign to most Australians.  Mining in Australia has for some time been almost wholly the preserve of mining companies, and the era of independent gold miners is long passed.  The work and life of these miners is well represented on the Castlemaine diggings.
 
The attributes are as listed above and previously at Criterion A.
Criterion C Research
The goldfield’s numerous mining and habitation sites have potential to yield new information about the conduct of Australian gold mining over a lengthy period, and particularly during the nineteenth century.  These sites include the early alluvial landscapes, the cemeteries, the later alluvial sites reflecting various technologies, the many reef mining sites, and the habitation sites which are likely to yield further evidence of living practices during the goldfield’s lifetime.
 
The attributes are as listed previously at Criterion A.
Criterion D Principal characteristics of a class of places
The goldfield’s many mining sites provide key examples of early and later alluvial workings (ranging from shallow pits and shafts to puddling machines, races, ground sluicing, hydraulic sluicing and dredging, and deep lead mining), and many reef mining processes over a lengthy period of time with sites reflecting a large number of the elements of the reefing process.  In addition to individual sites, the area contains excellent examples of cultural landscapes consisting of multiple elements.
 
The many habitation sites scattered through the goldfield are exemplary of ruined miners’ huts and houses.  Consisting in general of mud-mortared stone chimneys and hearths, they reflect the major characteristics of remnant dwellings in a goldfields environment.
 
Similarly, the mining sites illustrate the main characteristics of the goldminers’ working way of life, with its emphasis on manual labour, hardship, the utilization of natural resources, the dependence on water and a lifestyle intimately connected with the earth.
 
The goldfield as a whole reflects very well the land use of gold mining.  The mining sites and the habitation sites combine to characterise this form of land use.
 
The attributes are as listed above and previously at Criterion A.
Criterion E Aesthetic characteristics
The Castlemaine Goldfield is redolent of a sense of the past.  Situated within regenerating box-ironbark forest, the mining remains and habitation sites immediately convey to the visitor a feeling of passed ways of working and living.  The great number and extent of remains reinforces to the visitor the historical significance of the goldfield.  The degree of alteration of, and intervention in, the natural landscape makes a strong impression on visitors.  The Castlemaine diggings are a place of strong aesthetic significance.
 
The attributes include the wide expanses of regenerating box-ironbark forest, the landforms of hills, ridges, gullies, creeks and rivers, together with the multitude of mining and habitation remains listed previously at Criterion A.
Description
In June 2001, the Environment Conservation Council (ECC) provided the Victorian Government with final recommendations on the use and management of the surviving 16% of its Box-Ironbark forests. A landmark recommendation of the ECC was the classification of the Mount Alexander Goldfield as Australia’s first cultural heritage national park. Called the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park (CDNHP), it is a new public forest land category created principally to recognise and protect outstanding cultural landscapes of importance to modern day Australia. 
 
At the core of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is an area of approximately 50km x 10km containing the auriferous quartz reefs, gullies, flats and hills that yielded up fortunes during the early 1850s and that continued to be mined and used by people in varying degrees until the present day. Inextricably linked to these localities is an abundance of mining relics relating to the Mount Alexander gold rush. They form subtle landscapes comprising shallow alluvial diggings, tracks, burial grounds, huts and fireplaces, puddling machines, sluices, tail races, quartz roasting kilns and early quartz mining and crushing sites. Interlacing the gold-rush features is physical evidence of successive periods of mining leading up to the present day.
 
The Castlemaine Diggings include literally thousands of individual mining and habitation sites, together with groups of sites, and whole cultural landscapes.  The bulk of the sites is archaeological in nature and can be classified into various types, relating to the form of mining represented.  These classifications consist of:
Alluvial mining sites such as shallow shafts, puddling machines, lease markers, surfacing, ground and hydraulic sluicing;
Water races;
Cement (ie conglomerate hilltop) mining sites such as tunnels, open cuts, sludge, surfacing, puddling, batteries, steam power, chimneys and Chilean mills;
Deep lead mining sites such as mullock heaps, mining engine footings, and chimney stacks;
Reef mining sites such as adits, open cuts, shallow reef workings, stoping, costeaning, mullock heaps, shafts, poppet heads, engine houses, mining engine footings, bob-pits, air-receivers, chimney stacks, whims, mine buildings, power plants, carting, loading bays, haulage adit/tramways, water wheels, Chilean mills, roasting kilns, state crushing works, battery engines, stamper footings, classification floors, loading ramps, sludge ponds, water dams;
Tailings retreatment sites such as cyanide vats, treated tailings.
 
All of these types of sites are represented in the proposed area.  A factor determining the location and extent of sites was of course the underlying geology and the distribution of gold, added to which was changes in mining knowledge and technology over time.  In parts of the area whole and identifiable landscapes are present in which mining of a distinct type or time predominates.
 
Some of the most important mining areas are in the south of the goldfield, especially south of Vaughan along the Loddon River, Sailors Gully, Middletons Creek and Sebastopol Gully.  Here are the oldest surviving mining landscapes, identifiable by 1850s shallow alluvial shafts and pits which pockmark almost the entire surface, puddling machine depressions, habitation sites, and a few reef mines of the later era.  The alluvial evidence here illustrates the generally north to south movement of the early diggers: starting at Specimen Gully, then moving into Forest Creek, then making their way further south to the Loddon and beyond.
 
On some of the alluvial gullies (running both north-south and east-west through the area) there is sequential evidence of mining patterns, relating to various forms of mining carried out over lengthy periods of time.  There are shallow shafts, puddlers, hut sites, water races, ground-sluiced areas, hydraulic sluiced faces, reefing shafts, reefing open cuts, battery sites, and again the regenerating box-ironbark forest.
 
Parts of Fryers Creek, Spring Gully Creek and Forest Creek illustrate alluvial mining landscapes overlaid in part by later mining, other uses and rehabilitation and erosion.  Here there are remnant tailings and sludge, sluiced and dredged areas and small scale alluvial works, as well as altered drainage patterns.
 
There are substantial hydraulic sluicing excavations which create a cultural landscape of their own, and there are hydraulic sites elsewhere as well.  Red Hill (still featuring the sluicing pipes), Forest Creek, Chokem Flat, Grogshop Gully, Sullivans Hill, Sailors Gully, Cobblers Gully, German Gully, Nuggetty Gully, Butchers Gully and Red Knob all display hydraulic evidence, as seen particularly in the height of the worked face at these places.
 
Water races can be seen in various parts, for example at Nuggetty Gully and Red Hill, the Loddon, Golden Point, Eureka Reef and German Gully.  Also present is the Expedition Pass Reservoir which was built as part of the 1870s schemes to bring water to the area.  Stream diversions made by the alluvial miners in earlier times can also be found.
 
Bucket dredge evidence is found on several main creeks, including Forest Creek where dredge tailings have been left.
 
Quartz roasting kilns can be seen at Cobblers Gully and Crocodile Reef.  Chimneys survive at places like Eureka Reef and Cobblers Gully and chimney bases elsewhere are numerous.  Remains of a Cornish engine house - for the Anglo-American mine - are at Herons Reef (an area recently incorporated into the Park where there is also alluvial and Chinese evidence).  The last really successful mine, the Wattle Gully, features much of its 1950s-installed machinery and equipment intact and the site is dominated by the large headframe and iron-clad buildings.  Cyanide vats, mainly galvanized iron, survive at several sites, such as Poverty Gully and Eureka Reef.
 
Other reef mining sites are extensive and there are many examples.  Engine footings are found at Spring Gully and the Mosquito, adits at Tubal Cain and Specimen Gully (where there is also a blacksmith’s forge), mullock heaps at the Englishman’s Reef and around Spring Gully.  Remains of stone mine buildings may be found at Eureka Reef, Phoenix Reef, and at Tubal Cain there are the remains of a possible blacksmith’s works and a powder magazine, while an intact powder magazine is at the Duke of Cornwall.  Stone boiler foundations and/or Cornish ground flues are at Golden Point, Cobblers Gully, Tubal Cain, Eureka Reef and the Phoenix Company, and stamper battery footings at the Spring Gully, Hands Across the Sea and Little Nuggetty mines.  Dams are found at Eureka, Specimen Gully and Cobblers Gully.  There are many more types of sites and examples.  A probable – and very rare – early Chilean Mill site is at Cobblers Gully.  Except for the Wattle Gully and one or two other places, missing from the goldfield is surviving iron-made mining equipment such as intact (or even nearly intact) boilers, stamper batteries and other forms of crushing and milling equipment.
 
One of the most distinctive structures on the goldfield in its working days was the 1880s Garfield waterwheel, the biggest waterwheel in Australia at the time.  The massive stone abutments still survive and are a prominent element in today’s landscape.
 
The habitation sites include many hundreds of archaeological remains, a dominant type being crumbling chimney bases built of stone and mud mortar.  These can be found at places like Sailors Gully, Chokem Flat, Middletons Creek, Irishtown, Nuggetty Gully, Eureka Reef, Butchers Gully, Cobblers Gully, Welsh Village, Lady’s Gully, Cornish Town and along the Loddon River.  Some of these places are more then individual sites and represent cultural landscapes.  There is evidence of gardens (including Chinese market gardens) and orchards at some of these sites.
 
Several cemeteries are located within the goldfield.  Perhaps the best known is Pennyweight Flat, near Castlemaine, which was used for five years from 1852.  Here there are headstones, monuments, Chinese footstones and other above ground structures, cairns and mounds.  Deadmans Gully Cemetery similarly has a range of elements, and there is also a Deadmans Gully Burial Ground.  Cemetery Reef Gully Burial Ground is another cemetery in the listed area.  All these cemeteries operated for about the same period of time and have associations with the high point of the rush.  At Vaughan is the Chinese Cemetery which also operated until about 1857.
 
At Specimen Gully, in the far north of the area, is the monument erected in 1931 to commemorate the original discovery of gold in 1851.  The discovery took place nearby.
 
The place names of the Park’s historic mining locations are significant markers of ethnicity, experiences and events of the Mount Alexander rush.
 
In the vicinity of the Eureka Reef there are small depressions in the rock surface which were made and used by Aboriginal people, the Djadja Wurrung, as rock wells.  Few Aboriginal sites survived the goldrushes in the Castlemaine area, and therefore these wells are rare.  Grinding grooves and stone tools are also present in the park.
 
The Park landscape is forested upland gently rising to 200m in three large blocks dissected by Forest Creek and the Loddon River. Within the Park are many distinctive landscapes, from the granitic outcrops along ridge lines, rocky uplands, narrow gullies with intermittent water courses, wider valleys with permanent streams. Seventy seven per cent of the Park falls within the vegetation class of ‘Heathy Dry Forest’, with the rest, mainly ‘Valley Grassy Forest’ and ‘Box Ironbark Forest’. Over 500 flora species and 100 fauna species, many of them birds,have been found within the park.  The regenerating box-ironbark forest supports a number of rare and threatened species of plants and animals.  These include the nationally endangered Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) and two plants – the Purple Eyebright (Euphrasia Collins subsp. Muelleri) and the nationally vulnerable Crimson Spider-orchid (Caladenia concolor).  Species of state significance are two birds – the Grey-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis) and Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta), a mammal – the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), and three plants – the Veined Spider-orchid (Arachnorchis reticulata), Lanky Buttons (Leptorhynchos elongatus) and Fryerstown Grevillea (Grevillea obtecta).
 
Before the gold rush, box-ironbark forest dominated by large, wide-crowned, hollow-rich, and widely spaced trees grew in the area. Today this is mostly a regrowth forest with many trees of a coppiced, multi-stemmed form, the result of past logging to supply fuel and timber for mines and other local industry.  However, there are two areas covering 340ha in total that contain large trees.  These trees would have been seedlings at the time of European settlement.  Despite the transformation, it is still possible to glimpse the original landscape within the form of the regenerating forest.
 
Today the Park’s historic and natural heritage, combined with its topography, attracts a range of recreational uses including bush walking, picnicking, camping, bird watching, wild flowers, orienteering and rogaining, cycling, trail bike riding, 4WDriving, horse riding, dog walking and gold prospecting.
 
The history and physical attributes of the Park have also engaged the community in a long and enduring cultural partnership. Art works, performances, exhibitions, cultural events and books are the tangible expression of this. Its gold-rush legacy makes the area a genealogical 'hot spot' for both national and international visitors.
 
History
  The Australian goldrushes began in May 1851 when it was announced that gold had been discovered at Ophir, near Orange NSW.  A month later, a great rush took place on the Turon River north of Bathurst.  With Melbourne notables offering a reward for a gold find in Victoria (to stem the population loss to NSW), gold was found in July, with the first real rushes occurring in August and September to Bunninyong and what would soon be Ballarat.
 
Gold was discovered at Specimen Gully near Mt Alexander (north-east of what would become Castlemaine) by John Worley, Christopher Peters and two companions.  This was in July, and in November the Mt Alexander rush began.  Hundreds of diggers arrived, and the gold was found close to the soil surface along Forest Creek.  Soon gold was unearthed further afield.  Known originally as the Mt Alexander Diggings, the goldfield initially centred near Chewton and was quickly occupied by thousands of tents.
 
As was the case in NSW, a 30 shilling monthly licence was required by the Victorian Government for gold miners.  In December 1851 the fee was doubled to 3 pounds.  The Mt Alexander diggers were angered by the government’s provocative action, and two huge protest meetings were held.  The licence issue was a central cause of discontent on many fields; at the Turon in 1853 the miners verged on rebellion and in 1854 blood was shed at Ballarat’s Eureka Stockade, but for the time being the Castlemaine miners remained peaceful.
 
As on many goldfields, water was a ket to success, and with the first summer Mt Alexander diggers found it hard to obtain enough water for mining purposes.  As well, disease started to spread as drinking water disappeared.  The population dropped, recovering as the autumn 1852 rains made mining more feasible once again.  This seasonal pattern was seen now through until major water race projects brought a reliable supply in the 1870s.
 
In winter 1852 diggers were mining at Forest Creek, Barkers Creek, Campbells Creek, Fryers Creek and the Loddon River.  By October the population of the Mt Alexander diggings was 30,000 and by then the area was regarded as the world’s richest goldfield: an estimated 350,000 ounces of the precious metal was produced that month alone.  The bulk of the gold was found within only a few feet of the surface and, as Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey has written, ‘it is doubtful if any goldfield could have equaled Mount Alexander within six feet of the surface’.  Castlemaine was one of the three largest Victorian fields (Bendigo and Ballarat were the other two) and it played a very influential role in drawing to Australia vast numbers of overseas gold immigrants.  Most of the gold being found was alluvial (ie found in soil, gravel, clay etc), but attempts were already being made to mine reef gold locked in hard quartz veins.
 
By mid 1853 much of the rich surface soil had been worked out, and investors wanted large leases of ground allocated to public companies.  This led to friction between independent diggers and capitalists which lasted several years as the diggers successfully defended their right to remain on their claims.
  Gold rushes are very volatile times and populations of miners move about unpredictably, rushing off to the latest strike.  But while many Castlemaine diggers remained footloose, others began to settle down and towns and villages became established.  Castlemaine was laid out as a town in 1852, while during the next few years a number of settlements were formalized: Campbells Creek, Fryerstown, Vaughan, Glenluce, Guildford and Chewton.  Meanwhile, satellite communities with their own stores, schools, churches and pubs were dotted across the goldfield.  Soon holders of Miners Rights gained the right to occupy a small parcel of land which enabled gardens to be cultivated, and this further aided the settled nature of mining.
 
In 1848, Victoria had a population of 77,000 people and wool growing was the cornerstone of its economy. The bulk of the population resided in Melbourne. The discovery of gold at Mount Alexander and elsewhere caused the population of the fledgling colony to increase nearly sevenfold. By 1860 the population figure for Victoria had grown to 521,072. In this year, Victoria’s population was greater than that of the whole of Australia only 10 years before.
 
There are many records and anecdotes of conflict between Aboriginal people and the squatters in central Victoria prior to the discovery of gold. By this time, most of the survivors of the local Aboriginal group associated with Mount Alexander (the Dja Dja Wrung or Jaara Jaara people) had taken refuge in the Loddon Aboriginal protectorate station, which had been established at Franklinford, about halfway between Castlemaine and Daylesford in 1841.  Today it is easy to regard the rolling wave of discovery, digging and development of the gold rush like one big earthquake. That is, it swept away all involvement with the goldfields land by local Aboriginal people. In fact, this was not the case and in contemporary publications there are tantalising hints, eg. when William Howitt witnessed the proceedings of the meeting that kicked-started the 1853 Red Ribbon Rebellion at Bendigo, he was of the opinion that there should have been another flag flying on the day for the ‘native blacks’, for he observed several in the crowd.
  There were some Chinese – rural labourers already in Australia when the rushes broke out – working on the goldfields from the early days.  But as news of the rushes reached China, large numbers migrated to the Australian fields.  Mt Alexander received the first of these Chinese diggers in 1854 in what was the first big migration of Chinese miners into Victorian gold diggings.  Large numbers worked at Forest Creek, and by 1855 2300 Chinese were on Barkers Creek.  Guildford developed into the biggest Chinese settlement in Victoria during the gold years.  Anti-Chinese feeling, seen on almost all fields, was seen on the Mt Alexander diggings as the Chinese were criticized for perceived wasteful mining habits and what was claimed to be objectionable behaviour.
 
The Chinese kept mainly to alluvial mining.  In this they excelled and by the late 1850s they operated a large percentage of the field’s puddling machines.  By now some grudging respect was shown to them by the Europeans, who were concentrating more on reef gold.  Early in the 1860s large Chinese camps were at Strathloddon and Guildford.  These camps then dispersed to work old ground elsewhere on the goldfield.
 
Most of the Chinese had come to Australia with the intention of returning home and not settling permanently in the colonies.  By 1867 many had gone home and others joined rushes to New Zealand.  Small numbers of Chinese diggers remained on the field for several more decades.
  Developments in mining technology on the goldfield were illustrated by puddling machines.  To break-up gold-bearing clayey soils, miners had initially broken up the earth in tubs, but then the horse-powered puddling machine was introduced to the field in 1854.  These greatly increased the amount of washdirt able to be treated by parties of diggers and opened new areas to mining, as well as enabling previously worked areas to be reworked.  Soon there were 200 machines around the Castlemaine diggings.  The sludge or residue from the machines often blocked up watercourses.  By the 1860s whole gullies were being reduced to bedrock through puddling and ground-sluicing.  A number of puddlers were still operating in the 1880s.
  Another form of mining was deep lead.  The deep leads were the courses of ancient streams which had later been overlaid by basalt following volcanic actrivity.  This sort of country was found near Vaughan, Muckleford and Guildford.  The discovery of the deep leads began in the early 1850s, and during the 1860s-70s a number of companies worked them with some success.  Sometimes the leads were hundreds of metres down, hidden by hard basalt, through which the miners had to slowly excavate their way.
  A mining partnership late in 1854 introduced the first steam-powered quartz crushing machinery (in the form of a Chilean Mill) to the goldfield at Specimen Hill.  Other crushers soon appeared at places like Wesley Hill and Moonlight Flat.  Roasting of quartz, to make it more easily crushed, was practised in various locations through the 1850s until the practice became redundant.  By 1856 there were 23 steam engines and 36 quartz crushing plants at work (at the same time there were 140 puddling machines extracting alluvial gold).  Steam engines required fuel, and local timber resources came under increasing pressure.  Such was the use of steam that by the late 1800s wood had to be brought from thirty kilometres away.
 
By 1859 the extent of quartz mining had so grown that the goldfield experienced a mining revolution, as seen in the formation of public companies.  The earlier friction between investors and diggers over the ground had now ebbed as the companies were granted exclusive leaseholds.  Some opportunities for small parties of miners existed in the reefing world, as they could take a mine on tribute, paying a fee to the company which owned the mine.
 
Unfortunately, many of the public companies failed in 1860-61.  Over-spending on equipment spelled the doom of those mines that could not recover the initial expense, and shareholders’ funds evaporated.  So the tributors moved in to many of the mines, and reef mining was essentially a small scale operation through into the 1870s.
 
By 1871 however prospects were looking up, as better managed companies entered the field, some with British capital.  Old shafts were re-worked and new ones sunk, such as the Ajax, Eureka, Sebstopol, and Old Wattle Gully.  Among the reefs being worked was Cattle’s, on which the Rowe Brothers’ Mosquito mine was famous through the district for its high rates of production.  But again reefing failed to live up to expectations and by 1875 it was on the decline.  The deepest shafts reached down over 300 metres, but attempts to get at the gold at depth failed.  During the early 1890s alluvial mining around Castlemaine produced ten times the gold mined from quartz.  Yet later in the 1890s reefing revived again, and the Spring Gully mine was successful, operating until 1917.
  Only with the construction of large scale water races or channels in the 1870s was alluvial mining reinvigorated.  Mining areas near Fryerstown and Vaughan were supplied by the system built by the Loddon and Tributaries Water Company.  Then the district closer to Castlemaine received water in races from the government’s Coliban Reservoir.  The waters from the Loddon and the Coliban rivers facilitated ground sluicing, and additional small race systems were developed to meet the increasing demand.  Not only alluvial miners were assisted by the water, for reef mining operations also utilized water to power water wheels which were used as an alternative to steam engines in driving quartz crushers.  The biggest water wheel was the massive Garfield wheel, over 20 metres in diameter, which was constructed in 1887.  However, high winds caused wobbling which limited the wheel’s efficacy; its massive stone abutments are a major landscape feature today.
 
The late 1870s saw little deep lead or quartz mining, and it was the ground sluicers who accounted for most gold production at this time.
 
Then, with the beginning of the twentieth century, hydraulic sluicing (the application of water under high pressure to break down the gold-bearing areas) stated to improve the alluvial scene.  A jet elevator system of hydraulic sluicing was one form introduced, where the washdirt was hosed down and then elevated into sluice boxes for final gold recovery; a number of these systems was soon working on the field.  By 1907 there were close to 30 sluicing plants at work.
 
Bucket dredges worked their way along the major streams from 1898 onwards, the floating pontoons with their steam-powered chains of buckets scooping up gravels and processing them on board.  By the time of the First World War the number of sluicing and dredging plants was declining, and they had all quit by 1920.
  As occurred in many other goldfields, people returned to the Castlemaine diggings during the hard times of the Depression in the early 1930s.  The price of gold rose.  Public companies commenced operations and 20 mines re-opened, while small parties of alluvial and reef miners also had success.  Tailings from old mines were treated with cyanide.
 
The greatest success was the Wattle Gully Gold Mine.  By 1937 it had won so much gold that it was the state’s biggest gold producer.  As a result, new claims were taken up all around, though they were ultimately less successful than the Wattle Gully.
 
Hydraulic sluicing and dredging also made a comeback in the 1930s-40s.  Numbers of old water races were made serviceable once again.  At Strangways between 1938 and 1948 dredging won nearly 120,000 ounces of gold.  By 1942 this company was the most successful gold producer in Victoria.
 
With the end of the dredges, alluvial mining was carried on by co-operative parties of sluicers who worked on through the 1950s.  On the reefs, the Wattle Gully mine operated until 1965, although it has since re-opened several times and there is some activity there at the present time.  The last mine on the Eureka Reef closed in 1999.
 
Around 5.6 million ounces of gold has been produced from the goldfield during its history.
 
The historical record of on-going mining in the park shows that, superimposed on the early gold-rush landscape produced by intense habitation, mining and movement, is a landscape reflecting the 'feast and famine' nature of gold mining in the area from the later 1850s to the present day.  Each of the park's rich gold-bearing gullies, hills, flats and quartz reefs has a history of re-working, stretching back to the mid-1850s.  The individual histories of many of these locations present a metronome of optimism and disgust, gullibility and desperation, technological advancement and bankruptcy, which dictated the ebb and flow between the working and abandonment of mining localities. 
 
In the pursuit of wealth, either for themselves or their employers, men puddled and sluiced alluvial gullies and hillsides, dammed creeks and gullies, built roads, constructed water races to convey water, and dug intricate networks of shafts, tunnels and open-cuts.  They erected machinery of wood, stone and iron, which, depending on the capital involved, was driven by hand, animal, steam or water power.  Machinery was added to and replaced as old ground was re-worked, shafts and tunnels extended, and new mines commenced.  The same machinery was subsequently dismantled and removed (and its mountings and housings often abandoned) as mines inevitably failed or fell on hard times.  As each phase of re-working commenced, components remaining from previous efforts were either re-used, adapted, buried, dug or sluiced away, or built over.

Condition and Integrity
The bulk of the archaeological sites in the Park date from the mid to late nineteenth century and are mostly built out of stone and local rock. They are associated with the mining of both alluvial and quartz gold and cover a range of industrial and domestic site types.  The condition of the fabric of the many archaeological sites in the park varies considerably.  Much of the mining evidence (especially of early alluvial mining) is in relatively good condition compared with many other mining fields, though individual sites might demonstrate varying condition.  Common threats to condition include erosion and weathering, and at a few sites root disturbance and damage from metal detecting/bottle hunting is noted, though these are as yet relatively isolated problems.
 
The preservation of the archaeological sites, particularly from the gold rush era, is due to absence of subsequent alluvial mining or urban expansion in the park.  Many of the gully systems have remained relatively undisturbed for at least 130 years.  Unlike other central Victorian fields (such as Maryborough, Dunolly and Tarnagulla) the Mount Alexander Goldfield has not be subject to any strip mining (doze and detect) which has been responsible for removing evidence of gold rush mining elsewhere.  Other major goldfields, such as Bendigo and Ballarat have been built over by large cities.  As a result, the park has a much higher diversity of mining remains and landscapes, with greater integrity, than any other contemporary Victorian, or indeed Australian, goldfield. 
 
A number of mining places of later nineteenth and twentieth century date in Victoria and elsewhere have substantial surviving remains, but they seldom display the early gold rush characteristics over large areas as is displayed at Castlemaine Diggings, and none show the same degree of continuity of mining activity since the 1850s .
 
In a few areas, regenerating vegetation is encroaching on mining remains.  In other cases the survival of root stock after initial timber harvesting, and the regeneration from it, has limited erosion which might otherwise have destroyed many of the mining sites.
 
Location
About 7480ha, at Castlemaine.
Bibliography
Articles, books, reports or heritage studies
·          Robyn Annear, 1999, Nothing But Gold: The Diggers of 1852, Text Publishing
·          Susan Bambrick, ed, 1994, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Australia, Cambridge University Press
·          Geoffrey Blainey, 1993, The Rush That Never Ended: a History of Australian Mining, Melbourne University Press
·          David Bannear, 1993, Historic Mining Sites in Castlemaine/Fryers Creek Mining Divisions
·          Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, Workshop Presentations.  Old Castlemaine Gaol, May 2002
·          Frank Crowley, ed, 1976, A New History of Australia.  William Heinemann
·          Donovan and Associates, 1995, ‘A Mining History of Australia’.  Part 1 of the National Mining Heritage Research Project for the Australian Council of National Trusts
·          Environment Conservation Council, 2001, Box-Ironbark Forests & Woodlands Investigation, Final Report
·          Matthew Higgins, 1990, Gold and Water: a History of Sofala and the Turon Goldfield, Robstar
·          Michael Pearson, Jane Lennon & Duncan Marshall, 2002, Heritage Action Plan, Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
·          Michael Pearson, 1994, ‘Mining Heritage Places Study: Southern and Central Queensland’.  3 vols.  Prepared for the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage
·          Michael Pearson and Barry McGowan, 2000, Mining Heritage Places Assessment Manual.  Australian Council of National Trusts
·          Michael Pearson and Barry McGowan, 2002, ‘Thematic Study of Mining in NSW’.  Prepared for the Department of Mineral Resources
·          Jane Lennon and Associates, January 1995, ‘State of the Environment Report: Culture and Heritage.  Case Study of the Cultural Landscapes of the Central Victorian Goldfields’
·          Jane Lennon, 2001, Victorian Gold¾World Heritage Status?, paper¾Nothing But Gold Conference
·          Jane Lennon and Associates, Howard Pearce, September 1996, ‘Mining Heritage Places Study: Northern and Western Queensland: Identification, assessment and documentation of cultural heritage significance’.  5 vols.  Prepared for the Queensland Department of Environment
·          Sam George, 2001, Archaeological survey of gold mining habitation sites in the Mount Alexander Diggings Area
·          T.G.Jones, 1987, Pegging the Northern Territory: a history of mining in the Northern Territory, 1870-1946.  Department of Mines and Energy, Darwin
·          Susan Lawrence (ed) 2001, Archaeological Survey of Lady’s Gully, Mount Alexander Goldfield, Latrobe University, Report
·          Iain McCalman, et al (eds), 2001, Gold: Forgotten Histories and Lost Objects of Australia, Cambridge University Press
·          G. McGill, 1999, ‘Mining Heritage Manual (Western Australia)’.  WA Department of Planning/Heritage Council
·          Mount Alexander Diggings Committee, 1999, Discovering the Mount Alexander Diggings Guide Book
·          Joy McCann, 1990, The Cultural Landscape of the Castlemaine-Chewton Goldfields, National Trust of Australia (Victoria)
·          Ray Tonkin, The Mt. Alexander Goldfield – A landscape Reconstruction, Urban Programme Research Report
·          Zvonka Stanin, 2004, Preliminary Archaeological Investigation of Chinese Residential Sites on Mount Alexander Diggings
·          Park web, Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, Parks Victoria 2004. http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1park-display.cfm?park=90
·          Wray Vamplew, ed, 1987, Australians: Historical Statistics.  Fairfax, Syme and Weldon
·          Clive Willman, 1995, Castlemaine Goldfield: Castlemaine-Chewton-Fryers Creek, Geological Survey Report 106
 
Traditional Owners and Custodians, scientists or heritage specialists
·          Brien Nelson, Elder, Jaara Jaara Loddon Aboriginal Cooperative, b.nelson@parks.vic.gov.au
·          Keir Reeves, University of Melbourne, Phd on Chinese miners, Mount Alexander Diggings, keir@unimelb.edu.au
·          Zvonka Stanin, Latrobe Uni, Archaeology, Phd on archaeology of Chinese miners, Mount Alexander Diggings, zstanin@hotmail.com
·          Associated Professor Alan Mayne, History Department, University of Melbourne, a.mayne@unimelb.edu.au
·          Paul Macgregor, Curator, Chinese Museum, Melbourne, mcah@vicnet.net.au
·          Dr Susan Lawrence, Archaeology Department, Latrobe University, s.lawrence@latrobe.edu.au
·          David Bannear, Regional Archaeology Advisor, Heritage Victoria (david.bannear@dse.vic.gov.au)
·          Ray Tonkin, Executive Director, Heritage Victoria (ray.tonkin@dse.vic.gov.au)
·          Ray Supple, Non-Indigenous Cultural Heritage Team Leader, Parks Victoria (rsupple@parks.vic.gov.au)
·          Robin Ballinger, historian, consultant, rballinger@castlemaine.net
·          Rob Kaufman, LRGM Services, heritage consultant, lrgmservices@netc.net.au
·          Robyn Annear, writer, rannear@netcon.net.au
·          Clive William, Geological Survey of Victoria, clive.willman@dpi.vic.gov.au
·          Michael Pearson, Heritage Management Consultant
·          Jane Lennon, Jane Lennon & Associates
Duncan Marshall, Heritage consultant

Report Produced  Tue Sep 2 10:04:54 2014