Nov 2014 Goldfields run

Nov 2014 Goldfields run


23rd November 2015

On the Saturday night we were still undecided as to whether or not to go on the run due to the predicted humid 30 degree temperature and we had lots of jobs to do around the house. We decided to toss a coin, heads we go and tails we work on the house - well it looks like heads won. With that decision made do we take the Oxford or the modern? That was an easy one, be lazy and keep cool in the modern.

We left home around 8.45am, stopped for petrol and the Sunday Mail and arrived at the clubrooms to see a large number of club cars gleaming in the morning sunshine. After a few seconds of feeling guilty for not bringing the Oxford we signed in and collected our run sheets. I did hear someone mention it was going to be quite an interesting and scenic route - and they weren’t wrong.

We left the carpark just after 10am and made our way down Cross Road, Unley Road, Belair Road, Blythewood Road and into Old Belair Road. By now we had left the ‘plains’ suburbs behind and were enjoying the steep and winding hills roads. We continued onto Upper Sturt Road, passing the National Park and Golf Club, before veering right into Pole Road at Upper Sturt. Well it wasn’t quite a veer, we, like many others, overshot and had to do a U turn at the General Store.

Pole Road was 'interesting' and I made the comment to Anne that at least Bruce didn’t bring one of his Bedfords. The road was narrow, winding, had sharp curves and was quite steep in places. We then continued onto Ironbark Road and made our way to Mylor Oval where we were one of the last to arrive. Everyone was seated and enjoying the break. B1 and B2 had found the General Store and were walking back with pasties, which made us hungry.

The countryside around Mylor was still quite green but the storekeeper (yes, we were weak and bought a couple of pies) made the comment that if she wanted this hot and humid weather she would have chosen to live in Queensland. By the time we returned to the oval cars were already leaving and so we followed.

It was not a very long drive to the Chapel Hill Gold Diggings and after parking the car on the side of the road we walked part way down one of the trails - as far as the ruins. Edd had great pleasure in showing off his ‘gold nugget’ and telling everyone home many Rovers he could buy with it.  

Another short drive took us to Jupiter Creek Gold Diggings. The diggings have quite and interesting history dating back to the mid 1800s. The first major discovery of gold was made at Chapmans Gully (near Echunga) in 1852 and during the rest of that century there were a number of new gold discoveries and minor rushes in the area. By the turn of the century the Echunga Goldfields became the states major gold producing area. 

Estimated production from the Jupiter Creek diggings was between 25,000 and 50,000 ounces of gold but unfortunately very little of the infrastructure remains. In the early 1900s there was an attempt to treat the alluvial gold deposits in bulk by large scale hydraulic sluicing but this was unsuccessful due to the low grade material. However, one of the three sluicing dams survives and is accessible from one of the walking trails.

There were a few other structures to see and numerous walking trails, but I was particularly interested in seeing the circular stone chimney and the tunnel at the New Phoenix Adit.

The 1869 built chimney was connected to a Cornish tubular boiler and steam engine by an underground stone flue and parts of the latter are still visible. In 1932 a tunnel was driven 80 metres into the hill from the banks of Battery Creek, near the old chimney. The tunnel is still in excellent condition and passes through sandstone with thin inter-bedded layers of shale. No gold bearing reefs were tapped until the tunnel reached two old shafts on the southern side of Fosters Gully. Today the tunnel has boards placed on the ground for easier public access and a vertical metal stairway and the other end.

After being given directions by Libby a small group of us headed off looking for the tunnel. It wasn’t long before we reached the metal stairway at the exit so we thought it would be easy to find the entrance. Anne, Barry and a few others decided to return to the carpark but Brian, Chris, Dennis and myself decided to continue to the entrance. That was when things started to get interesting. First off we continued down the path and after a while we reached the Heysen Trail, do we turn left or right? We turned right and kept walking, and walking, and joking about getting close to Victor Harbour, passing through into another property before we decided to turn around and go back to the junction. Which we did and upon arrival took the track to the sluicing dam, but no sign of a mine entrance. We returned once again to the junction, by which time Dennis thought he had better return to the car, leaving Brian, Chris and myself to take the other track with a dogged determination to find that dam tunnel entrance.

Re-reading the guide to the diggings and Ric and LIbbys run sheet, the entrance to the mine is near the chimney. Surely we wouldn’t miss a chimney. Eventually things looked interesting, fenced off shafts and eureka! - a chimney. It wasn’t long before Brian spotted the tunnel entrance - we had reached our goal.

Needless to say when we arrived back at the carpark there were very few people left. It was a short drive again to Echunga where we met up with everyone else for our lunch stop, although by this time it was almost mid afternoon.

After lunch and a chat we headed home, only stopping to buy some fresh cherries on the side of the road. Thanks to Ric and Libby for organising an interesting club run. We are glad we went.

Steve McNicol

Article ID: NOVY36

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