THE GOLD FIELDS.
WITH regard to the gold prospects of Shellharbour, the Illawarra Express of Tuesday observes :-The parties engaged in seeking for gold on the beach at Shellharbour are persevering in that pursuit with vigour and sanguine expectations of moderate success. We took satisfactory means during the past week of ascertaining the facts con- nected with those operations, as by the vague rumours and reports that have hitherto been circulated concerning them, it was impossible to arrive at any conclusion as to the real or possible truth of the matter. We shall therefore pro- ceed to give a brief but correct statement of the main
features of the whole affair. It appears that on Mr. Thomas Henry's return from New Zealand, where he had acquired considerable experience in obtaining gold from sand on the sea shore in that country, he determined on testing the sand on the beaches along the coast of these districts, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not gold might be contained in it. The result of Mr. Henry's experiments in this sand pros- specting was that after finding minute specks of gold in various places on several of the beaches, he decided, about a month ago, upon commencing operations on a practical scale at Mr. Killalea's, on a small sandy beach to the south of the " Long Point," and about a mile in a straight direc- tion from the shipping port of Shellharbour. Mr. Henry's party consists of four men, and, being the prospectors, they have a right to a double claim according to the gold-fields regulations. The party has been at work about the time we have stated, and the appliances or machinery used by them is similar to that employed in New Zealand for a like purpose. The layer or strata of sand which is being washed is about eighteen inches or two feet in thick- ness, and has a dark, iron-like appearance. It is also thickly interspersed with water-worn pebbles and stones, which gives it a kind of sandy gravel resemblance.
This "washing stuff" is covered (at about highwater mark), where the prospectors are at work, with about two feet of drift sand, of which it has to be stripped. After the loose sand has been removed, the " washing stuff," which rests also on a bed of pure drift sand, is picked out, and passed through a machinery, of which the following is a rough description :-The " washsand," stones, and pebbles, on being put into an elevated hopper, with a perforated sheet-iron bottom, is played upon by a constant stream of water, which is produced by means of a small Californian pump which is worked by hand, from a sort of coffer- dam tank erected in the sand for that purpose. By this means the sand is quickly washed through the perforated hopper, which at the same time prevents the stones and pebbles from following. On falling from the hopper the sand passes over three transversely set copper slides, which are overlaid with quicksilver, with which the minute particles of gold amalgamate as they come in contact with it. After passing over these slides, the sand is carried by the same artificial stream of water through a shallow trough or sluice, about eighteen inches wide and ten feet long, and the bottom of which is covered with thick plush cloth, for the purpose of retaining any par- ticles of gold which may escape the quicksilver on the plates. As the party have not yet retorted any of the amalgam, they can only judge its value from appearance, which seems to inspire them with considerable hopes of success. They express a confidence, however, of making " good wages" at the work, and the time and expense which they are spending on the prospect certainly go far to prove the sincerity of their statements. The machinery, exclusive of quicksilver and other items of expense, must have cost them a considerable amount of money. There is another party in active opera- tions also at the same place, and seem equally pleased and hopeful with the prospectors. Several other parties are making preparations to commence operations also. The land along the coast in that locality is the property of Mrs. Darley, of Sydney, Mr. C. T. Smith, of this town, being the agent for the same, Mr. Killalea (to whom all persons taking up claims on the beach referred to pay 10s. per month) rents the farm opposite the scene of operations, and has shares in several of the claims taken up, the prospecting one included."