RANDOM NOTES BY A WANDERING
THE GULGONG RUSH.
HAVING just visited the Gulgong rush, which is, at present exciting it great deal of attention amongst the miners in the Western district. I shall depart for the time from my regular ¿jwqf^ road in order to lay before you the observations
I have made in order that miners elsewhere may have some guide for their movements.
The present workings are situated about twenty miles from Mudgee in a north-westerly direction, and at no very great distance from the Cudgegong River. The road by which I travelled passed through the Lower Pipeclay diggings. These as well as the Upper Pipeclay are now com- pletely deserted, the few men who remained working about the old ground having gone off to the Gulgong. These diggings were never rich. The gold was found in patches rather than in runs, so that though there were a few good claims, the majority were only just barely payable. The sinking, too, though light, was all haphazard, from the fact of there being no distinct run of gutter. Sometimes the gold was found for a width of three, four, or five claims, then coming down to two or one, and then running out, to be picked up again three or four claims distant to the right or left. The Upper Pipeclay was somewhat better, as there was more of a defined gutter, and the gold when obtained was generally more payable. On the whole, they were rather what miners term " a poor man's diggings," an expression which was defined to me by an old grey-bearded digger, a diggings " which finds you poor, and keeps you poor."
After passing the Pipeclay there are many gullies and small flats which have been prospected, and some which have been worked, more or less extensively. In fact, the whole course of the Cudgegong is through an auriferous country, and there is hardly a likely spot amongst the flats and short ridges of the adjoining ranges in which the "colour" cannot be obtained. The Gulgong reef, which is about two miles nearer Mudgee than the present alluvial workings, was opened up about two years ago, and some very good payable stone has been grassed from it. Owing to the scarcity of water, no nearer site for an engine could be obtained than the margin of the creek, three miles from the reef. The
expense of carting this distance told very much against the reefers, but still they continued to work on and to pay fair dividends, until the present wet weather set in. Then the bush became so saturated that it was found impossible to cart the stone to the engine, and work was ultimately knocked of. But the wet which had rendered the bush so rotten had also given a
supply of water to many gullies previously desti-
tute of it ; and the reefers, being shut out from their own work, commenced prospect- ing the surrounding country. Everywhere the colour was to be found, but gold was not found in sufficent quantity to satisfy the prospectors, until Mr. Deitz commenced a prospect of the hill, which has just been rushed. In the first dish of surfacing which he took from
it, he picked out two or three small nuggets, besides washing out about a couple of penny- weights of coarse gold. The result of the wash- ing was soon known, and it was not very long before ground was taken up on every side, and hardly a week had elapsed before the whole hill
side was rushed.
In the first instance the work was all surfac- ing, but a party of Germans who had worked out their surface claim commenced sinking. At a depth of four feet the bed rock was struck, being a much decomposed slate, with about fourteen inches of washdirt lying on it. The value of this washdirt may be gathered from the fact that from a small patch of only four feet square over 300 oz. were taken out. The gold was all coarse and nuggetty, and amongst it was a nugget weighing 31 oz. After their splendid find the surlacers, who were on the point of abandoning their claims as worked out, commenced at them again, and sank for the second layer of auriferous drift. Everywhere below the original surfacing, the washdirt has been found to be very rich, though in no instance has it come up to the splendid yield of the Germans' claim. I watched several men at work, and, with only from three to five feet sinking, it is very easy to do so, and I saw them repeatedly pick up nuggets of one and two pennyweights as they turned over the
The next step was to search for a lead or run of gold down from the hill to the valley below. When I use the term hill, it must not be imagined that I desire to convey the impression of a steep, towering mountain. On the contrary, the Gulgong Hill is nothing more than a very gentle acclivity, running down at a very small gradient into a wide-spread flat, and the water- courses formed by inequalities in the hill side
are but bareiy perceptible, and would be hardly recognisable except by the practised eye of the bushman or the miner. Numerous shafts were sunk by new-comers upon the lines of these water courses, and three distinct runs of gold were struck. In each the sinking was very shal- low, the greatest depth being about twelve feet ; and the gold continued to get finer and finer, until at last it ran out. It is not more than two months ago that the ground was discovered, and now it may almost be said that the area of auri- ferous soil has been defined. Coming upon the ground as I did, with all the old remembrances of former rushes which I had visited, I felt that I was arrived at an old and deserted diggings rather than at a new rush. There were very few
men to be seen working ; whilst the long lines of deserted shafts on the three runs, without so much as a windlass over them, certainly gave no promise of prosperity.
That a great deal of gold has been got out of a huge proportion of the claims is unquestion- able, and there is no doubt that a great deal more remains to be raised ; but then the ground is so shallow and so easily workable that the claims have been worked out in a much shorter time than is usual. Here the area of auriferous deposit is so small that, having once worked out his claim, or sunk a duffer, the miner has not been able to set in again, and in most cases has left the ground. Of course it is difficult to estimate the number of the population at these places, owing to the men being so scattered about ; still at a new and prosperous rush they
are mostly to be seen of an evening promenading the main street of the diggings, in order to meet friends or acquaintances. About 8 o'clock you will find the street perfectly thronged, if the rush is really a promising one. Even at Emu Creek, which was not a very extensive rush, I have seen as many as three thousand men in the main street in the evening. At the Gulgong, I went
out thinking to see something of the same kind ; but I got back to my quarters again as quick as
I could, for I felt almost as if I was in danger of being left alone, the " last man" on the Gulgong. I passed about nine people in the street, the larger part of whom were leaning disconsolately against posts, or other supports, as if they neither hoped nor cared to meet anybody, or anything. Joining this paucity of evening promenaders to the very
sparse manner in which I saw the men scattered about the workings. I should say that, at the very outside, there could not be more than five hun- dred men on the ground.
Besides the limited extent of the alluvial
deposits, there is another drawback to the expec- tation that Gulgong will be an extensive gold- field, in the absence of anything like a supply of water. Even with the present rainy season,
which has given us abundance of surface water, washing is carried on with the greatest difficulty ;
and the small stores of it which have been obtained by miniature dams, hastily constructed from the debris thrown out of the holes, much after the fashion of children damming up a gutter, are becoming so thick as to be useless for saving anything but the coarsest gold. The nearest supply of water is quite a mile distant, and a Rood deal of the stuff is being carted there for washing. But even that is not permanent water, and when the dry weather sets m, I am told that there is no standing water within three miles. This alone must militate very greatly against the Gulgong, especially as I saw no good dam sites in its vicinity. But for this, there is no doubt that the whole of the stuff on the hill would well pay for sluicing.
AsjuWy of four men, backed by persons on the spot|¡ Wflj prospeciing for a deep lead in the flat about a mile from the workings. They have put down and bottomed three shafts, the rock under ground rapidly sinking as they go on. The last shaft bottomed at 127 feet, and it was said that a prospect taken from the wash belo showed the colour of gold. Several parties, however, took prospects from the wash, and in no instance was even the smallest speck discoverable. The sink- ing in each instance was through a very remark- able bed of much decomposed trap, so far disin- tegrated ,as to be workable with the pick without blasting. The men are now sinking a fourth shaft, and were down about seventy feet when I
left. The general impression is that a lead will not be found in the flat at all ; but, without say- ing anything on that point, I may observe that,
even if there be a deep lead, it stands very little chance of being discovered when all the work of prospecting is thrown upon a single party of men. By a combination between half a dozen such parties, putting down lines of shafts across the flat, and connecting with each other by drives, the whole of the bed-rock might be ex- amined without the slightest chance of missing a lead, if it exists. Now, the men may be within six, or even two, feet of a lead, and yet pass it by. In all these cases there is always too much of this sort of thing. The labour of discovery is thrown upon some hardworking energetic party of men, whilst those who expect to profit by any dis- covery which may be made content thomselves with looking on amiably at the hard work, smoking their pipes the while as they shepherd their claims. Again, looking at the circumstance of the overlying bed of trap, evidently from its decomposed state a very early flow, the deposits on the lull can scarcely be taken as a guide to whatever may be below, as, should gold exist there, it must have been deposited at an earlier date than that which has been just unearthed, and by a current altogether distinct from that which lodged the other. Thus merely sinking across the line of indentation of the hill will give no surety that the bed of the old stream has been struck. However, those are purely specu- lative questions, and I have rather to deal with matters of fact ; and I therefore repeat that the last shaft has not yet been bottomed, adding that, if it proves a duffer, many of those who are now waiting the result will at once leave the ground.
On the very day on which I reached Gulgong over a hundred men left it for Tallewong, a locality about eight miles distant, in a north-west direction. It is a spot which was rushed some weeks back, and then just as quickly deserted. Some men, however, had faith in the place, stuck to it, and were rewarded by a good find. This caused a rush, and I learn that some three hundred people gathered on the ground. I
saw some of the men who had come back from the place after having ridden over to look at the spot, and they gave no very promising account of it; and Mr. Norman Taylor informs me that the field must necessarily be a very limited one, as he has made a geological inspection of the spot, has found it to be a comparatively small area, barely a square mile in extent, shut in by carboniferous rocks on the east, and by granite on the west.
It is certainly astonishing to see the rapidity with which a new diggings is nowadays at once supplied with goods of every description. Gul- gong forms no exception, for in spite of that general subject of complaints, the state of the roads, there are some seven or eight stores all well stocked with goods—so well stocked indeed that they have been able to be first in the field by sending out supplies to Tallewong. Two public houses have been erected, and two others are in course of construction ; and there are two billiard tables, offering the only amusement by which the digger can pass away his evening. At the inn at which I stopped, I am sure that there were not twenty men came in to drink in the course of the evening. This would almost go to show an im- proved moral tone amongst the miners ; only un- fortunately it happens to be the fact that the sale of liquor is not confined to the licensed houses, and that there are about ten times as many places at which the digger can liquor up, and which have not put themselves in communication with
Her Majesty's Treasury, than those in which he
can get his legitimate drinks, and be poisoned
according to the Act in that case made and pro-
From all I have said, it will be gathered, that is if I have expressed' my meaning properly, that
the Gulgong rush is not likely to be of a very lasting, still less of a permanent character. It is possible that similar patches to that already opened may fee discovered, or that small runs of gold may be struck somewhere in the neigh- bourhood ; but looking at the whole character of the auriferous deposits yet worked in the vicinity of the Cudgegong, I am not inclined to think it likely that any new discoveries will be more lasting than those which have gone before, and these have been either patches or ill-defined runs. As to Gulgong, the setting-in of dry weather will, I am afraid, wind it up altogether.
A DISREPUTABLE MOB.—The Gulgong cor- respondent of the Western Post gives the following account of Sabbath desecration on that gold-field :— Sunday on a new rush is something (if last Sunday may be taken as a criterion) to strike one with horror who regards that day as a Sabbath, and with the respect due from a Christian. The whole day the town was annoyed and disgraced by a large ring of roughs playing two up and other gambling games. Their quarrels, imprecations, and lewd jests, literally yelled out, rendered their conduct truly disgraceful and unmanly, as the immediate neighbourhood of their villanous and unhallowed school contains many respectable women and a large number of children. When night set in blackguardism was in the very zenith of its glory; and the place a perfect Pandemonium. Several sham fights, blustering and bloodless fights of impious and filthy recriminations took place, for the purpose of getting a crowd together. Several of the unwary tempted to behold the low sport, had their pockets picked, one respectable, well-known resident being relieved of his watch, another of his purse containing £3. The row continued until about 10 o'clock p.m., and was then stopped by the interference of some diggers, who turned out in consequence of it being impossible for them to sleep while the Babel con- tinued. They threatened to bring sound muscular
Christianity to bear on the school for their regenera- tion, and thus succeeded in abating the nuisance. During my colonial experience I have never heard language, the very quintessence of filthiness and blasphemy, like that used by these roughs. Thanks to the rush at Tallawang, and the presence this last day or two of a trooper here, the school is broken up. Surely one trooper might be stationed here ; his pre- sence would have a healthy effect.