THE GOLD REEFS.
(From our own Correspondent.)
Pine Creek, November 29.
We left the Palmerston Mining Company's camp, Howley Creek, on the morning of the 25th, and struck across to the Cosmopolitan claim, which is also in the Howley district, at a few miles distance from the Palmerston. The Cosmopolitan is a private affair, and is being worked by two men, Cooper and Aubin. They have followed a gold-bearing quartz reef down about sixty feet, besides driving a tunnel at 30 feet, and have raised some promising stone. These men are work- ing with a will, and in that respect offer a strong contrast to most of the Howley Com- panies. They are men who have roughed it very much since they have been up here. A party of four of them lived a long time last year in this wild district with no other provisions than bad flour, salt, and tea. They were trying the alluvial diggings then, and when they washed up at the close of the season they had 16 ounces for each man.
From the Cosmopolitan we proceeded to the Shackle--a distance of about 30 miles. This place is now quite a village, though 12 months ago there was no settlement here ; there was nothing but an empty box turned upside down, on which the telegraph opera- tor sat and transmitted his messages by means of a temporary shackle along the line. There is now a wooden house for the Tele- graph offices, besides lots of huts and tents be- longing to private persons. A public-house is also being erected.
The Warden's quarters and the police camp are at this place, but they consist of nothing but old tents, through which the rain beats as easily as through a sieve. This is bad for the police and their uniforms ; and is still worse for the Warden, who has official documents and papers of all sorts which ought to be kept dry.
There is a considerable amount of business now done at the Shackle telegraph station, as all the mining news comes here from Yam Creek and Pine Creek, besides which Sandy Creek is close by with its alluvial gold dig- gings. I have seen some good specimens of gold here, but only in small quantities. There are rumours, however, of larger finds. The telegraph operators have a small flock of sheep feeding about here in apparently good condition, and the country looks well.
Our horses have to be changed here for fresh ones, as they did 40 miles a day for the first two days, and were also well worked yesterday. This is pretty good, considering the extremely warm weather. We start this morning (the 27th) for Pine Creek, and will thus leave the Yam Creek district on one side until our return.
There is a great deal of good and pretty looking country beyond the Shackle, and in consequence of recent thunderstorms the grass is looking quite green, though no rain has fallen at Pine Creek itself up to the present time. The ride altogether is a pleasant one, and much of the scenery amongst the hills is good, especially when lit up every now and then by great flashes of lightning, which seem to blaze all round instead of coming in sudden streaks. At about eight o'clock in the evening we arrive at the head- quarters of the Telegraph Mining Com- pany, Pine Creek, and are kindly received by Captain Phillips, who resides here as manager in charge of the works now being established for crushing the Company's quartz--an operation which he is quite ready to enter upon, and is now only waiting for a good fall of rain. The machinery is all in working order, and a quantity of stone is lying in readiness to be crushed. All the machinery is of the best description. There is a battery of five heads made by Langlands and Co., of Melbourne, and it is considered the neatest manufacture of the kind. The engine is a single cylinder portable engine of seven horse power, nominal. On the 10th of the present month both engine and stampers were started for a trial, and they were found to work splendidly. The tables for saving the gold are twenty feet long, with copperplate and silver ripples at the bottom, and blankets above the plates, reach- ing to the stamper-box, as Captain Phillips believes it is best to save as much clean gold as possible from the blankets before amalga- mating, because it is as yet unknown what base metals may exist in the Northern Territory quartz. In front of the machinery a dam has been constructed by an embank- ment having been thrown across the creek. This is a strong work and the dam is pitch- paved all over, logged at the back on the down-stream side, and with a strong puddle wall through the centre of the dam, well stayed. Over this it is intended that the water should be allowed to run, so that it will act as a weir as well as a dam. The length of the dam when full is about three
hundred yards ; it will be forty feet wide, and averaging six feet deep throughout.
Altogether this work is on a most eligible site. The number of men employed by the Telegraph and Eleanor Companies, including drivers, sawyers, &c, is 30. These men have been employed in building, raising quartz, carting supplies, &c., and all the timber used for building and machinery has
been cut in the bush around (within a dis-
tance of four miles) and prepared on the ground. Two sawyers are constantly
employed in this work, and will remain so, in order to provide for underground workings. At present the only thing wanted for the crushing is water. There is none to any ex- tent within four miles which could be used to advantage by the different claims, or which would be at all central. Nothing can therefore be done until the rain sets in. Captain Phillips de-
serves credit for his energy in getting the
works so far advanced, and he has signalised his readiness to commence crushing by hoist- ing on the engine-house a smart flag bearing the inscription, "Telegraph and Eleanor Companies Pioneer Crushing Plant. Novem- ber 10th, 1873." The engine and stamper sheds are strongly constructed with N. T. pine posts, and covered with corrugated iron. It is a good room building, well adapted to its proposed use.
We have described the Telegraph Com- pany's works thus fully because this Com- pany is the only one on Pine Creek which has made much progress towards crushing. We visited most of the other claims and made a note of those on which work is being done. Starting from the Eleanor claims, where some men were employed blasting stone for crushing, we went on to Telegraph No. 2, and from there to the claims of the Kapunda Prospecting Company, where there are several shafts sunk, and gold found in all. These are in Gahdy's Gully, the place where McLachlan found gold. We next came to the claims of the South Telegraph Company, where a shaft has been sunk to a pepth of 26 feet on gold-bearing quartz, the specimens of which are good. We then passed the Lewis's Gold Mining Company's claim on the left and the Christmas claim on the right, where there is a reef with good prospects, and went to the North Eleanor claims, where a tunnel was being driven into the side of a hill for the purpose of intercepting the gold-bearing quartz reef of the Christmas claim. From this point we passed by the Northern Territory Gold Prospecting Claims and Uhr's Prospecting claim, and came to the workings of the Royal Standard and Edel Maria Companies. Here a large dam is being made, and some good stone has been raised. Sixteen men are employed here, and an en- gine is on the ground, but not fixed. The Telegraph Company's south claims come next. Here there are two shafts being sunk --one on gold-bearing stone estimated to yield well, and the other is a shaft of 30 feet deep, at which depth it is intended to cross- cut through what is said to be extremely good stone, there being a large reef visible on the surface. It is this stone which is being carted for the first crushings. The Empire claim comes next, and here there is a shaft 25 feet down, with a cross-cutting 20 feet in length. There are also the claims of the South Eleanor Company, where a dam is being constructed ; the Pine Creek Com- pany, where two or three men are at work ; and a great many others ; but there is no work going on worth notice beyond what we have mentioned. And in some cases, unfor- tunately, as in the Pine Creek Company's claims and the Empire claims, there seems to be no promise of the large percentage of gold which the promoters spoke of. If tley saw it in the stone, it is more than anybody else can.
To the east of the Eleanor reef, at a distance of about two miles, there is the Caledonian reef, on which claims have been taken up. On one of these a shaft has been sunk 35 feet, and it is intended to continue it to a depth of 50 feet, in order to cut the reef, which has been found to bear gold extensively distributed on the surface. The country here is very level, and there are great facilities for the construction of a dam in the creek which runs close by.
I will next week send you an account of the Yam Creek district, and of other reefs, such as the Britannia, the Morning Star claims, the Alexandra, &c. As far as I have yet seen, and as far as my enquiries go, it cannot be said that affairs generally are looking very satisfactory in the gold reef country. There may be large quantities of gold. The stone raised, and being raised may be as rich as any in the world ; but the
actual truth as to this matter is not much
nearer than it was twelve months ago. It is true that the leading Company on Pine Creek will be able to crush quartz directly the rain sets in, and as far as concerns the stone which may be then crushed, something positive will be known. But of the reefs generally, we are likely to be as much in the dark as ever for a very considerable length
What most of the Companies have done is to take it for granted that their claims are very rich, and to launch out into large expenditure on the strength of that suppo- sition ; whereas, in other parts of the world it has become the practice to get some proof of the richness first, and to incur the large expenditure afterwards. On many of the claims at the present moment hundreds of pounds are being expended in constructing dams, erecting machinery, and building houses, where not a farthing is being laid out in bringing stone to the surface or testing the value of the quartz reefs below the ground. In the Howley district, again, it is melancholy to ride along the country and see expensive works apparently abandoned, without anything having been done to prove whether the reefs are rich or otherwise. There are quite as good indications as there were before a single company was started ; yet, after a little work, and a great deal of expenditure the men have been discharged, and the places have been almost deserted.
A few Companies there are which are pressing on their works, and one or two of them have been doing it in a reasonable and business-like manner, though nearly all have been extravagant. However, the general opinion as to the value of the reefs remains unchanged. The most competent managers say that they have never seen better indications in any country, and they are as hopeful as they were twelve months ago. But even these men admit that gold in the Northern Territory will have to be very abundant indeed to pay for the cost of production, when it is considered what frightful waste and expenditure have been incurred by the majority of the Companies.