THE DONNYBROOK GOLD-
(By H. C. WILLIAMS.)
To many persons the Donnybrook field is perhaps unknown. Those who do know of it, and have seen references to it in the Press, are somewhat sceptical as to its genuineness. This, to some extent, is perhaps not surprising. Wild-cat flota-
tions and salted mines are not unknown features of the mining history of Western Australia, and the so-called "Dandalup" goldfield is no doubt still fresh in the minds of the public. In all parts of the mining world bogus mines are occasionally foisted upon the public, and Western Australia has not escaped the experience of other countries in this respect. It has been said, by Heine I think, that " experi- ence is a good schoolmaster, though the fees are somewhat high." This is, as we all know, very true, and those who have bought their mining experience in Western Australia, or elsewhere, have paid high fees for it. Although the find at Donnybrook appears genuine, it is perhaps well that the Government have not yet declared it a
"goldfield." Dandalup was hastily de- clared a goldfield before the country was proved. Many persons suffered heavy financial loss through the Government, in a measure, hastily declaring the district a goldfield, and so stamping it with the hall mark of genuineness. However, the Govern- ment are but human after all, and are like ordinary individuals. This, however, is only by the way. To return to Donny- brook, two hours by rail from the pleasant little town of Bunbury brings the traveller to his destination. The town, or settle- ment, consists of two hotels, a few stores, restaurant, post and telegraph office, police quarters, a church, and the usual buildings attached to a bush railway station. The buildings comprising the town are on the eastern side of the railway, and form only one side of a street, which is not an un- common feature of bush townships and
settlements in Australia. The name
"Donnybrook" sounds rather odd, as most of the names of our country townsites, especially in the South-Western district, are of native origin. Certainly Donny- brook cannot be classed as a native name of this country, and almost gives one the impression that some patriotic settler from the " Emerald Isle " had probably been the pioneer of the district, and named it after
his native town.
In townships of mushroom growth, it is usual to find hotels and other buildings constructed of timber and corrugated iron. This in itself is perhaps not objectionable, but usually the place is constructed with the least possible quantity of material con- sistent with comparative safety, and the building is consequently a mere shell. The partitions between rooms being ex- tremely thin, only serve to divide one room from another. At night when all the rooms are occupied, the effect is better imagined than described, and to those whose lot it has been to sleep in a hotel, where a partition of less than half an inch in thickness divides one room from another this reference may bring back many inter- esting recollections, on which, perhaps it is
not advisable to enlarge.
Hotel accommodation at Donnybrook is above the average to be found in the bush, and the traveller is better housed and fed than in many country towns of quarter size. The principal hotel is near the rail- way station, and, though constructed of timber, the partitions between rooms are double instead of single, and a certain amount of sleep is quite possible.
The locality of the mines is about three miles distant from the township in a south- westerly direction. A well - defined bush track passing through undulating, well timbered country, with a pleasant under growth of bracken, makes a walk to the
field anything but unpleasant. There is but little evidence of settlement between the
township and the fields, a vegetable garden about a mile from the railway station, and within a few chains of the track, being the only sign of agricultural or any other pur-
The first evidence of the existence of gold-mining operations is a claim situate a
little distance from the track on the western side, and about two miles from the railway station. This claim is worked by Hislop and party, and is in little more than the prospecting stage. Encouraging look- ing stone has been obtained, and there appears to be every indication of payable results. To the eastern side of this claim, and across the track about fifteen chains, is Cammilleri's camp and workings, pic- turesquely situated on rising ground. Mr. Cammilleri, vrho started mining operations on the Donnybrook field in August last year, holds three leases, on which a good deal of work has been done in a compara- tively short time. On lease No. 1 a shaft has been put down to 50ft. On lease No. 2 a shaft has been put down 47ft., at 20ft. a drive has been put in 20ft. south, and at present level two drives east and west have been extended to a short distance of 16ft. and 20ft. On lease No. 3 a shaft is down 40ft. and a drive 45ft. east, and two drives at present level of 18ft. and one 20ft. north. From lease No. 2 it will probably be remembered that a few months age a crushing was put through at the Northam battery, which yielded 1 1/2oz. per ton. It is generally considered by capable authorities that Mr. Cammilleri has a very promising show. As an experienced miner the propery will be thoroughly tested in his hands. Mr. Cammilleri, it may be interesting to state, was among those who took part in the ill-starred Kimberley rush in 18SS. Since then he has followed mining with some success, being the for- tunate discoverer of the now famous Han- nans Brown Hill mine.
Leaving the well set up and comfortable camp of Mr. Cammilleri, and the hospitality of his co-worker and representative, Mr. Layman, a stone crusher of quaint appear- ance and novely of design took my atten- tion. This machine is so ingenious in con- struction that a short description may be
of interest. The name of the machine is
" Rigg's Ball Crusher," and it takes its name from the inventor. The crusher proper consists of a trough of cast iron with
false bottoms of hematite iron which can
be replaced at any time. The trough is hung above centre and is given a rocking motion by means of a crank shaft, which
sets a cast hematite ball of 8cwt. in motion
rolling from one end of the trough to the other, by which action the stone is crushed. Gratings are fixed on each end, so that stone must be crushed fine enough before leaving trough, thence passing through grating into ripple box with copper plates, which rock same as trough. Tailings are then dis- charged into an amalgamator, whence they are forced through the centre of a body of quicksilver, by their own weight, then passed over plates the same as in an ordinary battery. The advantages claimed by the inventor for the machine are - a good gold saver, being equal to assaying tests, machines cheaply and easily worked, and requiring less power to work them than any other machine. Each machine is capable of crushing 12 tons of ore per week. " Kanowna pug," Mr. Rigg in- formed me, has been most successfully treated by these machines. One parcel treated gave a return of loz. 3dwt. per ton, as against 18dwt. per ton of the same parcel crushed by a machine at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. At the time of my visit, the crusher was at work, and it appeared
to be an effective machine.
Leaving Mr. Rigg and his crusher I was directed to Hunter's claim. This claim is situate about half a mile south-east from Rigg's crusher between two hills. Mr. Hunter is the oldest prospector of the dis- trict, and may fitly be called the " father of the field." On arriving at his claim he was manning the windlass, but courteously suspended operations, and invited me to go below, " as far as he had got," and with the " foot in the sling " method I was lowered to the level where drives are being put in north and south at 20ft. A very much greater depth has been attained in the shaft, but owing to the inrush of water and absence of pumps a platform had to be erected and two drives, north and south, were being proceeded with. Mr. Hunter is well pleased with his prospects, which are considered one of the best on the field. He is the typical miner of the genuine sort, and it is a pleasure to meet such. Tanned to a good wearing colour,
nearly seventy years of age, wiry and very active, it is wonderful to soe him hauling up bucket after bucket of stone, appar- ently doing his day's work as well as the two stalwart young miners he has below. Each has a share in the mine, and the work is naturally being carried on with energy and enthusiasm.
Within a stone's throw of Hunter's claim is being erected a Tremain mill by a Cookernup syndicate, Messrs. M. A. Wick- ham and H. McCoy. This type of mill is so well known that a lengthy description is hardly necessary. It is a two-stamp mill, which can be driven to 200 strokes per minute. It is driven by a 25in. boiler, which, it is stated, is sufficiently powerful to work two mills.
A few chains from the mill, and on the same line of reef as Hunter's claim, at the south end, is a lease held by the " Cookernup Prospecting Syndicate," gener- ally known as Bourke's claim. This lease, as is the case with many others, is on private property. Furrow marks, which are still visible, indicate recent cultivation. The plough has now given way to the miner's pick and shovel and blasting pow- der and fuse. On the lease held by the Cookernup Prospecting Syndicate, three shafts are down. From shaft No. 1 at a depth of 14ft. eight tons of stone were sent to the Northam battery and yielded 16dwt. per ton. Shaft No. 2 is down 40ft.; 18 tons of stone from this shaft is being treated by Riggs crusher. Shaft No. 3 is down 70ft.; reef found in driving west, the stone averaging 4ft. in width, and from which a yield is expected of about 18dwt. to an ounce per ton.
While it will be seen that as far as present workings go the field may be con- sidered to be in little more than the pro- specting stage, and stone being compara- tively low grade, it is thought that half an ounce per ton will pay. Wood and water are in abundance, the field has a railway station within three miles, wages are low, and provisions are easily and cheaply obtainable. There are other leases being worked than those I have mentioned, but those referred to are the chief ones. Whether the field will prove to be pay- able it is perhaps early to say, but indications are certainly favourable. Honest work is being done on the leases. The men have the true miners' spirit and honesty of purpose, and are working to develop and test the value of their respective properties for their own benefit, and not with the intention of getting up a bogus rush, and endeavour to palm off upon the would-be investor a
worthless or salted mine.
The conditions of a mining life at Donnybrook, as compared with other mining districts in the colony, may almost be said to be luxurious. All necesaries of life, and many luxuries (even the WEST AUS- TRALIAN) are brought to the field three days a week, from the township. Nine hours by rail enables one to reach the capital of the colony and as near to what one can get in this part of the world, to
what is called civilisation.
During my stay on the field I was kindly put up at the camp of a Mr. D. Murcott, M.I.C.E., who is interested in a lease at Donnybrook, and to him I wish to express my appreciation for his hospitality in his camp, and kindness in showing me round the country. Mr. Murcott is a civil en- gineer by profession, and has had extensive experience in England, Egypt and Aus- tralia, and has had the distinction of having served under the eminent engineer, Sir Benjamin Baker, of Forth Bridge