FROM THE DIGGINGS.
We have permission to publish the following cir- cumstantial letter which has been received by Mr. S. Goldsack from Mr. E. G. Day, of Hope Valley, who is now at Mount Alexander :—
Forest Creek, Mount Alexander, February 21st, 1852. Sir— Agreeably to my promise, I take the earliest oppor- tunity to furnish you with some particulars respecting the Gold-fields in tbe neighbourhood of Mount Alexander, to which such vast numbers of the men of Adelaide have transported themselves, as a sure road to wealth ; but that it is not so, many have found, and are still finding to their cost ; however, I write not to moralize, but to teach, by the statement of a few simple facts that my fellow colonists may at least have some antidote to the delirum of this worst form of ' Yellow Fever.' The locality from which I write, is called the ' Forest Creek,' although most of the hills and flats have specific names, such as 'Golden Point,' 'Adelaide Gully,' &c. The scenery is much the same as in our own 'bush,' rather thickly wooded with gum and stringy bark, With a wattle of a smaller leaf and different style of foliage, called silver wattle. The hills and the flats between them have been very extensively dug into holes of different sizes, shapes, and depths, the depths varying from a few feet to 25 feet, and in many instances excavated for several feet laterally. Considerable outlay of labour and capital has been necessary to carry on these mining operations, and the instances are neither few nor far between, where the final result has not been a balance in favour of the gold seeker. I have walked along this Forest Creek for some five miles, the same appearance is presented to the eye. The bed of the creek is dry and dusty, or filled with a yellow mud, the refuse of the ' Washing.' Along its banks stand tubs, and cradles, with hundreds of washers in large round dishes. Since the drying up of the stream, holes have been sunk on the banks to the depth of 10 to 12 feet ; from these a good supply of water has been procured, but these are fast drying up, owing to the continued dry weather ; and we are in daily expectation of having the cry of ' water, water,' everywhere ; and not a drop to drink. Along the line of the creek which, is as tortuous as the lovers of meandering streams could desire, and up each flat, at the base of the hills, are the tents of the army of diggers, not, it is true, of the military style, this belonging to the Commissioner and other officials ; still they are in many instances commodious enough, and those belonging to the stores have white, tri-coloured, and many coloured flags, flying from the forks of their ridge-poles. There are a few tents of doubtful character, who ostensibly sell ' Lemonade ' at sixpence a glass ; but their real character becomes known when the Commissioner by a stretch of authority, consigns them to the ' fiery trial,' which con
certs their canvas to tinder, and their ' spirits to pale blue flame.' This may suffice to put you in possession of some idea of the sort of place we are in. The first view of the diggings reminded me of an extensive fair ; but a nearer inspection suggested an idea more sad. The deep pits, so thickly strewn, seemed like so many open graves. Of the expense of living you may form some idea when I tell you that flour is sold retail at 5d. per lb., or in bags of 1 cwt. for £2 ; butter is 3s.; cheese, 2s. 6d. per lb. ; good black tea, 2s. per lb.. ; ship biscuits, 10d. per lb, ; mutton, by the quarter, 2s. 6d. to 3s. each; beef is a scarce commodity and fetches 6d. per lb. ; candles, 1s. per lb. ; sugar, 6d. per lb. There is one respectable eating-house near the Argus office, where a good meal can be had for 2s., or a week's board for 25s. The price of a cup of coffee is 6d., and with a slice of currant cake, Is. A newspaper also from the iforesaid Argus office is 1s. You will not imagine that the dealers on the diggings, overcharge much when I tell you that 15s. a cwt. is charged by the drays for bringing stores from Melbourne, Where most of the above mentioned articles ire not more than a fifth less in price, some a fourth, and a third. I must now say a few words on the profits, of gold digging, and the necessary stock in trade. It is undeniable that many have realized large sums, and some few even now are clearing their £50 or £100 in the course of a month or six weeks ; but the times are bad now. Washing by the dish is a slow process, and unless the stuff is very good, a man had better be working at his own craft, and for the uninteruptcd use of the cradle there is not a suf- ficiency of water. In this profession, as in most others, capital is necessary ; or the possession of a plant of two or three large tubs, a cradle, and dipper, and several tin dishes, for which some £10 must be sunk, and in the event of sinking deep holes, in order to reach the rock where the gold deposit may be, buckets, rope, and windlas must be used. I heard of one party who had expended £60 in a Gold- digging outfit, and their profits for a month had yielded some £36 per head. The strait-forward honourable gold seeker gets his license, and applies himself in earnest to sinking hole after hole right down to the rock, in hope of finding the reward of his labour in a deposit of solid gold at the bottom ; this hope is only realized by the few, the majority are disappointed ; getting only stuff that will pay for washing by a cradle, or what is frequently the case, get nothing for their pains ; for the same law obtains here as in trade or commerce, the honest and industrious do not always obtain wealth, while the ' lucky vagabond ' is daily adding to his store. Why these things are, the Theologian can perhaps say. There are many here who have realized considerable sums by ' Fossicking,' as the phrase is, that is, they do not dig, but they peep about and get ' stuff ' from good holes, which they wash ; but the scarcity of water has reduced the profits of the ' Fossicker.' Such is a brief sketch of the present condition of the Forest Creek Diggings. Things are not here what they seem in Adelaide. Getting to the diggings without a shilling in your pocket, over the license fee, is not a certain way to wealth, and many who have so come, with hundreds who have been better supplied, have dug and dug, and still been disappointed. I am dear Sir, yours respectfully, E. G. DAY. Mr. S. Goldsack.