NORTH-WEST MINERAL FIELDS.
THE TARCOOLA DISCOVERY. A FIND OP GREAT PROMISE.
[By our Special Reporter.l
There were five of us in the party which left Adelaide on Monday morning, May 28, for Port Augusta, bound for the new gold fields in the great silent saltbush country
of the North-West. Weseemed to have been gathered from all parts to make this trip, the Commiasioner of Crown Lands, the Hon. L. O'Loughlin, had come from the mysteries of Cabinet meetings and the mak ing of Governor's speeches. The Govern ment Geologist, Mr. H. Y. L. Brown, was fresh from the frozen regions of Canada, and full of dry, witty reminiscences of his trip to the old world. Mr. E. B. Jones was as much at home in the country as at his own fireside. He had been there before many times. In fact, he had been every where in the colony before, for there is only one run in South Australia which he has not visited. Once he has traversed it he never forgets a detail. On the trip he knew every bush and tree, and every hill or plain, every well, no matter how far from the track, and every gate was a familiar friend. We would have been igno rant on muchof the topography of the country had it not been for his exact know ledge. Of the other members of the party one had just been touring the grassy well watered plains and rocky mountains and beautiful fern gullies of Victoria; and the other was a South-Easterner, born and bred. We were bound for the region of drought, dust, and disaster, and many times during that long journey through, the salt bush we thought of the green fields and pleasure pastures upon which we had looked before. The first night at the Flinders Hotel, Port Augusta, made it manifest that the residents in that locality were excited beyond the regions of prudence by the discovery at Tarcoola. Those who met the party talked nothing but gold. We heard of specimens fabulously rich, of sharp rises in the price of shares and of railways to Western Australia, calling at Wilgena, with a branch to Mount Gunson. It was difficult to keep cool amidst all the talk of what was going to happen, and one went to bed to dream of golden holes from which the pre cious metal was shovelled into railway trains with dining cars furnished with orna
ments and fittings of gold and silver and precious stones. Morning was a rude awak ening. We were face to face with a 281 mile drive, over some of the worst roads in the colony. Breakfast by lamplight on a cold, frosty morning dispelled all our ex alted ideas of what we were going to dis cover, and the miners' rights in our pocket books, which the previous night had seemed passports to immense wealth, now conjured up no pleasing prospects. Those rights would have been disposed of for a couple more hours in the warm blankets. How ever, duty called us, and away we went. 'Which is the way to Tarcoola?' we ask ed the trooper, who had turned out to see that we passed out of his district all right. 'First turning to the left, and straight on,' replied the wag, and straight on it was, and many miles of weary sand, stones, and saltbush we passed before we jumped off at the Government tent at the gold fields. We left Port Augusta on Tuesday morning and arrived at Wilgena, fourteen miles from the field, on Sunday evening, June 3, spent Monday, June 4, at the claims, and left on the 5th, on the return journey. THE DISCOVERY OF THE FIELD. The Tarcoola discovery has a peculiar in- terest for the Government Geologist. Gold had been traced in the neighbourhood in the early days, and Mr. Brown inspected the locality in 1893. The bump of caution would be marked 'largely developed' in his head-chart, but with all his well-known characteristic he was most pronounced in favour of the place, and naturally he was particularly gratified to find that his pre dictions had been realized, his report was published in 1894, and in it he re marked: — 'Gold Locality No. 2.— This is si tuated about 15 miles in a north-westerly direction from Wilgena head station. Here a few colours of gold had been found on the bank of a well-defined gully running south wards. I had this gully tried in several places, and obtained fine colours of gold in wash, resting on a decomposed granite bot tom. The wash is partly cemented, and sinking is difficult on that account. The prevailing rocks are quartz rocks and quart zite, with brown iron ore, hematite, and jaspery iron-ore veins, and granite. In this case also the expenditure of much time and labour is required to prove whether gold exists in payable quantity, as the gully requires trenching across and testing in several places, which, owing to the hard ness of the ground, is a difficult undertak ing. Here, as elsewhere, the prevailing covering of red loam and sand is also a drawback to prospecting operations. With regard to the probabilities of a payable goldfield being found in this region, I be lieve that in a country occupied, as this is, by s0 many varieties of eruptive and meta morphic rocks, deposits of gold must exist, but through the low general level of the surface and the prevailing covering of loam, sand, &c. they will be difficult to find. The places where gold should be searched for are not only in the alluvial gullies and surfacing, but along the edge of the low, flat-topped, jasper-quartzite hills, where the gravel and conglomerate rest on the bedrock, and also in places where the same gravel and conglomerate occupy ba sins or valleys, as at Gibraltar Well. A well 30 miles away was named Glenloth, after a Melbourne Cup trainer, and at Mr. Brown's suggestion Gold Locality No. 2 was called Tarcoola, the winner of the Cup of that year. Practically nothing was done in the way of searching for gold until
Mr. J. W. Kingsmill picked up his speci mens near Earea Dam, and when that failed to reveal a mine attention was turn ed to the surrounding country. Messrs. Dedman and Bellingham, of Wilgena, just after Mr. Kingsmill made his find, sent a prospector named J. Kelly to the locality. He found gold, but nothing startling. How ever-in July, 1899, Mr. .W. C. Dawes ar rived on the spot on behalf of the Gawler Syndicate. He then discovered gold on the hill, picked up the large ironstone reef, and pegged out 14 claims. Mr. Belling ham then marked out the Glory Quayle claim on the east end. Messrs. Tennant and Hakendorf had had men pro specting in the north-west long before the Earea Dam find was made, and at the time of the uncovering of reefs at Tarcoola some of their prospec tors were at the dam. One of them was advised to go to Tarcoola, but after spend ing a day there he returned, saying he did not think much of the place. Two other parties were dispatched to the spot in charge of Messrs. Lloyd and McKechnie They prospected Brown's Hill, and found stone with good gold showing in it. They then turned their attention to the coun try round the Gawler property, and unco vered the reefs now known as Tennant and Hakendorf's claims, whose Syndicate is called the West ard South Australian Bor der Prospecting Association. Another pros pecting party, under J. Williams, had ar rived, so there were nine working together, and they put the posts down for 24 20-acre blocks. Seven reefs were exposed, all dis playing gold permeating the stone. The Hon. A. Tennant reported the find in Ade laide. Immediately a rush, set in. Earea Dam field was almost deserted, and people went out from Coward's, Leigh's Creek, and many other places. In a little while the country was pegged for miles around. Men came on camels, horses, and in all sorts of vehicles, and for a few days the stream to the field was a pocket edition of the old- time dashes to the alluvial claims of Vic- toria. The goldseekers would scarcely wait at Wilgena Station to say 'How do?' 'Hasten to Tarcoola' was the cry, but those who came late found a series of pegs and trenches on all the country near the reefs which had been unearthed. NATURE OF TltE COUNTRY. The field, which will be known as Tar coola, is in the Warburton Ranges, about fourteen miles north-west of the Wilgena Station. The country around affords indi
cations of the likelihood of the presence of gold. Tarcoola Hill, on which the Tarcoola Proprietary Company, which was recently floated, is situated, is a low range extend ing some miles, but narrow, with steep sides. Its bearing is 67 deg. east of north. To the south, stretching out for some miles, is a plain of red, sandy loam, until similar hills are met with. Tennant and Hakendorf' s claims adjoin the Tarcoola Proprietary on the south, and run out in to the plain about half a mile; and along the side of the hill about a mile. The Tar coola Proprietary have over two miles of the hill pegged. To the north the country is similar to that on the opposite side, plains reaching out for about a mile until Mount Brown, named after the Govern ment Geologist, is reached. Claims have been taken out on this side, and reefs dis covered corresponding to Hakendorf 's rich lodes, showing that ithe reefs pass right through the ironstone lode of the Tarcoola Proprietary. On June 4 the country had been parcelled out for about three miles east and west, and about two miles north and south, and outside again, especially at Brown's Hill. Glenloth, thirty miles south east, and Gibraltar Rock, twenty miles a little west of north. Men who have been over the surrounding country remark that it is precisely similar in its characteristics to that near the find, and it affords a splendid opportunity for prospecting. It is likely, to get this, for parties are now going out to thoroughly search the hills and gullies, and gold having once been dis covered under such promising conditions, it is reasonable to suppose that other finds will be made. Although all the land around the leading claims has been, snap ped up, there is abundance of country in which the precious metal may be hidden, and it would be a thousand pities if a sys tematic trial is not made of many of the localities in the neighbourhood. A word of warning must be given to prospectors. It is almost absolutely necessary to have camels, for the sparseness of water will be a drawback, and with horses the men may find themselves in a difficulty, which would not occur with 'ships of the desert.' THE WORK DONE. One question which can be solved only by development is whether the ironstone lode of the Tarcoola Proprietary or the quartz reefs belonging to Messrs. Tennant and Hakendorf are the main bodies. They run almost at right angles to each other, and it has been proved that Hakendorf's passes through the Tarcoola leases. The iron stone deposit has been traced for over two miles, running 67 degrees east of north. On Hakendorfs side the country is sandstone, and on the north side of the hill granite, but further out this gives way to sandstone. The Tarcoola lode goes down along the edge of the granite, while the cross reefs, which are all quartz, have country varying from hard quartzile to sandstone and silicious slate. To whoever may belong the honour of discovering the field, to the Hon. Alfred Tennant and Mr. Hakendorf is due all the credit for opening it up, and they are de termined that the reefs shall be thoroughly tested at depth. Without asking the public to assist they are pushing on with the work, and already have made good pro gress. Contracts have been let for sinking five shafts on different lodes to 100 feet, and running in a tunnel 75 feet on another lode. The contract price is £2 10s. per font. Three shafts, on McKechnie, Fabian, and Ward's reefs are well advanced, the latter being down 25 feet. When this work
is completed some opinion may be formed of the permanency of the field. The indi cations at present are exceedingly promis ing, and if the lodes only prove as rich, at depth as they are at the present bottoms of the shafts there must be a big future for Messrs. Tennant's and Hakendorfs pro perties. In the claims ten reefs have been exposed. They all run 20 degrees west of north. They are varying distances from each other, and have been traced from the hill into the plain, a distance of about 200 yards, and it requires only the alluvial to be removed to find how far they extend. From each of them stone has been taken, which either shows gold, or from which the yellow metal can be dollied. Some are almost vertical, others underlie in different directions. Fabian's Shaft is the middle of the three shown in the plan. It is the richest one, and the hole from which most of the specimens which have been brought to Adelaide have been taken, and it is still yielding stone of the same quality. The contractors on June 4 were down 14 ft., and the reef was about 18 in. wide. All the visitors went to the bottom, and from the reef took stone which had gold right till through it. Here the lode is not well defined, but the country rock has been dollied successfully for gold. Ward's Shaft, the one furthest west on the plan, is down the deepest, viz., 28 ft., and it has a well-defined lode 3 ft. wide going down almost vertical. Gold is not so com monly visible in the stone as in Fabian's Shaft, but it pans rich, and after a shot had been fired when the party were on the property, ore came up showing the yellow spots on it. McKechnie's Shaft is the eastern one on the plan. It also gives splen did prospects, and is down 15 ft. Samples on the dump showed gold freely, and, when broken, traces of metal could be seen right through. While the visitors were or the property another reef, named after the Commissioner of Crown Lands, was opened up, and the first stone turned over revealed sold. Messrs. Tennant and Hakendorf have thirty men at work on their claims, and thirty-one men out prospecting north and north-west with fifty-six camels. Beyond Messrs. Tennant and Hakendorf' s claim the only important work of develop ment done is by tibe Tarcoola Proprietary Company, which, owns two miles of the ironstone lode, and has put down, a shaft named Dawe's Shaft. It goes down about I8 ft. vertical, then on the underlay about 26 ft., and then through the lode. From the footwall the prospectors have driven 14 ft., but have not yet readied the hanging wall. At the bottom the vertical depth is 21 ft. Stone has been found showing gold, though not so prominently as that which has come from the adjoining pro perty, but it dollies Successfully. Ore taken from 23 ft. deep was sent to the School of Mines at Gawler, and gave results from 4 dwt. 21 1/2 grs. to 4 oz. 1 dwt. 16: grs. Several of Hakendorfs reefs have been traced through the Tarcoola property, and some authorities express the opinion that when the lodes intersect each, other rich gold will be found. At the time of the visit no work was being done on the property, but a captain has been sent up to push on with operations. On the same line of country, but off the reef, the Government have peg ged out three claims for the purpose of a battery site, The Tarcoola United Syndi cate has fifteen claims, which are numbered on the plan. There are reefs uncovered, on Nos. 42, 43, 40, 46, 21, 29, 30, and 44. On the two last-named there is a lode running in a different direction to the supposed line of Hakendorf's. No work has been done at any depth, but numerous trial holes have been sunk with most favourable pro spects. Some of the reefs met with display goldbearing stone, and others return a good tail when dollied. Messrs A. M. Hardy, of the Pioneer, and E. Gold; of the Excel sior claims, which have been amalgamated under the name of the Tarcoola United, have come to Adelaide to arrange for an energetic working of their property. In addition to these claims costeening has been done in all directions. The whole country seems charged with minerals, which only wait finding. Gold has been found out at Gibraltar, Glenloth, Mount Finke, a con siderable distance away, and in many other places; while silver and copper have also been discovered. THE PROSPECTS. It is far too early to express any de cided view on the prospects of the field. The universal opinion of those who have been there is that it is a field of great promise, and if it is going to fail it must take a sudden change shortly; but none of the men on the property hesitate to say that the reefs will give at a depth. They are a decidedly sanguine lot in the district. There is to be a race meeting in Port Augus ta, and one of them asked a member of our party for a donation of £10, and really expected to get it: He didn't know his man. There was more talk of the railway to the Western Australian border being made through the district, but the most definite idea of what the owners think of their properties is that Messrs.
Hakendorf and Tennant have bought out the original prospectors of their properties at the rate of £10,000 for the whole, and the men on the field have sent down £750 for investment in claims. When we were on the ground there were 81 people in, the camp, but we passed several parties on the way up with teams. It is fortunate that the herbage is more plentiful around the claims than elsewhere between Wilgena and Port Augusta. The geranium is grow ing splendidly, and the Sturt pea will soon be in bloom. Meat may be had fresh at 4d. per 1b. and salt at 5d.. per lb. and a whole sheep may be purchased for 14s. There are two stores on the ground, but water presents a serious difficulty. Thse Cooladdin Rockhole failed on June 1, and the Konkaby Hole, eleven miles away is almost dry. Eigbt miles further away is the Pompeter Well, which will supply 400 gallons in twenty-four hours. When that is exhausted the teamsters will have to go to Mentor or Carnding Wells, which have a plentiful supply of fresh water. The Commissioner of Crown Lands promised to give the water question consideration, and several people are trying to arrange for condensers, which will come in handy, for at a copper mine near Browne's Hill there is an unlimited supply of salt water. There is a difficulty in getting good experienced miners, and it is an expensive journey for apoor man unless he tramps it. THE ROAD. There are three routes to the goldfields. One is from Murat Bay, by which goods used to be sent, but that is through heavy sand, and is fit only for camels. Another is from Coward Springs, which is shorter in distance than from Port Augusta, but the time occupied in travelling from Ade laide would be the same. The route which will be adopted is from Port Augusta. The mail leaves there every Saturday morning, and arrives at Wilgena on Wednesday night. It starts back, on Thursday night, and reaches Port Augusta on Tuesday night. Mr. N. A. Richardson, of Port Augusta, is the mail contractor. He made all the arrangements for carrying our party. One of the traps was drawn by a team of Government horses from Adelaide, and those animals went right through with the exception of thirty-five miles. The other vehicle used no less than forty-four horses. Taking the Port Augusta route there is about eighty miles of heavy sand and about eighty miles of fair road. When this has been covered Wirraminna has been reach ed, and after that little fault can be found with the going, but heavy traffic will play havoc with it. The Government intend to clear a road from Lake Windabout tank to the Eucolo dam via Island Creek. About nine miles will have to be raked, and when that is done some fifteen miles of travelling will be saved. The stages between the waters from Port Augusta to the field are as follows: — Euro Bluff, 35 miles, indifferent water; Gibson's Camp, 25 miles, good water (there is ano ther track to the camp, with good water halfway); Monalena, I8 miles, Government tank: Bellamy's Well, 16 miles, good wa ter; Lake Windabout, 5 miles, Government tank; Pines, 15 miles, no water at station; but wells 2 and 3 miles distant; Phillips's Ponds 10 miles, Government tank and dam; Eucolo Dams, 17 and 20 miles, water in each; Fourteen-mile Well, 6 miles, brac kish water, suitable for stock; Five-mile Well, 9 miles, good water, small supply; One-mile Well, 4 miles, good water, small
supply; Wirraminna, 1 mile, plenty of wa ter; Swamp Well, about half a mile to right of track, 8 miles, good water; Coonclambo, 17 miles, good supply; Glendambo, 10 miles, plenty of fresh water; Bitter and One-mile Wells, 10 miles, each small supply fresh water; Paynter's Well, 11 miles, slightly brackish; Kingoonya, 7 miles, good supply fresh water; Six-mile Well, 6 miles, good water, small supply: Gilbert's Well, 6 miles, good water, medium supply; Earea Dam, 10 miles, dry; Wilgena, 18 miles, in- different water for travellers; goldfield, 14 miles, no water, except what is carted.
ROUTES TO THE GOLDFIELDS.
ROUTES TO THE GOLDFIELDS.