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MOUNT MACDONALD GOLD-
FIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT.)
A considerable amount of attention has of late been bestowed on a number of rich quartz reefs that exist in mountainous country some thirty-five miles to the south west of Carcoar, in the Bathurst mining district. It appears that in April 1880 McDonald and party were prospecting in the ranges at this place, and having discovered gold registered the first claim. The first dis- covery of the yellow metal was made at sun- set, when Mr Donald McDonald was return- ing to his hut after a hard day's fruitless hunt for gold. A short distance from home he noticed, at the foot of a tree, a faint sparkle; he stopped and picked up the first quartz specimen containing gold. This suc- cess led on to farther researches, and eventu- ally the discovery of two rich reefs. The news spread slowly; other miners were attracted to the new field and as surely as they came they settled down having secured one or more claims on reefs that showed gold in their out-crops. A small township grew in the midst of the forest, the huts and tents mainly gathering together on the top of the western slope of the dividing range, where now exists a rapidly-growing town, the allot- ments in which are valued at high figures, the owners of some of them away from the centre of the street refusing £80 each for what a short time before they had simply pegged off for nothing. Now hotels, stores, billiard rooms, and huts and tents are being built as rapidly as possible. The forest is steadily being cleared away by the axe and fire-stick, and Mount McDonald Town is now being surveyed and properly laid out in streets. This field has been visited by several recognised mining authorities from Sydney and Victoria and reported favourably of by each and all of them but no active step were taken in recognition of the value of the golden reefs of the field until Messrs Lyell and Gowan engaged Mr Wm. Nicholas, con- sulting mining engineer, to inspect and report on the prospectors' claim and leases. On a favourable report being received, this firm at once purchased the property, and Victorian capital and energy will now be ap- plied to the rapid development of what no doubt will prove to be an important and rich gold-mining district. Even the New South Wales officials discerned that this was a promising field so far back as the beginning of this year, for we find Mr Warden North, P.M., of Carcoar remarking in his annual report to Mr Harrie Wood, the under secre- tary for Mines of New South Wales: - "Gold mining in my division has, during the past year, shown a decided improvement as is evinced by the amount of gold forwarded from this locality by escort in 1880 compared with that of previous years." He further said "The promising reefs discovered during the latter part of the year at Milburn Creek (now Mount McDonald) are attracting a great deal of attention... The various reefs opened up are said to show rich stone throughout; about two tons from McDonald and party's (prospectors) claim, crushed at the mint, averaged 22oz 8dwt per ton. Ma- chinery is now in course of erection on the ground, and I have no doubt the returns
from this portion of my division will be highly satisfactory during the present year."
Mr W. B. Warner, the mining registrar for
the division, in his official report said: - "The year 1880 has shown a marked improvement in this district over 1879, both as regards the increased yield of gold, and also on account of the recent discoveries of new reefing country in a part of the district where gold has not hitherto been worked... I attri-
bute this increase (of miners' rights issued) in a large measure to the discoveries of extensive quartz reefs at Milburn Creek, about one mile from the Milburn Creek copper mine. The first claim in this new ground was taken up by Oliver and McDonald in April last, since which time to the end of the year four claims have been marked out and sur- veyed, and thirty-six leases of from two to eight acres each, most of which are surveyed, and many of them are at work and raising rich stone. Some of the stone raised has been of great richness, and as a quartz crushing plant is now in course of erection, and will probably be at work in a few weeks, there will, if the stone crushed answers the expectations of those who have seen it and are competent to give an opinion on such matters, be a large opening in this locality for the employment both of capital and labour."
The expressions of opinions above quoted from these gentlemen's official reports have been fully borne out, as will be seen on re- ference to the following particulars of crush- ings put through, up to date, by the battery they mention as in course of erection -
II Donald pros) cctlng el len Fattcre 1 copper leaso
-Ians Id 10380
O Orien near copper leaso M Kellar leaso
Patterson Mansfield a rcof Pilkerton 1 ortl
Patterson copper leaso
Patterson Mansfields root
Punch noxt north of prospoct rs
Oz dwt i,r
41 4 0 10 10 0
These returns have been copied from the crushing-register book of the battery, and the quartz for the most part has been broken in sinking the prospecting shafts in the several claims mentioned. Such facts speak louder than opinions, and the more espe- cially of the permanence of the reefs, because the claims mentioned are scattered over the field, and the crushings are from five differ- ent reefs, or from claims a mile or more apart on the same line of reef. The gold is distributed remarkably evenly throughout the stone in all the reefs and speaking gene- rally is very fine. As the reefs are as yet only worked at very shallow depths the minerals associated with the gold are not markedly present, but auriferous iron and arsenical pyrites and galena and calcite are present. The arsenical pyrites so prevalent
in association with the reef stone in the prospectors' claim is of the class named "needle" pyrites, and is usually accepted as invariably accompanying rich golden reefs.
The strata in which the reefs occur appears to be of upper Silurian age, and the rocks considered most favourable for prospecting for reefs are of slate formation. On the tops and upper sides of the steep ranges, elongated, sharp-edged, upright outcrops of slate rock, bearing slightly east of north, are perceptible for several miles in length of country, broken here and there by ravines, but reappearing in the same line of country to the north and south. On the eastern side of this goldfield lies a large tract of mountainous country formed of granite. In this little known country a wild man is known to have existed,
if not to still exist. He has been seen frequently, and is said to be covered with hair. Although pursued on many occasions he has always succeeded in escaping. In early digger days this district had an unen- viable notoriety for bushrangers, escort rob-
beries, &c., but a great change has since swept over the country, settlement has rapidly taken place on the good farming land, and it is now thinly occupied by industrious, hard-working selectors. But there still re- mains plenty of rich meadow land with a great depth of virgin soil for the future selectors' occupation. All this land in the vicinity of the goldfield must considerably increase in value as the field develops and its mining population steadily grows. Mount McDonald town is surrounded by lovely scenery and a vast extent of forest land, and range beyond range of high mountains can be seen from the verandah of the prin- cipal hotel in the place. And the sunsets from the same point of vantage, or on the crown of the dividing range just at the back of the township, are of themselves and their surroundings well worthy a long journey to witness and enjoy. But to return to the goldfields. It is situate in the middle of the greatest and richest belt of auriferous coun- try in New South Wales. This belt begins at its southern extremity, near the Adelong, Tumut, and Gundagai goldfields and runs north through Mount McDonald, Lucknow, Ophir, Tambaroora, Hargraves, on to Mud- gee, a distance of just 200 miles. With regard to the last new goldfield discovered in this great belt it can reasonably be prognos- ticated that reach reefs yet remain to be discovered, and rich claims to be taken up on the now well known lines of reefs.