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William’s Specimen Hill Mine, Barkers Creek Castlemaine

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William had three active mining leases in Specimen Gully at Barkers Creek from 1869 to 1875. All had shafts and tunnels and were in this gully. One was worked under tribute and the others by men he employed with his partners. These were not new mines the ground having being worked by others before. Mining Wardens reports show that he dug the shafts and drives deeper and got good gold. When he left Castlemaine for Cloncurry his partner in three of them, a John Hopkins Walter continued to work one. The others lapsed and the post were removed. A description of these mining leases, is at click here  This document shows his Maldon and Queensland leases also.

Images here are of one of the mines, believed to be the one at Specimen Hill Mining Lease No. 616. The mine is located on the left about 2.5 km in from the railway bridge over Specimen Gully Road. The battery site ruin can be seen from the road just across the bottom of the gully and in around 50 meters. To the right some 12 meters is the tunnel entrance and that runs direct to the main shaft about 25 metres into the hill. The stone would have been brought to the battery by this tunnel. The  layout was simple with the main shaft some 65 metres in from the road about halfway up the side of the valley hill. A stone dropped from the surface of this main shaft takes about 4 to 5 seconds to reach the bottom where there is water. This means it is likely some 122 metres (400 feet) deep at the most which fits with the Warden’s reports.

In an approximate straight line continuing up the hill beyond the main shaft are a series of four Winzes or Air shafts from which ore could also be brought up, the furthermost about 170 meters in from the road. These smaller shafts are similar dimensions as the Winzes and Air shafts described in William’s mining reports from Raub. At the last one, the ground appears to have collapsed into the drive thus indicating perhaps they made a drive too close to the surface. It is not known how many drives there were, say at different levels into the hill. Likely there were also crosscuts to the limits of the claim as they searched for and followed the lode. Click here to see a Google map snapshot showing the relative position of things; the various sites were identified using a GPS. The orientation is North up. Specimen Gully Road can be seen at the bottom of the image. Click here to see a geophysical map from Vic Gov. The continuous blue contour line on this map is the Coliban Water viaduct mentioned in the caption for one of the images of the Main shaft.

The tunnel and shafts are easily found and it is surprising after all this time they have not been filled in. The tunnel was entered with caution and was not shored for the first 10 or so meters being through what seems solid rock made up of what looks to include quartz, shale and slate as well as ordinary rock, but no further exploration was undertaken. Greater caution is required around the main shaft at which cutouts in the rock face can be seen that took the shaft plat bearers. There are no obvious artefacts lying around but no doubt a bit of digging would reveal some. At the tunnel entrance the first part of the roof has collapsed and in the image showing the author he is standing at what was a roof beam. The entrance is where the posts are in the foreground where holes checked in to take perhaps the bracing for the portal can be seen.

Copyright © Victor R. P. Bibby 2012 All rights reserved.

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