Gold mine an Australian Story-Inside The BB Quartz

Greg collecting samples.

Jericho 1974
Jericho 1974

If you read my previous hub about the BBQuartz goldmine, you will know why I just had to go back and enter or attempt to enter the mine.

I went back to the BB Quartz, but this time well equipped to enter the mine.

No gold detector needed for this trip. The mine had essayed at over 5oz of gold to the ton when it was closed, so you could literally see the gold in the reef running along the adit!

My staff at the bike shop were amused to see me design a miners light and mount it on an old open faced helmet, with a spare globe strapped to the helmet were I could fit it in total darkness.

I also made a carry case to fit 2 x 12volt motorcycle batteries for plenty of reserve power. I wanted to stay in the mine as long as I needed to and running out of light was not part of my plan.

Next I made a sharp steel probe ensuring it was quite heavy and mounted it on a long handle so that I could probe the mine floor under my feet.

Next I broke out my sturdy motocross boots, a bit of racing armour and headed off to fill the old Ford F100 with petrol.

My next door neighbour owned a milk bar, and loved to go riding with us. When I told him what I was doing he insisted on coming with me.

He wanted to go where no one else had been for a long time, so I said sure, plenty of room, and away we went, up the Latrobe Valley, turn left before Warragul, and off to Jericho!

After we left Noojee and headed for the Matlock/ Woods Point road I pushed for time a bit, and drove pretty quickly to get on to the Jericho track before the moist air turned it wet. Going down in the wet is even harder than getting back up, with a high risk of going off the road. Not a good idea, as no one may find you for weeks.

We had got off to a late start, so we knew it would be dark soon, so we hurried to down the track to Jericho, set up camp and got ready to re-find the BB Quartz.

I like the bush in the dark, and was not afraid of walking back in the pitch black dark, as we had great lights with plenty of battery life, as I had put the two motorcycle batteries wired in parallel in a carry bag for lighting.

Driving out of the bush in the dark was not new to me either, and was just a matter of good lights and a bit of local knowledge both of which were no problem, so no waiting for a new day, we went straight to the mine.

I was surprised to see no sign of any other humans on the track we had previously blazed, which had to be cut again to allow us through.

My friend had never seen the mine before and was surprised to see how long and large the mine was. I kitted up with my probe and waterproof boots, put my helmet with miners light on and headed in to the tunnel being sure that every step was checked with the probe first, and that no loud noises were made.

The mine apart from the opening was fairly stable if not disturbed, and that was a risk that was mostly under my control. so apart from my friend doing something silly I felt safe enough.... for a while, then I saw the fall!

I finally convinced my friend to come deeper in to the mine and take a look at the fall, and after seeing it he fled! He decided he would not stay in case the rest fell in, a reasonable response. I shone my miners lamp for him until he was well towards the opening, he could use his torch for the rest, I told him to go back to the truck and wait for me.

View from the top road.
View from the top road.

He came all the way back in to the mine to whisper that he had no hope in hell of finding his way back in the dark!

It was then I realized how scared he was in the bush alone now that it was really dark. I realized he would not be able to get back on his own, so told him to wait outside the mine for me to which he gladly agreed.

I climbed up on top of the clay and rock that had filled the adit, and as I climbed closer to the top of the fall I could see a gap as a shadow of darkness in the corner of the fall.

I decided to take stock. I examined the fall carefully with my light and saw that it had not grown bigger or changed for a very long time. It was easy to tell from watermarks, living mosses that were growing on the surface etc that nothing had changed for a long time, and I would be able to climb right up to the top and see if I could very carefully get past the fall to explore the rest of the mine.

I was expecting the usual "Oh thats all there is" disappointment we often get when exploring.

As i shone by lamp through the gap I could see the size of the fall. It was like a huge room had been hacked out of the roof of the mine, much larger than the amount of material I had climbed up on, so logic told me there had to be an adjoining adit!

I changed my position and shone the light over the top of the fall and looked down. My heart leaped a beat! Here was the mines huge drainage pump sitting in a whole in the floor of the mine about twenty feet deep, filled with water so clear that I could see every detail through it.

Off to the right was what must have been their last drive, following a reef of quart downward and towards the creek, I decided to sample it.

Then I got the shock of my life! I looked to the left to see another tunnel.

As I was already over the fall, had gently sampled the reef to the right and had heard no rock falls, I decided to go to the left. and deeper in to the mine.

As I entered i saw a broken support timber and thought back to my dad's warning about rock movement and broken timbers in mines. I checked to see how much weight was sitting behind the broken timber and decided it was not going to let go right now, but I did need to stop and think. I turned the light off as I sat in a safe place to think it through.

I decided I had to know more. I gently eased past the broken support and was well rewarded for doing so. Not far past the fall was a huge room with a roof 30 or so foot high, and a drop down from my little side tunnel about fifteen feet below was the steel rail tracks that led along another long tunnel that I knew must come to adit 2 of the BB Quartz.

I could not get down to the track to walk along the tunnel as I needed a long rope. and did not bring one, so the other entrance to the BB Quartz is still a mystery to me at least, maybe some old miner knows where it is...

The bags of quartz I sampled from the BB Quartz were rich in gold.

The sample from the dead end of the lead was 11 oz per tonne, yet the direction the reef was travelling in makes it a useless mine unless other mines that can mine cheaper run out of gold and gold prices increase a long way.

Many minors took to using gold detectors to find nuggets instead, but in this area pickings are thin for nuggets.

Places in the outback and around Bendigo Ballarat can still provide great results with a decent detector.

More by this Author


Comments 33 comments

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

How exciting! I used to explore old sandstone mines near London when I lived in UK. Thanks for the memories!


UK Wordsmith profile image

UK Wordsmith 7 years ago

Nice writing as always Earnest.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

So Gypsy Willow, can you recall the excitement from that time? I sure can.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you UK Wordsmith, I am going to read your new hub, got the message in my inbox, good ole hubpages!


sandra rinck 7 years ago

Man! I was dissapointed. I really wanted to know what was in there. I like your sentiment about "Oh thats all there is", are you ever gonna go back? How come you didn't go back with a rope?

Anyways, great story and you are a great story teller. Cheers.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Wow Sandra! You can read minds! All this remembering has pumped my aging body and mind in to believing I will go in to Jericho again in our summer, A friend of mine who is also apparently quite mad has promised to go with me.


sandra rinck 7 years ago

I think that would be a fantastic idea for an extrodinary hub series. If you do, keep me posted. You will definitely have a fan waiting for the next peice of the story!

:D


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks Sandra, I am going to do some more.


viryabo profile image

viryabo 7 years ago

Wow, you're so brave. This sounds so exciting. And a bit scary. I would love to visit an oldmine if ever i had the opportunity. Would be a wonderful adventure for me. Great adrenaline rush!

BTW, do you get to keep the bags of quartz and the gold?


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

G'Day viryabo. I don't know about brave. It is always a calculated risk going in old mines.. Gotta get it all right. Bags of fun though, and yes very exciting!

Yes you do keep the gold. Nuggets have a value in excess of their weight because they are all unique.


Dame Scribe profile image

Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

I would love to crawl around there too, lol. Awesome adventure and thanks for sharing. :)


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you Dame Scribe, I am searching for the BBQuartz ground map now, I may go back to find the second entrance in our summer.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 7 years ago from Jaipur

Dear earnest,

a good one to know Australia. I had never been to your country but I love to see. Will you like to accompany me and take me to the mines?

I rated this up!!

Thanks,

Jyoti Kothari


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

It would be an honor!


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

That was an awesome story. I have to admit after the two miners got stuck down there and hearing their ordeal I would be so reluctant to ever get down one myself. Their survival story gripped me something chronic, I still remember hearing they were alive, the strong emotions when they walked out. Amazing.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I felt the same way too BP, but there is something about being under ground.


Raven King profile image

Raven King 7 years ago from Cabin Fever

Wow, your has it all, treasure, danger and friendship. Very good story. Thanks. :)


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you Raven King,


Crazdwriter 7 years ago

That is a very cool story about your trip. I enjoyed reading this, earnest.


cosette 7 years ago

OMGSH! amazing story. i wouldn't have been as scared as your friend, but i wouldn't have been as brave as you were either. great hub.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I reckon you would have forgotten about the fear! I can imagine you saying 'What the .... let's do it!"

it was amazing in there.


blue dog profile image

blue dog 6 years ago from texas hill country

you animal, you!

i've often wondered what it is that causes some of us to explore while others are content to watch life slip away.

great story!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you blue dog. I love to do these sorts of things.Getting older now, but still like a thrill!


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

What a great story, i got a charge out of imagining the midnight drive through the bush -sounds like a thrill on its own


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I am so glad you enjoyed it. You are on the money with the night drive being a buzz! Terrifying at times, and a real big need to stay calm.We had lights all over the place, but with a wet dirt track and a drop over the side and little traction it got me going!


Dao Hoa profile image

Dao Hoa 6 years ago

You were brave to explore the mine at night. I would do it in the daytime. It was quite an adventure. I wish I could visit Australia right now! LOL!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you Dao Hoa. You know the thing about night and day is a mute point underground. It is so much darker in there than the darkest night. Maybe young and foolish rather than brave!


Allan Love 5 years ago

Just been into Jericho on the 26 March 2011, the campsite at the tunnel looks like it has been bulldozed, toilets have gone. There are no signs to say why this was done. How disappointing another campsite will be reclaimed by blackberries. Does make exploring our parks harder.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Damn! The original hut had been there since Jericho was built. That is very sad.


darby 5 years ago

Gold mine A true Australian story.

http://hubpages.com/travel/The-BB-Quartz-goldmine-...

To whom it may concern, it has come to my attention that an on line Web gold prospecting group {link} http://alluvialgprospectors.proboards.com/index.cg... are using your material .

{Post Link http://alluvialgprospectors.proboards.com/index.cg... This may a breach of your copyright .


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you very much Darby, I am going to ask them to take it down.

You are a very nice person.


chamilj profile image

chamilj 5 years ago from Sri Lanka

Nice story. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you kind sir!

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