Rediscovering the BBQuartz Goldmine
The deserted gold township of Jericho.
If you have read my other hubs about Jericho or the BB Quartz gold mine, you will know That the deserted township of Jericho I refer to is in the golden triangle in Victoria Australia.
BY 1935 the last goldmines in and around Jericho had pretty much closed down. Costs had been high, gold prices low and the area just stopped being viable.
The Chinese gold miners had been last to leave.
Their scary crawl tunnels are still to be found in the area up on the hill between the two main tracks and further on towards Red Jacket. My fear threshold was reached after just one excursion in to one of these crawl tunnels. Very brave those Chinese gold-miners!
Back to Jericho
Jericho, Aberfeldy, Matlock, Woods Point, Walhalla are all within a small mountainous area that has some of the last really big eucalyptus trees. It is steep country with beautiful views even from the main road and the whole area is steeped in gold mining history. It pulled my father like a magnet, he especially enjoyed the lack of fear shown by birds and animals that had been left alone to live their lives. We had to go back.
We planned another trip in to Jericho and got a vehicle ready again, this time going in just for a couple of days, and hoping to find even more interesting mine sites, and to see if we could clean the cemetery of some of the undergrowth.
This trip turned in to something that I wonder about until today.
We came in the same track we used last time, which runs off the "link "road, or "goat track" as it was known locally by those of us who were game enough to drive on it. A treacherous narrow road running along the tops of the mountain spurs, with sudden sharp curves and enormous drop offs over the side of the road on the outside of the turn. No place for learner drivers here! Snow and mud surface in the winter, it was only the locals who could use this road with two wheel drive vehicles.
Funny thing was that before we got all the four wheel drives, locals got through these roads in winter mostly in two wheel drive sedans with chains wrapped around the drive wheels only when it was pretty bad in mid winter.
We got in to Jericho early afternoon after carefully climbing down the mountain side in to the valley. Only one tree across the track... an easy trip this time, As we descended we saw a wisp of smoke coming from below, so we realized we were not going to have Jericho to ourselves this time, but no big deal.
We were at the river crossing and back in Jericho!. We were looking forward to lighting a big fire in the hut fireplace. When we got to the old miner's hut it was already occupied.
A grey headed gentleman and his much younger female companion were set up in the hut with all sorts of cameras and all the gear needed to record any objects or discovery they may find on their adventure.
Dad and the old fellow got on like brothers and swapped stories about Jericho and the area in general for hours. We set up camp while they chatted. During the conversations with "John" dad had discovered that he was a newspaper reporter, and had many wonderful old photo's of the area and had come in to Jericho to find the BB quartz mine!
As we talked his somewhat timid companion offered that she had seen a ghost in broad daylight. I remember trying not to laugh or roll my eyes at this.
The hut on the main road to Jericho.
Crossing the BBQuarz creek.
Finding the BB Quartz .
We chatted around the camp fire till late, discovering all sorts of new information and decided that we would search together with our new friends.
In the morning we met at the fire we had lit last night and all dived in for a hearty breakfast of Fresh farm eggs, bacon and toast with coffee around the outside fire we had stoked before sleeping. We always set a fire to stay hot all night.
Our friend John had migrated here from England as a younger man but had kept his love of tea, so several cups of after breakfast tea and we were ready to explore.
Suddenly John stood up as if to attention and in his nicely cultured voice made an outrageous statement... " I dreamt where the BBQuatz mine is last night, and saw the crushing battery clearly in my dream. I will draw it for you!"
I was a pretty "show me" sort of kid, so I thought he was nuts! I had been around men in logging camps and enough adults to know that was not an unlikely conclusion!
My dad is even more sceptical about these things but he nodded agreeably when John suggested we head off in the direction of the BB quartz to test the validity of this "lucid dream" phenomena,
No matter how we tried, we could not get up BB Creek. The overgrowth came right down to the water and tore our clothes to shreds! Just like it's name, bare bollocks creek is very well named!
My dad has a great sense of the landscape around mining sites and decided we may be able to approach from another direction, reasoning that a Bullock track would have to come off the main track , or the miners would not have been able to get the huge equipment on site.
We all though this pretty good logic, so we turned away from the creek and went back to the only track that runs up from the base of the hill.
300 mitres or so up the track, dad spotted a depression on the lower side of the track with a big tree obscuring it. We all stopped and took a second look. Sure enough a well hidden track did go off towards the BB Quartz fields, around the side of the hill and leading down to the BB Creek diggings. The bullock track had not been used for so long, trees grew in the middle of it, and the undergrowth was so dense it took us about 2 hours to travel down to the creek..
Setting up camp at Jericho
Morning wash in the river.
As we got down on to the creek flats we came upon a clearing. John said "The battery is over there," pointing towards the creek.
We walked only a few yards from the end of the bullock track and to our astonishment, there was the crushing battery laying on the ground, exactly as John had drawn it!
A big heap of crushed rock that had been put through the battery made a pile you could stand on. When I got on top of the rocks I saw we were only about 2 yards from the BB Creek..
After photographs were taken of the battery, we took some samples from the crushing and put them in a small bag.
Directly behind us was the base of the large hill we had come down on the bullock track, and up near the base was a trickle of rusty water..... Dad and I knew we had found an adit to the BB Quartz goldmine!
Sure enough as we followed the water upstream it leads us right to the base of the hill. the undergrowth towards the base has been really thick, and we had to hack through a pile of undergrowth. Right at the base of the hill in behind a big gum tree was the entrance to the BB Quartz goldmine, complete with the water pipes still mounted high on the wall of the tunnel.
I was very excited and wanted to go in the mine. Dad pointed out that the entrance was shale, and very unstable, that there may be a winze under the water in the tunnel where you could fall threw the floor, and that the mine timbers had not been inspected for so many years.
We took some photos and left to fight our way back to camp, pack and leave for the city.
I never forgot the BB Quartz and one day on a whim, I decided to go inside the mine.
Inside the BBQuarts, the next adventure!
I went back to the BBQuartz years later and entered the old unstable mine... yeah I know, I was nuts, but I was careful and experienced, with a good working knowledge of the terrain..
Read my next hub, Inside the BBQuartz goldmine!