Gold mine A true Australian story.
The BBQuartz gold mine
This is another true Australian story about real goldmines and my adventures around the Goldfields of Victoria Australia my home State.
The BBQuartz mine took it's name from the BB Creek. What is perhaps less known is how BB creek got it's name and it is typical of the meanings of many of our rivers and creeks in this state. Australian names can be very closely related to experiences of the place.
When the early gold diggers tried to get through the wiry dense undergrowth along the BB creek, it tore their trousers to pieces, leaving them with bare bums, bottoms or Bollocks, thus Bare Bollocks or BB Creek got it's name.
BB Creek is in Gippsland, a region of the Australian State of Victoria in the gold belt not far from the Capital city of Melbourne.
The BB Creek gold fields were discovered in 1862, By 1865 the BB Quartz reef mine was discovered. It was to remain in production till 1877.It reopened in 1897 and by 1918 had almost closed again it had produced 1,768 OZ of gold. run the BB Quartz goldmine
After this time the mine continued working in a small way till 1935
Morning in Jericho
Night time in Jericho
I first went in to Jericho in the summer of 1959 with my dad, and some of his friends.
In the early 1950's we used to hunt wild deer in this area, coming in to the valley next door, scrambling after the dogs from the spurs down the side of the gullies following deer trails that zig zag through the dense scrub.(Deer hunting was popular and because of numbers needed culling at that time)
My dad knew the Baw Baw mountains and surrounds like the back of his hand. We had fished, hunted, prospected and logged our way through this area for years, and I knew it pretty well myself.
In 1958 we discovered the old road in to Jericho when one of my father's friends who was a government areal surveyor, flew over Jericho to photograph and grid map the area.
Visible on the photo of the valley and ridges was a thin white tightly winding
line that looked like an animal track that ran from the lower valley up
a spur to the only road that was open in the winter, and came out at Aberfeldy. The few other
tracks would be closed until the fishermen hunters or the forestry authority
came through to cut fallen trees off them, and repair wash-aways where
the snow has melted in to the earth and caused the track to fall away.
High maintenance roads and tracks were the only way in or out, and some had not been used for many years.
As my dad was an experienced bushman, the photographer and a few others including me asked if he would like to try getting in by road.Needless to say, we packed up the old 1936 American Ford side valve V8 and went for it!.Dad made a few mods to the ford including a different set of wheel and tires to provide more grip and a different gear ratio to suit the steep track. Side valve fords have very little horsepower at low revs, so ratio's needed to be changed to ensure the motor would handle the harsh treatment it was going to endure.
The road, even in summer saw little of the sun. In the middle of a dense forest it was overhung with growth, steep rough and slippery with trees jutting out of the banks blocking the road after falling from the embankment during one of the many storms that pass through here. the track was as greasy as a wet eel on the mostly mud surface, and quite a long way down to the valley below, with a steep drop off the side of the road on outside corners.
In places we used a long sapling we cut that was blocking our way, held it in place on the track with crowbars, to wedge the old ford between the small log (sapling) and the bank to get down the steeper slopes without the Ford sliding over the side. My dad's years of experience as a logger meant as we came to an obstacle, he provided a solution to whatever presented and we continued on.The Ford got used as a tractor pulling logs off the track
It took all day to travel the short distance of a few miles down in to the valley, despite being two wheel drive, with lousy brakes and poor suspension the ford was well maintained and reliable if we could just keep it on the track, and not scrape the exhaust system off on a rock, or drop over the side!
We got to the bottom of the steep incline to run straight in to a river crossing. With some ingenious water proofing of the ignition system on the ford we crossed the river and were in Jericho. We found the old hut we had seen from the air, and lit a fire in the fireplace.
Bush fire places consist of 3 pieces of corrugated iron upright on the short wall held there and lined with mud or anything else that will keep it in place.
Jericho in the winter.
It gets really cold at night in Jericho, so we build a small very
hot fire first, then drop a huge piece off a messmate gum tree stump on
the already decent fire and that burns fiercely all night.If you are
looking for firewood in the Australian bush, you need knowledge. Many
old messmate stumps can be knocked out of the ground with the back of
an axe and provide tremendous heat all night.
In the morning the unburnt portions of the fire are re positioned to make breakfast.
Nice and easy.
walked for miles along the valley looking at rows and rows of pudding
stones in terraces , sluices and diverted creeks and more goldmines. We
looked at all the old machinery, looked at the mines and made notes
about our next proposed visit.We discovered the cemetery in Jericho. It
was completely overgrown with trees and scrub.
It was to be memorable to say the least taking in all the wild life as we went. The deer in this dense bush had little or no fear of us.The birds and animals seemed leisurely, and without fear. I had seen this since a small child living deep in the bush and knew that very few people came here to do them harm.
This area has many Liar Birds, and the spelling is deliberate. The can mimic any sound, and are very entertaining. You may think that is a tree falling, but it may be a liar bird creating every sound.
Eventually we ran out of time to explore, and we knew we had a big job ahead getting the old side-valve Ford back up the steep and slippery track.
We winched, levered and pushed the Ford all the way out! It took us a day to go a few klms as it had been easier coming down of course.
We arrived home exhausted from the extreme labor of pushing the car and went to bed.
I was still a kid, I dreamt of all sorts of adventures that night, and
I can still remember most of it more than forty years later.
Little did I know what my next visit to Jericho we would find the BB quartz mine.
We had a chance meeting with a Journalist and photographer who told us of ghosts then claimed to have seen the mine in a dream ....... a dream that came true!