Gold mine an Australian Story-Inside The BB Quartz
Greg collecting samples.
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.
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!
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.