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History of Ulooloo Goldfield
contributed by olecoot
(contact olecoot about this story)
Gold was discovered in Ulooloo Creek in 1869 by prospectors Harvey and Brayley, recently active at the Barossa goldfield. Shotty and fine gold were recovered by several parties during the year until it was declared 'unpayable'. It became a favourite location for groups of unemployed and off season shearers to make 'tucker' money. It was also a drawcard for more seasoned prospectors Westcott and Ebbs who had been mining and prospecting for gold since the great Victorian goldrushes in 1852. They prospected the entire district over the next year until they discovered payable, nuggetty gold at Noltenius Creek which is at the extreme South of the now Ulooloo goldfield.
Shortly thereafter, attracted by the conglomerate hill which was so reminicent of the Barossa goldfield, they discovered payable shotty gold at what is now White Lead.
These 2 payable locations directed the prospectors to the main creek, Coglins Creek. Here, a 'rush' ensued where very rich nuggetty gold was unearthed with numerous multi ounce nuggets found. Between 1871-73 as many as 1,000 men were busy on Coglins Ck, Noltenius Creek and Scrubbers Camp creeks. Small settlements were established near a soak at the junction of Noltenius and Coglins creek and on the West bank of Coglins creek where a licensed Inn and a small church were built. Eventually, the easy gold was depleted and the field was deserted to the likes of old batchelors, unemployed and off season shearers. These men (and a few women) continued to work over the old diggings for many years until a new strike was made to the East of Coglins creek in Autumn 1886. This new lead, named Scrubbers Camp Lead was follwed from the junction of White Lead, North for over half a mile until it ran paralel to Scrubbers Camp Lead and continued until it fell into Ulooloo Ck.
Very rich yields of often iron stained nuggetty gold were uncovered over the course of the diggings. 2 ounces per load (c.200kg) of wash dirt was commonplace with nuggets recorded of 8oz, 9oz, 12oz and 13oz. Over 5,000 ounces were transmitted via the Hallett post Office alone and bank records indicate a further 18,000 ounces were sold via Hallett and Burra bank branches during the period 1871-73 and 1886-87. Total gold recovered is estimated at 35,000 ounces. A small patch of gold was discovered at Twighams, 3.5km NE of Ulooloo in 1872. The gold here was much smaller with the largest recorded nugget being only 1 ounce. Total estimated gold recovered is is less than 1,000 ounces.
Government prospecting parties over various periods were busy prospecting the district and had various results with some areas being payable, particularly Cousins Gully, Mittopitta Lead and Steeles Gully, North and NorthEast of Scrubbers Camp Ck respectively. Numerous reefs were discovered which all proved poor. The rich nuggetty gold source has never been discovered.
During the Depression years and into the 1930's, various groups of unemployed men lived on the Ulooloo goldfield and made a bare existence by fossicking over the old workings. Several notable nuggets were uncovered but overall, results were poor.
The Goldfield reserve was sold off after the second world war to the Kelly family for pastoral use. The Goldfield remained quiet for a few decades until the advent of ground balancing metal detectors in the late 1970's.
The goldfield quickly gained a reputation for being horribly mineralised and almost impossible to use a detector on. For those that persevered, rewards were forthcoming. Hundreds of gold nuggets were detected with the largest known being 9 ounces. The Kelly family were very kind in giving permission to the many prospectors who came to the goldfield over the years.
In the late 1980's, mining leases were pegged with a view to large scale alluvial mining. No actual work commenced except for some small pits trying to prove bulk grades. In 1990, TP Mining took over the leases and brought in sampling machinery as well as a Bobcat loader, 14 tonne excavator and dump trucks. Their production machine was a 15tph dryblower which required no water to run, but needed dry alluvium dirt to successfully extract the gold. They dug several large pits to bulk sample the gold bearing dirt. The gold recovered proved that the goldfield was payable to modern machinery but only if the depth of gold bearing dirt was less than 5m deep. TP mining couldn't raise the required funding to proceed with bulk mining so the leases were passed to other owners in 1994 who proceeded to bog down in legal proceedings with the landowners. The goldfield remains in 'limbo' to this day.
The region has also produced small amounts of Copper, particularly at the Ulooloo copper mine and Scrubbers Camp Mine. Manganese is also present in the district in large outcrops and Zinc is also present as large anomalies
detected by soil sampling. Deeper alluvial ground contains large amounts of Zircon, Ilmenite and garnet. Small diamonds are also suggested by various sources.
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the Mine 'Ulooloo Goldfield'.
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