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Specimen Hill History (26 January 2019)

contributed by Zaphod
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Specimen Hill Mine Locations This picture shows the location of the west-side workings on the left and the east-side group of workings on the right (as depicted with the crossed shovel and pick symbols).

Located in the county of Bland and the parish of Wallundry, Thomas Carey, Barnett and Scott discovered gold on Specimen Hill in May 1869. This discovery is significant as it represents the first payable prospect, in conjunction with the O'Possum Power workings, to be found in the Temora - Springdale region:

‘Specimen Hill Reef, 1 mile east from Woodstown, was discovered in May, 1869, by Carey, Barnett, and Scott. The strike is north and south. The leaders were from 1 to 2 inches and sometimes a foot wide, and frequently intersecting one another. Twenty tons crushed at Junee realized 1 oz. to the ton. The walls are well defined and of slate. Mr. Joseph Copeland crushed at his machine, which was removed during the drought in 1878, a parcel of stone with a result of 1 oz. 1 dwt. to the ton. Altogether 60 to 70 tons had been crushed from this reef.’ [Extract from the Annual Department of Mines Report 1879]

Specimen Hill Upper East Side Workings This picture, circa 1968, shows the Morton family (former owners of Specimen Hill) of Grogan and relatives inspecting the upper east side workings. A prospecting trench can be seen to the right of the photo. To the left (out of sight) was an inclined shaft.

Thomas Carey went on to work the buried alluvial of the Exhibition Lead in the adjacent Wallundry valley with Harry Ponting in 1879. Specimen Hill was subsequently worked by Harding, Nelson and party through 1881. From the description of the dip of the reef below, it is surmised that Harding and Nelson worked the reef through the inclined shaft in the upper group of workings in the east side of the hill:

Specimen Hill Costean This picture shows the backfilled costean or prospecting trench (identifiable by the slate rock) near the crest of the hill.

‘On Specimen hill, Harding, Nelson, and party are working a reef which traverses hard altered sandstones, dipping east at 60 deg. It varies from a few inches up to 14 inches thick, and shows gold freely, but the hard nature of the country renders it somewhat difficult to work.’ [Extract from the Annual Department of Mines Report 1885]

Specimen Hill Mine Data Record (sheet 1/3)

Samuel Smith discovered another reef on Specimen Hill in April of 1896, and he and George Gordon worked their 'Specimen Hill' mine through 1901. A Department of Mines record for 1901, the Specimen Hill Mine Record, gives some detail for this mine. From this record, the shaft's depth is given as 50', and was richer than the '3 other veins' that had been worked. As the east side workings are comprised of multiple shafts which probably corresponded to the ‘3 other veins’, the 'Specimen Hill' mine is considered to be the single shaft on the west side of the hill.

Specimen Hill Mine Data Record (sheet 3/3)

Some other working details extracted from the Specimen Hill Mine Record are as follows:

Specimen Hill Mine The backfilled shaft of the Specimen Hill mine can be seen as a patch of slate rock.

• What is the nature of the Country Rock? Quartz veins in what is probably a diorite dyke. Slate walls.

• Load. Vein from three to 4 inches on the hanging wall. Foot wall 2 inches chase. 3 ft wide from wall to wall.

• What is the Strike and the Dip of Reef or Lode? Strike North and South. Underlay East [i.e. reef dips to the east when looking along the line of the strike]

• Development. Vertical 50 ft. Horizontal 132 ft from surface outcrop.

• Method of Working. Hammer, gad and shooting [i.e. blasting].

• Haulage. One whip & one windlass.

• Processing. Crushed at battery.

• Workforce. Average three men for the last three years [i.e. 1898, 1899 and 1900]. At present four men working [1901].

Specimen Hill Mine The crest of Specimen Hill (circa 1968 - note the Holden EH utility in the background) between the east and west side workings showing  a prospecting pit which was about one metre deep. The Cooney sisters are also shown here -  Margaret Gerrand on the left, with a former owner of Specimen Hill, Mary Morton, on the right.  All workings, including costeans, were backfilled around 1981. At that time, the  wooden collar and timbering of at least one shaft had severely decayed causing a dangerous collapse of ground around the perimeter.

• Intent. The intention is to follow this channel down as far as [I can] possibly go in the present shaft.

Specimen Hill Mine Data Record (sheet 2/3)

• Summary. As there have been 3 other veins worked in this hill with poorer results, therefore in my opinion the area I am working is the principal vein on Specimen Hill for it runs in a true North and South channel.

From Departmental records, 185 tons of ore had been extracted from Specimen Hill resulting in the production of 226.75 ounces of gold.

The Geological Survey of NSW’s Cootamundra Mine Data Sheets (mine number 36), provide some extra details about mining operations. The reefs were narrow, being 60 to 400 millimetres in width over a length of 213 metres, and occur in minor fault or shear zones. The mining was generally conducted by digging shafts of 15 metres and deeper, and driving and stoping.

Costeaning to locate the reefs were evident across the base of the hill on the western side, as well as across the crest of the hill.

The East Side Workings

The Specimen Hill workings were mostly concentrated on the upper side of the east side of the hill. One shaft on the upper east side dropped vertically 4.5 metres to a platform and then inclined downwards at a steep angle, perhaps follow the dip of the reef. Other shafts were evident at the top east-side workings, but had either collapsed or had been backfilled.

However, the Mine Data Sheets provide some extra details about the lower east side workings:

‘A shorter (deeper(?)) line of workings is located approximately 90 m east of the northern end of the main line of workings, in a creek on the eastern fall of the ridge. Strike 005° M approx..; dip easterly at 60°. Several vertical shafts were sunk east of the lode to intersect it at depth. Veins frequently intersect one another.’

An inspection during the late 1960’s found the deepest shaft on the lower east side to be 19 metres (62') deep. Another inspection during the early 1980’s showed that this shaft’s wooden collar and upper timbering had rotted. This allowed the surrounding mullock to collapse inwards so as to resemble an oversized ant-lion pit around the remains of the wooden structure.

The picture illustrates some of the east side workings of Specimen Hill in the 1960's. A prospecting trench to the right of the photo is clearly visible.

The West Side Workings

The shaft on the western side that had been driven right from the surface through rock is considered to be Samuel Smith's ‘Specimen Hill’ mine. The now back-filled shaft on the west side shown in the picture is believed to be this mine.

Since the historical working of Specimen Hill, many exploration companies have evaluated the hill using modern methods such as magnetometer survey, bore hole testing (10 bores were drilled in the hill and the nearby area from 40 to 100 metres deep), soil geochemistry analysis, and mullock and grid sampling. No economically-viable resources were identified.

Note that all Specimen Hill workings have now been backfilled.

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