Gold country

The miners working and living environment was an unrelenting grind, which they endured in the hope of a better future.    They lived in simple shacks or tents similar to the one pictured. Cold winds are common in this part of Victoria and the presence of a fireplace was important although potentially hazardous.

Disharmony between the various racial groupings was a constant issue with continuing discrimination against the Chinese miners.

Large companies became involved as the mines increased in depth in the search for larger gold deposits;  flooding became a major challenge and extensive pumping systems were installed.   The power for the pumps came from steam powered engines, the steam created by two enormous Cornish boilers.   The wood-fired furnaces were constantly tended.   Click on the diagram to view an enlarged cross-sectional view of the boiler.

Today, the servicing and operation of these furnaces and the steam  plant at Sovereign Hill is carried out by enthusiastic volunteers.

Visitors can access part of the reconstructed  mine by means of a rail track and learn of the conditions and hazards the miners endured.    A powered device, popularly known as the ‘widow-maker’ was used to drill holes in the rock for rock blasting using explosive.   Many miners died from silicosis, a progressive disease of the lungs caused by inhaling the fine dust particles produced by the drilling.

The noise created by drilling in the confined space of the mining galleries must have been literally ‘deafening’ and in those early days management had little concern for the health of the miners.

As part of the visit we saw a demonstration of gold being purified and poured to make a gold ingot worth over $100,000!    The gold from this area of Victoria possessed a deep yellow hue. Click on MAP LINK to view various attractions of the open air Museum.

About The Meerdoc

Retired Anaesthetist (Anaesthesiologist). Keen road biker and swimmer. Interests in the Arts ( Art,Sculpture, Music and Poetry).
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