Adelong - An Old Mining District

7 December 1895Australian Town and Country Journal 

Adelong is a "picturesque, little township situated in the western bend of a granite range, a spur of the Great Dividing chain, and about fifty miles from the Bogong Mountains and the famous Yarrangobilly Caves.

The nearest railway station is Gundagai distant about twenty-three miles, to which Cobb and Company's mail coaches ply daily, and Geary's and Young's express coaches tri-weekly.

 The population is about 1500, and the district is essentially a mining one. 

The town contains some commodious public buildings, including courthouse police barracks; post and telegraph offices, public school, Bank of N.S.W and Oddfellows' Hall.

There are several fine private structures. The various churches, viz., Church of England (Rev. E. J. Spencer), Wesleyan (Rev. F. Dixon), Presbyterian (Rev. J Cameron), and Roman Catholic (Rev. Father Slattery), are neat substantial buildings, composed principally of stone, and are in every way adequately suited for the spiritual requirements of the townspeople.

The magistracy comprises a visiting P.M and five justices of the peace. Courts of petty sessions, &c., are held as often as required.

The police force is presided over by Senior-sergeant Cassinan old and much respected officer. 

The escort is run monthly, and Adelong is the only town in this portion of New South Wales which enjoys such an institution.

The commercial interests are well represented, the business places being numerous and well up-to-date.

Mining is paramount, and is carried on in   many places, from the big mine at Gibraltar to the fossicking operations in the various creeks and gullies.

Gibraltar is distant from the township about two miles, and was disposed of to an English syndicate a short time ago for a handsome sum; the original owners (Messrs. Vance, Hawken, Harvey, M.L.A., Rigg, M.L. A., and O'Brien), keeping a fifth interest.

The popular managing director (Mr. O'Brien) has been largely instrumental in developing the mining industry of the town.

Some twenty years ago he was working in an alluvial claim owned by Mr. Shepard at the foot of Gibraltar Hill.

This claim was justly celebrated for its enormous wealth, and Mr. O'Brien; being a thoroughly practical and experienced miner, after mature study and deliberation, came to the conclusion that the rich flats were fed from the hill, and that the bulk of gold was held in that locality. 

Having received a more remunerative position as manager in Queensland, Mr. O'Brien left Adelong to proceed to his appointment, and in passing through Sydney strongly advised some metropolitan speculators to try Gibraltar.

His advice was acted upon. No. 1 shaft was sunk, but before a fair trial had been given this party abandoned the claim.

Another attempt to find the gold was made in 1889, and again a failure was announced.

The geological formation of the local reefs is very peculiar and the shareholders holding more to theory than to practice decided to abandon the reef.

In 1890, owing to the solicitations of Mr. O'Brien, a party of gentlemen (Messrs. Vance, Hawken, Rigg, and Harvey) joined him, and Mr. Murphy, a local man, and decided to give Gibraltar a good trial, provided that Mr. O'Brien would accept the management.

Accordingly Mr. O'Brien threw up his lucrative employment in Queensland and returned to New South Wales.

No. 1 shaft was sunk in 1890, and in 1892 payable gold was struck, and the mine bas paid most satisfactory dividends ever since.

The English syndicate intends spending some 50,000 in erecting a battery, locomotive tram- way, &c, in connection with their property.

Mr. O'Brien has been engaged to continue the managership, and as he has held similar positions in Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales, no better man could be found for the position.

He is also managing the Great Victoria Mine, which, it is believed, will eventually prove richer than the Gibraltar.

The other Important mining properties in the district are the Lady Mary, Sir Henry Parkes, Kurrajong, Williams, Perkins', the Old Hill, and the alluvial claim for many years worked by Mr. Shepard.

Detailed accounts of these mines appeared in this journal a few months back. Adelong is one of the oldest gold mining fields in the southern district.

Alluvial mining was opened in 1855, and reefing in 1857, and the first crushing machine was erected and started in the same year.

This field has played its part well in the development of the mineral resources of New South Wales. In 1859 the first modern crusher was put in operation, and in 1860 the mines had reached a depth that brought them to the refractory ores.

It was in Adelong that the Mining Partnerships Act originated, and was carried through Parliament by the late John Bowie Wilson, and it was also here that the first company was registered under this act. 

The Government reward of 1000 for payable gold at a depth of 800ft, and a second reward of 500 for payable gold over 1000ft in depth were secured by an Adelong company.

At present there are two crushing machines, one driven by water power (Messrs. Wilson and Richie, proprietors), one of the most replete in Australia, and one by steam. The monthly escort was started in 1859, and has been in existence without interruption ever since.

Mr. J. E. Vance, whose portrait we give, is a member of a well-known Sydney firm of produce merchants. He is a native of Kiama, and the development of the mineral resources of Ade- long is greatly due to his plucky enterprise in contributing, in conjunction with his co-shareholders, a very large sum to fully test Gibraltar Hill.