Government Preparation for Kiandra Gold Fields  

Empire, Sydney

21 July 1860 

A public meeting was held at Kiandra, on the 16th ultimo, for the purpose of urging on the Government the necessity of improving, without delay, the main thoroughfares leading to that place, with the view to ensuring a sufficiency of provisions and other stores at reasonable prices during the ensuing spring.

That an improvement of the roads was necessary was shown by the single fact that while flour in Sydney was £23 to £25 per ton, at the Snowy River it was £80 to £90, the great difference being occasioned chiefly by the cost of carriage.

It was stated, on the authority of a gentleman from South Australia, that from 40,000 to 60,000 diggers were ready to start from that colony for Kiandra in July. T

he number which might be expected from Victoria, according to the report of the agents of the Government of that colony, was estimated at from 80,000 to 100,000, while the number to be expected from all parts of New South Wales was set down at 40,000.

To supply multitudes like these with flour alone would require three thousand drays, provided the roads were in a good state, but in the existing condition of the great thoroughfares to provide sufficient previsions was deemed to be almost an impossibility.

Resolutions urging on the Government the necessity of improving without delay the main thoroughfares leading to Kiandra, and also of opening up communication within neighbouring agricultural districts were adopted by the meeting.

The expediency of a daily postal communication between Sydney and the Snowy River, and the establishment of a District Court at Kiandra was also affirmed.

In the middle of last month Commissioner Cloate was busy laying out the site of the town which is expected shortly to spring up at the Snowy.

The streets were marked fifty feet wide, and so valuable is the ground that only fifteen feet frontage is to be allowed for the ordinary class of buildings.

A large square was reserved for market purposes.

A new rush had taken place to a spot fifteen miles from Kiandra.

The gold, which was found near the surface, was described as very pure and of a shotty appearance like wheat. There were about four hundred miners in the vicinity of Kiandra, and their average earnings were stated to be £8 per week for each man.

On the 13th of the month, the following were the prices ruling at Kiandra:- Flour, £8 per bag; bread, 21d-, 2lbs.; beef, 30s. per hundred; sheep, 22s. to 24 s.; butter, 2s. 6d.; ten, 3s. 6d.; sugar, scarce, 15d. to 18d. raisins and currants, 2s. to 2s. 6d.; tobacco, 6s.; cigars, plentiful; Martell's brandy, 37s. 6d. to 40s.; gin, per case, £5 5/- per case,; rum, 25s.; Byassales, 30s.; firewood, £2 per per ton; building timber, 45s per hundred; slabs, 8 feet x 10 inches, £6 per hundred; shingles, 2 feet x 5 inches, £4 10s. per thousand; good rough carpenters, £2 per week.

Correspondence dated the 23rd June announces the tenders for the construction of a road from Kiandra Russell's bad been received.

The lowest tender was for £6000, and as the Commissioner was authorised to epend only £3800, it became necessary to wait for further instructions.

Another meeting was held, at which the Government were further urged to adopt immediate measures for improving the communication, also for throwing open the agricultural lands, with the view inducing those who come to dig gold to become permanent settlers.

The weather was wet, so that digging operations were at a standstill. Provisions were reduced in price, rice excepted. Three hundred Chinamen had arrived at Kiandra.

With the opening of the present month, the rush to the new gold-fields may be said to have commenced.

The first steamer that arrived at Twofold Bay in the month of July brought seventy-nine passengers, all on their way to the auriferous regions, and all in the best health and spirits.

They stated that hundreds were prepared to follow immediately.

As a result of the increased traffic occasioned by the attractions of the Snowy River, measures have been adopted with the view to increasing the wharf accommodation at Twofold Bay, and the place now bids fair to take the position for which it has so long struggled: namely, that of an important seaport.

A local paper states that groups men pass almost daily through Deniliquin, on their way to the Snowy River, while stockmen, shepherds, hut-keepers, and others, are preparing to start in the spring, many of them leaving comfortable situations to try their fortunes at the new gold-fields.

The correspondent of this journal, writing from Kiandra, on the first instant, states that numbers of miners have arrived; but, as a result of the severity of the weather, they were not yet able to obtain remunertive employment.

Building operations were progressing but, owing to the scarcity of material, not so briskly as might have been desired.

The chief disadvantages laboured under was the want of drays to bring in the timber, £10 per day being asked for the use of a bullock team.

The usual earnings of carpenters at this date was £5 per week. A land sale has just taken place at the township of Russell's.

The lots realised high prices, twelve acre producing £1700.

A new "rush" had been discovered and promised well. Several very rich quartz reefs had also been opened, and some rich specimens obtained and sold.

Some lodes of copper ore extending over several miles and fifteen feet in thickness had recently been attracting considerable attention, and it was reported that coal had been discovered in the same locality.

Two bi-weekly posts were in operation, one by way of Cooma the other by way of Tumut.

A letter dated the 6th instant, addressed to this journal, states that considerable numbers continued to arrive principally from Castlemaine, Bendigo, and other Vicorian diggings.

These came, however, somewhat prematurely, inasmuch as the weather was still so severe as to admit of only one or two working day in the week, and fuel was so scarce that the effects of the cold and wet were experienced in all their severity.

The advantages which these early arrivals will enjoy by being enabled to commence active operations, the moment the sun has effectively dissolved the frost and snow will, however, repay them amply for any inconvenience or hardship which they may have experienced at their first coming.

The Chief Commissioner was exerting himself for the establishment of a Benevolent Institute, with the view to alleviating the misery which must inevitably overtake some among the immense masses who will be congregated at the diggings as the year advances.

From Braidwood we learn that last week the exodus to the Snowy commenced in right earnest, and this not withstanding that large quantities of gold had recently been realised at the several diggings in that direction.

The latest intelligence from Kiandra is of date the 13th instant. The weather was still extremely cold, but the diggers were at the time very generally at work, and were doing well.

One party of seven took one in one week £70 per man.

The arrival of minors from Victoria continued to be large, and all expressed themselves satisfied with their prospects at the new scene of their labours.

They were of opinion, however, that October was early enough to arrive at the Snowy River. Provisions continued high.

On the 9th there was not an ounce of butcher's meat on the diggers, and a lot of sheep which arrived on the evening of that day realised £1 per head.

Building operations were progressing somewhat more rapidly, although £10 per head was still charged for carting materials two or three miles.

From the other parts of the colony the most important item of geld news is the discovery of auriferous deposits at Mount Dromedary, a place about thirty miles south-ward of Moruya.

The prospectors who made the discovery went out fully equipped for their labour in the hope of obtaining the Government reward offered for the discovery of a new gold-field.

The gold is obtained at a very in considerable depth, and is of a coarse, shotty character, deposited around large granite boulders in the bed of a creek, and presented a water-worn appearance. In the early part of the present month the prospectors were still obtaining plenty of gold, although they had not yet commenced regular operations, being engaged in erecting huts and clearing away the thick scrub which impeded their labours.

Numbers of those at the older diggings to the southward were preparing for a start to Mount Dromedary, almost every party dispatching one or two to inspect and report upon the new diggings.

From the Western District we learn that the operations of the diggers at Campbell's River, Carcoar, and other localities in that directions were remunerative.

At Adelong a new quartz vein had been discovered equal, if not superior to any heretofore worked in that direction. It is a foot wide, and the specimens extracted were stated to be likely to produce twenty ounces to the ton.

A Quartz Mining Company had been started. There were four crushing machines already in full operation, which produced from six to four and a half ounces per ton.

Roads To Kiandra. In consequence of the danger that was some months since apprehended from heavy snow falls-calculated to isolate the inhabitants of those districts from communication with the rest of the colonies, the Government determined that, at least, during the first winter the whole governmental establishments should be under one officer; this course was adopted to secure united action in case of any emergency; The Chief Commissioner of the Southern Gold-fields was therefore placed in full control, and he being an officer of the Minister for Lands, the duties connected with Kiandra - or nearly so - have been conducted through the department of that minister.

The principal roads to Kiandra are as follows: Miles.

1.-Sydney, via Berrima, Goulburn, Bungendore, Queanbeyan and Cooma. 319

2. -Sydney, via Goulburn, Yass, Weejasper, &c.. 270

3. -Sydney, via Goulburn, Yass, Jugiong, Sandy falls, Tumut, and Talbingo. 310

4. -Sydney, via Nelligen, Monga, Major's Creek,  Ballallaba, Jingera, Bredbo, and Cooma. (165 miles by sea, and 165 by land). 330

5.-Sydney, via Merimbula and Cathcart. (243 miles by sea, and 130 by land). 373

6.-Sydney, via Eden and Cathcart. (255 miles by sea, and 135 by land). 390

1. By the first line the Great South Railway is followed to Campbelltown, 34 miles, and thence the main South road is followed to Goulburn, a distance of 96 miles, on which £24,000, provided for the current year, is in course of expenditure.

Contracts have been taken for metal- ling the road from Picton to Berrima, 34 miles, not hitherto metalled.

Between Berrima and Goulburn, 48 miles, 11 miles are metalled or being metalled; 35 are fair road; 5 indifferent, and 7 bad; for the seven specifications are being prepared with a view to thorough repair.

 From; Goulburn to Cooma, 127 miles, the road is good comparatively with other country roads: £7 per mile is provided for its repair out of the general rate for subordinate roads.

Special appropriations have been made for improving the crossings of the Umaralla and Bridbo Rivers, and others will be made for spots which may require a larger expenditure than the mileage rote will allow. From Cooma to Chalkers, about 30 milos, the road presents no material difficulties, and a provision of £350 has been made.

From Chalkers to Kiandra the road is common with parts of those numbered 4, 5 and 6 and great natural difficulties, consisting of ranges and swamp, exist.

An improved and partly new line has been surveyed, and tenders were invited for its construction, but those presented being at very high rates, those for the most urgent works only, amounting to £1250, have been accepted.

The other works are at present being carried on by day labour. Two bridges have already been built over the Eucambene River, and a punt baa been established in another crossing of the same river.

An experienced road engineer has been appointed to take oharge of all tho roads in the vicinity of Kiandra, to be assisted by a sub overseer.

The portion between Chalker's and Kiandra will first receive his attention.

2. The second line also follows the Great Southern Railway for 34 miles, and the main South road for about 150 milos, to Yass; whence on existing road leads to the Murrumbidgee River at Taemas, whore a punt will be established.

The line thence, crossing the Goodradigbee River, approaches Kiandra from the north.

A surveyor is now employed in marking on improved line, and has, under his directions a party of labourers, with bullock teams, clearing the road as marked, and making the necessary bridges, approaches to fords, &c.

For this object £400 bas been specially appropriated, and it is anticipated that the line will be open for traffic within two month.

This road, though much shorter than No. 1, passes for a greater part of the distance between Yass and Kiandra, through mountainous and difficult country, and while it will, no doubt, be mach used for the transmission of produce and supplies from Yass, and the surrounding district, as well as by miners from the Western Districts; it is difficult to say, in its present uncleared state, to what extent it may probably be used for the transmission of supplies from Sydney,

3. The third line, and a deviation, it passing through Gundagai, which is some 10 or 12 miles longer, will probably not be used either by travellers, or for transmission of supplies from Sydney, on account of its length, and of the difficulty of ascending to the high level of the country north and west of Kiandra, from the low levels of Gundagai and Tumut.

For the transmission of produce from the agricultural district of Tumut, however, the portion between that town and Kiandra is a very important road, and survey and sections of an improved line of ascent from the Tumut Valley, at Talbingo, having been made, the Government has supplemented a public subscription of £600, by a grant of £1200, for the necessary side cuttings on Talbingo Hill, and other works.

A punt has been established on the Tumut River on this line. Another line from Tumut, by the Gobarragandra Biver, and which will probably join the Yass line is now being explored and surveyed, with a view to its formation, should it prove superior to that by Talbingo.

4. By the 4th line travellers and shippers will be carried to Nelligen by steamer, whence the Clyde-road which has been constructed at great expense, and on which £1550 is being expended during the carrent year, in addition to £500 expended since the great floods, is followed to Monga; a distance of 20 miles.

Thence a line has been surveyed by Majors Creek to Ballallaba on the Shoalhaven River, which river is crossed by a good ford.

Thence the line has been explored to its junction with that from Goulburn to Cooma, at the Bredbo River, and it presents no natural difficulties.

Works absolutely necessary for opening this line will be immediately commenced.

The advantages of this line are the shortness of the road carriage as compared with Nos. 1, 2, and 3, the facility of steam communication with the metropolis, and the easy ascent to the table land comparatively with those by56 and 6, resulting from the large expenditure which has been made on the Clyde Boad. Its identity with No. 1 for about 75 miles is also a material recommendation.

5. By the 5th line steam communication is afforded to Merimbula, whence the line to Cathcart, 40 miles, receives is allowance of £10 per mile. This portion embraces, however, the long and difficult ascent to the table land by the Tantawangala Mountain. From Cathcart to Chalkers, on No. 1 line, this line traverses the table land of Monaro, and presents no difficulties.

No provision has yet been made for the portion from Cathcart to Chalkers, but whatever may be necessary will be provided.

6. By the 6th line, steam communication is afforded to the fine harbour of Twofold Bay.

A wharf is to be completed at Eden, at a further cost of £2500. £7 per mile has been provided for the road thence to Cathcart 45 miles; and £500 for special works is available.

The ascent to the table land by this route is at least equally difficult with that by No. 5; and a surveyor is now employed in exploring for a better ascent.

It is intended to make a further very considerable expenditure on this ascent, so soon as it shall have been decided on what particular line the expenditure can be made with most advantage.

From Cathcart onwards, this line in common with No. 5.

The road from Cathcart to Cooma, by which Kiandra would be from 50 to 6O miles farther from Merimbula or Eden, has an allowance of £3 per mile. The Government has further expended £100 in clearing and making a line of road from the Murrumbidgee River west of Queanbeyan, by the Cotter River, Brindabella, and the long plain to Kiandra; but as this and another line from Queanbeyan, by Nans Valley and Gudgenby, pass through country too broken and mountainous for the construction of roads suitable for heavy traffic, although they, and particularly the latter, may be used, to a considerable extent, by travellers on horseback and on foot, it has not been considered necessary to class them among the important roads.

Buildings In Connection With The Showy River Diggings. The buildings sanctioned by Parliament at, and in connection with the Kiandra Gold-fields are as follows:

...........................................................................£. s. d.

1, Court-house and stationhouse, Kiandra. .. .. 1,200. 0. 0.

2. Ditto ditto, Russell's (Denison) ................. .. 1,200. 0. 0.

3. Ditto ditto, Micalago.................................... .. 400. 0. 0.

4, Station-house, Bungendore.......................... .. 400. 0. 0.

5. Patrol station, Queanbeyan.......................... .. 800. 0. 0.

6. Ditto ditto, Mioalago.................................... .. 800. 0. 0.

7. Ditto ditto, Cooma........................................ .. 800. 0. 0.

8. Ditto bitto. Bombala..................................... .. 800. 0. 0.

9. Ditto ditto, Wyndham................................... .. 800. 0. 0.

10. Ditto, Russell's, (Denison)........................... .. 800. 0. 0.

11. Ditto, Yarrangobilly....................................... 800. 0. 0.

........................................................................ .£8,800. 0. 0.

The whole of these have been proceeded with except at Bombala and Wyndham; where they are not urgently required.

In addition to these, buildings had been already erected for the gold staff and police and Mr. Cloete has received a discretionary authority to proceed with other building, where and when needed, to the extent of £2000, considerably more than that amount having been saved on the cost of the erection of the building first alluded to,

The erection of a post office and telegraphic office will shortly be undertaken. Telegraphic posts have been erected for 15 miles from Kiandra towards Tumut to act as guide posts through the snow daring the winter, and eventually to carry a telegraphic wire to join the existing line near Gundagai.

For this extension tenders have been accepted, and if the snows permit, the whole will be complete by the end of August.

Guide posts have also been erected for about three miles from Kindra towards Denison (Russell's).

Tenders are also out for the construction of a more commodious wharf at Eden, Twofold Bay, and for a punt over the Murrumbidgee on the road from Yass to Kiandra.

Staff At Kiandra. The staff officers of the gold department, at present at Kiandra, is 1 commissioner, who also acts as police magistrate, and 2 sub-commissioners.

It is the intention of the Government to dispatch immediately two additional sub-commissioners and a clerk of petty sessions, as also a superintendent of roads, and an overseer of roads.

Police. The police force is under a superintendent (Captain Zouch, and consists at present of seven mounted troopers, seven foot police, and three detectives.

But ten additional men are on their way.

Gold Escort, A weekly escort of gold has been established. It leaves Sydney every Monday morning, arriving at Cooma on the following Thursday, to which place the gold is conveyed on pack horses, and it leaves Cooma every Monday morning, arriving at the Mint, in Sydney, on Thursday evening.

Postal Arrangements With Kiandra. The mail for Kiandra leaves Sydney every Friday by 5.45 p.m. train, and reaches Kiandra the following Wednesday, at 10 a.m. (112 hours.)

Again, the mail from Kiandra leaves the latter place every Friday, at 2 p.m., arriving in Sydney on Tuesday night, at 7.20 p.m. (101 1/2 hours).