13 February 1860
Information reached Sydney on the 20th of last month that a new Gold-field had been discovered in the Maneroo district, about fifteen miles from Cooma.
The account stated that the new diggings promised to be of a very productive character, that the sinking was shallow and the ground easily worked, and that a considerable number of people had found their way to the spot, most of whom wore making an ounce a day per man.
The Police Magistrate at Cooma, had proceeded thither, and drays of stores, implements, &c., were on the road. The locality indicated is situated between the sources of the Murrumbidgee and Snowy Rivers, about seventy miles from the coast in a direct line, and 135 by the road from Eden, Twofold Bay.
The Government Gazette of the 11th instant proclaims the place a Gold-field within the meaning of the Act, and gives, it the name of Kiandra, which, however, is not likely to be generally adopted.
About a week after the publication of the first report, an article in the Goulburn Chronicle directed serious attention to the subject, stating that there were then 700 persons on the spot, and that numbers were hastening from various points in the surrounding districts.
The prices of provisions were said to be very high, flour fetching £60 a ton. The article contained the following remarks:-
The new gold-field, we are informed, can be approached by dray, only within 12 miles; the remaining distance goods have been conveyed by pack-horses; but probably a route may be opened for drays.
One important fact in connection with the new field is, that in ordinary seasons it is expected it will only be workable from November to May, say seven months in the year; the remaining five months the place is covered with snow to a depth variously stated at from four or five to twenty feet.
It is supposed to be an extension of the line of gold-flelds comprising the Buckland, the Ovens, Tumbarumba, and Adelong, and forms a portion of that tract of country on the Australian Alps which was pronounced to be auriferous by the Rev. Mr. Clarke, the geologist.
The test of a gold-field, however, in the eyes of the public, will of course be the amount of gold produced: and until some considerable quantity finds its way to the Mint, the reputation of Gibson's Plains as a payable gold-field will not rest on a solid foundation.
We may state that Mr. Maurice Harnett, who resides near Cooma, passed through Goulburn on Saturday last, with 16 ounces of gold from the new field which is intended for assay at the Mint. The gold is nuggety, bright and clean.
We hear that the first party at work on the field, have obtained 4 lbs. weight; and that two men, one of whom is named Russell, obtained in part of two days no less than 4 ozs. T
he sinking at present from 3 to 6 feet: the diggers at the last accounts were sluicing in the river and tributary creeks, and no shafts had yet been sunk.
The gold above referred to was tested, and pronounced to be of excellent quality, and additional steamers were soon advertised for Twofold Bay.
In our issue of the 2nd instant occurs the following:-
Probably of all the various districts explored by that eminent geologist, the Rev. W. B. Clarke, the one in which the recently discovered gold-field is situated, is most highly spoken of. But the climate was so inhospitable, that he was prevented from prosecuting his investigations, to such an extent as he desired.
And he was evidently under the apprehension if there should be at any time a considerable influx of population into that wild and stormy region, that great sufferings would be the result.
Accounts have reached Sydney within the last day or two, from the district in question, of a very flattering nature. Whether these accounts are to be fully relied upon or not we cannot pretend to determine.
There can be no doubt, however, that considerable excitement exists in Queanbeyan and its neighbourhood, and that a large population will soon be congregated about the head waters of the Murrumbidgee.
The country, as we before said, is exceedingly mountainous and broken - intersected with almost impassable gullies.
The latest account which has been forwarded to us has come from a respectable storekeeper at Queanbeyan, who had sent a person to the scene of operations.
The report brought back was exceedingly flattering and the result is that large orders for goods have reached Sydney in consequences.
The statements transmitted are as follows:- There are about six hundred diggers already on the spot, and most of them are said to be doing remarkably well; two, three, and even four ounces per man per day are stated to be not unfrequently realised; and in many instances even a much larger amount.
The sinking is shallow; the gold nugetty and very bright. The gentleman from whose report our information is derived met large numbers of people en route to the now diggings. Gibson's Plains extend for about 14 miles, and the whole of this district is said to be auriferous.
Large parties of diggers were arriving from the Tumut and the Ovens, and some from the Braidwood diggings; and it was the impression of those on the spot, that a very large population would be congregated there in a short time.
Cooma and Queanbeyan are said to be almost deserted already, and many of those who have not yet left are preparing to do so.
The diggings are so difficult of access that goods have to be taken a distance of ten or twelve miles on packhorses.
After the mournful experience of the Rockhampton rush, we think there is very little need of warning people not to be too hasty in giving credit to all the reports, which will shortly be in circulation.
We candidly confess that our opinion at present is that the district in question will ultimately turn out to be one of the richest and most extensivo gold fields in the colony.
Farther accounts, all more or less favourable, continued to reach us.
The following will furnish some idea of the excitement caused in the surrounding neighbourhood. It is from the Goulburn Chronicle of February 1st:-
We have been favoured with the following extract from a letter received in Goulburn from a Tumut storekeeper, dated January 29, from which it will be seen that a complete exodus is taking place from Adelong and Tumut to Gibson's Plain.
He says, "I am starting tomorrow morning for the now diggings; there are not a hundred men left on the Reef. The farmers and townspeople are all going this next week. About 50 of us are going tomorrow. N--- started off in a spring cart a couple of days ago, to make a dray road, he says he will cut his way, but I think he will leave the cart on the road. Reef and town will be deserted next week’.
A gentleman who has come down from Gundagai informs us that the roads were alive with diggers bound for the Snowy River.
We learn also that some have left Tuena for the same destination. In short, the excitement is spreading far and wide.
The discoverer of the diggings is a Mr. Pollock, who, for several years past, had been intending to give the place a trial, having frequently observed, while passing over it with cattle, what he considered sure indications of gold.
He is an Irishman, and is now keeping a store on the spot, and probably making a fortune.
On February 4th, we reported the population on the now gold-field as not less than a thousand, and on the 8th published the following:-
Queanbeyan, 4th February. This moment - half past 9am two friends of mine have arrived from the Snowy River gold-fields.
They are persons in whom I can place implicit confidence, and their acoount surpasses anything I have yet heard of the richness and extant of those fields.
When they left yesterday there were upwards of 2000 people on the fields, and all that had worked any time were doing well; exceeding their most sanguine expectations.
The great inconvenience experienced is the want or supplies or all kinds, particularly flour, which is hardly procurable at any price.
Mr. M'Donald and Mr. Wilson, my informants, tell me that flour is selling at 2s. per lb., and in only procurable in scanty quantities at this exorbitant rate. T
here are two Commissioners on the fields and a number of mounted troopers busy in laying out claims, which are greedily secured, and the fields are said to be ample for thousands more.
The nearest overland route from Sydney is 254 miles.
On the following day we published a letter from our own correspondent at Pambula, commencing thus:-
Snowy River.- The Maneroo gold diggings are all the go. The working hands, almost to a man, are leaving for them. The re- ports in circulation, whether true or false I cannot say, bat a mania has taken possession of most people here, even females, which bears a strong resemblance to the Turon and Bendigo rushes some years ago. The Fitzroy rush had not half the effect on the people of this district.
Here is a portion of a letter from Mr. David Bell, written at Cooma: -
The new diggings will undoubtedly be the richest ever discovered.
If the deposit was merely in, or within a small portion of land, it might be said a few claims well worked would deter- mine the yield of the auriferous metal.
It is not so, however, as they are now finding gold in abundance at Billy Russell's place, which is fully twelve miles this side of the considered choice spot: it is situated on the point of the river, and in a place where they can work all winter.
There are now, it is said, 1800 men on the diggings, and the Commissioner on the Ovens reports; "I am told that fully 3000 people had crossed the Ovens river."
We have seen a letter received in Goulburn from Gundagai, under date 5th instant. T
he writer says: "I saw a letter last evening from Mr. Lockhart, Gold Commissioner at Adelong, to our telegraph master, In which he stated there were 3000 parsons on the ground (at the new diggings) - a most successful rush, the gold in any quantity. Nothing talked of but the gold-fields".
The following is an extract from a letter written by a gentleman of experience who was at Gibson's Plains on Wednesday and Thursday last.
He says, "My opinion or the diggings is, that it is exceedingly rich.
When I left, I should think there were nearly 2000 persons there; not more than half appeared to be at work, as I supposed they had not had time to set in, great numbers having arrived only a day or two previous. Of those at work, fully two-thirds were doing very well. Some of them will make large piles.
It will be a most extensive gold-field; for twenty miles around gold has boon found. Next spring there will be a tremendous rush. Even now, I should not be at all surprised if four or five thousand people are there in two or three weeks."
There can now be little doubt that the reports are substantially correct. So much time has elapsed since the first accounts were brought in, that they must have been contradicted ere this if they were unfounded.
We feel no hesitation whatever in congratulating the colonists of New South Wales on a discovery which cannot fail to be highly beneficial to every class of the community.
With regard to the gold-fields generally, it may be stated that their progress is steady, and mostly satisfactory.
The production of gold bas gone on increasing in a very regular manner for the last three years; and experience shews that the auriferous deposits of this colony, if not so rich as those of Victoria, are likely to be much more lasting.
The latest intelligence is contained in the following extracts from the Goulburn Chronicle:
The excitement in reference to the new diggings at Gibson's Plans, or "Kiandra," is daily increasing, and little else is talked of now in these parts.
There remains little doubt that we are on the eve of a new era in the history of gold mining in the Southern Districts, and that one of the richest fields in New South Wales is in course of being opened up.
Favourable reports reach us from so many quarters, and from authorities so reliable, that we can come to no other conclusion than that a genuine discovery has been hit upon at last.
The movement is beginning to affect this neighbourhood perceptibly. Some persons have already left, and many more are preparing to start.
The storekeepers are also beginning to feel the effect of the movement, several large orders for supplies having already been received.
The wheat and flour market also has received an impetus. The mills will only sell to customers, and the settlers are holding their wheat, offers of 12s. a bushel having even been refused.
Mr. Wilson has just arrived from the Snowy River Diggings, having left there on Friday, the 3rd instant.
He states that there were then about 1800 persons on the diggings, and all doing very well; the only drawback 1s the scarcity of provisions. Mr. Wilson saw a party of five digging two foot and a half, and they got 3 1/2 ounces, all nuggetty gold. Mr. Hall, jun., of Queanbeyan, and party, were averaging 30 ounces per week; Mr. Hall has a nugget of 4 ounces.
A nugget was found near Chippendale's store weighing 1 oz. 15 dwts.
There is plenty of gold waiting to be sent by escort.