Through Adelong and Tumut
12 December 1872 The Sydney Morning Herald
In my last string of jottings I left off on the road from Wagga Wagga to Gundagai, at the Adelong Crossing.
Six months ago I well remember passing a few hours there waiting for the Tumut conveyance; then it was bitterly cold, and I fancy still I feel the numbness of my fingers as I turned out in the morning to take passage by the excuse for a trap that at that time carried the mail.
Glad was I to find an improvement, the coach of "Montgomery's" has given way to one of " Cobb's," a respectable decent vehicle, and passengers to Tumut I am sure feel benefited by the change.
There are few travellers but in their time meet with places which they consider dull localities, so dormant that one would imagine that a perpetual Sabbath was being held.
When last I saw Adelong Crossing, such I considered it, but now, what was my surprise to find carpenters busy, new buildings in course of erection - talk of a mill that is going to be built, &c.; even the hotel seemed brightening up to meet the times.
Curiosity prompted me to inquire what was the meaning of the change.
I received the desired information, and as I never can keep a secret will publish it.
There are few residents of Adelong or Gundagai but know a miner named Williams, by many he goes by the sobriquet of Charcoal Williams, a lucky and an unlucky digger, one who has made three piles, or fortunes, in his time.
Williams has had his "ups and downs;" twice 'ere this Dame Fortune smiled on him, and he found himself possessed of thousands, which, in the course of speculation, he unfortunately lost.
Within this last few months a turn of luck again put Charcoal up in the stirrups - a good claim on the Victoria line, at Adelong, now the property of a company, purchased for £46,000, if I am rightly informed.
Williams, again in funds, becomes a speculator this time in something more solid than mining ventures (although he has not quite forsaken them) - bricks and mortar at Adelong Crossing - an hotel and a mill; and a better place I deem could not have been selected, for around the Crossing are scores of selections - to them the mill will be a boon.
Adelong Crossing will, I suppose, soon become "Williamstown;" my hope is that Mr. Williams may this time be more fortunate, a hope or wish felt by nearly all around the district where he has so long toiled.
Close to the Adelong Crossing the Adelong Creek flows, making its way to the Murrumbidgee River.
Travelling up the creek on the right of it about nine miles up, will be found the new townships of "Grahamstown" and " Shepherdstown; " opposite those towns the alluvial claims known as the "Adelong United," Wynyard, Eldorado, and several others are situated.
Grahamstown, named after Mr. Graham, the well-known Adelong storekeeper, is but at present a small place, with a few wooden buildings, the most noticeable being a substantial hotel, owned by Mr. Miller.
Sheperd's Town, a mile higher up, named after the manager of the Wynyard claim, is a village of the same class as Graham's Town - perhaps a trifle larger.
I was unfortunate in two senses at the time of my visit. In the first place the rain came down in torrents, and in the next the claims were idle.
The Adelong United, unfortunately, through some jumping freak was the victim of an injunction - some flaw, or supposed flaw, in the leasing or marking out soon to be decided bylaw. When I visited the creek six months ago this claim had just been bottomed on a fine golden wash.
The holders set to work and erected good powerful pumping and winding gear. All is at present in form for efficient work.
I know but little of the jumping case and all I can write is that many lament the stoppage and the suit. I might add that since my visit the injunction has been removed, so that the claim may soon commence to turn out dividends to its deserving shareholders.
Good returns may be hoped for, as all agree that the prospects are first-class.
Tho Wynyard is at a complete standstill, which is much to be lamented, the cause, want of powerful machinery to contend against the water.
A good payable block of ground remains in the claim, which would well repay the expenditure of the capital required.
The machinery at present on the ground is of water power, with pumps too small, and unfortunately is on the upper part of the ground.
I had a conversation with Mr. Shepherd at Adelong, and from him learned that the want is a good steam plant and a shaft at the lower end of the claim in order that the ground may be worked up.
What action the company may take I know not, but I hope something may soon be done as delays in cases of wet claims are indeed highly dangerous.
Before leaving the subject of the creek I might state that on my return from the Murray it is my intention to revisit it, and inspect the works of the Adelong United, then I perhaps can give a fair idea of what I generally term probabilities.
Four miles up is the township of Adelong, that old-fashioned gold-producing town that has stood this last score of years the test of escorts. Many of my readers may smile at my idea of tests, but of all tests commend me to the "Escort one," a capital old-fashioned mode of finding out what a district really is. It beats all the assays of small quantities - the trial of a few hundredweights, &c.
Approaching Adelong from Shepherd's-town, on the right, stands the township; on the left, the reefs.
The creek separates them, and the buildings of the town nearly all face the reefs with a kind of "to you do we look" sort of appearance.
Of the township there is little to be written. The buildings are, as a rule, small weatherboard cottages or huts. There are a couple of good stores - Messrs. Graham's, and Smith, Brothers, - the former covers a large space of Adelong soil with its stock.
A few hotels, a bank or two in a small office, form the town, which as yet has not been declared a municipality.
It would be well to have the latter, as the ways are bad, and the bridges across the creek highly dangerous.
To make amends for the dulness of the alluvial, the reefs seem to have put on an extra spurt, and the various lines have at present a healthy look of activity.
I indulged in a scamper over two of the lines - the principal ones, of course - commencing with the Old Reef line. In my course I took a few notes of the progress.
Ascending the hill from the town from the south to the north, the first workings I crossed were those of the Ade- long Company, on a 10-acre lease.
To properly commence at the beginning, it must be understood that this old line was worked as far back as sixteen years ago for more than a mile in extent, from the surface to a depth of about 60 feet, with splendid results.
The stone at that depth changed to a marbly kind, called by old reefers the white reef; it proved "barren," and as such was deserted by many of the original claimholders.
A few hold on, determined to sink through the white reef and test the ground at a lower level.
It required rare perseverance to accomplish this, for the country is hard, and the sinking on the underlay with the channel, for outside it the granite is far too hard for going down in.
Water also had to be contended against.
On the whole the prospecting was of a difficult nature.
The main shaft of the Adelong Company is down 312 foot, 140 feet through the White Reef on a good stone, which promises soon to become payable.
The pump shaft is 200 feet down, and a horse-power pump is kept going on the lower end of the lease.
At the 300 feet level, a drive has been put in along the stone 90 feet. Six men are at work; and there are 5 contributing shareholders. The present company has been at work over two years.
The next is a 6-acre lease, named "Our Own"- a small company at work about six months, now down 70 feet on quartz, showing good mundic veins; 6 men employed, under the management of Mr. Thomas Channon.
Next to Our Own is a 5-acre lease, held by Woodward and Co., now down 220 feet, on a good reef, varying in thickness from 1 to 4 feet, which yields from 3 to 4 oz. to the ton. 10 men are at present at work stoping and driving.
The next up the hill is a claim held by Prowse and party, working at the same depth as Woodward's, with similar prospects.
On the crown of the hill a lease of six acres bears the name Crown of the Old Reef Company, now down 300 feet, raising stone from a vein eighteen inches, worked by ten men. From this vein I saw some excellent specimens.
The stone ought to yield well at the mill.
Descending the hill to the north the next workings are those of the Old Reef Mining Company, on a lease of eight acres, down about 160 feet.
At the time of my visit the miners (4) employed were taking down the foot wall about twenty feet up from the bottom.
The manager (Mr. Chennon) expects soon to have the reef which the Crown Company now holds.
Crandell's Company stands next, working on a four-acre lease.
This company's sheds were, a short time back, burnt down, and the hands were busily engaged erecting new ones.
The shaft is down 100 feet; a good leader, bearing gold, has been struck at 40 feet, from which I was shown some good specimens.
Further north still ground has been taken up and work commenced. On the whole, the general prospects of the line may be considered really good.
From the old line I crossed the hill to the west over to the Victoria line, which I traversed from the north to the south.
The Victoria, within this last three months, has brought itself prominently forth, and by rich returns almost eclipsed even the old days of Adelong.
The fact of one claim on the line that of Williams's, having lately been floated for the sum of £75,000 will show how high it ranks in estimation of the public.
I found the claims all activity, the men engaged working like bees; substantial sheds, workshops, whims, horse-pumps, &c., all in full work.
The Victoria line has many veins, some of them running in a green slate, almost identical with that of Hawkins Hill; indeed, the position of the claims and their appearance bear a great similarity to that fashionable locality.
In richness, however, there is not a comparison to be made between the two.
The Victoria, if not equal in quality, has a decided advantage in quantity, which perhaps may make amends.
I had not an opportunity from various causes to inspect the lower workings of the golden claims on the line; in fact, as I understood, the claims at present are not sufficiently opened out for fair survey.
I promise myself a treat underground in a few weeks, as I have received invitations from several of the managers.
There must be fully 200 miners employed in the claims on the line; one company, the Flagstaff, has thirty hands engaged.
I furnish a list of the claims and companies passed over; the extent of the holdings will give an idea of the ground in course of work:- Spiers and party, 392 feet ; W. Long, 227 feet; Williams and Co., 435 feet; Flagstaff Co., 442 feet; Annett's, 214 feet; Trudgen's, 179 foot; Crompton, 155 feet; Research Co., 534 feet: R. White, 435 feet; Victoria, 870 feet. In my next account of the reef I hope to be in a position to give a return of crushings and full particulars.
Northwest of the Victoria the Curragong reef or reefs (for I find an east and west Currajong) have just had a start by the formation of a company known as the Currajong G. M. Co.; these reefs have for many years given good returns and well repaid their working shareholders.
After a brief stay at Adelong, I shaped my course for Tumut; it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon before I took the road, and I was unfortunate enough to secure a thorough good drenching before the thirteen miles was traversed.
Not only did the rainfall but the creeks were swollen, and I had to swim one known as the "Sandy."
It would form an interesting study to arrive at the number of Sandy Creeks in the colony.
I have crossed scores - in my travels, and I suppose may cross scores more ; at any rate, I have arrived at the conclusion that a letter addressed, John Smith, Sandy Creek, would puzzle the Post Office authorities, and in the end likely find a peaceful resting place in the Dead Letter Office.
Wet and weary, I reached the pretty town of Tumut, my boots (long ones) I found really watertight, for I had a difficulty in persuading them to dissolve partnership with my feet.
A change and dry clothing made a vast change in affairs.
The peaceful township of Tumut I have before described I found but little change, some new buildings have been erected since my last visit.
For position, scenery, and homely appearance commend me Tumut I might commit myself were I to write it the prettiest township in the colony, many I know consider it so.
Business in the town never appears brisk, still the mills find employment, the stores do a fair steady trade, and the hotel keepers complain not.
The farmers around secure as a rule good crops, and to give a zest to the dish, a little mining is thrown in. Gold, tin, and copper, in quantities more or less, have been unearthed in the district. The Lac-ma-Lac reefs, and the Sandy Creek Tin and Gold Companies are well known, and by many much thought of.
The Public school, surrounded by a neat garden, is as neat a building of its class as I have seen in my rambling.
Tumut, like Adelong, is not a municipality, still the ways are good and the town cleanly.
So seldom does one get a hold of an original anecdote that having secured one during my stay in Tumut I cannot refrain from giving it.
The hero in this case is a dog, a veritable puppy of the sheep breed, I believe.
A shearer lost a purse containing some twelve pounds, and after a fruitless search was sorrowfully about to leave the town, when lo! in walks the puppy, "lucky dog," with the purse in his mouth, enters the bar of one of the hotels, and delivers up his find.
The purse was restored to its owner, who went on his way rejoicing, not before the dog was rewarded, I hope, with a piece of beef or the like, for the animal really deserved it.
The day after my arrival I took a trip out to Lac-ma-Lac, and had a peep at the reefs there.
I found many changes since my last visit.
The Lac-ma-Lac No 1 Company have two shafts going down-one on the "Madman," a well timbered "main," with pumping gear.
This shaft is down over 40 feet, slabbed and puddled up, for the water, although only surface, is very troublesome.
The other shaft is going down on the blue vein near their boundary.
I saw some very nice stone that will shape well at a depth.
The company having purchased a crushing machine from Mr Edwards, that gentleman Is busily engaged removing it from the Michalong, where it has been at work for a short lime.
The foundation for the boiler, engine-house, &c, has been excavated for, and three months will, if all goes well, find the machine at work.
The Company's ground is on the south.
North, where the rich claims are situated, tunnelling is in progress, and I found three going into the hill side.
When the reef is struck or cut in those tunnels good returns may be expected. A number of the rich claims have in an amalgamated form been purchased, and as the want of crushing machinary will now be supplied, the Lac-ma-Lac ought soon to lookup.
No reef I know of has such good prospects before it when properly worked. A few good miners would be a great acquisition and I hope soon to hear of something like actual work being done, at present only a few claims with the "No 1 Company," are shaping as they ought Gold cannot, often be obtained with- out labour.
Many of the claim proprietors on the Lac-ma-Lac seemed to think it ought.
A brief half year will, I fancy, bring forth good results for the really golden country about it. There are several other reefs in the vicinity of Lac-ma Lac which will find the benefit of the crushing-mill.
The Coming Event, only a few hundred yards from it, ought to furnish good stone.
The Sandy Creek, where a fine reef is at work, will also render its quota, I refrain from going into particulars concerning many of the claims because, from the want of labour, and machinery, nothing of importance since my last visit has transpired.
The tin companies on the Sandy Creek will soon be at work, as there is plenty of capital now at hand. Many residents have hopes of good returns from them.
My next article will treat of a trip from Adelong, through Tumbarumba.
[From Our Special Reporter.]