The Eureka Reef



The Eureka Reef site is near Chewton. The site forms part of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. Here a range of quartz and alluvial gold mines operated from the mid 1850s to the 1950s.




 There are deep vertical shafts. A concrete slab covers the shaft in the car park. Visitors can gaze into the inky blackness through an observation hole.




 Gold bearing quartz was ripped from the hill leaving a deep chasm.




If you want a closer look, check out this video on You Tube:


There are hand dug water races. Water races were used in sluicing operations to wash through layers of gravel to extract gold.




 There are bits of buildings here and bits of buildings there.










Cyanide tanks were used to extract gold from tailings in the 1930s.




Instead of a vertical chimney, miners built a Cornish chimney which follows the slope of a hill.  A fire heated water which created steam which drove the batteries which crushed the quartz to extract the gold……..the noise must have been horrendous!


Nothing in here!


 The chimney is beautifully and expertly made.



The top of the chimney is at the top of the slope.



10 Responses

  1. I was walking in the area yesterday, Hungry to know more. Thank you for your excellent photos and comments. Peter

    • Thank you, Peter. I am pleased this post was useful to you. The Castlemaine Visitors Information Centre has a leaflet which provides some information about the Eureka site. There is also a spoken commentary available.

  2. Hi Margaret,
    I don’t know why your posts don’t seem to come up in my reader. Thanks for commenting on my blog as it reminds me to check on yours to see if I have missed any! The wattle are indeed glorious and I would have loved coming across all these rocky remains of history. It looks like a very interesting walk, indeed. I’m glad Katy didn’t venture down any holes. A friend of mine had a sausage dog that got too curious. The extraction process was rather complicated. I can only imagine the hard work and the noise involved in such mining. It would have been horrible work in the height of summer I expect! Excellent pictures, Margaret.
    Best wishes.

    • Thank you, Jane. I agree working on the gold fields was hard yacca. I am often in awe of the skills of the men who came to the goldfields such as the men who built the Cornish chimney.

      When I meet people living in the Castlemaine area, I often ask what brought them to the district. One said she and her husband were attracted by the wealth of history. Both of them belong to a local historical society.

  3. Margaret, you know I am a rock lover, so I found this post quite interesting! I love the investigator “Katie” photograph… ever so careful and cautious but she just can’t help herself having a good sniff!! Ha ha!

    • Yes, Lori. Katie and I enjoy our excursions for different reasons. Today, Katie had the excitement of chasing rabbits.

  4. You do have some interesting walks there Margaret. When they closed the Beaconsfield gold mine we snuck under the chains and went for a bit of a walk along a very long stretch of road that they used to drive the ore trucks up and down from the various mine sites in the area. There are all sorts of interesting things to see and like your image (probably from around the same time) there are many amazing feats of ingenuity that miners used to get what they wanted from the ground. There are also numerous sink holes that keep falling in from the top and if you look into some of them you can’t see the bottom! Cheers for sharing this Margaret. Note to self “go for another walk up that track with the dogs” 🙂

    • Hi Fran, Until I moved to Castlemaine, I thought miners either panned for gold or dug vertical or horizontal shafts. The Manchester Reef and the Eureka Reef are the first examples of open cut gold mining I have seen. Seeing hills hollowed out to extract the gold bearing quartz is awe inspiring – horrifying but awe inspiring.

  5. Very interesting, they were so determined it is good that you can still see where they worked.

    • Thanks Susan. I am amazed by what men are prepared to do if there is sufficient motivation – in this case the lure of gold. Through out the Chewton/Castlemaine area there are kilometres of hand dug water races. The effort involved in digging through clay, gravel and rock was immense.

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