EARLY SETTLEMENT - Mudgee, Gold Rush P.6
Above: Holtermann’s Nugget found at Hill End Goldfields; Prince of Wales Opera House Gulgong during the gold rush days; bark houses built at Gulgong during the gold rush.
Photos courtesy of Gulgong Pioneers Museum.
Right: Thomas and Margaret Curry, Gulgong’s first gold miners, who mined before the gold rush started.
GOLD BRINGS FORTUNE
The discovery of gold brought much prosperity to the region, particularly to Mudgee, which became the hub for provisions and business.
Amateur prospectors came to the Gulgong region in the early 1850s, encouraged by the discovery at Ophir in 1851. A geologist named Stutchbury found gold that year on a number of hilltops surrounding the Guntawang village, as well as the junction of Reedy Creek and the Cudgegong River.
Gold was also discovered on George Cox’s World’s End sheep station and by 1857 there were mining camps at Piambong, Bruce’s Creek and Merrendee.
J. Dietz applied for a miner’s right on land 3 kms south east of Gulgong, in August 1866, but the claim was unpayable. Little did he know the big rush to come was so near. His claim, however, resulted in Gulgong being gazette as a goldfield, but it was not until April 14, 1870 that Tom Saunders discovered 14 ounces of gold on Red Hill Gulgong while shepherding sheep for Richard Rouse.
By August 1870 the Gulgong Gold Rush had begun and in June that year there were 500 people in the camp and 17 mining interests recorded payable gold.
Deposits of rich discoveries followed, at Canadian Lead in August 1871, Home Rule May 1872 and other leads, while the population peaked at 20,000 before it started to subside in 1875, when payable gold was down to 6488 ounces compared to 134,455 ounces in 1872. The rush ended in 1879 when a typhoid epidemic drove many people away from the area.
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