Adelong Falls Gold Workings Reserve Conservation Management Plan 2003-12-19


Dr Jennifer Lambert Tracey BA ANU, M App.Sc UC, PhD UC.


During 2003 Jennifer coordinated and undertook research for the Conservation Management Plan for the Adelong Falls Heritage Site on behalf Tumut Shire Council and the NSW Heritage Office.





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Heritage Archaeology was engaged on 16th April 2003 by Tumut Shire Council, to undertake a Conservation Management Plan [CMP] for the area known historically as Adelong Falls Gold Workings Reserve, Adelong, NSW. The CMP project was instigated by Tumut Shire Council and funded the NSW Heritage Office.


The CMP was prepared by Michael M. Tracey BA [Hons] ANU, Archaeologist, and Jennifer Lambert Tracey BA ANU; M App Sc. UC., Archaeologist and Heritage Consultant of Heritage Archaeology, Archaeological & Heritage Assessment Consultants, Canberra, ACT. The ‘Physical Overview of Built Elements’ were prepared by Freeman Randell, Canberra.


The brief required consideration of a proposal for redevelopment of the site for heritage tourism by Mr. Murray Campbell. A Steering Committee was formed for the purpose of assessing the proposal on behalf of the Adelong and district community. The Steering Committee assessed progress and advised the consultants on the Adelong community’s reaction to the Campbell Proposal.


Site Location and Description

The historical site of Adelong Falls Gold Workings Reserve is located on Adelong Creek, Adelong, NSW. The ruins of the Reefer Battery and associated structures are the primary heritage components in a complex mining landscape extending for the length of Adelong Creek. Reefer Quartz Crushing Company’s battery site is picturesque and in an easily accessible tourist locality promoted by the Tumut Shire Council.


Heritage Status

The Heritage Council of New South Wales has acknowledged the significance of the site of the Reefer Quartz Crushing Company’ battery. A Permanent Conservation Order No. 72 was notified in the New South Wales Government Gazette 15th March, 1985.  The site was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register on 2nd April 1999. The Adelong Falls Gold Workings /Reserve area was Classified by the National Trust of Australia [NSW] on 28th March 1983.


A Statement of Heritage Significance was developed for the Adelong Gold Workings Reserve prior to the site being entered onto the NSW State Heritage Register. This Statement has been reviewed as part of the CMP to emphasise the importance of the site as an integral component within the highly significant gold mining area along Adelong Creek.


Aims of the Conservation Management Plan

The aims of the Conservation Management Plan [CMP] for the Adelong Gold Workings Reserve were:


  • to develop principles and policies for managing the physical aspects of the site;

  • to develop principles and policies for maintaining the heritage significance of the site and its individual elements and components;

  • to provide for the balanced management of the cultural heritage values of the site;

  • to identify any planning and management frameworks and mechanisms, as well as legislative and other stakeholder requirements;

  • to recommend amendments and augmentation of the above to appropriately manage the heritage significance of the site and its components;

  • to develop policies that recognise and meet public expectations for the site as well as positive management practices.


Historical Overview

An historical overview of the site provided the basis for the development of conservation policies. It established the historical importance of the site in relation to mining activities on the Adelong Goldfield in the mid 19th century, and the subsequent development of the township of Adelong. Primary source documents relating to the years following proclamation of the Adelong Goldfield are scarce. Many early registers of claims, lease documents, maps and geological specimens from the Adelong and many other New South Wales goldfields, were destroyed in the disastrous fire in the Garden Palace Exhibition Building at the Domain in Sydney 22nd September 1882. As a result, this places an exceptional responsibility for the protection of the archaeological remains upon those charged with the management of the heritage listed area and associated historical mining landscape. Historical data relevant to this site reveals that a fifteen-head stamper battery and ore processing plant was erected on the lease held by the Reefer Quartz Crushing Company. The purpose of the battery was for crushing ore from the auriferous reefs on Victoria and Currajong hills on the north side of Adelong Creek.


Site Interpretation

The site of Adelong Falls Gold Workings / Reserve is one component in a highly significant 19th century mining landscape.  Historical gold mining operations along Adelong Creek have left an array of landscape features and dispersed material remains. These present a wealth of historical information and are a challenge in their archaeological complexity.


The site, at the base of Currajong Hill, comprises discarded ore crushing machinery and stone and timber structures that once provided mechanical and engineering support for the gold processing machinery. The archaeological remains of the Reefer Battery, and other earlier ore processing sites in close proximity are of exceptional heritage importance in relation to the understanding of 19th and 20th century mining technology. The site also includes the archaeological sites of the residences of Campsie and Ferndale


Opportunities and Constraints

The conservation planning process established by the guidelines to the Burra Charter of Australia ICOMOS, and included in the NSW Heritage Manual and the Australian Natural Heritage Charter requires that relevant opportunities and constraints be identified as part of the process for developing conservation policies for places of significance.


The CMP sets out the key opportunities and constraints. These stem from the recognition of the site’s state heritage values. The significance of the place is strongly reflected in its ability to convey a sense of uniqueness through its setting and historical associations. Opportunities have been identified from the detailed analysis of the history and fabric and constraints arise from the site’s heritage significance.


The significance of the site is linked to its past use as an industrial operation and economic indicator of the viability of gold mines near the town of Adelong, and present use as a place of public historical reflection and recreation. There is an identified need for research and interpretation of areas with archaeological heritage potential.


There are opportunities for planned, cyclical and on-going maintenance of the site to address deterioration due to erosion, disturbance to archaeological remains and risks to visitor safety, and preservation of the site’s historical integrity.


Discussions with visitors to the Site and members of the Adelong community over the study period presented a broad range of expectations.  There is an opportunity to address community expectations for the site in relation to the inadequately maintained condition of the Site and difficulty in safely accessing the various features. Safe access along paths within the Site for aged persons and those with a physical disability was cited as a major concern. Historical interpretation of the Site requires upgrading.


Opportunities are available for the Site which respect the heritage of the place and celebrate it through the encouragement of increased access and enhancement of visitor appreciation. The CMP addresses Tumut Shire Council’s management issues for the Adelong Falls Gold Workings /Reserve heritage landscape, including conservation works, security, maintenance, maintaining community access.


Physical Overview of the Built Elements

The physical overview of the built elements of the Adelong Falls Gold Workings Site was prepared by Freeman Randell, Conservation Architects, Canberra. The built elements of the Adelong Goldfields Site include stone building ruins, equipment housings and extensive stone retaining walls, and the sites of Campsie and Ferndale. Recommendations have been made for conservation of the various elements on the site, including the stone retaining walls, the water wheel-housings, the remains of the buddle, the former site office, lower Race, upper Race and aqueduct, the reverberatory furnace and chimney. Paths, roads and retaining walls, culverts and drains have been reassessed for this CMP. At Ferndale, stabilisation works were undertaken to the stone walls in 1988. Further, recommendations have been made for the continued preservation of the structure.


Conservation Management Policies and Recommendations

Conservation management policies and strategies have been developed that relate to significance, statutory listing, statutory obligations, physical condition and use of the site.  The policies further relate to the fabric of the place, landscape and archaeology, site interpretation.


Objectives for the implementation of the Conservation Management Plan include the conservation and management of the site in accordance with its outstanding heritage significance and that the site should remain accessible to the local and regional community.


It is recommended that Tumut Shire Council ensure that the values expressed in the statement of cultural significance will be retained and that the historical fabric, archaeological remains, essential to the interpretation of its outstanding significance, will be conserved.




Bibliographic Reference: 


Tracey, J. L. & Tracey. M. M., 2003. Conservation Management Plan; Adelong Falls ~ Adelong NSW,  Tumut Shire Council & NSW Heritage Office, Heritage Archaeology, Canberra, ACT.


Heritage Archaeology ~ Historical, Archaeological & Genealogical Research Consultants

 (Copyright 2013)

Saturday, 09 May 2015