'Imprints in the Dust: Historical and archaeological evidence of mining methods used on goldfields in south-eastern NSW and north-eastern Victoria during the 19th and early 20th century'

Dr. Jennifer Lambert Tracey

BA (ANU), M App.Sc. (UC), Ph.D. (UC) MPHA (Qld.)

Archaeologist ~ Historian ~ Heritage Consultant

Heritage significance has predominantly been applied to historical mining sites that are comprehensively documented or where the archaeological remains are visually prominent. However, often the Australian 19th century gold field carries only ephemeral features of mining activity and the dispersion of archaeological evidence adds to the complexity of recognition of working methods. This thesis aimed to increase awareness of 19th century mining methods and provide a framework for interpretation of historical gold mining sites. Examination of physical remains was an integral part of the process of preparing an illustrative account of the practices used in the mining of gold. Fieldwork was undertaken on goldfields proclaimed between 1851 and 1875 including the Shoalhaven, Kiandra and Adelong goldfields, New South Wales, and the Ovens Goldfield in north-eastern Victoria.

 

Historical goldfield landscapes acquire characteristic topographical features through the mining processes of extraction, accumulation and redeposition. In addition to the archaeological remains, these landforms provide evidence essential to the heritage interpretation of mining sites. The viability of protecting the archaeological remains on historical goldfields depends substantially upon an understanding of the technology.

 

Archaeological integrity of abandoned gold workings and mining settlements needs to be assessed by taking into account activities that occurred before, during and after the period of mining. In some instances the physical remains provide the only means of interpreting the working methods. The ephemeral qualities of some alluvial mining sites, such as the evidence of panning or tub puddling, are rarely manifest in the archaeological record. Contemporary historical accounts of these methods provide the details otherwise unobtainable from field survey, establishing the relationship between auriferous geological formations and the applied technologies. Innovation and improvisation also played a major role in the methods used to extract the gold. The heritage importance of the site cannot be recognised without acknowledgement of the miners' fortitude, the hardships endured by their families and those who settled in those often harsh environments forging growth and economic development in the cities and towns. These goldfield immigrants, without exception, would in some way, have made their mark on the land they came to call their home.

 

 

1998

Awarded the Degree of Master of Applied Science (M.App.Sc.) by the University of Canberra for this thesis:

 

Bibliographic Reference

Lambert Tracey, J., 1998. Imprints in the Dust: Historical and archaeological evidence of mining methods used on goldfields in south-eastern NSW and north-eastern Victoria during the 19th and early 20th century. (unpub) Degree of Master of Applied Science (M.App.Sc.) by the University of Canberra, Canberra.