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Australia - Prospecting In The 1980's

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I found some more photos about the fire.



Where I am standing next to the truck must be about where I was when I was hit by the flames.




I'm not sure when this photo was taken. But ... it must have been just after the fire when we were still out in the bush. It looks like my face had not yet swollen up.




About to leave for home, and some R&R. The Americans dredge was packed into the little red  Daihatsu with another 5-inch dredge.




Crossing the Mitchell river on the way back to the coast.




Arriving at Mareeba for a stop before heading south to Miriwinni and a break. The American must have been able to get a loan of a tee shirt.



Rob (RKC)

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You can store as many photos on this forum as you please. When you post hit "more reply options" and attach the photos.

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Even Toyotas break down occasionally.




It was never fun when my Toyota would break down on Cape York in the 1980's. At least with those 1980's Toyotas it was possible for someone like me to patch them up enough so I could at least get to a nearby town for repairs by a mechanic. I doubt anyone could do running repairs on modern Toyotas like I could on my old Toyota back in the 1980's. 




When I broke down here I had to camp next to my vehicle until my mate came along in a few days time. 




Stuck in a gully on a Cape York goldfield.




Tin mine China Camp. 




Tin mine China Camp.




Tin mine China Camp ( Gold Hill can be seen in the distance).




Tin mine China Camp (mid winter 1981). The owner of this mine used to let us dry our tin on his dryer.




Rob (RKC)

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Further to the post about digging around an old smelter for gold the old timers missed.




The smelter was next to this old stamper battery.




The dirt I dug had to be carted to the only water available (some distance away) and then I ran it through a sluice box.




The very crude sluice box I used.




This is the gold I got. I have no idea how much was there. I just threw it in with other gold and sent it off to the Perth Mint for smelting. I wish I had kept these pieces as they were unique. Some were shaped like a tear-drop, with other as round as a ball bearing. A couple of pieces looked like copper, with some others looking like silver. At the time, I got to thinking about how they might have formed in these shapes and it probably had something to do with when the miners were cooling the melted gold with water. Gold was spurting out landing in cold water where the tear-drop and other shapes were formed ... possibly?



Rob (RKC)

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Some Cape York stamper batteries.




Battery Creek, Yarrenden, Cape York.




Smelter, Battery Creek.




Lucan Battery.




Lucan Battery.




Smelter, Lucan Battery, Lucan river, Cape York.




Lucan Star mine, Lucan River, Cape York, Nth Queensland.




Smelter, Lucan River, Cape York, Nth Queensland.




Old mine boiler, Wenlock River, Cape York, Nth Queensland.




Abandoned Cape York stamper battery.




Tailings in an abandoned Cape York gold field (1980s)




Cape York goldfield.




Mine tailings dump, Wenlock river goldfield, Cape York, Nth Queensland.




Dredging for tin in a river near Bloomfield.



Rob (RKC)

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Nth Queensland camps.




This was my main camp at Ebagoola Goldfield. But it was a bad choice of ground to put a camp as I found that each night snakes would wake me hitting the tarp at the back of the camp trying to go through. It must have been a path snakes used each night, and I had blocked it. It got so bad one night I had to sleep in the back of my truck. Some managed to get under the tarp and I could hear them slithering under my bed. I had a raised bed just because of snakes. 

Ebagoola Goldfield




Dredging camp at Boonjie, Nth Queensland. This was officially the wettest place in Australia. When more scrub was cut down I could look out my back door and see the weather station at Topez which recorded the wettest rainfall in Australia most years. I was there for a long time while dredging in a creek ( http://imageshack.com/a/img845/7213/w26h.jpg )

just out the back door. I usually stayed there in winter, but one year I tried it during the Wet Season. It was better than I thought it would be, and it was quite an experience. I was out in the scrub one day when a mini cyclone came through and the only way I could keep my feet on the ground was to wrap my arms around a tree and hold on for the the few minutes it took to pass. When I got back to my camp (a camp of only a tent and a tarp) it was flattened (the expensive long distance radio I had was water damaged and useless). In those days the only entertainment I had was a radio (totally different today when I can take my tablet to a bush camp and watch movies). This (above) is where I moved to after being in a tent became impractical because of the frequent downpours.




Camp at Bourgamba, in the Daintree Rainforest. 




Track into Bourgamba.




Dredging camp on the Mitchell River, Nth Queensland.




Same camp ... I am fairly sure this was a camp we were driven out of because of the hundreds of bats that would fill the trees in the late afternoon and make a hell of a racket.




Remote rainforest camp only accessable with the ARGO.




Same camp.




Mining camp in the Palmer river catchment (early 1980s)

Rough camp.


Rob (RKC)

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Nth Queensland camps, cont




Camp on the banks of Roaring Meg Lake near China Camp.




Camp on Bairds Creek in the Daintree Rainforest.




Camp next to an unknown river in the rainforest.




Camp on Hilda Creek just off the CREB track, Nth Queensland.




Camp on Sandy Creek in the Palmer River catchment.




Camp at Georgetown Caravan Park ... as mentioned earlier. The guy in the red tent opposite my tent used to go out detecting every day on his motorbike and was getting much more gold than the other prospectors. So they started to follow him each day (unsuccessfully). 




One of my camps next to Mad Louies Hut  not far away from Gold Hill in the Daintree Rainforest. When I was camped there I did not know that Mad Louie had just come out of jail. He did six months in Townsville jail for shooting at some miners who had taken out a lease (Lost Ridge ML 100 https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/681x649q90/845/05ln.jpg ) on Gold Hill and were driving their equipment in. One of the guys who was shot at said they all jumped out of their trucks when the shots started and dived behind fallen logs. He said it was just like in a western movie with bullets flying close overhead. Louie was high on home-brew and dope at the time ... which might have been a good thing as he would not have been able to shoot straight. On the other hand, if he had not been high as a kite the shooting might never have occurred at all. There was a well populated hippy colony on Gold Hill before the miners arrived that were able to do virtually whatever they liked because it was so remote. And what they liked to do was to grow dope!





Camp on the Wenlock Goldfield (under Mango trees).



Rob (RKC)

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Tin Mining and the ARGO.




















I used this ARGO to get into a remote tin mining area that had no roads in at all. We carried all our gear in on the Argo which floated in via a river.  I always drove, and as the water was not fast flowing there was enough propulsion in the turning of the wheels to get us forward when going in and even when going out, upstream. If the water had been running any faster we would have had to use an outboard motor. It was always a slow trip though ... but my mate did not mind in the least he used to sit in the back smoking his pipe and just enjoyed the trip.


This guy that I teamed up with to dredge was from a long established Nth Queensland mining family and he had been tin mining all his life. The deal decided on between the two of us was that he would supply the Keene 5-inch dredge he had just bought new ( https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/628x420q50/820/y6fg.jpg ) and would also provide the location of a river he thought would carry good stream tin. I was to train him in how to use the dredge and I supplied the Argo to get into the river. And we were to work equally ... which we did. We took turns dredging each day with one person dredging for 40 minutes while the other panned down the tin concentrates from the previous dredging for the 40 minutes. We could not dredge any longer than 40 minutes as the tin loss would then start to get unacceptable.


We hit rich tin straight away in packed virgin wash below about a foot of lose drift sand, and we soon got into a productive routine. It was so routine it started to feel like going to work in a factory every day. He was over the moon about it as it was the best tin he had every mined in his life, and probably better than his father before him. Every day when we finished up for the day he would have a big grin on his face as he slung the bag of tin on his shoulder to carry out. 




Running the dredge concentrates through a streaming box to get rid of excess sand. After this stage the tin was dried on a fire and we would have a bag of tin which was about 75% tin ... concentrated enough so the tin buyer could purchase it.




Running the dredge concentrates through a streaming box




Running the dredge concentrates through a streaming box.



Rob (RKC)

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Palmer River (The River of Gold).




An abandoned mining companies airfield in the upper Palmer River.





The middle reaches of the Palmer River near Maytown. The detecting here was nothing but frustrating! All I could ever detect were old Chinese coins. Everybody told me they were virtually worthless but I collected enough to fill a jar and took them into a coin dealer in Sydney who told me what everyone else had already told me. I probably still have them somewhere. 




Palmer river at Palmerville.




Palmer river at Dog Leg Crossing.




Palmer river at Dog Leg Crossing, in the early 1980s.




Emptying a pool on Sandy Creek (Palmer river tributary) so gold could be got from the bedrock crevices.




Dredging in Sandy Creek, just prior to the river drying up.




Working a creek bed in a Palmer river tributary in mid winter.




The sign says Caution Crocodiles (Bloomfield river).




Another sign ... that everyone ignored. The small sign at the back said ... NO ROAD CREB access only.







Dredging in Tunnel Creek, near China Camp.




Dredging in Tunnel Creek, near China Camp




The structure you can see just behind me is interesting. It was built by an American dredger. But, not just any American dredger ... a dredger who was responsible for most of the design innovations we see in dredges today. He was dredging tin here (China Camp) for a time in the early 80s. This camp is built on fine tailings from the famous Lode Hill Tin mine. Lode hill was a massive hydraulic sluicing operation. I was told that the river the tailings were dumped into ran muddy right to the river's mouth at Bloomfield, and out to sea.








Map of mines at China Camp.




Camp at Load Hill, China Camp.




The start of the northern end of the CREB track near Bloomfield.




Marvelous Cape York.



Rob (RKC)

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A gold mine in the Palmer River catchment during the 1980s (I think it was the Adams mine).




Adams mine (?).




Dredging at Dog Leg Crossing on the Palmer river just after The Wet. The yellow dredge was owned by an ex Alaska dredger who dredged in Alaska during the 1950's and 1960's. He used to invite everyone camping at Dog Leg Crossing to his camp at night and we would sit around listing to his stories of jars full of gold, and stories of dredging in Alaska during winter when he would have to use a chain-saw to cut through the ice so he could put his dredge in the river.




Palmer river at Dog Leg Crossing. The water had stopped running which prevented any more dredging (dredge tailings pile to the left of the photo). The main reason dredging from the Palmer was not as profitable as dredging in Victoria in those days was that there was a short window of opportunity to dredge between when the wet season with flooding rivers finished and when the river stopped flowing. There was flood gold everywhere and if we could have dredged longer much more gold would have come out of the Palmer ( https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/626x386q90/743/FgKxCG.jpg ). Later the dredgers moved to the Mitchell river a little further south ( https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/864x576q90/661/LmtqjI.jpg ). For some reason the Mitchell flowed for a longer time after the wet season ended.




Palmer river catchment in mid winter (The Dry).




Palmer river at Palmerville.




An old Chinese wing dam made from stacked stones, in Sandy Creek (a tributary of the Palmer river).




A Cape York goldfield.




Palmer river catchment.




Cape York.




The End.



Rob (RKC http://tinyurl.com/poc85vt )

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