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RKC

Australia - Prospecting In The 1980's

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G'day,

 

I found some more photos about the fire.

eg5a.jpg

 

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

 

f4ws.jpg

 

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.

 

sfvi.jpg

 

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

 

aulx.jpg

 

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

 

q8rz.jpg

 

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.

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

Even Toyotas break down occasionally.

 

pwvn.jpg

 

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. 

 

y23o.jpg

 

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

 

edBlyM.jpg

 

Stuck in a gully on a Cape York goldfield.

 

7fcx.jpg

 

Tin mine China Camp. 

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/712x520q50/829/7ku0.jpg

 

Tin mine China Camp.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/716x508q50/843/twvi6.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/712x520q50/853/1nkl.jpg

 

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

 

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

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

 

eajy.jpg

 

The smelter was next to this old stamper battery.

 

sclc.jpg

 

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.

 

g855.jpg

 

The very crude sluice box I used.

 

jn2b.jpg

 

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?

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

Some Cape York stamper batteries.

 

w3n2.jpg

 

Battery Creek, Yarrenden, Cape York.

 

v463.jpg

 

Smelter, Battery Creek.

 

ryz4.jpg

 

Lucan Battery.

 

vqbm.JPG

 

Lucan Battery.

 

wfnh.jpg

 

Smelter, Lucan Battery, Lucan river, Cape York.

 

zipDn3.jpg

 

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

 

rgi9.jpg

 

Smelter, Lucan River, Cape York, Nth Queensland.

 

09oc.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1769x1181q50/69/05qy.jpg

 

Abandoned Cape York stamper battery.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/575x379q90/833/atr0.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/544x379q90/89/xdsf.jpg

 

Cape York goldfield.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/548x379q90/819/1u5e.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1840x1301q50/844/9izz.jpg

 

Dredging for tin in a river near Bloomfield.

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

Nth Queensland camps.

 

4uco.jpg

 

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

 

mhog.jpg

 

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.

 

ws6j.jpg

 

Camp at Bourgamba, in the Daintree Rainforest. 

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/396x576q50/837/wvbh.jpg

 

Track into Bourgamba.

 

1mua.jpg

 

Dredging camp on the Mitchell River, Nth Queensland.

 

r63w.jpg

 

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.

 

unkh.jpg

 

Remote rainforest camp only accessable with the ARGO.

 

tojy.jpg

 

Same camp.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/504x344q50/823/1tieg.jpg

 

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

Rough camp.

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

Nth Queensland camps, cont

 

8p02.jpg

 

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

 

nopw.jpg

 

Camp on Bairds Creek in the Daintree Rainforest.

 

g7xm.jpg

 

Camp next to an unknown river in the rainforest.

 

d3qu.jpg

 

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

 

x2u9.jpg

 

Camp on Sandy Creek in the Palmer River catchment.

 

zn6w.jpg

 

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). 

 

uzh3.jpg

 

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!

 

 

m5lk.jpg

 

Camp on the Wenlock Goldfield (under Mango trees).

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

Tin Mining and the ARGO.

 

0u9m.jpg

 

ujts.jpg

 

 

 

nfz6.jpg

 

6w1r.jpg

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/989x659q90/905/lGkbML.jpg

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/560x389q90/903/gRT1xH.jpg

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/437x659q90/911/4qhO7t.jpg

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/978x659q90/633/sYReGI.jpg

 

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. 

 

joknv.jpg

 

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.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1790x1245q50/841/vftqw.jpg

 

Running the dredge concentrates through a streaming box

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1837x1282q50/837/pew7.jpg

 

Running the dredge concentrates through a streaming box.

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

 

thxg.jpg

 

Palmer River (The River of Gold).

 

kypd.jpg

 

An abandoned mining companies airfield in the upper Palmer River.

 

 

rzey.jpg

 

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. 

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/722x492q50/837/9dwo.jpg

 

Palmer river at Palmerville.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/704x500q50/843/gmo2p.jpg

 

Palmer river at Dog Leg Crossing.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/535x378q90/673/6pn6qS.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/504x349q50/818/s06r.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/517x365q50/661/m6ct2Q.jpg

 

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

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/659x460q50/850/iltv.jpg

 

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

 

uwg4.jpg

 

The sign says Caution Crocodiles (Bloomfield river).

 

eprd.jpg

 

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

 

9qul.jpg

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/950x659q90/633/aWC6II.jpg

 

 

Dredging in Tunnel Creek, near China Camp.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/563x379q90/841/rco6.jpg

 

Dredging in Tunnel Creek, near China Camp

 

32sy.jpg

 

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.

 

m5zo.jpg

 

http://imageshack.com/a/img843/9538/6ly4r.jpg

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/582x389q90/912/HR3vFG.jpg

 

Map of mines at China Camp.

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/720x504q50/838/vw92.jpg

 

Camp at Load Hill, China Camp.

 

6rkj.jpg

 

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

 

wym3.jpg

 

Marvelous Cape York.

 

Regards,

Rob (RKC)

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G'day,

 

tdm5.jpg

 

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

 

do16.jpg

 

Adams mine (?).

 

n2x8.jpg

 

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.

 

p03c.jpg

 

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.

 

fv2y.jpg

 

Palmer river catchment in mid winter (The Dry).

 

https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/730x504q50/834/z6djn.jpg

 

Palmer river at Palmerville.

 

7um4.jpg

 

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

 

uo4u.jpg

 

A Cape York goldfield.

 

9rws.jpg

 

Palmer river catchment.

 

83fd.jpg

 

Cape York.

 

u63e.jpg

 

The End.

 

Regards,

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

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