1865 Sept – Description of Tambaroora

Extracts from RANDOM NOTES.

By a Wandering Reporter, (Charles De Boos) No. XXIII.

THE Camp and Police Barracks overhang the Tambaroora Creek, standing on the highest part of its southern bank. Near them, only south of the Court House, are the Presbyterian and the Roman Catholic churches. About the same distance north of the township, as Hill End is south of it, is the Dirt Hole Creek, a tributary of the Pyramul. This has been very closely worked, and lately several reefs have been opened on the hills that overhang it. A very fine and substantial dam has been constructed here, to furnish a supply of water for an engine that is daily expected to arrive. To the east of the northern end of the main street lies the water reserve, upon which a very good and substantial dam has been erected to retain the water required for the town use. Upon this the inhabitants have to rely solely for the supply of water for domestic purposes. Tambaroora Creek runs about west, and has been so thoroughly worked that alluvial washing has long ago been given up on it. On the north side of the creek, and about a mile from the township, is the Excelsior engine of twenty horsepower, working eight stompers of 6 cwt each, and a Chilean mill for the amalgam. Several reefs have been opened in the immediate vicinity of this creek, the chief of these is White’s Reef, named after the discoverer, the celebrated Sydney stump orator, who didn’t get elected for the city, although he tried hard for it, and made sure that he would be. It runs about north and south across from Hayes’ Flat to Tambaroora Creek. It has been very extensively worked, but as the shafts have gone down the water has been too much for the claim holders, and one after the other the claims have been given up.

Recently the reef has been taken up by a company, who, with great spirit and enterprise, have leased a large portion of it, and are now sinking a deep shaft to act as a well to keep down the water. I may here mention a matter that has been made a frequent subject of complaint by miners working not only on quartz reefs, but in alluvial ground. A party of men, having more means and spirit than are usually found amongst the miners of the present day, take up a claim, on a quartz reef, say like the one in question that has been deserted by reason of the water. They go to considerable expense in sinking and in constructing works to drain the reef, and the moment they have attained their end, dozens of claims are taken up beyond them, the whole of which have to be drained by the works of the first party. This party do not even obtain an increased claim, and it is exceedingly hard that they should have to work without remuneration, to keep dry the claims of others. I have seen the same thing in alluvial sinking, where some few dodgers have taken advantage of the works of a neighbour, profiting by his labour, but laughing at the idea of making any recompense. The miners who have spoken to me on the subject very justly remark that the Goldfields Regulations ought to give the commissioners on the several diggings power to assess claims benefited by machinery or other works erected for drainage or for pumping purposes according to the extent to which they are benefited by such works, as it is rather too much that loafers should be idle and look on whilst the work is being done, and then when found to be effective step in and take the benefit of it without any share in the outlay. Valentine Reef, on the hill opposite the camp across Tambaroora, has also been worked along a length of nearly a mile, and has turned out some rich stone. One lot of nine tons went as high as 32 oz to the ton. This yield did not continue although the quartz made a good payable return. The reef, however, was left in order to work some more recent discovery that promised more richly. It has now been taken up again, and several claims on it have been granted, but unfortunately, under the present regulations, the Commissioner has no power to grant extended claims on old quartz reefs as on old worked alluvial ground. It is true that leases may be granted of extended length, but the miner who takes up a claim on an old reef at a venture does not like to bind himself down to a lease of what may possibly prove a shicer [an unproductive mine]. He is in a different position from the capitalist, who, having machinery of his own, can make his crushing fee if he does nothing else.

The Pyramul Creek, also a tributary of the Macquarie, is being worked in places along the greater part of its length. The Green Valley Creek is more scantily taken up, the greater part of the population here, as on the Pyramul, is Chinese. The number of miners at both places does not exceed 70 or 80.

Of the gold sent down from Tambaroora by far the larger proportion is alluvial, and the present amount of the escorts is due to the facility given by the long drought for working places on the Lower Turon and the Macquarie that have hitherto been unmanageable from the large body of water brought down by these streams in ordinary seasons. I have, however, before remarked upon this point, in the summary I prepared for your issue of Thursday last. The Turon is being worked along its whole length, in such spots as are found convenient for making dams and races, from its junction with the Macquarie right up to the Gulph, which may be considered as its head waters. The Macquarie is also having its bed unmade for it, or rumpled (as Mrs. Gamp would say), for some distance below Muckerawa, upwards beyond   the junction of the Turon. The works erected on these rivers are of a very extensive character. In some cases the Chinese are working in large parties of from 50 to 150 in number, and, by the distribution of labour, works that may fairly be regarded as of an extraordinary character have been carried on. Dams, ten and twelve feet in height, have been erected, and these, it must be remembered, must be of no unsubstantial construction to bear up against the weight of water that even in these dry times presses against them. Then tail races have to be cut to carry off the water raised by elevators and pumps, as well as that used for moving the water-wheel by which the elevators are worked. All this being done, the bed of the river is cleared of the sludge, sand, and boulders of which it is composed, and which cover  the bed rock sometimes to a depth of twenty feet. In the fine grit that lies on the bed rock the gold is found and it is generally metal of the very finest quality. Sometimes very rich deposits are come upon, at other times the grit is barely payable, but on the whole these river claims have all paid admirably, although the expense of opening them is so great that not many can enter upon the speculation. It is a curious sight to see some fifty or sixty Chinese working like a hive of bees in a deep excavation, some twenty-five or thirty feet below the level of the water in the dam above, whilst the stream of water that should have flowed over the spot upon which they are so busily engaged, is carried away along the side of the bank by some deep race, in places where nature never intended it to go, and where that good old lady must feel intensely disgusted at seeing it forced against all her rules and regulations from time immemorial.

I have said that some very good buildings have recently been erected on Tambaroora, and the place has an air of settled well doing that is rather pleasing. I was myself much delighted with the comfortable little homesteads that many of the miners have made for themselves. Several of them have availed themselves of the right given by the Land Act, and have enclosed and improved the regulated two acres that they are allowed, the much talked of cabbage garden of the Hon. John Robertson. The miners, however, have more common sense than the hon. gentleman, and cabbages are about the very last thing that they think of growing on Tambaroora. The huts of these men are particularly clean and neat looking, painted and whitewashed after the true old English country style, whilst there are very few without a patch, if ever so small, of flower garden in front of them. There is something like honesty here, for the men have not attempted to take one rod more than the law has allowed them, and what they have taken has been for the bona fide purpose of securing them a home on the ground they have selected for mining upon. …The men of Tambaroora are honest, bona fide diggers, …and as they only seek to make homes for themselves and nothing more, all the comforts of a good English home are rapidly gathering around them. They have clean, substantial, and weather-tight dwellings, standing in an area, partly of garden, partly of cultivation, which they can call their own. It is securely fenced and paled, and the light digging of the garden in the evening comes almost as a diversion to the miner after his heavy digging for gold in the morning. Every man thus settled upon the ground may be said to have given bail to the state for his good behaviour, and the value of such a body of men in out of-the-way but largely populated places, like Tambaroora, cannot be overestimated.

Looking from Chinatown to St. Saviours Church, TambarooraHoltermann Collection, ON 4 Box 12 No 80015

Looking from Chinatown to St. Saviours Church, Tambaroora
Holtermann Collection, ON 4 Box 12 No 80015

There is a National school in the township, at which the average attendance of children is 45, whilst the number on the books is 65. There are also Sunday schools in connection with the different religious denominations. Divine service is performed by a minister of the Church of England upon every third Sunday, in the morning and evening at Tambaroora and, in the afternoon at Hill End, by a Wesleyan minister every sixth week, and by a Presbyterian minister every sixth week; the arrangements being so made that the clergymen come on different Sundays, thus enabling worshipers of all the Protestant denominations to attend divine service as often as possible. A Roman Catholic clergyman attends occasionally holding service at Tambaroora the morning, and at Sally’s Flat in the evening. As a set-off to the churches and schools, there are eleven public-houses in the district, 7 being in Tambaroora, 2 at Hill End, 1 on the Turon, and 1 at Sally’s Flat. There is an electric telegraph office, though the business done in it is not very considerable; and there is also a hospital, supported entirely from the voluntary contributions of the miners and residents. When I say entirely, I make a slight mistake, for there are some few fines in assault and other cases that go to it from the police-office, but the amount of these is very small, and I used the word more with reference to Government aid than to anything else. They can make up half-a-dozen beds in it, and there are usually a couple of persons under treatment in it.

 [Sydney Morning Herald  28 Sep 1865 p.2 ]