photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
This image shows one of the amazing tramways built in late 1880s and 1890s to mine gold in the rugged Hillgrove Gorge, 24 kms east of Armidale in New South Wales. A rich reserve of gold was discovered here in 1887 and many companies were formed to exploit the find. At the height of the rush in 1896, the Hillgrove goldfield was the richest in the colony, however the expense and difficulty of mining in this terrain meant that many companies went bust.
This tramway built for the Sunlight Mine ran 1,600 feet (480 metres) from the top of the ridge line to the processing plant in the gorge. As can be seen in the top of this image, the tramway was in parts almost vertical. Gold, equipment and sometimes men enjoyed this roller-coaster ride to travel up and down the steep gorge.
The Sydney Morning Herald in 1891, notes with impressive understatement ‘The tram line required something more than the average pluck to complete it. The sides in some cases had to logged up to a height of 20ft and the trestles put down on inclines where it was almost impossible to gain a foothold.’
The Sunlight Goldmine operated from 1888 until 1915.
This image is one of number of enlarged photographs donated to the Museum collection by the Government Printing Office in 1906.
Post by Lynne McNairn
Enlarged photographic print, ‘W. A. Gullick, Government Printer, Sydney’, 1906.
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