A new photo from the Powerhouse Museum every day
The discovery of a rich gold bearing reef in the Hillgrove Gorge, in the New England Region of New South Wales, by George Smith in 1887 brought 1,500 people to the Hillgrove field in 1888 and double that number the following year. In its heyday, Hillgrove was one of the richest goldfields in the colony. In 1896, the Hillgrove goldfield produced an extraordinary 28,501 ounces of gold, which was also the highest return in New South Wales for that year.
However the difficulty of extracting and hauling the gold from the depths of the gorge as well as the inordinate cost of plant and railway maintenance, specialised technical expertise and fuel for furnaces and boilers made mining expensive and difficult. As the more accessible reserves were mined out, deeper tunnels and pressure from above made conditions dangerous to miners. At least eight men were killed in the area. These circumstances led to a steady decline in the Hillgrove field.
This image shows the processing works of the Sunlight Goldmine in the foreground with the tram line running across to the right in a tight steep sided gully. The Sunlight Gold mine 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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