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Hunting for Mines

12 Dec Trip Report | Comments Off on Hunting for Mines
Hunting for Mines
 

Hunting for Mines Day Trip

Written by Mike Toet

We met at the parking area near the Walhalla train station, the remnants of the old home standing behind as the reminder of the recent fire that destroyed the home.

Some of the group drove from Melbourne, others had stayed at the Chinese Camp Grounds at the other end of Walhalla.

Once everyone arrived we headed to the Thomson River Dam to meet with our guides for the day. We were to be led by Rudi Paeletti and a group of volunteers from the West Gippsland Inc who maintain the Aberfeldy Track (https://www.facebook.com/aberfeldytrack/).

Figure 1 Thomson Dam

The trip was a medium grade so we air down for comfort and headed to the first stop at Kitty Cane’s hotel. At this location Rudi explained some of the rich history before leading us to three mines to venture within. This was the part the kids had been waiting for all day. My daughter brought a friend who is afraid of the dark, and even she was excited to see what lay under the ground. Always hopeful to discover some long missed gold.

Figure 2 Kitty Cane’s Hotel

Rudi explained the history of Kitty Cane, that she was a large lady and had seemingly changed her name. There was no known death certificate, and it is believed she may have taken on a Western American name, and Cane may have originally be spelt Caine.

We had three mines to explore. The first and second mine were straight forward.

Figure 3 The kids were among the first in the mine

Figure 4 Old mine cart tracks still present

The third mine was more difficult. To get in, we had to slide in backwards on our belly after which the mine opened up and was an easy walk for a bit. Further along there was a chest high wall to climb over with a small opening at the top, and on the other side was water that come up to almost to the top of our gumboots. The more adventurous of us went in with bare feet. The reward at the end of this mine was the signatures from miners that were over 125 years old.

Figure 5 Entrance to the first mine

Figure 6 ye olde graffiti

When walking through the bush to the mines we come across many old relics from the gold rush era such as old china, an old chimney, and old mining equipment.

After returning to the Jeeps we headed to Aberfeldy for lunch. We had a relatively quick lunch break.

Figure 7 A quick lunch stop at Aberfeldy

After lunch we heading back from whence we came and turned down Donnellys Creek Track. Our guide now was Peter. Rudi was repairing the Aussie Soldiers Memorial “smoko” point.

Figure 8 Aussie Soldiers Memorial

Along this road Peter pointed out some sites of significance. Some I will return to explore further, such as an old cemetery. This requires a good walk to get to. Another was an old hut that was lived in until only recent years. Our destination was the final mine for the day. The trip to the final mine was a fair drive. The kids loved the hill climbs. Rudi was asking for a few volunteers to drive down the last part of the track to the final mine as it was a little more challenging that what had already been tackled. The final mine required the use of a ladder. I strapped this to my roof rack and with a full car load (of kids) we headed down the steep rocky descent to the last mine. This mine was the most challenging of all to get into. We needed to climb up a 10 foot ledge, with the aid of the ladder. The kids gave this mine a go too, but they got a little worried when crawling up a steep section with loose gravel. They headed back out.

Figure 9 An old boiler at the last mine

Figure 10 Our crew and guides at the last mine

Figure 11 Large cavern within the last mine

After returning from the mine we had a nice little climb back up in the Jeeps to meet the rest of the club members who chose to wait for us at the top. There was limited parking at the last mine.

We said our thanks to Rudi and the team and headed back to Walhalla. Some of the club were camping for the night. A group were going to attend the ghost tour in Walhalla later that evening.

Back in Walhalla and it was time for me to air up and let the kids loose to burn off excess energy before the long trip back to Melbourne.

I’d really like to thank Rudi, and his team for their time to take us on this tour. It was great to learn more about the area and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

Figure 12 Walhalla Township

Figure 13 Old fire station

Below are some additional photos from the day.

Figure 14 Mining equipment

Figure 15 Mining equipment

Figure 16 Old hut

Figure 17 Walhalla

Figure 18 Thomson dam wall

Figure 19 A mine entrance