South Australian Goldfields
South Australia a late Starter:
From the beginning of gold being found in Australia, the lack of any correspondingly significant finds in South Australia was frustrating for the government, and at the outset gold production was very slow in getting started. This was particularly so when compared to the Eastern States, where the news of fabulous gold finds and the fortunes being made by diggers on the goldfields in these more fortunate States, created a major problem for the government. South Australia was severely affected by the drain of able bodied men and recourses that were flocking to these rapidly growing Eastern States, and in an effort to counter this problem, and to bring some of this rapid development to South Australia, the government offered a reward of £1,000 to the first to discover a payable gold mine in South Australia, after many false starts, this reward was eventually split between the finders of Chapel Hill and Jupiter Creek near Echunga in 1852.
South Australia’s first genuine gold find was near Castambul in 1846 and ultimately many years later the Victoria Gold Mining Company produced some very rich gold specimens from the area. Alluvial gold was next found in 1847 on both the River Torrens and at Onkaparinga, by a mineral surveyor named John Phillips
In 1849 another find was reported near the South Para River when a farmer ploughed up a lump of gold bearing quartz, however it was not until more than fifty years later that the area was mined commercially by the Gordon Reward Gold Mine.
Indications of gold were also found in the Barossa at a place known as Spike Gully by a Mr. Carter who told the owner of the nearby Sandy Creek Hotel about his find. The outcome of this was that Carter and the hotel owner then arranged to organise a prospecting party, which within in a short period of time, was successful in finding payable gold, including gold nuggets. The news of this discovery started a rush to the area, and within a very short period after the discovery being made public there were almost 6000 diggers on the site. Once the easy alluvial gold was depleted the diggers then turned their attention to the surrounding areas, and gold was then found at Moonta Hill, Green Hill and Victoria Hill.
These mines were again worked in the 1930’s during the depression, and later a large nugget was found in the area in1980, but today the large proportion of these mines are now in the confines of the Parra Wirra National Park while the remainder are on private property.
Much of South Australia’s gold has been recovered as a by product of mining in association with other recourses such as copper, and in recent years substantial gold finds at depth have been located and mined. The Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs was estimated to recover up to $US60 million per year in gold, as a by product.
During its heyday between 1881 and 1892 more than seventeen thousand gold licences were granted in South Australia
The following listing is of some of the areas where gold has been found in the years gone by, including many where gold may still be found to this day by using modern prospecting equipment and methods.
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Bonney Flat Goldfields
Chapel Hill Goldfields
Chapman Gully Goldfields
Forest Range Goldfields
Hahndorf diggings Goldfields
Illiawortina Pound Goldfields
Jupiter Creek Goldfields
Melville’s Rush Goldfields
McLaren Vale Goldfields
Para Wirra Goldfields
Scott’s diggings Goldfields
Spike Gully Goldfields
Victoria Hil Goldfields