New South Wales Goldfields

States of Australia
and their goldfield regions

New South Wales
Ophir Goldfields

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South Australia


Central Goldfields Region

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NSW Goldfields

New South Wales -- Where it all started:

The first reported discovery of gold in Australia took place in New South Wales when a Surveyor from the NSW Lands Department found flakes of gold in the Fish River between Bathurst and Rydal while surveying for a road along the river.

This report and numerous others that followed were initially hushed up by the Government of the day, due to their concern as to what the consequences of a gold rush might be, and the effect it may have upon the established pastoralists and the other business interests within the colony.

Having recently arrived from the gold rushes of California and having had some experience prospecting there, Edward Hammond Hargraves noted the similarity of the NSW countryside to that of the Californian Diggings.

It was not until the 12th. of February 1851 when Hargraves was guided to Lewis Ponds Creek by John Hardman Lister. While demonstrating the dishing method he had previously learnt in California to Lister, he washed out six pans of the river gravels which produced a show of gold in five out of the six pans. Later Hargraves and Lister were joined by James Tom, and they prospected along the Macquarie River where they won a little more colour.

In March 1851 and relying upon his Californian experience, Hargraves demonstrated to Lister, James Tom and his younger brother William Tom how to make and use a cradle similar to those he had seen on the Californian goldfields. Hargraves then left for Sydney where he unsuccessfully attempted to claim an award of £500 for the discovery of a payable goldfield and in the mean time Lister and Toms won a further 16 grains of gold from Lewis Ponds Creek using the cradle they had built.

It was in early April when Lister and William Tom moved their cradle to the junction of Lewis Ponds Creek and Summer Hills Creek, that William Tom spotted a 14-gram nugget in a rock bar (named Fitzroy Bar, after Governor Fitzroy) near the intersection of the two creeks. They were joined by William Toms brother James where over the course of the next three days the trio found 113g of payable gold including a 55 gram nugget, the first to found in Australia and of course NSW. This site was later to become the township of Ophir the name which was suggested by William Tom's father after a region in the Old Testament noted for its abundance of gold.

In accordance with their agreement with Hargraves, Lister and Tom sent news of their discovery to him. Hargraves took the gold to Sydney, and showed it to the Colonial Secretary to whom he ultimately revealed the whereabouts of the find, and then against the wishes of both Lister and Tom, Hargraves announced the discovery at a meeting he called at Bathurst

By May 1851, between 400 and 500 claims were being worked on Lewis Ponds and Summer Hills Creek. With the announcement of the discovery of payable gold the news quickly spread and Australia’s first gold rush was underway. Thousands of eager gold seekers from Sydney and Melbourne deserted their employment to join in the rush to the new (Ophir) goldfield and claim their share of the promised riches. Ophir was home to more than 1000 prospectors just four months after Hargraves discovery. Gold fever gripped the nation and the colonial authorities responded by appointing 'Commissioners of Land' to regulate the diggings and collect licence fees for each 'claim'. Some 90km north west of Bathurst, Hill End was settled in July 1851, just after the first payable gold was discovered at Ophir. The area was renowned for the riches of its gold mines. In the early 1870s rich gold discoveries rapidly turned Hill End from a small rural and mining community into one of the largest inland towns in NSW, with its population growing to 8000. Approximately 62,200 kg of gold has been mined from Hill End over the years. Half of this was reef gold and the other half alluvial.

The famous Holtermann gold specimen was discovered in October 1872. The specimen nugget was 144 cm high x 61 cm wide and weighed 286 kg. It had an estimated gold content of 3000 ounces and estimated value at that time of £10,000.

Hargraves was recognised by the NSW government as 'the first discoverer of gold in Australia'. This is patently false. Many had done so before him. The Ophir find was the first PAYABLE gold strike but that must be credited to Lister and the Tom brothers. Nonetheless it is Hargraves who was the chief beneficiary and to his credit he did initiate the search at Ophir and used his Californian experience to introduce the use of the gold-washing pan and cradle.
Hargraves could never have dreamt how significant his discovery would be. New South Wales yielded 26.4 tonnes (850,000 ounces) of gold in 1852. In the heady days ahead gold would be found in all the States of Australia with several eclipsing the finds from NSW but it all started at Ophir.
Gold is still being commercially produced in NSW at the following locations.

The Cowal mine is located in Central New South Wales, Australia, approximately 37 kilometers north of West Wyalong and approximately 350 kilometers west of Sydney. First gold at Cowal was poured on 30 April 2006. In 2006,

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations’ 2004-05 production of 690,550 ounces of gold and 72,000 tonnes of copper makes it one of Australia’s leading gold producers. Cadia Valley Operations, located 25 km south west of Orange, is comprised of the Cadia Hill open pit, the Ridgeway under-ground mine, and a shared ore treatment facility.


Other Resorces

NSW Minerals & Petroleum - TAS Map
NSW Dept Primary Industries DIGS Database
NSW Minerals & Petroleum 1:100 000 Geological Maps

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.



Search Further Information:

To access further information of any individual gold field shown below simply highlight the name of the required gold field and then copy (Control C) and paste (Control V) into one of the search boxes provided below.

Albert Goldfields
Araluen Goldfields
Barrier Ranges Goldfields
Bathurst Goldfields
Bingara Goldfields

Broken Hill Gold
Bushmans Hill Goldfields
Cadia Valley Goldfields
Canbelego Goldfields
Cobar Goldfields
Commonwealth Creek Goldfields
Copeland Goldfields
Craven Creek Goldfields
Crow Mountain Goldfields

Forbes Goldfields
Grenfell Goldfields
Gulgong Goldfields
Hill End Goldfields
Ironbark Goldfields
Kiandra Goldfields
Majors Creek Goldfields
Milparinka Goldfields
Mogo Goldfields
Monkerai Goldfields

Mookerawa Goldfields
Moonan Flat goldfields

Mount Browne Goldfields
Mount Grey Goldfields
Mudgee Goldfields
Nelligen Goldfields
Nerrigundah Goldfields
North Bloomfield Goldfields
Nundle Goldfields
Oberon Goldfields
Ophir Goldfields
Parkes Goldfields
Plateau Goldfields

Shoalhaven Goldfields
Simpson diggings
Sofala Goldfields
South Bloomfield Goldfields
Stuart Town Goldfields
Tambaroora Goldfields
Tuena Goldfields
Tibooburra Goldfields
Timbarra Goldfields
Trunkey Creek Goldfields
Turon Goldfields
Uralla Goldfields
Wattle Flat Goldfields
West Wyalong Goldfields
Woods Reef Goldfields

Yalwal Goldfields
Young Goldfields



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