The Jungle King Mine commenced operation in 1889 and is a fine example of a quartz mining shaft. It was worked by the “old hands” then re-worked by several Bendoc identities in the 20th century without a great deal of success.
Local legend has it that a fellow named Jones discovered the Jungle King Reef. Jones was supposed to have sold this with other mines in the Bendoc-Clarkeville goldfields for the tidy sum of 300 pounds each.
Ghosts of the Past
The former township of Clarkeville was a short-lived, gold rush shanty town of 19th century. During the decade of the 1890s some 200 people lived there, with a hotel, school and stores in the town. By the early 1900s the town was deserted.
The discovery of numerous reefs in the Bendoc-Clarkeville goldfields attracted many miners. As the reefs had unusually high gold yields (5 to 10 ounces per tonne) the “strikes” solicited wide interest from syndicates in Melbourne, Sydney and London.
Development of gold mining techniques
Before machinery developed miners would hand dig the unproductive soil or “overburden” exposing the “paydirt”, or the deposit worth mining. The pay dirt would then be shaken down through a rocker box to remove the big boulders. What was left was run through a sluice contraption. This would wash the pay dirt down a precisely angled trough. Water washed down the sand, gravel and rocks. The heavier gold would sink and be caught in riffles. Hand panning removed the last of the unwanted material leaving the much sought after gold.
Once the earth’s surface had been picked clean, miners organised themselves into larger camps. They began digging deeper into the earth which involved quartz or hard rock mining.
Initially hand driven drills operated by two miners were used. One miner would strike the drill with a heavy hammer. The other would turn the drill in a circular motion after each strike. With the advent of machinery these drills progressed to hydraulic drills. Hard rock mining involved sinking shafts, then using drills to create holes where dynamite could be detonated. As the hole deepened, drill bits would be exchanged for progressively longer and narrower ones. Water was added to the hole to create a grinding compound and to help remove dirt and debris. Stamper battery’s were used to crush the gold bearing ore that was removed from the mines; some were steam driven, though earlier ones were driven by huge water wheels.
By 1858, only those with big machinery could effectively mine the hills. Individual miners and their small claims were replaced by large companies. Large tracts of land were worked and scores of men employed.