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Old 09-07-2011, 02:16 AM   #31
LC8TY
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Muesli bread in a camp oven, sitting in the bush listening to the ABC on the wireless, this ride report has it all.

Except for the bit when you find a large nugget, ride to a Yamaha dealer and say "I'll take that Super Ten 1200 thanks mate"

Great stuff.
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:53 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LC8TY View Post

find a large nugget


i dunno, but i think living on so much museli... there is not gonna be any 'large nuggets' for a while...


Great work Sundowner.... been bustin all day for the next installment.....



.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:35 AM   #33
senfiddy
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Originally Posted by GoneAgain View Post
been bustin all day for the next installment.....
You ain't alone.

Nice idea - carrying a detector. Hope you get some.

Cheers,
Graeme
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:24 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LC8TY View Post
Muesli bread in a camp oven, sitting in the bush listening to the ABC on the wireless, this ride report has it all.

Except for the bit when you find a large nugget, ride to a Yamaha dealer and say "I'll take that Super Ten 1200 thanks mate"

Great stuff.
Thanks mate, there's some great stuff still to come. You're right about the new Super Tenere idea. No hessitation from what I've seen the Aussie guys doing with them. The ABC was a great listen when you haven't spoken to anyone for days. I really enjoyed guessing through the nightly quiz. Some of the music wasn't that bad either. F#ck, I must be getting old. Enjoying the ABC is the start of a rapid downhill slide.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GoneAgain View Post
i dunno, but i think living on so much museli... there is not gonna be any 'large nuggets' for a while...


Great work Sundowner.... been bustin all day for the next installment.....



.
Thanks mate, glad you're enjoying it. It's a great area to visit, when you get a new bike. Re those nuggets, I found the diet and exercise that good, I actually lost two belt notches. Not that that's too hard digging holes and walking all day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by senfiddy View Post
You ain't alone.

Nice idea - carrying a detector. Hope you get some.

Cheers,
Graeme
I found something amazing, but you'll have to wait to find out what and how big it was. It's coming up soon. It made the trip for me, finding it.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:46 PM   #35
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I start the next day surrounded by clearing skys, sunlight and amazing birdsong, thanks to a good mix of Magpies ((Go here for a full description - http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Gymnorhina-tibicen ) or (listen to them here - http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...na-tibicen.mp3)), Kookaburras ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Dacelo-novaeguineae ) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...vaeguineae.mp3 )), Currawongs ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Strepera-graculina ) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...-graculina.mp3 )) as well as the usual noisy Sulfur Crested Cockatoos ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Cacatua-galerita ) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...a-galerita.mp3 )) and other assorted raptors. Waking with the birds isn't optional, it's mandatory. The Magpies are my favourite, without doubt, especially when you get a chorus of half a dozen or so young birds gathered together - just magic. So after cooking some plain. salty porridge and a cup of tea, I set out from the campsite, searching for the quartz reef further up the hill behind camp, detector humming along in the headphones as I follow a trail of broken quartz pieces higher and higher. Finally, after a couple of hours, I've reached the main reef and find this...



It's an amazingly deep shaft that cuts straight through the quartz outcrop, down at least fifty metres before being swallowed into pure darkness.



Not the place to slip or fall. I wonder how many kangaroos have hopped straight into it in the dark? I back away after working the tailings dump then follow the reef line downhill.



Great view from up here, they must have been fit miners to hike from the creek up to here every day. "I can't see my camp from here."



One thing that really impressed me was how good my new Sidi Adventure Goretex boots were to hike in - just first class boots and they lost their squeak days ago. Anyway, down the slope I go, constantly detecting and following the reef line. The rusty white quartz is easy to spot, even in the thick ground cover.



A close-up of the reef material. Gold prospecting is as much about geological knowledge and understanding as it is about pure luck and hard work.



While wandering along, something unusual on the ridge above me catches my eye, so I hike back up to investigate.



It's an old cannabis crop site. Well enclosed by chicken wire and shade cloth but in a poor state of repair due to the collapse of a tree over the main structure. It still has water tanks and pot planters inside, but they're empty. I'm sure someone thought it was a good spot to grow, but it's kind of obvious in an area with few ground shrubs for camouflage.



What is growing up here are these perfect, minature wild orchids, about the width of a fingernail.



Anyway, after making sure I'm not being tracked by hillbillies with guns, I continue downhill, towards the creek. Stepping around a large fallen tree, I almost step straight onto this guy.



Crikey! What a beautiful creature. Thank Gawd it wasn't a snake, as my left boot landed inches from his head.



The perfect natural camouflage for his environment year round with fallen leaves and moss covered rocks, he surprised me by not even moving a single millimetre the whole time I was near him. Maybe he'd never seen a human before and didn't know how dangerous we were?





After stumbling across this Shingleback Lizard (Go here for more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiliqua_rugosa ) I become much more cautious wandering around the scrub, as I know the snakes will be out of winter hibernation if the lizards are out and about. But I've got my riding boots and over boot mx pants on, so I'm okay except when I stop to dig up a detector signal. The scrub has become a snake infested area suddenly, especially down near the creek.





What a special area this is. I follow the creek back to camp, working the erroded base and edges as I go.


Freshly bloomed golden Wattle. Our Nations Floral Emblem, used on the Federal Coat of Arms and forming the colours of many of our international sports team uniforms.


The rich undergrowth plants and fungi, including hallucinogenic Psilocybin mushrooms. More on these later.


The trunk of a long dead gum tree near camp.


And the branch of a recently fallen one, the colours set off by last nights rain.

Back at camp, I gather some water from the creek, boil some with a fresh fire and have a great shower come scrub down before throwing the laundry into the remaining water to make use of the rare sunshine.



And while we're on campsite domestics, my nightly feed...



boiled up so I can use the water for a cup of soup before the rice/canned food main meal and if I'm lucky, enough for a cup of tea afterwards.



They provided a feed I looked forward to each night with good variety while allowing me cheap travel and the ability to be free of the real need for townships every day.

More soon...

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Old 09-07-2011, 09:49 PM   #36
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Wild 'shrooms?

Please tell me you helped yourself to a mouthful!
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:41 AM   #37
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thanks Sd .... whats down the hole ..... please tell me you go down .... well??
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Old 09-08-2011, 07:36 AM   #38
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Probably dead bodies and hundreds of writhing snake. If I had the climbing ropes to have a look and an offsider, I could've been tempted. It doesn't show it very well in the photo of that shaft but they've basically chiselled their way straight down through solid rock. That's why the shaft's still in such perfect condition 150 years later. They must have found a great seam of gold or really rich indicators at the surface to dig down that deep, because it would've taken them months or years to do it by hand. The other odd thing I noticed is that there didn't seem to be a corresponding sized pile of excavated material on the surface for the depth of the hole, which made me think they either set up a crushing battery nearby or used the creek downhill to wash the paying soil. The chain of mines along the reef nearby were nowhere near as deep, so maybe the success of this deep lead mine was limited. Some of these shafts in this district went down to 2400 feet. That's a hell of a depth chasing a seam.
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Old 09-08-2011, 07:26 PM   #39
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Love your work!
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Old 09-09-2011, 12:35 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sundowner View Post
Some of these shafts in this district went down to 2400 feet.
Glad that you are researching your facts and not trying to bullshit us.

You seem to be evolving from David Attenborough into Doug Stone.


Cheers,
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Old 09-09-2011, 01:32 AM   #41
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interesting shit ... thanks
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Old 09-09-2011, 10:20 AM   #42
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Next morning, after rehanging the still damp laundry in the morning sun a little longer, I start breaking camp looking forward to travelling a bit more again. First off I head to the township of St Arnaud to refuel and seeing as it's lunchtime, grab some takeaway chips for lunch as well as a bottle of Stones Green Ginger Wine for its night time warming effects. Then by rambling along via Logan, I end up at Moliagul, birthplace of the Reverend John Flynn, "Flynn of the Inland", the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and numerous inland hospitals (Oodnadatta was his first and up until a couple of years ago, was still the main medical centre in the remote north-eastern corner of South Australia) as well as a host of amazing innovations that substantially improved the life, even today, of country Australians. A stop at the monument for a photo....



Go here for a great Wikipedia entry on this amazing man's life. It's well worth it. Seriously. Go on, have a look. We'll be waiting here for you when you return.


Anyway, while that fella's gone, let's go look at the second most interesting thing nearby, out at the Moliagul gold field area. This...



It's the supposed exact spot where the world's largest ever gold nugget, The Welcome Stranger, was found. This sign nearby tells a little of the story as well...



After chatting to another couple on a Kawasaki Z1000, I rode onwards, north through the Kooyoora State Park and Rheola goldfield area up to Melville caves. After taking on some pretty average tasting water from the campground and seeing it infested with kids from what appeared to be a Scout camp, I decide to leave. Formed camps really aren't my thing, especially when it's Saturday evening and there's a bunch of lil' bastard scouts everywhere. If they were anything like me when I was a Scout, I'd be lucky if they left me a bare bike frame and the outer tent fly by morning. So with the sun setting, I ride back south through a tiny area proclaiming "Historic Berlin Goldfield", towards the forrest west of Rheola Goldfield. In here, I chase logging tracks in the dark, hoping to find signs of old mining activity. Down one 4wd track called "Stage Coach Robbery Track", I spot really great signs of an area worth prospecting but continue anyway. After what seems like a couple of hours of riding every track in the forrest, I decide to head back to the Berlin field. I'm not sure why, but the forrest just didn't feel lucky.
At Berlin, I find a decent clearing with plenty of firewood, so set up camp in the starlight and then relax by the fire for the evening with the radio and the bottle of Stone's. In the quiet of the night, not too far off I can hear the grunting call of a male koala, answered by the shrill scream of an adult drop bear and the barking of frightened farm dogs. After about half an hour of this screaming, grunting and barking, I hear a single gunshot ring out in the dark from the nearby farmhouse and the screaming cries cease, followed soon after by the bark of the dogs. The koala keeps grunting away late into the evening. He's about 2 or 300 metres west of me, across the road in the other section of the goldfield. He's obviously lonely. I just hope the Drop Bear isn't wounded and headed my way.



Next morning I fire up the metal detector after porridge o'clock and start digging targets within feet of my tent. On the fourth dig, I find a good strong signal that sees me going down about six inches through the firm brown loamy soil. What I finally pull out of the hole really stuns me. I have to look a couple of times at it to make sure it's real. Then a big smile creeps across my face that I can't move all day. I put my find into a zip up pocket of my tankbag pack and continue sweeping the area, digging up any signal I hear. The rest of the day is spent sweeping the campsite and some of the old mine holes and diggings nearby. But I can't help but stop occasionally just to open the zipped pocket and check out my find every so often. I'll show you it at the end of the report. How's that for a deal?



The end of the day finally comes and I reckon I've dug a hundred signals. And I'm loving it. It's like fishing, waiting for a bite to come. That night the koala fires into life again, followed soon by the farm dogs but no nocturnal screaming animals.



The following morning, after breakfast I go back over the area close to my tent, listening intently for fainter signals. I actually pick up and dig a few signals that I somehow missed, but they're just junk. This makes me grab the bag my camp oven usually lives in, to gather up everything I dig, just to show you what it's like working this old field. Then I slowly work up the hill, closer to the roadway. At what must be about 11am, a white four wheel drive comes to a screeching halt on the roadway near the track into my camp. I'm off a couple hundred metres away, working a grid pattern search of a hillside. The 4wd comes along the track, continuing past my bike and tent and comes to a stop in the darker, thicker forrest nearby. Out jump three male adults and a tall teenage lad. Two of the adults look like real hillbillies, with bib style overalls, no shirts and long, scruffy red hair. The other male, the driver, has one arm in a sling and one leg in a medical brace. He looks like he's just been let out of hospital recently, the way he's moving about slowly. But they've all got sacks, the size of pillow cases, and straight away they start bending down, talking excitedly while picking stuff off the ground. What the Hell? Are they gathering rocks or something. Then it dawns on me....they must be gathering the hallucinogenic "magic" mushrooms that are growing everywhere. I keep working the area, going up and back trying to appear like I'm totally ignoring them, where the opposite is true. One even walks within about thirty metres of me but doesn't say a thing. I've got the headphones on so even if he did, I probably didn't hear him. One thing I do know is that what they're doing is totally illegal, thanks to big signs at the entry of every park and forrest I've seen so far. I'm just glad I'm built like a brick shithouse and don't look like an easy target to cause trouble with. Within about twenty minutes, they've filled their bags and all jump back into the vehicle before zooming out onto the road and away. It's then that I realise I've made a huge mistake by continuing to detect, picking up and placing junk into my scrap bag. It must have looked like I was constantly gathering nuggets. This gets me a bit worried they might return later to rob me. Not the best of thoughts when you're in a forrest all alone. Anyway, by the end of the day I'm tired of gathering trash, so return to camp. Here's the huge haul for the day....


Left to right - pan handle, piece of metal pipe, kerosene tin handle, two modern (1980's) beer pull tabs, under these what might be an old miner's belt buckle piece, next a huge pile of old horse shoe and hand made timber nails, above them some thicker pieces of steel from mining machinery and possibly a shattered firearm breach section, then pieces of lead and steel from food tins and tubes and buckets/billy cans, then a couple of bits of wire.
Just shows it's not as easy as you'd think. But I'd rather be picking this stuff up than nothing at all. Why? Because it means I'm working an area that probably hasn't been worked over yet by anyone else, other than the original miners, which is what you want out on these fields.

Next morning, after thoughts of the four druggies returning all evening, I decide to move on again further east. But before that, I work a small errosion gully with the detector before returning to camp with a bucket of water from a deep puddle. It's time for another bush bath 'cause I can smell myself again and it's not too sweet. I take a full billy of creek water and after making sure it has no frogs in it, boil it on the campfire. Doing this a couple of times, It's great to strip off in the sun and scrub the old hide down with the hot water and soap. I'm glad nobody drove in again, especially long haired hillbillies in overalls.


The red bag (metal detector roll top bag) was my shower mat, bike the soap holder, shower curtain and change room. The collapsable bucket holds twenty litres but a good scrub only takes about five litres. The remainder becomes laundry water. Crude, but it worked well. I bet it's been done out on this goldfield plenty of times before. This field had up to about 4000 miners back when it was rushed in 1868.

While packing up camp, I was reminded of something from a few days earlier. Back when I was shopping in the supermarket at St Arnaud, I had some friendly stranger come up and do the usual, "Your bike's really loaded down, isn't it?" comment. I guess the tyre does make it look like that, but other than the mining equipment and Polar Bear food cooler, it's the same gear as I normally carry. I didn't swing at his stupid grin, instead I just said, "Not really. It just looks that way. It's actually quite light." Maybe you think the same as this stranger? I don't think it's excessive, considering I intended going out on the fields for a fortnight doing unsupported bush camping, but here's a couple of photo's of what was in each bag.


Left to right - Luxurylite cot, Trek-lite Derwent 3 man alloy pole tent, USMC Bivy bag with -10c Synthetic sleeping bag and Exped 9Dlx inflating mattress, above that the new 17inch spare standard duty tube, alongside a silk sleeping bag liner, 4 metre batwing tarp, bubbogears nesting alloy tarp poles, Alite Monarch chair, above that the folding 20 litre bucket, alonside that my stainless camp oven and all cooking gear (spoon/cup/matches/salt/flint firestarter) including some food inside, below that a coleman self-inflating pillow for use with my sheepskin seat cover, a Coleman 185 lumens LED Lantern wrapped in an Andy Strapz combination neck warmer/beanie, then a blue compression laundry bag with two air removing roll bags each containing a spare t-shirt, woolen socks and underpants.



I'm quite happy with what I took. Everything got used every day. My luxuries were the Alite Monarch chair, the LED lantern, my MP3 player (in tank bag) and transistor radio (in tankbag) and a small folding trenching shovel I used for mining and cooking, as well as digging the toilet hole at each site (strapped to left crash bar). I guess the Luxurylite camp stretcher or the Exped 9DLX mat could have stayed home but together they were better than my bed at home and I didn't mind the weight. I took two spare changes of t-shirt, socks and underpants plus what I was wearing, which gave me a comfortable amount of clothing in this cold weather (0C to about 20C most days.) I also wore an Andy Strapz neck warmer/beanie, which was used to wrap the LED lantern while travelling. I had a thin silk balaclava mask to wear under the helmet when it rained or was too cold. This bag would have weighed less than 20 kilo's, including cans of food.
The 12 pack sized Polar Bear cooler had the rice packets, porridge oats and any other food supplies in. It was going to sit at the back of the rear carrier prior to grabbing the tyre and stuffing my packing plans. It actually sat really well inside the spare tyre. These are a brilliant food cooler for bike touring. This weighs about 3 kilos including all food.
The Ogio bum bag held just enough tools to handle a sparkplug change, basic electrical repairs, tank removal, carby overhaul and chain repair. I could actually tear the engine down with it if I was carefull with the 1/4 inch Metrinch sockets and L shaped screwdriver bit/socket drive bar. The main tool is a high quality adjustable 6 inch long spanner with carefully matched, machined faces - it never rounds bolt heads if adjusted properly. It's mainly for axle nuts and chain adjusters. The bag also holds a tyre repair kit, Topeak Two Timer hand pump (with a mini Slime electric pump in the tank pannier bags), red gasket goo, case repair two part liquid arildite, a few o-rings, zip ties, blade fuses, assorted spare bolts and washers plus the couple of metres of shoestring thickness para cord for binding repairs to handlebars/broken limbs/clothes line. I keep the tyre levers on my handlebar cross pad and about three or four metres of cloth reinforced "100mph" race tape rolled around the mirror stalks (which stops them vibrating as well). The Ogio bag weighs about 1.5 kilos.



All bundled up, the metal detector packed down really well, wrapped in a warm scarf I wore at night with my winter jacket liner taken out of the riding jacket. The methylated spirits bottle was used to carry the port wine from home and later, the decanted Stone's Green Ginger wine. The bottles are super light, really leak proof and very strong. The headphones sit wrapped in the sleeping bag compression sack on top of the detector coil. The orange Exped bag contained a spare pair of MX goggles. The geologist hammer sat under the detector unit and didn't cause any issues. The two inner tube rubber bands (from an old rear tube) work as spare tie down straps usually but were used this trip to stop my MX pants dragging on the ground while walking around detecting. All up, this bag weighed less than 5 kilos.

The Cortech 21 litre tank bag contained my silk helmet balaclava for cold/wet weather riding, a Kodak point and shoot camera, a Panasonic FZ40 super zoom camera, a sharp Gerber folding pocket knife, toiletries, toothbrush, muesli bars, earplugs, rechargeable camera batteries, MP3 player with seperate Altech Lansing amplified speaker, am/fm transistor radio, chewing gum and sugary lollies (emergency food ) plus some Vitamin C drink powder sachets (emergency drink for bore water ).

The Steel Pony tank panniers had my winter gloves (used daily this trip), toilet paper, fire starter cubes, Slime mini electric air pump, prospecting information books with field maps, floppy hat, new tube patch kit (after Horsham) and three MSR 4 litre dromedary water bladders. Basically bulky gear needed daily on the road or camping priority items.

I'd be happy travelling around the country permanently with this kit. The only thing I have at home to add is a Katadyn Base Camp water purifier kit and a Katadyn water purifier pump, plus a set of rear Steel Pony canvas panniers.

Anyway, enough of gear, its time to see things, find new goldfields and meet interesting people. One of those people I meet just up the road, here....

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"Surround yourself with the best people you can, and make them your friends" - Justin Hunt, Oz Safari Director.
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Sundowner screwed with this post 09-09-2011 at 10:34 AM
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:09 AM   #43
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IN THESE GOLD SEEKING DAYS

The grass from yonder flat has faded And all its freshness doomed,
For diggers' picks have now invaded
The ground where wild flowers bloomed
The gold that had for ages slumbered, Locked close, in nature's maze
We diggers trace through drives un numbered ,In these gold seeking days.
The trees that many an acre covered, 'Neath which the emu played
Where bright plumb'd birds so often hover'd,are now for firewood laid.
The wilderness becomes a township, And busy life displays,
Where diggers meet in cordial friendship In these gold seeking days.
And here we toil in search of treasure, Far from our childhood's home;
Bereft of every social pleasure,unheeded and unknown;
Yet hope, the digger' heart sustaining Sheds her effulgent rays;
And bids us strive without complaining In these gold seeking days.

ANON

So after leaving the Berlin goldfield, I take a short run west across to the Wehla area but instead of finding the remains of a gold mining area ghost town, I find fenced and flagged off mining leases on the old goldfield. Rather than get in trouble entering onto a possible mining lease, I head east again, towards Kingower. Riding along, I spot the road to the Kingower Cemetery. I'm always keen to maybe learn something of an area's history. Inside the cemetery, it's obvious the locals take pride in the grounds. Colourful flowers grow next to the well tended graves. Some of the early ones have new headstones and plaques. Others simply exist, unmarked save for a numbered peg.




It's a shame all graves don't include a brief history of the occupants, like this.

At least some people have a great sense of humour, even deceased.



One of the really old graves.



Some tell of the terrible struggles to survive in this area prior to modern medical help.



Then there were sites like this, that really are heart breakers.



A 27yo woman, Mary Stewart who lost her fifteen month old daughter, Janet, in May, 1863, then her own life in November, 1863.
The adjoining grave, in what I believe to be a family plot due to its wrought iron fence, is that of Alexander Forbes, who was apparently a Storeowner and Publican, who died only 14 months earlier in September, 1862.
I'm still trying to find a link between Stewart and Forbes and how they died. I'll add that to the report at a later date if I have any luck.
What I have found so far is that Forbes was business partners with a former gold miner, John Catto, who became the Kingower Postmaster. It was behind their premises in the young goldfield town that the (at the time) largest nugget, the Blanche Barkly (1743.5 troy ounces or 145.25 pounds) was dug from 17 feet down. Named after the Governor of Victoria, Henry Barkly's young daughter, Blanche, it was found in August, 1857 by a party of new miners to the Kingower goldfields, brothers Robert and James Ambrose (from Gravesend, England) and brothers Samuel and Charles Napier, (from New Brunswick, Canada) working a joint claim. I'd imagine the trade at Forbes hotel would have been brisk from that point onwards. Aren't graveyards and history great. But to look at just the grave, you'd never know this.



Just as I was walking back to the bike after finishing my tour of the whole cemetary, a car drove in. It was the Secretary of the Kingower Cemetary Board. His wife was recently buried here and he had come by to do some weed control, mainly stopping the young sapling trees from taking over the area. It was great talking to him. We chatted about the cemetary features and history, including about the unmarked Chinese miner's graves and the wooden plaque headstones, the loss of the graveyard records office in a fire, then goldmining, district history and also about my own find, which he was quite impressed to see. We had a few great laughs, including about him being made a "Life Member" of the cemetary. I could have spent all day talking with him, but he needed to attend to his business and I needed to ride. But it was a truly great encounter. One of the best of the trip.

Anyhoo, back on the bike I rode around the area following tracks and trails, exploring this famous goldfield...



Where gold nuggets were once picked up like potatoes from the brown soil. Then down through the forrest...



heading out past the Union Mine site and coming back into the small town's main crossroads three times before finally consulting the GPS and heading towards Inglewood township. Lost? Me? Never!
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Old 09-10-2011, 04:04 PM   #44
b0mb3r
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aahh man this is sooo good ..... making us wait till the end
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Old 09-10-2011, 04:06 PM   #45
ClearwaterBMW
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awesome ride report
looks like a fantastic time
thanks for sharing it all with us
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