Sunday 4 October 2020
Photos courtesy of Philip
Four walkers enjoyed a tough hike to the Bumbo #2 gold mine near Nerrigundah. This walk was last done in 2017 when the forest cover was very dense and navigation difficult. The January 2020 fires severely burnt this area which made hiking on the upper slopes easier and also exposed many features we had missed in 2017. The rains since the fires have resulted in dramatic growth of silvertop ash seedlings which appear like a carpet on the burnt hillside. We came across many shafts dug by the miners between 1895 and 1906 during the peak of the gold mining activities. Many of these shafts would have been hidden before the fires and we could have easily lost a few hikers.
The first tunnel is on the creek line with the water flowing out at a reasonable pace. Heading down stream to the second tunnel the bushfires exposed the remains of an old stone building on the hillside that was not seen in 2017.
The second tunnel is more accessible and has many interesting features. The first thing you experience standing at the entrance is a cool wind coming straight out at you which means it must connect to a shaft to create the breeze. I knew to bring a powerful torch to venture into this tunnel which we were able to do so for over 50m. At this point the tunnel reaches a drop off estimated to be over 10m deep. This cut running perpendicular to the tunnel is very narrow and links via a shaft to the surface. Maybe this was the vein where they extracted 115kg of gold? When we turned the torch off we could see light on the tunnel wall coming from the shaft above which is quite spooky considering how far we were underground. The photo taken at this point was done using a time lapse shot and waving the torch on the walls to illuminate the features. The effect is quite dramatic showing the drop off at our feet and the continuation of the tunnel over the gap reminiscent of the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
At the tunnel entrance we found abandoned equipment including fly wheels and rope rollers which would have been used to transport the ore downslope to the stamper on Bumbo creek via an aerial tramway.
600m downstream we arrived at the site of the old battery stamper which was cut into the hillside. All that remains are a number of flywheels, bolts, and other equipment abandoned when they removed the stamper over 100 years ago. Climbing up the slope we found a number of flat sites that could have served as locations for derricks supporting the aerial tramway bringing the ore from the mine to the stamper. This must have been a very impressive sight to observe in its day.
On the long climb back to the car (400m of elevation) we realised that in a few years from now the forest will reclaim this area and make navigation very difficult again.