was first discovered in
licence fee introduced by La Trobe, required that miners were to pay 30
shillings a month if they were to mine for gold. Miners also had no right to buy
land and they had no right to vote. Needless to say, by December of that same
year, unrest was alredy beginning to appear and the first mass meeting of miners
was held at Castlemaine where the licence fee was condemned as an illegal
continued to grow among the gold fields and in 1853, miners from the
was 3am on Sunday 3 December 1854, that soldiers attacked the stockade while
many of the miners had left for the Sabbath to attend church and those that
remained were sleeping. It was 100 horsemen and 176 infantry that attacked the
stockade that was manned at the time by only 200 miners. Twenty minutes later,
22 miners, five soldiers, and their commanding officer, had been killed while
many others had been wounded. Some 120 miners were arrested for high treason.
are who we are today, much as a result of those events in 1854. After the climax
major turning point in Australian identity came with the great Shearer's strikes
of the 1890's.
the 1850's, unionism began to flourish and was aided by the fact that many
convicts had been transported for union activities. The Mining Worker's Union
was formed in 1872 and was followed by a Seamen's Union in 1874 and the
gold in them thar hills... Really, there is! Donnybrook had it's own gold rush
at the turn of the 19th/20th century.
honour of first finding gold in the region goes to Richard Hunter, who
discovered some in 1897 by panning the upper reaches of the Nonneycup
Creek, which is a tributary of the
soon settled on a quartz outcrop, and sunk a shaft, which became known as
of a gold discovery always travels fast, and it wasn't long before Fred
Camilleri, a well known prospector from
discovery and was very interested. Fred offered to help Richard develop
sank his own shaft near Richard's, on Mt Cara (named after his daughter). Later
he then consolidated other mining leases and sold the field to "Donnybrook
Goldfields Ltd", a company floated in
Goldfields Ltd had capital of £350,000 for the express purpose of developing
the Donnybrook Goldfields. It was serious business now, and the WA State
government gazetted Donnybrook as a goldfield. A new town, to be called Goldtown,
was also gazetted and subdivided ready for sale.
mini gold rush was taking place.
Goldfields Ltd spent £45,000 on infrastructure, including extending the
railway. A second hotel was built in town. The place was growing rapidly and in
1901, over 200 miners were in and around the goldfield. By 1902, 105 workers
were employed at the Hunter's Venture mine. The shaft was being sunk, a 5 head
battery and a 6 drill compressor had been erected, and optimism was high.
the rush was shortlived, and didn't eventually meet expectations. In August
1903, with little warning, and after an inspection by the financiers from
all gold finds of that size, you always wonder whether they closed prematurely,
whether a big find was just around the corner. A couple of attempts have been
made since the closure of the mine to "just check" another time.
the 1930s, some small scale work was undertaken by locals Laurie & Foster
Payne. They recovered 102 ounces.
in 1980, with much updated technology, the goldfields were repegged by West
Coast Holdings Ltd. Joint ventures were entered into. Extensive exploration was
carried out, including diamond drilling, sampling, aerial survey, and satelite
imagery. Various drill holes revealed there was still gold there, but the grades
proved uneconomic to mine any further.
so that was the end of the gold mining in Donnybrook. Today, the site is
remembered and brought back to life by the Old Goldfields Orchard & Cider
Factory, with the re-erection of an exact replica of the poppet head over
Hunter's Venture, an information centre housing photographs, videos,
memorabilia, and press reports from the golden era. Mt Cara Adit is again open,
and children can pan for gold.