Adelong Falls Gold Workings/Reserve | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Adelong Falls Gold Workings/Reserve

Item details

Name of item: Adelong Falls Gold Workings/Reserve
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Mining and Mineral Processing
Category: Mineral Discovery site
Location: Lat: -35.2919890562 Long: 148.0575552400
Primary address: , Tumut, NSW 2720
Parish: Adelong
County: Wynyard
Local govt. area: Tumut
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Brungle/Tumut
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1153 DP757211
PART LOT1153 DP757211
LOT202 DP757211
LOT203 DP757211
PART LOT347 DP757211
PART LOT347 DP757211
LOT348 DP757211
LOT460 DP757211
LOT461 DP757211
LOT462 DP757211
LOT463 DP757211
LOT532 DP757211
LOT533 DP757211
LOT65 DP757211
LOT760 DP757211
LOT7019 DP96813
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 TumutTumutAdelongWynyardPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
former Tumut Shire CouncilLocal Government07 Apr 99

Statement of significance:

The site displays considerable uniformity in materials, form and scale. It is enhanced by its setting and contributes to its setting which has remained largely undisturbed since the site was in operation. It is an integral part of the Adelong goldfields landscape. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 63) The ingenious application of raw materials and the use of topography to enhance the gold extraction process, stand out for their creative and technological excellence when compared with similar sites in New South Wales. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 62) The quantity, quality and extent of the ruins and landscape features within the Reserve are remarkable.

The processes of gold exploration and extraction are some of the most romanticised in Australian history. The Battery complex provides an opportunity to demonstrate how reef gold was extracted as the site is both innovative and relatively intact. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 62)
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: David Wilson and William Ritchie
Builder/Maker: David Wilson and William Ritchie
Construction years: 1860-1860
Physical description: The 28 hectare Adelong Falls Reserve comprises steep rocky slopes, openly timbered and falling sharply to Adelong Creek and Sawyer's Creek. A distinctive feature is the presence of a large number of Xanthorrohea, especially in the southern corner. (CLO 1985: 9)

The Falls themselves are situated on Adelong Creek, 1km north of Adelong. At this point, the creek passes through a narrow gorge about 300 metres in length and drops about 30 metres in height over that distance (TSC 1982: 7). It is here that the remains of the Wilson and Ritchie Battery are located, about 200 metres along the cascades. Archaeological investigations in 1985, showed that the Battery ruins are part of a larger, dynamically accrued complex of remains that extend past the boundary of the Adelong Falls Reserve.

The battery site comprises: two water wheels with associated weirs, races and aqueducts; a 24 foot buddle; a series of holding tanks; a small quarry; a reverbatory furnace with separate brick stack; a weighbridge; a works office; a cottage with a terraced garden; a metalled entry road with stone revetments; three paths and an unidentified terrace. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 35)

Immediately downstream of the curtilage are the weir, sluice and race that powered Gibraltar's works. An unknown battery stood on the upstream margin of the curtilage at the mouth of Sawyer's Creek. Both banks of that creek have been mined for its entire length. Approximately 500 metres upstream of the curtilage are the stone abutments and iron pegs of a large dam. The spillway and sluice stand on the right bank, connected by a race to the water wheels of the Battery. The owner's house stood atop the ridge on the left bank opposite Sawyer's Creek, overlooking the site. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 35)

The materials and techniques used in constructing the site (including the dam and owner's house outside the curtilage) are essentially uniform. Rough hewn granite, quarried on site, was used for all walls with the exception of the brick stack that terminates the furnace flue. Both concrete and lime mortar have been used. Timber was used sparingly, mainly for races, flooring and mountings. Roof cladding was corrugated iron. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 36-39)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The site is in ruins, but these are stable and well maintained.
Archaeological potential is high.
Modifications and dates: 1881: purchase of existing battery at Sawyer's Creek and construction of a dam, race, aqueduct and flume.
Current use: Picnic Reserve
Former use: Gold Processing Site

History

Historical notes: The Adelong Falls Reserve is within the Adelong Creek goldfield, which was proclaimed on the 15th February, 1855. The existing reservation for Public Recreation was notified on the 26th November, 1971. Most of the reserve south of Adelong Creek has always been Crown land, with the remainder in private ownership until 1980, when it became part of the reserve. The portion of the current reserve that lies north of the Creek was originally granted to or aquired by David Wilson and William Ritchie between 1860 and 1885. Here they set up the Wilson and Ritchie Battery, one of the two principal ore processing plants on the Adelong field. The ruins and curtilage of the Battery were added to the reserve in 1980. (CLD 1985: 2)

Reef mining was well underway on the Adelong goldfields by 1859. It was at this time that William Ritchie and Scottish born David Wilson established a 'Reefer Battery' at Adelong. In the late 1860s they moved the battery to its present location at Adelong Falls (Winston-Gregson 1993: Appendix 3). The Battery and associated processing works were designed to extract gold from its bearing ore by hydraulic separation and mercury attraction. The ore was crushed in a stamper battery until it was fine enough to be washed over mercury treated plates which attracted the gold particles. Tailings from this process were then treated in a Chilean Mill and sluiced. These tailings were then ground and passed into a buddle, designed to further separate the heavy metal by agitation. A furnace was also present on the site to allow gold and mercury from the first sluicing to be separated. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 58) This multi-tiered extraction process was designed to ensure maximum return.

The location of the battery made clever use of the topography. Its position within the cascade zone of Adelong Creek provided an immediate head of water. The slope of the bank where the works stood enabled ore to pass through by gravity feed, reducing the need for mechanical feeders. It also allowed a strong furnace draft via a smoke flue laid up the hillside like a covered drain. The major road linking Adelong to the reefs, crossed Adelong Creek at the head of the cascades, ensuring a constant stream of traffic past the battery. (Winston-Gregson 1988: 33-4)

The battery opened on 17th July, 1870. The thorough processing techniques and fortuitous position ensured it was an immediate success. In 1881, operations were expanded when the partners bought an existing battery at the head of Sawyer's Creek. They built a dam at the original 1858 battery site and dug a race to a water wheel at the newly acquired battery. This was a substantial undertaking involving an aquaduct over Sawyer's Creek and a long flume across the hill. At various times there were experiments with silver traps and cyanide processing but the basic design was so good that it always prevailed. The works ran from 1870 to 1910 and remain as one of the most successful operations on the Australian goldfields during the last part of the nineteenth century. (Winston-Gregson 1993: Appendix 3)

Since 1980 the works have been accessible to the public as part of the Adelong Falls Reserve. In the early 1990s significant conservation works were undertaken on the extant remains, including the stabilisation of standing walls and the clearing of vegetation to attempt to regain the integrity of the original relationship of the site with the surrounding landscape (Winston-Gregson 1993). A number of mining companies have commenced operations in the area since 1986. Since May 1991 the Republic Mineral Corporation has continued to explore the gold lode in the Adelong Falls area immediately surrounding the Adelong Falls Reserve.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for gold-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The site displays considerable uniformity in materials, form and scale. It is enhanced by its setting and contributes to its setting which has remained largely undisturbed since the site was in operation. It is an integral part of the Adelong goldfields landscape. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 63)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The ingenious application of raw materials and the use of topography to enhance the gold extraction process, stand out for their creative and technological excellence when compared with similar sites in New South Wales. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 62)

The processes of gold exploration and extraction are some of the most romanticised in Australian history. The Battery complex provides an opportunity to demonstrate how reef gold was extracted as the site is both innovative and relatively intact. (Winston-Gregson 1985: 62)
Integrity/Intactness: The quantity, quality and extent of the ruins and landscape features within the Reserve are remarkable.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Contextual historical research into the site is strongly recommended (1985)

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act special plan for 57(2) exemptions. Refer to standard exemptions gazetted 23 October 1998.

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1): Eradication of noxious animals and noxious plants;
(2) Pasture improvement, not requiring substantial clearing of existing vegetation;
(3) Stock grazing, not requiring substantial clearing of existing vegetation;
(4) Maintenance and repairs to existing farm fences;
(5) Provision of internal subdivision fences which may be necessary to improve grazing management.
Mar 15 1985
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementAdelong Falls CMP, prepared by M & J Tracey for Tumut Council and Heritage Office, dated November 2003. CMP endorsed by Tumut Shire Council on 28 September 2004.
CMP endorsed by Heritage Council on 6 October 2004 for a period of five years, expires 6 October 2008.
Oct 6 2004
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0007202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0007215 Mar 85 561183
Heritage Act - Interim Conservation Order - Lapsed  09 May 80   
Local Environmental Plan  07 Dec 90   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2003Crushing blow for Falls plan (Tumut & Adelong Times 18/11/03)
WrittenCrown Lands Office1985Plan of Management: Adelong Falls Reserve
WrittenHeritage Archaeology2003Adelong Falls Reserve conservation management plan
WrittenJ.H. Winston-Gregson1993Adelong Falls Battery: Conservation Report
WrittenJ.H. Winston-Gregson1985'Adelong Falls Reserve: Archaeological Report' in Crown Lands Office, Plan of Mangement: Adelong Falls Reserve
TourismTourism NSW2007Adelong Falls Wilson Ritchie Gold Battery View detail
WrittenTumut Shire Council2010Adelong Falls Reserve Plan of Management

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez
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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045640
File number: S90/07141 & HC 30495


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