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Here's a bit of OZ nugget history.
December 10, 1999 at 00:03:35
In the beautiful spring of 1988 (Dec), I made my pilgrimage to the Victorian goldfields. One of the places I had to visit, was a pretty little valley called Rheola. It is on the edge of some attractive granite hills and was the site of one of the more spectacular of Victoria's nuggety rushes (Berlin Rush). Much of the old diggings remains intact. The best description comes from the book "Dunolly"written by James Flett. (Hawthorn Press Pty Ltd. Melbourne. ISBN 0 7256 01123 X.
On 21 August 1868, a prospector by the name of Alexander Cleland discovered a sixty-ounce nugget in his first hole in the gully named after him - Cleland's Gully. The rush started quietly and the Mining Warden - Mr. Orme thought that:
"the rush may not be permanent to any degree. Despite this, nuggets from two hundred and eighty six ounces down were recorded, twenty-eight in all down to twenty-three ounces, making a total of nearly 2,000 ounces of gold in large nuggets alone for the three months of 1868. And this despite Orme's statement that the diggers refused to give any details of their finds. This amazing rush developed in magnitude in 1869. Early in the year two old residents (Snip) found a nugget fifty-six pounds in weight that yielded five hundred and ninety-three ounces of gold, which was the largest yet. (Snip) In that month others of two hundred and forty-four, two hundred and forty, one hundred and one, fifty-six and forty ounces were found. In April, pieces sixty, fifty and twenty-six ounces; in May a forty-two ounce piece, and in June nuggets three hundred and thirty-six, seventy-six, fifty-two, twenty-six and twenty-four ounces. In July at Berlin, nuggets thirty-six, twenty-seven and thirty two ounces were recorded. In August a thirty-four and a twenty ounce nugget."
"In September, Chinese found a piece of four hundred and eighty ounces and others two hundred and forty (in Cleland's Gully) one hundred and ninety-two in Catto's paddock by Chinese, eighty ounces in the same place and forty, twenty-eight and a half, and twenty ounces. In this month also, Mr. Dunn reported a six hundred-ounce piece found in Catto's paddock. In November there were records of a two hundred ounce nugget (Snip) fifty-eight ounces, and in December nuggets one hundred and nineteen, eighty-nine, eighty-one and thirty ounces."
"In 1870, early in the year, the Berlin Rush reached its height with over 3,000 on the field and coaches running regularly from Bendigo and elsewhere, with stores and hotels thick on the diggings. In this year the nuggets found were prodigious and to detail them would be monotonous. They included "The Viscount Canterbury" unearthed (Snip) at a depth of eight feet in John's paddock. It was 1,114 ounces. The other, the "Vicountess Canterbury" of nine hundred and twelve ounces was found at a depth of six and a half feet. (Snip) John Catto (Snip) said that he saw great pieces of gold brought for sale that had been cut off even larger pieces by the Chinese here. (Snip) It was apparently a reasonably orderly rush and police cases averaged about two per week. (Happy Diggers?) Dunolly Express (newspaper) barely reported Berlin Rush, which continued in a smaller degree for many years. In 1871 the "Kum Tow" nugget of seven hundred and eighteen ounces was found by Loo Ching and party in Catto's paddock. (Snip) and the "Precious" by another Chinese party; that of Ah Chang on 1 May. It was 1,717 ounces and the fifth largest found in the state."
Thank you James Flett; definitely a nice little valley, just like the virgin one I'm looking for! As far as I know, the source of these monster nuggets has never been discovered, although I did find a few old shallow reef workings. Rheola in spring anyone? Oh what a lovely thought!
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