Australia’s golden history provides fascinating insights into how the thirst for a better life led many people from distant ports to travel great distances, enduring extreme hardship to seek greater wealth for themselves and their families.
The world’s only pure yellow mineral: ‘Gold’ is synonymous with Bendigo, which has a history of being one of the richest producers of gold in the world. Bendigo is famous for the discovery of alluvial gold in 1851 on the Ravenswood Sheep Run, by Mrs Margaret Kennedy, which brought many prospectors from around the globe to seek wealth and prosperity. Known world-wide as the ‘Big Gold Mountain’ or ‘Dai Gum San’ by the Chinese, Bendigo is literally built on gold.
Alluvial gold yields waned rapidly as the number of immigrants arriving in thousands to Bendigo to either work on the diggings or provide supply of goods and services to the mining community. By 1858, the alluvial gold was gone. Dredging streams, puddling systems and sinking shafts to reach the gold-bearing quartz reefs deep into the earth followed on from the alluvial decline.
By the 1870s, Bendigo was renowned as the world’s wealthiest goldfield and hosted over a thousand mining companies operating to extract gold. The Bendigo goldfields contain 37 distinct, gold-bearing quartz reefs that extend parallel underneath the Central Victorian city for an area equal to 3,600 acres.
Between 1851 and 1954 Bendigo yielded over 700,000 kilograms of gold and in today’s terms would be worth almost $28 billion dollars! Bendigo is still the seventh largest producer of the world’s gold today.
Central Deborah Gold Mine’s Story
Central Deborah Gold Mine is a quartz-reef gold mine located on the Bendigo Flat near the Bendigo Creek. The mine operated from 1939 to 1954 and was the last commercial mine to operate in the wealthy Bendigo goldfields.
During this time miners extracted almost one tonne of gold (929kg) from the ground, which would be worth around $37 million in today's prices!
Bendigo City Council identified the still very much intact Central Deborah Gold Mine in 1970 as the perfect site to preserve and interpret Bendigo’s golden past for future generations.
Management was handed to The Bendigo Trust who soon opened the mine surface to the public, featuring a wide collection of mining equipment and machinery. Development work underground led to the start of our first underground tours of the mine in 1986.
Central Deborah Gold Mine has 17 levels underground and reaches a total depth of 412 metres, although levels 14-17 are currently flooded with water. Water levels are maintained by a drainage system managed by Bendigo Mining Ltd., who today use modern methods to mine for gold hundreds of metres beneath Central Deborah!Today, Central Deborah Gold Mine shares its rich history with visitors and offers the best underground mine tours in Australia. It is a well-maintained and operational mine, preserved and retaining many of its original features. Miners have developed new underground and surface displays that both inform and entertain visitors, and our friendly trained guides ensure that each visitor receives maximum value from their authentic mine experience.