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Published June 7th 2012
Not far from Mackereth Cottage in the Scott Creek Conservation Park is an abandoned silver mine which dates back to 1850.
Initially opened as a copper mine called Wheal Maria, the mine was situated on the west side of Dorset Vale Rd. Subsequently the Wheal Mary Anne Shaft was sunk on the eastern side of the road but this was largely unsuccessful also.
Following the discovery of silver in the copper ore in 1868, the Almanda Silver Mining Association was formed in August by Messrs Beck, Levi, Gawen, Bagot, Hughes, Ey and Hallet. The discovery caused a silver rush (the first and only one in SA) and claims were also made on land nearby.
Ey's Tunnel was then dug through to the lode on the eastern side of the road, and a treatment plant was constructed on the western site with a 15-head stamp battery to crush ore powered by a large steam engine. For an excellent description of how the process worked, see this web page.
Curiously, around this time it was even suggested that mineral waters from the mine could beneficially be used for drinking and bathing.
In 1887 after 310 kg of silver was mined it was closed as the mine was not economical to operate. Today you can still see the legacy of the original operation.
When you visit Scott Creek, park on the western side of Dorset Vale Rd and you will see the round stone chimney which connects to the boilerhouse ruins. Walk south from the car park, check out the mud map showing trail locations, and a little further on is an interpretive trail sign with a sketch showing how the clearing looked when the mine first opened.
On your left you will see the ruins of the mine office, while on the right are the incredibly thick walls of the engine house ruin, and another sign with more information about the enginehouse. This is connected via an underground flue to the chimney, which is a short but worthwhile climb up the hill.
On the opposite side of the road is Ey's tunnel which is open for exploration. You will need a torch and good shoes or boots as it can be muddy inside. Once across the road, climb the narrow winding trail (ok for older kids) until you see another interpretive sign and the mine entrance.
Took my 2 children to explore the tunnel kitted out with walking shoes and torches but sadly access is closed to the public now which was disappointing. We did however still enjoy seeing the mine shafts and ruins and some koala spotting. Thankyou for posting the article, still worth the visit.
I visited'South Australia recently and was fasinated to learnof it's mining history. Visited Moonta and Burra where the copper mining was done. Interested to hear of the silver mining. Bob Davey - Queensland