I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published June 2nd 2013
Strike It Lucky In Bendigo
To the Chinese on the gold fields it was Dai Gum San, the Big Gold Mountain. To you and I it's Bendigo the scene of some of the biggest gold strikes during what was the world's greatest ever gold-rush.
Between 1851 and 1954 Bendigo Creek as it was originally known produced more than 700,000 Kilograms of gold valued at somewhere between 25 and 35 Billion dollars in today's terms.
Central Deborah's poppet-head stands out above surrounding suburban Bendigo
The Central Deborah Gold Mine, the last commercial mine operating in Bendigo, worked a quartz reef on the Bendigo Flat. Descending 400 metres underground and with 17 working levels miners extracted just under a tonne of gold valued at about $37 million in today's terms between 1939 and 1954.
Bendigo City Council acquired the mine in 1970 and set about turning it into a tourist attraction and educational facility under the management of the Bendigo Trust.
Initially only surface access to the mine was granted to the public but as development of the site progressed the first underground tours commenced in 1986.
The end product - pouring a gold ingot
The Central Deborah Mine today is a multi-award winning tourist attraction and offers one of the best underground tour experiences available with many original features remaining to ensure visitors get a truly authentic mining experience.
A visit to the Central Deborah can be whatever you choose to make it with tours ranging from a self-guided surface experience including gold panning and a climb to the top of the 'poppet head', a Mine Experience Tour, the Underground Adventure Tour and, if you're up for it, the Nine Levels of Darkness Tour.
Not for the faint hearted or unfit the Nine Levels of Darkness Tour lasts between 3 ½ and 4 hours and will have you descend 228 metres below ground, travelling in the original miners cage to Level 9 where, among other things, you'll learn how to set an explosive charge and operate a miner's drill.
Bendigo's famous talking trams stop right outside the Central Deborah mine