Located approximately 30km south east of Adelaide, the former gold mining site of Jupiter Creek, near Echunga is an interesting discovery revealing the chapters of gold mining history in the area from1869 to the 1930s.
The Crystal Mine and Beatrice Mine sites can be reached on a circuit walk from the car park on the interestingly named Rubbish Dump Road or alternatively the walk through farmland on the Heysen trail from Mylor toward Kuitpo forest passes by the Sluice Dam and the Beatrice Mine site.
From the car park, the right hand trail takes you toward the Beatrice mine. Keeping to the marked trail is the safest option, although most of the deep, open mine shafts are fenced off for safety, there are still some areas, which could be hazardous. Information signs in the car park and at the sites of interest provide an insight into the mining history of the area, which is State Heritage listed.
Walking through the bush land today, it is difficult to imagine the area was once a town of over 1200 people, hoping to find their fortune after gold was discovered by Henry Sanders and Thomas Plane in 1868.
A small town including a general store, butcher, refreshment booths, a stable and a hotel developed to service the miners. Within weeks of the first discovery, over 500 Miner's Rights were issued giving miners the right to dig for 12 months.
Living in wattle and daub huts, tents or galvanised iron buildings, many with little or no experience in prospecting and digging for gold, found little reward for their efforts and within the year the alluvial deposits were exhausted leaving a few hundred people on the site.
The New Phoenix Adit Ladder. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
One of the highlights of the walk is the New Phoenix Adit. The 80-metre tunnel from Battery Creek toward the old chimney connecting with two shafts near Fosters Gully was the work of Frederick Gee and five employees in the 1932.
The New Phoenix Adit Entrance. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Walking through the dark sandstone tunnel requires a torch or a headlight and, as suggested by the sign at the entrance, a hard hat. Adjacent to the steel ladder at the end of the tunnel a deep shaft has been blocked off by a wire fence, looks very dark and precarious.
Not far from the adit is the imposing site of the Beatrice Chimney, built in 1868 to provide updraught for the boiler. The chimney marks the operational site of one of the first mining companies, the Beatrice Quartz Reef and Gold Mining Company, formed in 1868. The company carried out both alluvial and reef mining, damming the creek to provide water for the boiler and constructing machinery for ore treatment including an engine house.
Located further along the trail in the Crystal Mine area, is the Whip Shaft built in 1887. Almost 50 metres deep, the material was originally hauled by hand windlass and buckets until a horse haulage run, about the same length as the shaft depth, took over this backbreaking work.
The remains of the Horse Puddler. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Walking just a few metres on is the Horse Puddler site. Today, just a circular depression in the ground, this was an interesting method of separating the ore from clay by harnessing a horse to a pole to drag rake through a circular trough of clay and ore mixture.
Named after the abundance of quartz crystals, the Crystal Mine site is also home to the New Crystal Syndicate shaft, built in the 1930's, this shaft was an unsuccessful attempt to find gold.
The 3km circuit returns to the car park, although for those who want a challenge, the Heysen Trail continues through the Kuitpo forest on the long journey toward Cape Jervis.
This interesting walking trail becomes more colourful in the spring when the wattles are flowering. The walk is not recommended during the summer months due to the fire danger. There are no toilets at the Rubbish Dump Road car park and no other facilities except one picnic bench. Remember to take enough drinking water, shade is intermittent and the bush can become hot rapidly.