The Gold Battery was built in 1914. It is the most complete existing example of 7 built. With the installation of mercury plates on the output table, it will be the only fully operational government battery left. Whilst running, no-one in town is going to sleep, it shatters the piece when in operation. When gold was dug from coarse ground and could not be extracted by hand with a pan, sluice box or cradle in a creek, it could be brought to the battery and crushed. After crushing, the gold was extracted from the remnants in cyanide tanks, which dissolved the crushed rock and the gold was easily separated. It
Gold sluice pipe, to wash gold from an open cut mine
was useful for those who had little water to process their wash-dirt.The gold fields can be very dry and arid in summer or suffer from successive dry years. Often miners found gold where there was little or no water. So they would load their gold-rich paydirt on a wagon and take it to the battery. Only larger mining companies would have their own gold crushing battery-due to the expense. The cyanide is still present near larger mine sites and batteries and it is not a place to grow your own vegies. It does however breakdown naturally and is more dangerous to wildlife than humans.
and tours are arranged through the museum. The tour of the site will take you around the grounds and inside the buildings so you can marvel at the state of the art machinery used at the time. Currently tours are by appointment only, when the museum is open. Between the two attractions you will fill a good few hours.
The large gas powered motor drove the bank of cam-operated hammers via wheels and pulley belt. The pay-dirt was poured in from a vent toward the rear and above the hammers, and slid down a metal vent and under the hammers. The output was washed across the sorting table and coarse gold was often caught in the tables groves. Further treatment with cyanide would dissolve the fine crushed rock and soils from the gold in cyanide tanks. Gold being heavier or in essence a more dense material would be found at the bottom of the tank and the waste rock, gravel and sand was removed from the top.
The main machinery manufacturer of the time producing for most of the Goldfields was the Thompson Foundry in Castlemaine. Their range of machinery is quite astounding considering the period and distance from Melbourne. Being that the greater part of the population was on the Goldfields,
it is perhaps no wonder since a work force was ever present. From all the photos in the museum and gold battery, the production of machines from such an early manufacturer is quite staggering and impressive, even by today's standards.
The gold crushing battery is one of many fine attractions in Victoria's awarded 'Best Preserved Town', and you will need plenty of time if you wish to take in the towns wonderful buildings, and family attractions. A weekend is a brief visit-see them on facebook. There are some great eateries and a small supermarket too. There is a small garage and larger service stations are 15 minutes away in Castlemaine. A few kilometres away you will find Cairn Curran and Laanecourie Reservoirs, and the Loddon River-a substanicial Murray River contributary. Maldon is about 145 kilometres from Melbourne along the Calder Freeway-exit for Castlemaine. Both towns can be bustling when festivals are on and often peaceful retreats at other times. Here is a link for accommodation and other visitor information.