Our nation has been won from the richest gold areas the world has ever seen. The relics and sites echo past glories and hardship. Take a walk amongst it and see some of our national treasures and the towns that have many stories to tell. You can visit some of these places that are full of history and see the mines that were centre stage during the Gold Era.
The Carman's Tunnel first came into existence around 1882, and the mine was deserted after progerssing 600 metres, as it was not producing enough gold. Named after the gully in which it is found, there are 570 metres of near level tunnel to explore. An informative guide will lead the underground tour and provide helmets. Lighting is installed along the way and there is no great need for specific footwear. You will view mining tools and a workers retreat, and a rudimentary dining area. The experience will make you wonder at how tough life was and guess the daily effort and hours for which they toiled.
Tours are held; Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays and School Holidays-except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and Good Friday. Tour times are ; 1:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:30pm. Each tour takes approximately 30-40 minutes and parties may be limited to twenty persons for ideal viewing. The tours are wheelchair friendly. Special arrangements can be made through the Visitor Information Centre for weekday visitors. Admission fees are $7.50 for adults and $2.50 for children. School and Charter Bus tours can also be arranged. The minimum charge is $30.00. Enquire about a night tour or hire the venue for meetings. The mine is located on Parker's Reef Road, about 2.5 kilometres south of the town-see Google maps. For bookings phone; 03 5475 2656 or email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Underground fittings for miners showing a covered vertical shaft and dining area
The Beehive Mine is easy to find because the chimney is visible from quite a distance. The towering chimney is 30 metres high, and makes a prominent land mark and is testimony to excellent brick work skills. Drive up hill which is north through town and take the right fork onto Main Street. You will see it on the right just past Phoenix Street. The site extends from the Vintage Machinery Museum to the Goldfields Steam Train station. The mine was founded in the late 1850's and was open cut firstly. The miners had 30 foot square claims and the amount taken was not sold through the bank and quantities are unknown. A company was formed after a meeting of the mining groups, the ground was difficult and combined efforts required. After 3 years the mine reached a depth of 300 feet the mine became flooded. The company was expanded and 30,000 shares sold. New engines, boilers, and a battery and pump were purchased. The recorded production after the miners rallied to form the company was 21,000 ounces, which is amongst the best of Victoria's gold production figures.
You can find a brochure with a simple map from the Visitor Information Centre, just near the Y shaped junction in the middle of town-which is 93 High Street; ph 03 95475 2569 or visit their website. The centre is open 9 am to 5pm daily except Christmas Day.
The North British Mine is another story of consolidation and success. It is located just across the road near Carman' Tunnel, and has a good sized carpark, amenities and picnic tables. There are plaques with photos and information located around the site. The most interesting area is probably the quartz kilns. There are remnants of various other buildings too, but only the original photos can give a good clear idea of the size and complexity of the mine site. Mining commenced at Parkins Reef at the site in 1857, and the several small companies combined and became the Parkins Reef Mining Association during the 1860's. Failing 4 years later, 3 partners bought the claim and Robert Dent Oswald bought out the other 2 partners within a year with money from success from partnerships in other mines. Following the 1870's depressed state of mining, Oswald finally had great success and in the 1880's at 150 feet, rich pay dirt was found. After the finds and refurbishment, the mine reached production of 50,000 ounces and Oswald died in 1891. Trustees continued the mines operation until 1926 and it was the second last to close, with final figures over 242,000 ounces and a historical chapter closed with it.
When you have had a good leg stretch around the mines, you can take a trip up to the lookout tower, or grab a bite from the fine eateries in town. There are plenty of attractions to fill a long weekend, or a leisurely week if you wish. The accommodation list is extensive, and will fit all budgets. You can camp or caravan, or find a boutique bed and breakfast. Maldon will certainly leave a 'smile on your dial' and you will return home relaxed. Don't forget there steam train rides and the locomotives are beautifully restored. For more information see the Visitor Information Centre website.