The Denison Diggings

The Denison Diggings

Featured Image: ‘The Denison Diggings’ Map drawn by Mrs Hazel Cox of Ganmain

It appears to me that the discovery of gold near present day Moonan in the early 1860s had a profound impact on the township of Scone. The latter was the main supply depot at a distance of c. 35 miles. It was a ‘hard ride’! I present the following reports extracted from Trove.


See: 06 Nov 1855 – THE DENISON DIGGINGS. – Trove (

WHILST quartz-crushing is almost daily opening up and developing the auriferous treasures of Victoria, the recent discovery, in New South Wales, of an extensive gold field in the Northern District, on the head waters of the Hunter, gives promise of effecting a highly beneficial change in this colony, by providing a fresh source of labour, and increased wealth, which will necessarily result in a healthy impetus to trading transactions.

Messrs. Ward and Simpson, the discoverers, state that whilst crossing the country, in the locality of this new gold field, where attention was attracted by a quartz vein, and on breaking up some of the quartz they perceived that gold was dispersed through it. They also noticed other well-known indications of the presence of gold, such as the prevalence of tilted quartz, trap, and granite, which induced them to prospect the locality.

Accordingly, on the 6th of September last, with such implements as they could procure from a neighbouring sheep station, they set to work and procured some ounces of pure gold. In no part of their prospect did Messrs. Ward and Simpson sink deeper than eighteen inches, and they have taken as much as six pennyweights in small nuggets from one dishful of earth.

They also procured two pieces of half an ounce each “crevicing”. The extent of the district throughout which gold was obtained is 35 miles from north to south, and 20 miles from east to west. The lead of gold was found to run nearly north and south from Gulf Creek to the Hanging Rock, and it is the opinion of the discoverers that these diggings will answer either winter or summer, as there are many dry gullies containing gold and creeks from which the water can be carried off by means of bark shoots. This discovery has created some excitement, particularly in the immediate locality. The distance of the Denison diggings from Sydney is about ____________ miles.

We have been favoured by a gentleman who has just returned from a visit of enquiry to the Denison diggings, on the head waters of the Hunter, with the following account of what he ascertained on the spot. Our readers may rely with confidence on the faithfulness of the account. It still leaves the profitable or non-profitable character of the new diggings a question to be solved only by a little more labour from practical diggers:

Gentlemen – I embrace the earliest opportunity of handing you a few brief but impartial notes of a trip to the Denison diggings. Omitting the details of our journey, we started from Maitland on horseback, on Thursday morning, the -th inst., and reached the locality in question on the afternoon of the following Saturday. Previous to reaching there we met 53 return gold-seekers, (for the term “diggers” could not properly be applied to them, many of them, as we afterwards learned, never having put spade or pick into the ground,) almost all of them expressing in strong terms their dissatisfaction with the diggings, and condemning in no gentle language the conduct of Mr. Ward, in making such exaggerated statements concerning them, in spite of such a mass of unvarying evidence, we determined to go forward and see it there was sufficient cause for such discouraging reports.

We accordingly pushed on, and on arriving there we found four parties at work on the Flat, at the junction of Gulf Creek with the Moonan Brook. One of these parties, mustering four strong, had been at work for five days, sinking a hole, and washing such of the stuff as was thought likely to yield gold, but without any success. On the 6th day they succeeded in bottoming it at the depth of fifteen feet, and got what they called a speck- that is a piece just large enough for one to see. Another party, consisting ot three, had been six days at work, and got nothing. In that time they had sunk to the depth of l8 feet, raising their stuff by means of a lever purchase, and a rope and bucket made of green hide. They thought they might get gold when they reached the bottom, although the soil through which they worked gave no indications of its existence, and the water at that depth began to flow in almost as fast as they could bale it out. The other two parties, one of four, another of three, had also been at work for some days, but, us they stated, with only the result of a few specks.

Leaving the flat we proceeded up Gulf Creek, which is dry, and found 15 hands located on its banks, in different parties, and who all appeared to be labouring to some advantage. One of them showed us a piece of 15 dwts 16 grains which they obtained among the rocks in the bed of the creek, the day before we arrived. One individual, working by himself, had made out 4dwts in 4 days ; another, 5 dwts in the same time. Everyone working here appeared to be getting gold but certainly in small quantities. In addition to these findings, many of them are piling up washing stuff on the banks, waiting for the first rains to wash with, and from which they expect a fair amount of gold.

We went up the creek until we came to headquarters, where we found Messrs. Ward and Simpson, the original discoverers, who received us very courteously, and gave us every information and assistance we desired. Mr. Simpson handed us a dish full of earth, which he had just taken out of a hole in the bed of the creek, and said he believed we would find gold in it, if we washed it. We took it to the nearest water, and after putting it through the ordeal, found a small piece at the bottom of the dish, about 6 or 7 grains. The day after our arrival we picked out and washed 14 tins of stuff on our own account, and got as the result three small specks, which we brought with us. We afterwards cleared the bottom of a ledge of rock that ran in an oblique direction, quite across the bed of the creek, thinking, with some of the diggers, that it was a very likely spot. It was a work of no small labour, the rock dipping more than we expected; aided, however, by another hand whom we engaged, we got to the bottom, but without seeing any gold. Some water being at hand we cradled the stuff lying nearest the rock, but got only five very small pieces.

That there is gold there is beyond a doubt, but whether it can be got in sufficient quantities to pay for the working is a question that time and labour can alone determine. One great cause of discouragement at first, and what indeed necessitated many to return without giving these diggings a fair trial, was the absence of rations and digging implements. This evil is in some measure remedied, as a settler named Cook, living four miles this side of the diggings, supplies them with rations at a moderate price, and we met on the road a team from Scone, loaded with general supplies.

It is the opinion of many of the professional diggers that we conversed with, even of those who were unsuccessful, as well as the opinion of the original discoverers, that gold will yet be found in considerable abundance in these localities: Moonan Brook, Gulf Creek, Blue Mountain Creek, Oakey Creek, and Stewart’s Brook all giving indications of belonging to the class of gold-producing regions.

Hoping that the above rambling but reliable notes may profit or interest some of your numerous readers.

I am, Gentlemen, yours respectfully,


Since the above account reached us one of the diggers on Gulf Creek spoken of in the letter, called on us with his mate on his return towards Sydney. He is a practised digger, having been at California as well as several of the colonial diggings. He says that the accounts first published of the Denison diggings have deprived him and many others of the fruits of hard earnings, these diggings, so far as yet known, offering no chance for the single or the poor digger. He and his mate, after sinking several boles, got only “the color of gold ; “and he believes very little more was got by any who tried. But notwithstanding this, he expresses a confident belief, from the general character of the soil and the rocks, that there are heavy deposits of gold somewhere on these diggings, and that someday they will be found by parties having capital to enable them to continue prospecting and working for a sufficient length of time till they find the lead of gold. Till then he thinks single or poor diggers from a distance should not think of going to the Denison diggings.

Another party of five diggers, returned from the Denison diggings, including: amongst them experienced diggers, we met on Monday evening, and they gave a nearly similar account of their own luck, and an equally confident opinion that gold in quantity really exists on these diggings, but that they had not capital sufficient to stop and search longer for it. This is discouraging, but we may perhaps yet get some more favourable reports if any of the few diggers left should hit on a rich piece of ground. Meanwhile, as the Mercury has never intentionally over-praised the district diggings, or ran down other diggings, we think it our duty to publish all statements that appear.


The New Dennison Diggings 14th November 1855

Bottom of Form

Return of Mr. R Ward Junior

We have been favoured with the following communication from Mr. G. Denshire, Muswell

Brook: –

GENTLEMEN – I have the pleasure to inform you that Mr Richard Ward, Jun, accompanied by Mr. Walter Biddulph, returned to Muswellbrook on Saturday evening 10th instant, and the following oral testimony from Mr R.W. I beg, at his request, to lay before you and your readers. He reports then, that having visited Gulf Creek, and prospecting therein, the two were successful in procuring 9 ozs in ten days: and, from washing nine buckets of earth 1.5 oz of gold were obtained, with having to carry the washing stuff 200 yards to the water; and never sinking above four feet.

In prospecting the present spot, now occupied by them 0.5 oz gold, from three pans of earth, were secured: and half a mile above their place of working they have taken 0.25 oz from one pan of earth. On Saturday 3rd instant, Mr Biddulph, in “crevicing” with a pocket knife, got a nugget 0.5 oz. It is apparent that water is plentiful in Moonan and Armidale Brooks; and Mr. W. considers that fine gold is procurable from the drift at the junction of the for- with the Hunter River.

Now, as it appears, should these localities prove attractive (of which there is every geological and natural probability), that there is ample working room for 20,000 men. Moonan having the depository of all the smaller creeks containing gold, and Armidale being similarly located, the grand desiderata are, a good supply of tools, and an abundance of provisions “Diggers,” say Messrs Ward and Biddulph, “forget not to provide picks, shovels, dishes, and cradles” The creature comforts are daily expected, several parties having set about sending down drays for the purpose. I may add that Moonan Brook is 22 miles long and has a running stream both in winter and summer. Mr. Ward met with an awkward accident, through his horse taking a sudden leap down a precipice laying him up from Sunday, the 4th, to the Wednesday following” but which I mention to show that, had he been working all the time of his exploration, more gains would most probably have arisen from his exertions.

I append a copy of a letter from Mr Biddulph to me. Messrs Ward and Biddulph purpose going back to the “Denison Diggings” tomorrow, and several other parties are intending to dip into the lucky bag of Dame Fortune – I remain, Gentlemen, yours truly, G. DENSHlNE Muswell Brook, Nov. 12 1855.


“Denison Diggings” 6th Nov 1855.

“Dear Mr Denshire-You may expect to see us backat the latter end of this week or the beginning of next. Good luck has attended us, with the exception of Richard getting a bad fall on Sunday.

“I got half an ounce of gold by scratching with mv knife. Tools are much wanted up here, about five to a shovel, and the pick continually on the go – first one, then another borrowing it.

‘No doubt there is plenty of gold and plenty of men are travelling up to try for it. Also I think it would pay well to send flour, tea, sugar and alops up here. A license for slaughtering has been taken out for this

Till we meet, dear Denshire, I remain yours &c. –



“To Mr. George Denshire, Postmaster, Muswell Brook”

The following letter, received by a gentleman in Maitland from his brother, who is at present at the above diggings, has been kindly handed to us for publication.

Prospect Point, Gulf Creek,

Denison diggings Friday evening

MY DEAR BROTHER -We arrived here on Tuesday evening last, there were only two parties taking on the creeks then, one of whom have been, and are still, doing very well. We had another addition last evening – a party from the Rocky – so we now muster quite strong after the day’s work is over. There is no question there is a great deal of gold here, but whether it will be found sufficiently productive to draw a mob nothing but its’ being worked by a large number of men used to that description of labour will show. One great drawback is there not being any place that rations, tools, &c. can be obtained nearer than about 30 miles ; and until there are more consumers there is not sufficient inducement for anyone to risk sending supplies on to the ground, the road being for a considerable distance very bad in fact almost unpassable.

We have built ourselves a gunyah now, and are pretty snug; if it comes on wet, as it keeps threatening, we shan’t hurt much. Our prospecting has not produced us anything beyond a few specs yet, and am afraid not very likely to much more. We shall most probably return about Wednesday or Thursday next; we shall then, before we start, know what success the fresh hauls have up to that time, and also whether there are any fresh arrivals. I don’t suppose there will be any great numbers till after the shearing and harvest are over, but then I think there will.

Wednesday mid-day

We have had two more arrivals this day – old diggers, from the Rocky, one party consisting of four, the other of three. I must now conclude this, as the individual who will post it (about 30 miles from here, the nearest place), is just about to start. A gentleman who went up to the Denison Diggings returned last evening, and was kind enough to give us the following particulars: –

After he arrived on the diggings (Gulf Creek) Mr Ward’s party were only at work, and since then two or three other parties arrived, and all were doing very little else than prospecting. One of the parties in sinking a few feet found a nugget nearly an ounce weight, and another party, arriving on last Saturday afternoon, also found gold. The diggers appear perfectly satisfied that these diggings will turn out profitable, and a party from the Hanging Rock was talking bringing his party to convey the water from the Moonan Creek to the Gulf Creek, as the water was rather scarce at the latter place.- Numbers were met on the road, proceeding to try their luck ; and it is the intention of our informant to return in a few days. The road is pretty fair, and no commissioner or other person from the Government, has been there to take charge, or issue licenses.


The Denison Diggings 12th May 1866


We extract the following description of the Denison diggings, and the road leading thereto, from the “Ramdom notes” of the Herald’s “Wandering Reporter.”

The road from Scone lies almost due east up the course of the Page, now crossing the flats that border the river, now rising and falling over some short ridge that turns the course of the stream, when there is one- for not a drop of water was to be found in the bed of the river and then crossing the river itself. In this way the Page is crossed some eight or nine times, until at last the Hunter is reached. Here we find a bright running stream, but so attenuated that with a good spring it may be jumped over; and at a distance of some twelve miles from Scone we come to Bellevue, a small store recently erected, with a sheep station and cultivation paddock connected with it.

Following up the course of the river for about twelve miles, sometimes over rich flats, at others over scrubby stoney ranges, we cross it again some half dozen times, and reach Belltress, a very beautiful station, the property of one of the White family, having a large extent of rich cultivation ground, all utterly valueless in this dry and hot season, without the slightest trace of verdure upon it, and so hard and baked as to render ploughing it an impossibility. The property, however, is a very beautiful one, and has a most picturesque appearance even in these days of drought. Situated on the banks of the river, the family residence is surrounded by a mass of bright green, from the fruit and ornamental trees with which the garden ground is stocked. These form a perfect oasis upon which the eye, wearied with the monotonous brown of the hill sides, and the dark green of the indigenous timber, rests with the intense pleasure.

A range of three high-peaked conical hills rising up immediately from the opposite bank of the river, with towering masses of mountains showing themselves behind, form a background that is seldom excelled either in grandeur or beauty. A few miles further on we cross the Hunter for the last time, and passing over a gap of a high mountain range we fall upon Moonan Creek, an important tributary to the head waters of the Hunter. Following this up, and without incident of any kind, save one of a somewhat suspicious character, but to which I do not at present feel myself justified in alluding, we come at last to the Denison, after a journey of some thirty-six miles, over what I then considered about as rough a road as a dray could travel.

My subsequent journey-ings between the Denison and Nundle have altered this opinion; and I give that route the palm over any other I have ever seen in the colony for everything that can be imagined in the shape of difficulty, whether it be up hill or down. The Denison township would be a very pretty little place, if seen under other auspices than those which attended my visit. It is situated some distance up Moonan Creek, though not so far as to have the mountains encroaching too heavily on the valley through which the stream finds its way. This valley occasionally opens out into flats of a few acres in extent, allowing plenty of building room, and here and there a paddock patch. The hills-or I ought rather to say the mountains-shut it in on every side, the interlocking spurs from either side apparently closing it to both entrance or exit. The population numbers 119 souls, consisting of 41 men, all engaged in mining, 21 women, and 57 children. The men are particularly hard working, steady, and orderly-so much so- that I was told in Scone, in which police district it is situated, that no case from these diggings had yet been brought before the bench. The houses are all neatly and substantially built, in bush style, of slabs, roofed with bark, and many of them have little gardens attached and securely fenced in. During the present season, they are only gardens in name, for hardly the appearance of vegetation is to be seen in them. The mountains also, are not only dry and parched, but absolutely bare of feed, giving a most miserable air to the valley, which at this season ought to be green with verdure on all sides, and to have I the look of one large garden. ‘

Moonan Creek is a beautiful running stream, but so decreased in volume by the long-continued drought, that sufficient water is not obtainable for working the water-wheels on which the reefers rely for the motive power of their crushing machines. There are two eight-stamper water mills erected by the side of the creek. One of these is laid up altogether for want of water, and the other has barely supply sufficient to work four stamp heads, instead of eight, its usual number. They are worked by overshot wheels 16 feet in diameter, and when having the ordinary supply of water work with a force equal to about 8 hp. There is also a steam engine working 12 stampers, but this has long been out of work, being now’ held by a mercantile firm to repay certain advances made to the former owners. These are on the eastern side of the creek, the main shafts being about two miles distant from what may be called the township. It is known as Fuller’s reef, and is worked more or less along a length of 4 miles, for though the out-crops have received other names, such as the Prince Albert, Antonio, Crow’s Nest, and so forth, they are all continuations of the one reef running N. 33 degrees E.

Upon this, at the spot known as Fuller’s Reef, where it has been worked the most extensively, eight shafts have been put down, striking the six inches to seven feet, the reef getting wider as it descends, and the stone turning poorer as the reef gets thicker. Spratt’s shaft has been put down to a depth of eighty-five feet, and has turned out 1G7 tons of stone, yielding 185 oz. The next shaft, Shepherd’s, is down 130 feet, and has produced 284 tons of quartz, which gave 428 oz. Welsh’s shaft is down seventy-five feet. 348 tons of stone have been passed from it, and the return of gold has been 407 oz. Campbell’s shaft is down 140 feet, and 144 tons of quartz, yielding 88 oz. of gold, have been procured from it. On the prospecting claim, from the surface where the reef cropped up down to about twenty feet, 211 tons of stone have been raised, yielding 157 oz. of gold. The Company’s workings extend from Campbell’s shaft for 140 feet along the line of the reef. These workings have been very extensive, large quantity of stone having been raised from them. The amounts I have given above are those produced from the opening of the reef in 1861, up to May of last year. Since then the company have raised and crushed the following quantities of stone, viz :-30 tons, yielding 88 ozs. l8 dwts., or 2 ozs. 19 dwts. G grs. per ton ; 25 tons yielding 77 ozs. 5 dwts., or 3 ozs. 1 dwt. 19 grs. per ton ; 20 tons yielding 43 ozs., or 2 oz. 3 dwts. per ton ; 28 tons yielding 115 ozs., or 4 ozs. 2 dwts. per ton ; 12 tons, yielding 22 ozs. 15 dwts., or 2 oz.’ 1 dwt.. 12 grs. per ton; and 24 tons, yielding 36 ozs., or 1 oz. 10 dwts.

Besides this, the company’s machine has done some crushing for other parties, but they have been mainly of stone prospected on different portions of the reef, and have given an average return of about half an ounce to the ton. The party working on the Swamp Oak reef in June last came across a rich nest of nuggets and specimens, obtaining from a crushing of 40 lbs. of quartz, 36 ozs. of gold. Thinking themselves in luck they got another parcel of stone of about five tons, from the immediate vicinity of the lucky find, hut on being crushed, this quantity gave only 5 oz. 5 dwts., or 1 oz. 5 dwts. per ton. A lot of nine tons, procured immediately after, gave only 4 oz. of gold, or about 9 dwts. to the ton. This record brings the crushings up to the middle of November, since which time very little work has been done, owing to the scarcity of water.

On the continuation of the reef on the opposite side of the hill, Shepherd’s party have had three parcels crushed, of l8, 22, and 21 tons each, and these have given respectively a yield of 1 oz. 2 dwts. 17 grs., 3 ozs. 1 dwt., and 2 ozs. 19 dwts. At the Walchuian’s claim, the first crushing of 54- tons gave a yield of 3 oz. 6 dwts. to the ton. This yield fell in the next crushing to l8 dwts., and subsequently a lot of 10 tons gave a yield of only 16£ dwts. Mr. Collett’s claim was on a continuation of this reef, and this gentleman, at considerable expense, put in an audit or tunnel, ,but upcoming discouraged when he had reached a distance of 126 feet, he gave it up. The claim was subsequently taken up by another party, who, after penetrating only some three or four feet further, struck the reef and obtained good payable stone.

As I have said before, work is now perfectly at a standstill from the want of water.


Scone and the Dennison Diggings


STARTING from Murrurundi, by a midday train, I arrived at Scone, a distance of 25 miles, just a little too late for dinner. It was the Sabbath Day when I arrived, and a fitting township I found Scone, partaking as it does more of the village, to spend a day of rest. The celebrated Denison Diggings lie 35 miles in an easterly direction from the township, and early on Monday morning I made up mv mind to start for them. I had no horse, and to Dr. Creed, M.L.A., am I indebted for the loan of a good one to carry me there and back.

The horse difficulty settled, Monday morn found me on the road in a drizzling rain. Showers had fallen during the night, and the road commenced to get in the undesirable state commonly known as “greasy.” In consequence thereof I made but slow progress, as cantering was out of the question. Onwards, past stations and farms for 20 miles, every two, crossing a river or creek just fordable; this was lucky, for in 35 miles river or creek crossings to the number of

22 have to be got over, some of them wide and all flowing. Gates have to be opened and closed nearly all through the journey at a distance of two or three miles apart. At 20 miles Mr. White’s station “Belltrees” is passed (I may not be correct in the name).

From there the country becomes mountainous, and some of the wildest scenery I have passed through in this trip met my view. Hills, for the most part bare of timber, are clustered together in and over a valley between ranges of no mean altitude, at the time I passed them cloud and snow-capped. What timber that does exist over the hill sides has all been rung (killed), and the whitened arms of the defunct gums stand out like “weird monsters’ arms,” taking all kinds of fantastical shapes in the fading light. Truly it was a lonesome road to ride over on a wet cold evening. I was cold, numbed; in fact the rain was quite enough to wet, the air cold enough to freeze. Glad was I to stretch my mud-bespattered limbs before Warren’s (the hotel keeper) fire, and there formed plans for viewing the reefs and workings on the morrow.

Gold was discovered at “Denison” over ten years ago, and from that time the fortunes of the place have been fluctuating. Several lines of reefs were discovered, and for years worked, until down to a level where they proved too much for the miners engaged, the greater portion of who were mere amateurs in reefing. Good returns have been obtained from many of the lines worked in this way, but one by one they were abandoned, but few remaining on the field. Alluvial was worked in many of the gullies, and Denison at one time had a fair escort return to its credit.


To give an idea of how the reefs are situated a brief description of the country will be necessary. With lofty ranges on each side flows the Moonan Creek, a heavy stream of water running nearly east and west. Into the Moonan, from the north, a creek named the Gold Digger winds its way down a gully running through a break in the range. Where the Gold

Digger junctions the township stands consisting of two hotels, a store kept by Mr. Campbell, and a fair sprinkling of weather-proof huts—weather-proof they need be, for the climate in winter is very severe. On the sides and tops of the ranges, close to the town, the outcrops of the reefs were found, and so lofty were the claims that cuttings on the zigzag principle had to be made to cart or pack the stone grassed from the reefs at work. The idea of tunnelling, strange to say, never entered the heads of the claim-holders for years, and it was not till lately that practical miners turned their attention to the abandoned lines and started tunnelling from the gullies’ level.

On Fuller’s reef I visited the ground held by the Denison Gold Mining Co., there I found one of the working hands just about to start in with the track along the tram. Procuring a light I groped my way to the end of their tunnel, now in 660 feet ; a party of five still driving on contract at £2 3s. per foot, going in with the reef, which throughout at that level is nearly 4 feet thick. This level is hundreds of feet below the original shaftings on the hill side, one of which is down over 200 feet. The reef runs north and south, the underlay varies at times east, but may be termed west. The stone is not at this level rich, although it gives fair promise of being payable; the returns vary from 4 to l8 dwts,; the rock a “kellus” is hard, but shoots well. An opportunity is here afforded by this tunnelling enterprise of working a payable reef with a “grand chance” of its improving at any hour. The quartz is milk white and charged with mundic. I fancy that to burn before crushing would be advisable. A party of wages men work at a higher level on the reef. The company has its own machine, recently erected on the Moonan Creek, a considerable distance from the claim. The stone will, therefore, have to be carted. I and others, when speaking on the subject, agreed that it would have been advisable to place the machine close to the claim, where a good site could be obtained for it, and the quartz shot from the trucks to the stampers. To counterbalance this, where the machine is at present a plentiful supply of water was and is obtainable to work a waterwheel; there might have been a difficultv to introduce water to the claim, but that could be surmounted The machine is one of 10 stamps, 7 cwt. each working in two batteries, and the tables copper and blanket are on the latest principles.

The machine was manufactured by Russell, of Sydney, and, as soon as a broken pinion is put to rights, will commence crushing. Mr Martin is the general manager; Mr. Landrigan the underground captain. Joining the northern boundary of the company, Johnston, Anderson, and party have a lease on the Blue Mountain reef, where Collett and Co., some time since put in a tunnel 5OO feet. Work will soon commence, two men are at present busy making preparations. From the Fuller’s Reef I crossed the gully, here called the ” Blue Mountain,” to the Swamp Oak reef, an abandoned line for years, now taken up by a party of practical men. Usher, Johnstone, and Co., have 8 acres, and are down on a well-defined body of stone, running N. and S., and about 2½ feet thick. Here I saw some good golden stone that ought to render a good account at the mill. Sixty tons are grassed, and crushing will soon commence. I descended their two shafts, one is at 75, the other at 67 feet ; below I was much pleased with the appearance of the reef, which is well defined. A little surface water renders baling now and then necessary. Werbeck and Co. are tunnelling for the same vein now in 145 feet. No. 1 south, Dickie, Wilson, and Brien, 8 men’s ground, have a tunnel in 110 feet, and expect every shift to cut the vein. No 2. South is a 10-acre lease, Dickie, Johnston, Richards, and others.

The reef in this lease shows on the surface, and the party waits the result of No. 1 tunnel before commencing work. North, O’Brien, and Co., hold a lease of 10 acres, and in it two lines of reef have been found on the surface, gold bearing; No. 2 North, Carroll, Grabb, and party, a 10-acre lease. This Swamp Oak line ought soon to yield good returns; I have no doubt of it proving payable, and if worked as well as it has been prospected profitable. Higher up the gully stands on the right, in the line of Fuller’s Reef, a conical hill, 300 feet high, called “Fuller’s Nob,”

On the summit a good vein bearing gold has been prospected, and an 8-acre amateur lease taken up by Messrs. Creed and Farmer. The surface prospects on the Nob are quite good
enough to warrant tunnelling, and no hill presents  such facilities for that class of work. This reef at  top is about 18 inches wide, and a trial crushing of the  stone from surface went 10 dwts. to the ton, with  poor gold saving machinery. A lease north, held by Oliver, Saunders, and Co., has good stone in a shaft down 30 feet.

The ” Blue Reef ” runs about 200 yards east of the ” Nob ; ” here in a six men’s claim, I saw a fine likely lender from surface to a few feet, about ten inches through. A six-men’s claim is held by Verran, Levick, and Gregory ; they are tunnelling, 72 feet in have cut a leader, and from position expect to cut the main reef  every day. Mr. Verran, late of the Braidwood district, is well known as an energetic prospector in gold, silver, tin, and other minerals. It is to be hoped that his reward, long overdue, will be found on the ” Denison. ”

Painters’ Reef four years ago was worked to a depth of 60 feet, on a reef eighteen inches thick; this gave a result of one oz. to the ton, but influx of water compelled the party to give it up. The ground has recently been worked by M’Kay, Simpson, and Co. ; they have tunnelled in 120 feet, and cut the lode two feet through, showing coarse gold, that stone is now being grassed. N0. 1 North, Brown and party, have rich specimens in the surface.

“Kenneth’s Reef” is situated on the Moonan Creek, a short distance from the township, on the Scone road. This reef, like all the rest, was formerly worked on the hill side, and forms a leader 10 to 18 inches wide, stone procured that gave 8 oz. to the ton, and one patch of specimens obtained were sold for £37 ; the same tale has to be told of this reef—water drove out the original proprietors. Three months since Messrs. Farmer, Drown, and Usher, with a strong party at their back, took up a claim for twelve men. Set in to work tunnelling with three shifts, and in less than twelve weeks have their tunnel in 160 feet; now they are crosscutting to the east, 20 feet in, expecting to cut the reef daily. The number of feet driven in a fair sized tunnel will give an idea how the party has worked; the stone is hard and all rock shifted has to be first shook by blasting.

Returning towards the township I had a look at some alluvial claims at work on the creek banks under a royalty of one pound per man per month. One party, the Denison Gold Sluicing Company, have their boxes rigged, and are about to commence washing. The names of the holders are Solomons, Collins, and Co. The stripping in the claim is about seven feet, the wash one foot. Two other companies have ground ready to set into, the “Jumper’s Downfall” and the “Ancient Miner.”

NE. of the township a reef has been leased, known as “Simpson’s.” The men employed are tunnelling to cut a lode which four years ago yielded 1 to 5 oz. to the ton, the reef showing l8 inches to 24 throug ; this lease I was informed has been floated into a company. The Welcome reef, N. E. of Usher’s line, has recently been leased by Seriel, Shepherd, and Co. On this 10-acre lease a shaft is going down on a vein 1 foot wide, showing good gold. The “Sir Hercules Robinson” is a line of reef half a mile from the town. The prospecting claim was taken up by Messrs. Williams and Co. A shaft is down 75 feet; reef runs down all the way, averaging 15 inches, and looks well, as gold is visible in almost any stone broken. About 60 or 70 tons awaits the mill, expected to go 1 to 2 oz. to the ton. No. 1 North, eight men’s ground, worked by Howard, Lee, and Co., are driving a tunnel on the course of the veins, averaging 8 inches to a foot ; from this they can obtain very fair prospects. They will soon command 150 feet of backs to stope. The lode has every appearance of being a lasting one, and this, with others on Martin’s creek, ought to prove payable.

I was more fortunate in my return to “Scone,” as I was blessed with a fine day, and almost a dry road. Once in the township I lost no time, but had a look around the various objects which appeared to me interesting. The railway station is neat and commodious, as all the stations on the line are. Mr. George J. Ferris is the station-master. A large mill stands not far from the line, a four-story building as good as any I have seen throughout my tour. A 10-horse power engine works two pairs of 3½ feet stones, and in a day 100 bushels can be put through. The silk and smutting machines are of their class somewhat superior, and the boiler setting and engine fittings more substantial than those usually seen. This mill is now the property of Mr. James Little, whose store, a handsome building, stands close by. The district is a good wheat producer : an avenge of 30,000 bushels per year is the return.

The churches in the town are neat brick edifices, and are well situated The Rev John Shaw is the Church of England minister, the Rev F O’Hagan the Roman Catholic, and Mr Hugh Hossack a catechist holds service in the Presbyterian. The Public School is held in the Presbyterian Church. Mr Donald Gregg is the master, with 38 on the roll, and an average attendance of 28 children, small attendance mainly due to the existence of a Church of England Denominational school in the town, where, in a fine brick building possessing two large school rooms. One 20 bv l8 the other 21 by l8; 90 children attend daily the roll shews 122. The master is Mr John Cole assisted by Miss Ledger. A dwelling is attached, and the school furniture and ulterior fittings are really excellent

The Court house is a neat brick verandah building where Courts of Sessions are held twice in the year, and in the building the Savings Bank finds accommodation when required. Mr John Garrett is the Police Magistrate the Clerk of Petty Sessions, J J Thithire (?). The police quarters OTC good, the lockup is rather a substantial one, as it was originally intended for a gaol. Senior Sergeant Hynde is stationed in the township. He has two troopers and one lockup
keeper under him.

The School of Arts is situated at the south end of the town the building was originally a store, kept or owned by Mr Dangar An historical tree (a box) grows or stands close to this building. When that tree was a sapling in the year 1840, the notorious bushranger known as the Jew Boy with his mob of seven entered the town, and drove the entire population under or around this particular tree. This was the free and easy style adopted in those days by the bush ranging fraternity Times are more peaceful now, and on the spot I found a School of Arts, with papers, pens, pencils and a library of 600 volumes. President, Mr Wm Dumaresq; Vice President, Mr Alexander Johnston; Secretary, Mr J F Wilshire

In reference to the School of Arts, tenders have been called for a new building so Scone will shortly be graced with another ornament in the shape of a structure. The Post Office is presided over by a very old resident and his surroundings are all in keeping with himself -compact- for he is low in stature, but great in design Mr Trancia Isaacs possesses close
to his Post Office and Store a garden that is the envy of his neighbours, and the stock of grapes raised yearly on this well nurtured soil must be considerable.

A few statistics of Scone will close this rather lengthy article. The village was first formed in 1837. The town is backed by the Kangaroo Range on the one side and on the other the Middlebrook (?) water supply is generally raised from wells for domestic purposes, for stock the Kingdom Ponds or Creek provides a never failing supply.

Scone is, I believe, the nearest or best point to the turnoff for Mudgee, and as £700 has been put on estimates for the formation or clearing of the track to Merriwa, it is expected that a deal of traffic will fall to the town. The road will have many advantages, such as water and good camping grounds on the way. My attention will next be turned to the town of Muswellbrook, as it lies on my way to the city of Newcastle.


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Page identifier

APA citation

SCONE AND THE DENISON DIGGINGS. (1872, August 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2018, from

MLA citation

“SCONE AND THE DENISON DIGGINGS.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 22 August 1872: 2. Web. 2 Jun 2018 <>.

Harvard/Australian citation

1872 ‘SCONE AND THE DENISON DIGGINGS.’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 22 August, p. 2. , viewed 02 Jun 2018,

Wikipedia citation

{{cite news |url= |title=SCONE AND THE DENISON DIGGINGS. |newspaper=[[The Sydney Morning Herald]] |volume=LXVI, |issue=10,690 |location=New South Wales, Australia |date=22 August 1872 |accessdate=2 June 2018 |page=2 |via=National Library of Australia}}


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