Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Anzac Weekend - 25 April 2008 - Glassford - Mt Jacob Goldmine

We departed Rocky just after 9am. Following us were John, Graham, Bevan & Leigh, and Dot & Ron. We sauntered down the highway to Calliope where we refuelled and had a cuppa at the little park next to Caltex. We had timed it perfectly, as the SES blocked off the road, and a F1-11 (I think) boomed across the Anzac Day march. 

Some of the group had not been to Boynedale previously, so a little detour was made to view

Castletower NP, the campground and the boat-ramp. A surprise along the road was a deer at the edge of a small dam. Time goes really quickly when you are enjoying yourself and my tummy started to rumble that it was lunchtime. Darryl and I had planned to do a short sortie before lunch, but the rumbling decreed that we stop first at the old forestry barracks ground up at Builyan. After lunch we drove down to look at the bridge (which is now gated off), and to the southern edge of the park to look at the palm stands. A trip around to the northern side, where logging is currently underway, afforded beautiful views of tree cloaked rugged mountains. Some in the group could even see several coal ships waiting offshore for loading at Gladstone. We collected some old dry wood for a campfire and headed back to set up for the evening. Prior to Happy Hour Darryl took a walk to the small nearby dam.

After dinner we went spotlighting along the road but only spotted a possum and a bat.

Most seemed to sleep well, and in the morning the campfire was stoked and breakfast cooked. All the intrepid walkers took off in 3 of the 4-wheel drives while I remained at the campsite. I pottered around doing a little tidying up, having a lazy breakfast of crispy, smoky bacon, fried eggs and mushrooms, and hot coffee. I then spent the day reading, and dozing only disturbed slightly by some people who drove by, then set up camp out of sight. The others found the Mt Jacob goldmine (see the end for Darryl’s story about their walk) and returned in the late afternoon just in time for happy hour.

All the walkers slept well, and again we were woken by the early risers getting the fire going. Breakfast was finished, and everyone packed up their gear in time for a 9am departure. We headed down the range to Many Peaks. Here Rhonda and Phil, who had come up that morning, met up with us just after the pub. First stop was the Many Peaks Railway dam, which, we were extremely surprised to find, was full of water. Ducks flew off as we approached. Our convoy hit the road and headed for Child's Road. On this corner is the attractive old Glassfordvale Homestead. We arrived at Upper Glassford in time for morning tea, and enjoyed the shade of the old mango tree which is purported to have grown up through the steps of the old pub (since there were 3 pubs we think the Glassford Hotel is the most likely candidate). Darryl led off, showing the group the sunken level areas along the hill, which we think might be house-sites.

We then headed across the creek and up to the machinery area where we admired the brick cellar with a tree growing up in it – possibly the Mansfield's Hotel cellar (also known as the Commercial Hotel, once run by Rhonda's relation John Thomas Broom Howard). From here the first other major feature is the brick chimney, and then down to the creek to peer over the edge of the glassy black slag heap. Then we headed up to look at the stone retaining wall, blown out boiler and second brick chimney. Further north is the remains of the tunnel of the Blue Bag mine.

 A yellow biological hazard sign warns against entry into the mine, due to the habitation by bats, but even peering in the entrance was further deterred by a large pool of water at the entrance. From this point Darryl took the more hardy souls up the zigzag railway to look at the shafts at the top, and on up to the brick magazine store. The rest of us headed back to see if we could locate the cemetery. We walked up and down unsuccessfully, as we know there is at least one concrete slab, we thought we would recognise it. When the others returned we joined them to go and have a look at the stumps, which are the remains of the school, and then down into the creek-bank to be amazed at the brick chimney remains of Saunders house (I have since heard that perhaps this was actually the mine manager’s house, and just built by Saunders). By now it was time for lunch, so we hastened back to the cool shade of the mango tree for refreshments. Darryl thought he might be able to locate the cemetery, and went off before Rhonda and I joined him in the fruitless search. Eventually we knew that time had run out, and the group drove down to look briefly at the location of lower Glassford, before taking the precarious track up and over the hill to the Chinese Markham's gardens. We had been worried that with recent heavy rains, the track might be impassable, but it was all fine and most of the 4x4s followed us down. A tree had fallen which means that you can no longer drive in quite as far. The gardens consist of terraces with mango and other trees, and stone walls. John located the tree and stone circle which apparently marks the location of the grave of Ten Wong a Chinese worker buried in 1902. As we were leaving, a dead possum fell out of the mango tree..very strange! After this detour our group stopped at the gate at the entrance to the NP to say our goodbyes, and Graham to pick up his vehicle. We took off South with Rhonda & Phil, and others were going to various other locations.

Mount Jacob Mine
Saturday morning we left camp around 8 am and headed off to organise the cars for the car shuffle. After parking one of the troopies at the top of the ridge, we set off to find the start of the fire break which we were advised to follow. The gate, where we were told to leave the cars, was only a short distance off the road and after parking the vehicles, we headed off down the track to the Boyne River.
At the Boyne River we followed the firebreak as it zigzagged across the river several times before the track divided. Unfortunately, I chose the better track that initially headed towards the mine but very quickly petered out to follow a creek that led into a valley. After Ron pointed out where he thought we were, we retraced our steps for a short distance and then headed up a spur to stop for morning tea. After the break, we walked down the spur to cross the river and rejoin the track on the other side of the river.
We continued on following the firebreak up the river until we found the rusting, abandoned machinery at Mount Jacob Mine. After taking photos, we investigated the area to see if we could work out the location of the mine. After lunch beside the river, Graeme and I climbed up to the tailings and we think we found the now collapsed entrance to the mine.
After that we headed up river along the firebreak past the bottom section of a stamper, abandoned in the river and left to corrode. Just before, the river turned into a gorge, the firebreak we followed from the gate, headed off to the left and we left it to rock hop up the river to the start of the spur. I was impressed with this part of the river as the river was still trickling over the rocky base through numerous pools. One of the larger pools had a school of startled black bream. This inaccessible part of the river still had some of the large Gum trees dotted with the occasional Hoop Pines. A bit further past this pool I was relieved to find the start of the spur and sent the drivers up to the cars. I am told it took them an hour to climb the 255m out of the gorge and follow the spur to the troopie, and by the time the remainder of us walked up at a leisurely pace, taking time to appreciate the view, Bevan and Graeme returned with their vehicles to carry us back to camp. I calculated the walk to be about 12 km and it took us about 8 hours to complete the walk. 

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