Historical information

The photo from 1907-8 is a sepia print, depicting a small valley with building at base. There are flumes visible above areas of water, trees on hills and a few small cottages on the hillside. Cock's Pioneer Gold & Tin Sluicing Co NZ No 2 Site. The photo was taken of Matthews Gully looking west. Sluicing was undertaken in the area from 1900 to 1942 with some short breaks between these periods. The image depicts a location mined by Cocks Pioneer Gold and Tin Sluicing Company (as recorded on the annotation on the card mount)

The Cocks Pioneer Gold and Tin Mines N.L was one of El Dorado's two largest open cut sluicing mines of the 20th Century. The other was named the Cocks El Dorado Gold Dredging Company. The Cocks Pioneer Mines operated from 1901 until 1941 and found a total of 117,378 ounces of Gold and 1,673 tones of tin concentrates over these years. The Cocks company was formed in 1898 and operated until 1941. Open cut sluicing involved the use of high-powered hoses which used the centrifugal sand pump system (known as hydraulic sluicing) which broke down the soil which was then processed for gold and other precious metals. From 1914 , four years after this image was captured, the company reformed to Cocks Pioneer Gold and Tin Mines NL (previously it was known as Cocks Pioneer Sluicing Co) and undertook large scale sluicing operations until 1929 and then 1934-1941.

El Dorado is located on Reedy Creek and is surrounded by forested country to the north and east. It is 20 km east of Wangaratta in Victoria's regional north-east. John Cock was the son of a Cornish minor who arrived in El Dorado in 1858. Cock founded his gold and tin mining company which ran successfully for many years in the El Dorado region. It was an open cut sluicing company because of the abandonment of underground mining after this was deemed too dangerous. In 1935 Cock's El Dorado Company commissioned the floating dredge which is still visible in El Dorado today. The dredge was built by the Thompson engineering works, Castlemaine, and weighed over 2,000 tones and today has a place on the Victorian Registers of historic buildings.

Interestingly, the name El Dorado does not derive from the gold in the region, but from the Barambogie pastoral run completed by William Baker in 1840-1841. Gold was discovered in El Dorado 1854 but the gold was too deep for individual prospectors to find, it required the use of heavy machinery.


The search for gold is ingrained into the history of Victoria and therefore, images like this one which portray an open cut sluicing site can reveal important information for society and technology for the date when the photograph was taken. This image is of important historical significance for its ability to convey information about sluicing and the methods used to find gold in 1910. It also shows a location where sluicing was undertook which provides insight into the impact of sluicing on the environment at a time when it was done.

This image is important for current research into the history of El Dorado, a small regional location near Wangaratta in Victoria's North East. Therefore, this image has the capacity to be beneficial for research into society and the motivations of those living and working in this region during this period and therefore, has social significance. The Beechworth Burke Museum has additional images relating to gold sluicing and El Dorado which can be analysed and studied alongside images like this one.

Physical description

Sepia coloured rectangle photograph printed on gloss photographic paper

Inscriptions & markings

1997. 2613/ A02613/
No2 site/ Matthews Gully/
Cocks Pioneer G&T. ?? Co NZ/
No2 Site looking West/