This photograph dates to 1899, towards the end of the gold rush in the Mopoke Gully area. A slurry of rocks after they have been broken up is depicted, and this is part of the hydraulic sluicing mining process. Four men are relaxing under a wooden structure, with a fifth bearded man standing near a stone wall. This photograph interestingly contains dogs alongside the miners. While dogs have been recorded as deterrents to thieves in the Victorian goldfields, these dogs appear as companions to these men.
Mopoke Gully mines came under the 'Fryer's Creek' division of the Castlemaine District during the Gold Rush. After the Gold Rush began in Victoria with the discovery of gold at Ballarat in 1851, Gold was found in Castlemaine by December of that year. 20,000 diggers were spread across the Castlemaine region, and the area was yielding about 23,000 ounces of gold per week.
Mopoke Gully was the site of the Mopoke Gully Water Wheel, operating under the Bendigo and Fryers Goldmining Company from 1887 until 1900. This Water Wheel was used in the gold mining technique of 'sluicing'. Hydraulic sluicing uses high pressure water jets to blast away the earth, which runs through a sluice box, catching the gold with all remaining slurry washing away. Hydraulicking is the process of breaking up the rocks and suspending it in a slurry. This Water Wheel was built the same year as the more famous 'Chewton Water Wheel', but was smaller in diameter (60ft as opposed to Chewton's 72ft). The Mopoke Water Wheel ruins are quite intact today, and are a registered archaeological site.
The search for gold is ingrained into the history of Victoria and therefore, images like this one which portray a 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 1899. 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 photograph reveals important information on the use of dogs on Victorian goldfields in 1899. Dogs were used both as companions, such as this photograph depicts, as well as deterrents to thieves.
Sepia coloured rectangular photograph printed on gloss photographic paper mounted on card.
Inscriptions & markings