The heritage-listed Pioneer Mine situated right next to Mitta Mitta was the site of a successful open-cut gold mining operation utilising the hydraulic sluicing method. Water races were cut bringing water from many kilometres away which was then used in large pressure hoses to release the dirt. The slurry was then passed through a sluice where the gold was trapped. The remaining water and materials were then removed from the mine via a tail race to the Mitta Mitta River causing considerable pollution. 441 Kgs of gold was extracted before the mine ceased operations in 1904, due mainly to the Federation Drought and the drying up of local water sources. Hours can be spent exploring the old mine and checking out the plants and animals in this wonderful amphitheatre administered by Parks Victoria.
One of the best examples of hydraulic sluicing in Australia
Explore the base of the mine, tunnels and mining artefacts
Check out the array of plants and bird life
Fossick through the stone and rubble heaps
The Union Gold Sluicing Company was set up in 1884 to take over some small claims behind the town and to raise sufficient capital to establish a much larger enterprise using hydraulic sluicing. The open-cut claim at Mitta Mitta was the third site in Australia to use this technology that originated in California and was the cause of much political agitation because of the down-stream pollution. Unfortunately the "Union" became hemmed in by the neighbouring "Pioneer" claim so it was decided to amalgamate both claims.
Union Claim before amalgamation with the "Pioneer"
James Albert Hedley was a member of the famous Hedley mining family and the leading figure in the development of the Union and Pioneer mines as well as reef and nearby tin mines. It was James who brought the hydraulic sluicing technology from Cobungra where James's younger brother was Mine Manager. The Pioneer company built James a house at Wombat Gully where he lived for 12 years until leaving to try his luck at the Klondike (Canada).
"Giant Nozzle" similar to that used at the Pioneer Mine.
The Pioneer Tail Race Tunnel runs under Wombat Gully and was used to remove the tailings from the mine. A hydraulic elevator was used to lift the material from the mine floor to the sluice, the material and water then ran through the tunnel, again elevated to pipes suspended over the Mitta River and dumped to what is now the Magorra Caravan Park. This solved one of the big problems of the mine being cluttered with debris from the sluicing process.