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Wanted: Road and postal service for Metz

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Tue 22 Oct 1889

West Hillgrove Mines.

The population of Hillgrove West, or what is known as the Gara side of the Falls, is steadily on the increase, and now numbers between 150 and 200 persons. On this side are the famous Sunlight mine, Root Hog, Hack’s C.P., Princess Midas, and other well known mining properties, while one hotel has already been opened. Yet, so far as speedy postal communication is concerned, the residents of West Hillgrove might as well be separated by a greater distance from Hillgrove Mines proper. At present the mails are delivered at the Mines at the township of Hillgrove, and to get their letters, the residents of West Hillgrove have either to risk climbing up and down the Falls, or else to make a detour of 12 miles before arriving at the township of Hillgrove, while Armidale is only distant 16 miles. A daily mail runs past Mulligan’s, three and a half miles from West Hillgrove, and a bag for West Hillgrove might easily be left, if a small branch contract were arranged. A township has been laid out at West Hillgrove, and a road has been surveyed, and tenders called for the work of making it from Mulligan’s, Cooney Creek, to West Hillgrove, a distance of 3¾ miles. Since tenders were called for, however, nothing more has been heard of the road. We trust that these matters will not be allowed to lapse, as both the road in question and the establishment of a Post Office at West Hillgrove are urgently needed.

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Written by macalba

November 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

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Theft from Gara Hotel

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 16 February 1894

HILLGROVE. THURSDAY.

Two men, despatched by the Government Labour Bureau from Sydney last week, provided with miners’ rights, were arrested at West Hillgrove a few days afterwards, charged with having stolen a bottle of whisky at Gara Hotel. They were sentenced to one month each in Armidale Gaol this morning.

Written by macalba

September 30, 2011 at 8:09 am

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Hillgrove and its mines. Part I.

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Wednesday 19 August 1891, The Sydney Morning Herald

(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)

HILLGROVE, Aug. 17.

Nearly two years have passed since I first visited Hillgrove, and described its mines in the Herald’s columns. The town was then almost brand new, and fevered with mining excitement. Its two hotels were overstocked with visitors, South Australians, Victorians, Queenslanders, and New South Welshmen, all anxious for some of the many good things which were ready for floating. Two miles square of country was leased. Baker’s Creek Mme was regularly turning out immense stores of gold. The old Eleanora, under new management, was yielding its tons of antimony. Sunlight’s were dazzling many eyes. Norths, Primroses, Enterprises, Cosmopolitans, Lady Carringtons, Garibaldis, Roothogs, and Comets were blaring triumphantly. Machinery was ever on the way to the field. The great gulch known as the Falls was being perforated on every side. Dynamite charges kept up what was like the constant roar of artillery. Prospecting parties were out in various directions. Each evening brought crowds to the town. Specimens were in every hand, share quotations in every mouth. It was a jolly hopeful time. There was no such word as fail. Such was Hillgrove then. What is it now? Candidly, much better and much healthier than I expected to find it. The greater the fever the more enervating the reaction, is the rule with nearly all the mining fields. Hillgrove is the exception. It has undergone its reaction, and is speedily gaining strength. It is almost quite sound, and is likely to be ranked with the few permanent mining fields of this colony.

What are the signs of this convalescence? One, I take it, is the notice which I saw on Saturday last, the day after my arrival, stuck inside a broker’s office, “Fortnight’s output Baker’s Creek, 1050oz. ; Sunlight, 395oz.” Another is the fact the population of the field, which was never more than 3000, is now about 2200 persons. Several of the “good things” which did not meet expectations are being reformed. Work is proceeding steadily. There are six hotels in the town, and stores to match. Business people seem satisfied. Buildings are being erected. The cottages are being adorned with gardens. Up on the hill there is the hospital, with its accommodation for 10 patients. In the main street there is the new post and telegraph office. Close to the centre there are two branch banks, the City and the A.J.S. As I stroll I pass the 10-acre, closely-fenced block known as the recreation reserve. Each denomination has its church. The new convent school is just completed. The Salvation Army is building a huge barracks. Strolling further I find myself on the water reserve – 160 acres. I chat awhile with Mr H. J. Handley, an engineer from the Water Conservation Department, who is superintending the town’s water supply scheme, which will cost £8000. Messrs. Barrie and Spouncer, the contractors are at work and doing well. The reserve, a mile E.N.E. of the town, is securely fenced. The main reservoir, which will hold 25,000,000 gallons, is formed, with an embankment 450 yards in length, giving a depth of 22½ft of water. The inner face will have a coating of 6in. of blue metal, covered by 9in. of granite pitchers. Other parts will be turfed. The base of the bank is 150ft. wide, the top 10ft. A puddle trench, 5ft. to 8½ft. wide goes all along the bank’s centre. The greatest depth of the bank is 29½ft. The bye-wash is a cutting 50ft. wide, through rock. From this huge reservoir water will be pumped up through 6in. iron pipes 1600 yards, by a Worthinton pump, worked from a 10-h.p. steam steel boiler, to a service reservoir cut out of the solid rock, one mile north of and about 70ft. above the town. The service reservoir, which is about 200ft. above the level of the main one, will hold 200,000 gallons. It is about 62ft. square on top and 43 x 38ft. below ; depth, 10ft. It will be lined from the top about 5ft. down to the rock with 6in. of concrete. A 4in. iron pipe will be led from this down the centre of Hillgrove’s main sheet. Stand pipes and hydrants will be provided, but here the Government work ceases, and the townspeople must lay their own cross-mains. The work is now well forward. Pumps and boilers are on the ground. The main reservoir, which has an admirable watershed, is now fairly well stocked, so Hillgrove should have its water supply complete in less than three months.

Are these not signs of progress? And as I stand on the height from which the pure stream will gravitate, and glance over the gentle slope on which the town is built, I cannot help but think that the site is admirable in every respect. The streets are wide and clean, the opportunities for drainage perfect. At the lower end of the town the huge poppetheads of the Eleanora mine, its big smelting works, and ever-clattering battery give the place an air of solid industry. On the right, West Hillgrove and the Hopetoun plant are plainly discernible. Looking coastward the great extent of the Falls is made apparent, until one can almost fancy that the broad Macleay country is visible. All around the town are substantial proofs of industry, the Garibaldi-buildings being a prominent feature. Across the Falls, amid the fringe of heavy timber, the wattle is in full bloom. Tiny tracks are on each steep hillside. Half-a-mile down on the creek bed are the crushing works of the Baker’s Creek, Sunlight, and other mines in full operation. Hillgrove is alive and well.

How much bettor it would be if – ah ! even in the best fields there is that dread if – antimony were at its old value ? Two years ago this metal sold at £45 per ton. Its market price now is not more than £20 per ton ; and thus I am led from the luxury of the town to the hard work of my present mission. Mining inspection at Hillgrove is no easy task. Hawkins’ Hill or Hill End was a hard road to travel, but the clambering incidental to Hillgrove is more difficult than any adventures on the Turon. True, there are now the Baker’s Creek and Lady Carrington tramlines available. The track grades in some instances are somewhat easier than they were, but still the work is tiresome and tedious.

Mr E. A. Davies, the obliging, courteous warden’s clerk and mining registrar of the field, informs me that his receipts to the end of last month for this year were £1302. There were 57 applications for gold leases which averaged about 10 acres each, and 27 mineral leases about 25 acres each. This is not bad business. But Hillgrove has not a decent office for the registrar, nor has it a court-house. The business of both is conducted in a big ugly structure known as the Centennial Hall. This serves many purposes. On Sunday it has Salvation services. On Monday the judicial table and forms are placed in front of the stage, on which the gay drama sometimes holds sway. On Saturday nights the justice seat is removed, so that a ring may be formed and glove fights to a finish satisfactorily conducted. This is why people wish to know why Hillgrove has not a proper temple of justice with lockup, &c., attached, and they say that such was promised and the sums necessary for the building provided a long while ago, eye, even before antimony sustained a fall.

Armidale is 358 miles north by rail from Sydney, and Hillgrove about 23 miles by road east of Armidale. The road distance would be shorter by some miles if the Government would build “that” bridge across the upper part of the Falls. There is what in rainy seasons is a difficult creek to cross. One of our greatest statesmen was nearly sacrificed at this crossing; but still the bridge has not reached even the plan stage. I arrived on Friday morning last, about 8 o’clock, at Armidale. I should have been there at 6.30, the scheduled express time, if the very axle over which I was sleeping had not run hot. A great contrast indeed was it from heat to crisp frostness when we had all to turn out before 6 a.m. at McDonald River. A good breakfast at Armidale, however, made amends for all such suffering, and at 11 a.m. the Hillgrove coach bore me eastwards. At 2 p.m. I was at dinner in my old lodgings at Wade’s, Hillgrove. At 3 p.m. Mr. Wade had his buggy ready, and we started to visit the grand crushing plant recently erected at West Hillgrove for the Earl of Hopetoun mine. Hopetoun shares are at present a favourable stock in Melbourne. £100,000 capital in £1 shares. This company has spent £12,000 on machinery and about £8000 on mine and other developments, has 126a., and is expected to make a start with crushing in about a fortnight from the present date. Much is expected from it, perhaps too much. Speculators will be so very sanguine. For instance, the stone of which 350 tons are ready for the mill, may not go 4oz. to the ton, because it is not picked stone, and had to be got out under difficulties which will not occur when the stuff, instead of being stowed in out of the way places, can go direct to the machine. The plant is of the very best kind, and the mine, so far as my observation goes, admirably managed. A full description of both will form the subject of my second paper.

Written by macalba

April 2, 2011 at 8:03 pm

A day at the mines

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Saturday 12 August 1893, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

A Day at Hillgrove.

(Contributed )

Hillgrove, to speak in the language of the modern “Guide Book,” is a mining settlement situated on Baker’s Creek, in the county of Sandon, electorate of New England, and police district of Armidale, planted away in what metropolitan imaginations doubtless conceive to be the wilds of Australia – 389 miles from Sydney. It has communication by coach with Armidale, and boasts of such accessories to civilisation as a Public school, Anglican, Wesleyan, and Roman Catholic churches, a convent school, hospital, branches of two banks, several hotels and their almost inseparable accompaniments, a gaol and court house. The population is now well over 2000, and these figures are likely to be largely increased in the near future, as the district is rapidly developing and becoming one of the richest and most important mining centres in Australia, many minerals being won from the undulating hills and gorges in the neighbourhood ; but gold and antimony are just now the chief exports. Water is plentiful in the vicinity, a magnificent supply being conserved near the town, and a much larger scheme is being formulated for the mines. Recently the writer, with some friends, including Mr. H. T. Marsh, of West Maitland, with his amiable wife, had an opportunity of peeping at the “El Dorado of New England,” and what we saw may be interesting to some who will probably never look upon it.

It was on a Sunday morning that we left the Cathedral city of the North on our trip to West Hillgrove, for the town is divided by a deep gorge, one of many which intersects the country thereabouts, and which lend a wild charm and bold grandeur to the scenery which could scarcely be obtained in any other land under the sun, unless mayhap it be in America, that land of big things and apocryphal stories. Although the sun was nice and bright, the frost lay thick and white on all the sheltered nooks, and as we drove along we noticed that the little pools which nestled by the roadside were still frozen over. Our party consisted of two ladies and three gentlemen (without the driver), just enough to fill the drag comfortably and snugly. The horses were excellent animals, and as the roads were fairly good, the 16 miles which had to be cast behind were rattled over all too briefly in the crisp morning air, which made the blood tingle and brought the roses to the cheeks. As we neared what politeness and usage have designated “the township,” the usual array of hastily-built dwellings peculiar to mining villages from time immemorial met our gaze. These were scattered in all directions utterly regardless of future neatness or the requirements of streets, etc., and many of them were sufficient to make a departed architect turn and groan in his grave. The fences round these one or two-roomed mansions were in some instances rather startling affairs, and afforded us some little amusement. One in particular was evidently meant to be “fowl proof,” as some one suggested, for it consisted of thin saplings, about nine or ten feet high, placed closely together and bound with hoop iron, and no entrance to the sacred enclosure was visible.

We were driven to a hotel, and after divesting ourselves of wraps, etc., we sallied forth to the West Sunlight Mine, and there we were introduced to the manager, who proved himself a very courteous and efficient guide. The tramline there was working, so after some little hesitation we were persuaded to get on the truck, and run down to the mine. Looking down at this tramline from an eminence it appears to go over the edge of the cliff at the same angle as going over the side of an orange, but instead of completing the circle the line branches out somewhat. The comparison and simile may be a homely and incomplete one, but it is the best available, and may serve its purpose. Almost needless to say the ladies preferred to sit down in the truck whilst it rolled over the cliff’s edge, for it certainly did look as if one would pitch out headlong. However, that disaster being happily averted, and the awesome spot being left behind, they stood up and enjoyed the weird beauty of the scene with the rest of us. On one side were huge boulders of rock standing out bare and defiant, seemingly ready to fall at the least provocation ; on the other a long vista of the gorge, with peak after peak rising in the distance. A pheasant startled by the whirr of the tram rose on the wing, but was soon lost to view among the bracken and thick undergrowth about, and all around were trailing vines and mountain blossoms. The mine is situate about half-way down the falls, and the tram runs into a small platform cut away in the side of the mountain. On looking up one could scarcely believe it possible that a truck could go up and down such an incline. After leaving the platform we proceeded along a path (very narrow in some places) to get a good view of the ravine. And such a ravine ! From top to top it is about a mile across, and it sinks down 1500 feet. At the bottom the Baker’s Creek mine was clearly seen, and further along could be noticed the other mines half way up the side of the hills, as is the West Sunlight. In some places the cliff seemed to go down precipitously, and looking up, the rocks appeared to be almost overhanging us. It strikes one as passing strange that men could ever come to live in such a place-and all for filthy lucre. The manager assured us that the miners become so accustomed to going up and down that they think nothing of walking over to the other township after a hard day’s work even. On returning to the platform the manager asked if we cared to go down the shaft, and as we wished to see all there was to be seen we accepted the kind offer. The cage is on the same principle as a lift at a hotel, but, of course, not such a fanciful affair, merely consisting of the floor, four iron posts, and a bar across the top. The manager escorted the ladies down, as it would only carry three at a time, and we of the sterner sex followed. On reaching the bottom, a depth of 230ft., we were each provided with a lighted candle, and told to follow our guide and walk on the rails. This last piece of advice was warranted, for as we proceeded we found that unless we kept to the rails we would be walking through water over our ankles. The tunnel is 240ft. long, and varies in height from 10ft. to 12ft. ; and what with the water underneath, an occasional drip down one’s neck from above, and the cold and darkness combined, this part of the trip was not specially enjoyable. The manager was exceedingly kind in pointing out the different strata, etc. The stone from this tunnel is a whitish quartz, interspersed with a slatey formation which also carries a small amount of gold. I think, myself, that none of us were sorry to get back to the real sunlight itself, and breathe the fresh air again. After a short inspection of the stone standing in the trucks, we again “fixed” ourselves in the car, and the signal being given, we were drawn up the steep incline. Then we were kindly shown over the machinery and battery rooms. The first thing noticeable was the engine used for driving the stampers, of which there were ten head. Another frame for ten more was almost completed. Descending a few steps, we came across the winding drums used for raising the trucks from the mine. Passing into another room, we were shown the copper plates, blanket tables, Berdan pan, and other appliances necessary for the extraction of the precious metal. Then we went on to the retort house, and the method of separating the gold from the quicksilver was explained to us. The manager showed us some nice little specimens which bad been obtained from the mine. On our way back to the hotel we passed the two large dams used for the storage of water necessary for the working of the batteries. After lunch we walked over to the Sunlight mine, about three-quarters of a mile off. The country about here is evidently rich in many minerals, as we saw several shafts which were being worked for antimony, and others for schelite [sic]. After a little stiff climbing, we reached the top of the cliff, and such a wild weird scene as met our view cannot be described. As far up and as far down as we could see was this terrible chasm, varied here and there by precipitous cliffs jutting out into it. The township opposite was plainly to be seen, also the village at the bottom, and the various mines and tunnels dotted about here and there up the sides of the hills. From where we stood, the tramline attached to the Baker’s Creek mine appeared to go down the face of the hill almost perpendicularly ; but our guide informed us that, except in one part, it was not at such an angle as the one we had traversed in the morning. The Baker’s Creek line goes the full depth of the falls from top to bottom. The absence of timber on the hills would strike one as strange, but we were told that the trees had been felled for the furnaces. Once again we wended our steps back to the hotel, and were soon comfortably settled in the little drag, with our faces toward Armidale, which we reached safely at 7 p.m., after an enjoyable day’s outing.

Written by macalba

November 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Bushfires near Hillgrove

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Wednesday 4 January 1905, The Sydney Morning Herald

FIRES ALL ROUND HILLGROVE.

NARROW ESCAPE OF OCCUPIERS.

HILLGROVE, Tuesday.

The heat wave continues. The thermometer registered 105deg on Sunday and 103 yesterday.

There are bush fires all round, and the town is enveloped with smoke. Thousands of acres of grass and miles of fencing have been destroyed. The Hillgrove station paddocks were burnt out, also Messrs. Munsie’s, Golden’s, Faint’s, and Hopkins’ selections.

The fires reached the township of Metz yesterday, and were burning up to a short distance from it. The cemetery fence was totally destroyed, also Messrs Bindley’s, Chaffey’s, and Roberts’ residences. The inmates had narrow escapes.

A party of police and civilians is now out endeavouring to rescue a woman and her family in Rocky Paddock, who are said to be surrounded by fire. The husband is away from home.

Written by macalba

October 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Compensation for delicensing

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Saturday 31 December 1927, The Sydney Morning Herald

LICENSES REDUCED.

Northern Tablelands.

COMPENSATION £30,130.

The Licenses Reduction Board yesterday announced its determination in regard to the compensation to be paid to licensees and owners of premises in the Northern Tablelands electorate which are to be deprived of their licenses.

The total amount of compensation to be paid in respect of publicans’ licenses is £30,130. Of this amount owners will receive £17,170, and licensees £12,960. Following is a detailed list of amounts payable:

    Hotel.                Owners. Licensees. Total. 
Belmore Arms, Elsmore ..... £830  .. £610  ..£1,440
Conrad, Howell ............. 540  ..  270  ..   810
Dinton Vale, Dinton Vale ... 920  ..  600  .. 1,520
Federal, Inverell ........ 1,590  ..  780  .. 2,370
Halfway House, Swan Vale ... 730  ..  500  .. 1,520
Halfway House, Wandsworth .. 860  ..  830  .. 1,690
Imperial, Emmaville ...... 1,590  ..  550  .. 2,140
International, Armidale .. 1,080  ..  920  .. 2,000
Junction Inn, Bald Nob ..... 570  ..  460  .. 1,030
Langham, Armidale .......... 890  ..1,700  .. 2,590
McIntyre Inn, Wallangra ...1,260  ..  800  .. 2,060
Railway, Inverell .........1,560  ..  910  .. 2.470
Rockvale, Rockvale . ........630  ..1,120  .. 1.750
Royal, Emmaville ..........1,780  ..  930  .. 2,710
Tattersalls, Metz .......... 490  ..  480  ..   970
Tattersalls, Warialda .....1,850  ..1,500  .. 3,350
   Totals   .............£17,170  £12,960   £30,130

The board also awarded £90 compensation to the licensee in respect of an Australian wine license in Glen Innes-road, Inverell, which it is proposed to delicense. Under the Act no compensation is payable to the owner of premises for which an Australian wine license has been issued.

Written by macalba

September 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Sixteen country hotels delicensed

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Tuesday 12 July 1927, The Sydney Morning Herald

At a deprivation sitting yesterday the Licenses Reduction Board announced that 16 hotels in the Northern Tableland electorate would be deprived of their licenses on June 30, 1928.

The hotels affected are:

Rockvale Hotel, Rockvale.
Tattersalls Hotel, Metz.
Halfway House Hotel, Wandsworth.
International Hotel, Armidale.
Langham Hotel, Armidale.
Royal Hotel, Emmaville.
Imperial Hotel, Emmaville.
Junction Inn Hotel, Bald Nob.
Halfway House Hotel, Swan Vale.
Belmore Arms Hotel, Elsmore.
Dinton Vale Hotel, Dinton Vale.
Conrad Hotel, Howell.
McIntyre Inn Hotel, Wallangra.
Federal Hotel, Inverell.
Railway Hotel, Inverell.
Tattersall's Hotel, Warialda.

The board added that the Australian wine license held by Elizabeth Moore for premises in Glen Innes-road, Inverell, would also cease to be in force after June 30 next.

Written by macalba

September 9, 2010 at 8:08 pm