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Geological surveys; report from the camp at Walcha

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The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Saturday 28 May 1853

Letter from the Rev. W. B. Clarke to the Honorable the Colonial Secretary, on the geological structure and auriferous condition of the country along the upper waters of the Namoi and Apsley Rivers.


Camp at Walcha,

28th December, 1852.

SIR—Since I last had the honor of addressing you, I have made the following journeys of exploration, viz.:—

1. From the junction of the Peel and Cockburn Rivers to the upper portion of the latter.

2. From my camp on the Cockburn, between Nimmengar and Brodie’s station, to the head of Moonbi Creek, and thence crossing the range of that name to Bendemeer.

3. From Bendemeer upwards along the Namoi (there called Muluerindie or Macdonald) to near Tara, at the junction of Congai Creek with the Namoi.

4. From Bendemeer to Balara, on “Carlyle’s Gully.”

5. From Carlyle’s Gully, through the bush, to Congai Creek, and across the “Dividing Range” to the eastern waters falling to the Apsley River.

6. From my camp, at the head of Bergen-op-Zoom Creek, to Walcha.

7. From Walcha to Waterloo and to the falls of the Apsley, and thence to the ranges between Stony Creek and Tiara Creek, which joins the Apsley in parallel channels.

8. From my camp above Stony Creek to Walcha

9. From Walcha to Tinker’s Falls, on Cobrabald Creek, and to the junction of that creek with the Namoi, crossing and re-crossing the “Dividing Range” at two points, separate eight miles from each other.

In these traverses many localities were visited out of the direct routes, though they are not named.

In these traverses I have been enabled to obtain full information as to the structure and conditions of a considerable tract of country, completing my exploration of an area of 2,400 square miles in the counties of Buckland, Parry, Inglis, Sandon, Vernon, and Hawes, and which comprehend the south-eastern portion of New England.

I have enumerated these separate lines of exploration because I wish to show that I have not contented myself with travelling along a high road, but have carefully worked out the country in the only way capable of unfolding its physical conditions.

(2.) I have now the honor of reporting, for the information of his Excellency the Governor General, what are the geological features of this tract, and its auriferous character.

The course of the “Main Dividing Range,” between the heads of the Page and Hastings River, is towards east 35° north; but about the latter point it trends to north 20° west, the continuation of those directions being marked by long spurs, which divide the waters falling from their intersection in the radiating channels that eventually join the Hunter, Manning, Hastings, Macleay, and Namoi.

Much of the “Dividing Range” and of these spurs is occupied by basalt, amygdaloid, and greenstone; the former distinguishes the range within the limits of the area now under discussion, and in consequence of the peculiar features frequently assumed by that variety of trap, the range itself becomes more regular in outline, presenting to the eye at a distance a flat table top summit, with but few prominent points above the general level, or with only slight undulations. It is, in fact, not distinguishable by any striking feature for miles at a time, and, in crossing it, it would almost be impossible to detect the anticlinal ridge without close observation, in consequence of the gentle character of the first falls of drainage. In this respect it differs from the character it assumes in the southern districts, where it is marked by culminating summits of great elevation which overlook the passes, and is, in consequence, of a bolder and wilder nature. But I have observed even here, where large tracts of well-wooded land or of open forest extend along the gentle declivities, or continue above the incipient drainages in extensive tracts of nearly equal elevation, the very same phenomenon which I have before mentioned as so strikingly illustrated between Maneroo and the coast; I mean the extremely narrow space which marks the actual division of the falls towards the east and the west, where these falls are nearest to each other. In one instance, between Walcha and Cobrabald Creek, an elevation of a few inches and a breadth of about two paces separates the waters of every shower that falls upon it into streams that pass off into channels which terminate on the one side, in the ocean near Smoky Cape, in the meridian of 150° east; and, on the other side, in the waters of Encounter Bay, in 139° east—an enormous separation, when the width and elevation above the sea of the actual line of division are taken into account.

(3.) I attribute this peculiar feature of the “Dividing Range” to the slowness of the process of elevation of such tracts from beneath the ocean, and the abrupt declivities of other localities along the range to more decisive and sudden paroxysms of the same process; and these, so different conditions of the case, serve to point out that interruption and partial delays, and unequal efforts of nature, took place in the disruption of the formations and in the outburst of the igneous masses that have produced the physical features of the “Cordillera,” and that, though now the elevated tracts of this continent are in a state of repose, in order to attain their present position, they must, through long periods of time, have been under the influence of various degrees of dynamical action, and subjected to the violence and gentle operations of the ocean according to circumstances. Where the upheaving, and consequently contrary depressing, forces were most intense, of which the igneous rocks of intrusion bear testimony, there will be found the most abrupt and broken declivities; but where these forces where of longer or gentler kind, and there the igneous rocks that occur appear to have flowed slowly, the character of the surface is correspondingly of a less marked and gentler aspect.

(4.) These correlative phenomena distinctly point out the great dependence of what is called natural scenery upon geological conditions, and the value of the pursuits of the geologist to the aspirer after eminence in some departments of the arts. The ordinary admirers of the wild or beautiful in the external landscape seldom, perhaps, understand, that it is with the causes that have produced or modified the gracefulness or sublimity of such scenes that geology is conversant; and many an artist fails in his attempts to imitate nature, because he does not perceive that, to become creator in art, he must necessarily obtain some insight into the laws by which what is called nature has been produced. No where, I imagine, could a student in art or nature obtain more useful aids to his invention than in contemplating the varied surface and slopes, the gorges and valleys, that adorn the narrow but important “Cordillera” of Australia. Having crossed and re-crossed it in no less than sixteen points throughout its undulating course, between the latitudes 31° and 36°, I cannot but pronounce it as interesting to the lover of the picturesque as it is instructive to the geological explorer.

(5.) The principal formations that produce the great diversity in the scenery and composition of the southern end of the “New England Table Land,” have been incidentally mentioned in my former reports. It is necessary now to lay before his Excellency a connected, though necessarily brief, account of the manner in which they are associated in the area defined by the traverses enumerated at the commencement of this report.

The peculiar transmuted rocks that were described as occurring along the tributaries of the Peel, in what are called “the Hanging Rock Diggings,” are continued through part of the country watered by Ogunbil or Dungowan Creek; and I found them in equal force along the Cockburn River for a considerable distance above the junction.

(6.) They afterwards became connected with quartziferous schistose rocks, which, for convenience, have been denominated slates, but which would, perhaps, be more distinctly expressed as slaty flags. I do not doubt that they are consecutive members of one vast formation of which I have before spoken; and should, hereafter, direct zoological evidence be produced as to the exact position of these slaty rocks in the geological scale, and that position be assigned to a lower level than I am inclined to adopt for them, the botanical evidence, from the altered shales of Goonoo Goonoo Creek and the Manilla, will be in strict agreement with similar facts observed in some parts, of Europe, in which there is a direct passage from the carboniferous to what was formerly called the “Transition” series, and the continuance of the plants belonging to the former into the beds composing the latter.

Whether this is, or is not, the case in New England, the slaty rocks become prominent along the Dividing Range, on the waters of the Apsley, on Cobrabald Creek, and on some parts of the Upper Namoi (or Macdonald), and are ranged on the eastern side of the granite, of which I shall have to make mention.

(7) These slaty beds are frequently hardened into a silicified rock, which retains the marks of the original lamination, and between, and through which, are innumerable veins and seams and bands and strings of quartz, of a different kind to that into which the once softer beds containing them have been transmuted. Numerous instances occur, as near Orundunbee, of contortions in the slaty and silicified masses; and, as the intrusive quartz follows as well as intersects the contortions, intruding between the laminæ; and, since soft unaltered, or slightly altered, beds alternate with hard brittle flinty beds; there can be no doubt that it is to the intrusion of silex in a hydrous form, and, probably, to the action of boiling water and steam, that these partial transmutations are due. Dry heat could not have acted so partially, hardening one bed and leaving another soft, but water charged with silex, or steam, could have so permeated the beds; and, where they become cracked transversely, may have produced the transverse connecting veins.

(8) As basalt and amygdaloid have intruded through the slaty masses, there is no necessity to enquire for the evidence of heat below the surface of the ocean, into which the original mud, now become slate or shale, subsequently hardened, was deposited; and if, as is probable, during various outbursts of trap, the sea water must have been occasionally heated so as to boil and to become steam (a probability shown by the occurrence of volcanic action in the ocean, as for instance in the rise of Paubellaria, in the Mediterranean, a few years since), it is not difficult to comprehend how the transmutations, exhibited amidst these New England schistose rocks, may have been chiefly brought about by silicification, through the agency of heated water or vapour. There is no other supposition which can so easily and satisfactorily account for ceous pebbles and fragments may still be traced the change sometimes exhibited in brecciated and conglomorate rocks, in which the separate siliceous pebbles or fragments have been connected into a homogeneous siliceous mass, in which each separate pebble and fragment may still be traced in its original outline. I am not aware whether geologists have adopted, already, any such solution of a difficulty presented to some of them but I suggest it here, because I am led to believe it to be the only feasible explanation of the condition of the rocks now in question.

(9) The occurrence of broad masses and long dykes (if such they can be) of quartz rocks amidst the slaty flags, themselves apparently bedded with the schistose beds, and equally with the latter traversed by veins of white quartz, may thus find explanation, having been intruded contemporaneously into the original muddy sediment, and, afterwards, impregnated with true veins cutting across the bedding lines and lamination. We may thus be led to understand why, as in Australia, ridges and bands of quartz that follow the strike of the slates that contain them, may be traced for miles and miles without a trace of auriferous mineral or gold, though in other instances, every quartz vein may be, more or less, auriferous. The difference depends upon the ages of the silicious intrusions, the impregnation of auriferous quartz having occurred at various epochs.

(10) The falls of the Apsley, and the creeks flowing tranversely (sic) to that river about the falls, are excellent localities in which to study the peculiarities and phenomena of the schistose beds.

The falls themselves have been much spoken of as a scene of almost unparalleled grandeur; but as a geological feature they are infinitely inferior to the gullies of the Shoalhaven, and are not so grand as some of the cataract gorges of King’s Table Land. The River Apsley, after collecting its waters in various sluggish channels, which sometimes expand into considerable reaches, and are oftentimes nearly obliterated, is suddenly arrested by a bar of slaty rock a mile or two below the head station of the Waterloo Run. At this point the breadth of the channel is about 86 yards, which I measured by pacing across the rocks at the edge of the fall, where a thin seam of quartz strikes from northwest across the beds. Below this bar there is a deep narrow gulf, into which, in times of flood, the river is precipitated. As the dip of the laminated beds is up the river, at such times the fall must be very beautiful; but at the period of my visit there was no fall of water whatever. The descent is nearly if not quite impracticable, except to such as can climb like a goat; I much regret that I was not sufficiently confident to venture upon an examination of the bed of the river below the falls, which by a series of observations on falling stones I make about 190 feet. Below the first fall, the river continues to precipitate itself over ledges of rock, the channel widening, till it attains a lower level and mingles with the McLeay. These falls occupy several miles of country; that which is reported to be the grandest occurring about nine miles below the first.

(11) Parallel with the Apsley, there runs a line of basaltic hills, which exhibit occasional passages into amygdaloid and other varieties of trap. This trappean eruption may be traced distinctly as bursting through the quartziferous schistone formation, from the Dividing Range along the eastern side of the Apsley to Orundunbee and through to the Walcha and Waterloo Runs to the very edge of the New England table land; I have myself traced it from the Dividing Range to near Tiara Creek. It is highly probable, that in the first instance the ravines which are now the sites of the falls were mere cracks in the slaty formation, induced by the tension of upheaval, and the transverse creeks falling into the Apsley from the southward, are the natural results of such a fracture, being (in perfect adjustment with the theory of upheaval so skilfully and satisfactorily illustrated by Mr. Hopkins) the cross dislocations mechanically produced by disruption. (12) These creeks as well as the river expose the phenomena of the formation which they traverse. They exhibit the formation as composed of alternating hard and soft material, of gritty flagstones, quartzite, and slate, the latter sometimes approaching the roofing variety, and as troubled by concretionary modifications of structure as well as by distinctly marked metamorphic action. Veins of quartz crowd together in some spots, at others larger veins occur in more solitary examples. The strike and dip vary with the concretionary forces, and the former is sometimes north and south, at others east and west, with intermediate directions; whilst, too, the harder masses put on the appearance of indistinct stratification, this is obscured in the more slaty varieties, and cleavage planes and joints become the most prominent features.

At the first fall, the dip of these planes is 82° to north, a little below it is 82° to southwest, and further on 82° to west south-west, and 82° to west. These variations are occasioned by concretionary action around a centre, through which the axis of dislocation must have passed. Indistinct lines of apparent bedding appear at intervals along the face of the cliffs.

(13.) At a spot on Stony Creek which I selected as a bath, a deep waterhole is interrupted by a mass of almost true writing slate, and as this locality exhibits many peculiar features of the formation, it may be useful to record them. The rock is blueish grey in color, and passes off into a grit and quartzite to the eastward. It assumes a boss-like form with irregular beds, striking upwards 10° to 14° on a bearing of 305°. It has a regular cleavage along a bearing of 127° at right angles to the horizon; it is also cleaved along a line of joints bearing 212°, the dip of cleavage being 40° towards the former cleavage strike, viz, 127° to 128°. Other joints cross these cleavages on a bearing of 64°, and veins of quartz cut obliquely through the first cleavage on bearings of 148° and 160°. Fragments of this cleaved rock naturally break off the mass in four sided tables, of rhomboidal outline, having the opposite angles respectively 64° and 166°.

These examples will show how much the original deposits have been modified and changed by various forces, in which thermo-electricity as well as mechanical violence may have had part. There is scarcely a mass of the formation exposed in any part of the district in which some such changes of structure cannot be traced. These phenomena are not however peculiar to New England. In Maneroo I often observed very similar examples; and in this respect, as well as in the general outlines of the surface and the disposition of the hills, there is a close analogy between the two districts.

(14.) This is still further confirmed by the occasional appearance of the conglomerate of “doubtful age,” which in the Apsley as well as in the Bombala country rests upon the slopes of the basaltic hills, looking like re-cemented fragments of quartz which were detritus at the time of the trappean outburst, and which have been converted by steam into a compact mass. After I had reported upon this occasional formation in my communications from Maneroo, I found a mass of this rock near Captain Campbell’s head station at Bombala, resting upon basalt, which had pierced the schistose rocks along the river, and in it there were numerous casts of the stems and bark of some plant which appeared to me to be marine or lacustrine. The casts of the interior of the stems were silicified, and I think therefore that the rock is what I have mentioned, a mass of ancient quartz gravel and sand, into which plants had been washed, at the bottom of a lagoon or creek, and that the trap converted it into breccia or conglomerate after the surface, had descended below the sea level. I have seen no plants yet in the similar rock in New England.

(15.) Whatever be the age of the slates, the occurrence of basalt and other trappean rocks along the narrow spine of the “Dividing Range,” on each side of which the schistose bed dips away at a considerable angle, with proofs of hardening and impregnation by silex, shows that much of them is younger than the slaty deposits; but as these deposits appear to rest upon granite, which at the various planes of contact exhibits evident proofs of interference with the former, it seems to me that the intrusion of trap is but the last of a series of similar phenomena, and that, whilst the transmuted grits and shales of Goonoo Goonoo and the Peel are charged with auriferous quartz in the Hanging Rock district, the slates were affected at an earlier period by the granite itself, which may be proved to be of later origin (in situ) than the slates.

(16.) The granite makes its first appearance en masse on the Cockburn River about eight miles from Tamworth: thence I have traced it across the Moonbi Creek along the Moonbi Range, across the McDonald, Congai Creek, and along the western side of the Dividing Range, and further to the west at the back of the ranges heading Mooara and Hall’s Creek, and so across Stony Gully and Carlyle’s Gully, and it will be crossed by me in further explorations to the north-west. But having thus followed it on three sides of its southern development, I have seen enough of it to discern its connection with the surrounding formations, to pronounce it younger than the slates at least, and certainly intrusive.

(17.) The constituents of some of this granite are quartz, frequently amethystine, black mica in oblique rhombic prisms, hornblende, and albite; the crystals of the latter being of considerable size, and impressed both by quartz and mica, as well as by the abundant hornblende which distinguishes the exterior portions of the mass. It is nodular and scales off in great flakes. On the Moonbi Ranges there are some considerable” rocking stones,” and some of the summits of the subordinate hills are pointed and topped by loose blocks which are partly disintegrated in situ. Veins of segregated quartz are not uncommon, some of them expanding into considerable masses; and distinct boss-like dykes of hornblendic granite, of the very finest grain, looking like mica slate, occasionally traverse the granite from west to east. On the Macdonald the granite becomes less hornblendic, but retains its nodular outline and structure, the crystals of albite assuming a fixed direction, as if indicating the line of flow. Segregated patches of hornblendic composition are numerous.

(18.) Not far from Nimmengar on the Cookburn, the south-east side of that river is bordered by some bare hills of very hard silicified rock, and on the opposite bank the granite is traversed by quartz dykes, and by dykes of pegmatic and other binary elvans. Nearer Tamworth it is separated from the transmuted rocks by a suspicious looking mass, which ia places appears to be sedimentary, and in others contains true trappean constituents. In contact with it, the supposed carboniferous beds are all transmuted, and thrown off at a high angle.

(19.) On the Macdonald, I found the plainest evidence of the character of the granite. A few miles above Bendemeer, the granite, which has occupied a low position in the bed of the river, comes in contact with a highly inclined hard grey siliceous rock, which stretches across the river from a lofty range along the left bank. The strike of this mass, which is bedded, is north and south. The approach of the granite is marked by veins of the same rock of binary composition, such as pegmatic, in one instance thirty-nine inches wide, sending off lateral threads, and entangling the older rock, which on the one hand passes into a soft slate or hornblendic rock, and on the other into a quartzite. Innumerable strings of quartz interlace it at this point, and are evidently of granitic origin.

The hornblendic varieties of the altered mass assume the appearance of mica slate, and furnish good scythe stones.

(20.) Passing from this spot, which is below Tara, to the ranges along the river at the upper northern bend, I came again upon a patch of this schistoe dark rock, of inconsiderable extent; and just below the junction of the Cockburn and Moonbi Creek, other patches were observed.

(21.) On the way to Carlyle’s Gully, I found the granite interrupted by a mass of the hardened siliceous rock occupying some space, succeeded by soft schist with quartz veins, and preceded by a dyke or elvan of porphyr, with double pyramids of quartz, the ground being strewn with fragments of the jasperiod, and other transmuted rocks, common in the Hanging Rock country, and which have been washed from the head of Stony Creek, where this change commences. The soft schist is succeeded, in its turn, by N. and S. beds of the hornblendic schist, inclined to the west horizon, at an angle of 50°, which are separated from the granite to the N.E., by the dykes of binary granite, or large grained pegmatite, which, at the junction with the granite, pass into quartz dykes.

(22.) At the head of Congi Creek, the granite is succeeded on the Dividing Range by similar changes of feldspathic and quartz dykes, quartzite and hornblendic schist, and on the eastern fall by slate full of large dykes of quartz. The strike on the range is N. and S., or N. 15° W., with a dip of cleavage 62° to W. In the bed of the first creek to the eastward, the strike of the head quartzite is W., and the dip 62° S.; this is, therefore, the locality of a boss-like concretionary mass.

The facts just enumerated distinctly prove that the same order of change is observable wherever the granite is in contact with the slates, and the conclusion must be that the granite is the younger and has produced these changes.

(23.) I have already reported the existence of an elvan of granite on Duncan’s Creek, and I have since found that a coarser granite becomes somewhat prominent at a little distance. Between the Peel and this locality, I also reported the occurrence of slates bearing quartz; and, therefore, I would extend my conclusions so as to admit that the remarkable transmuting influences that have left such evidences in all that district, may have been commenced by the granite, and continued by the subsequent operations of the trap. Since then the granite sends out quartz veins, it is not improbable that it has been the source of silicification of the rocks throughout this tract of country; and the office of the trap eruptions may have been to produce auriferous veins derived from the granite.

(24) Admitting that there may have been an older granite from which the slates were derived (mere mud of felspar deprived of its alkali), that the alkali of the felspar (become mud altered into slate) with the silicia of the felspar, mica, and quartz, acted upon by steam, may have become dykes and veins and beds, of intrusive quartz, still the evidence upon the whole is to establish the conclusion, that the hornblendic granite of the Moonbi and Namoi is of later origin in its present position than the slates themselves.

(25) In all these respects there is the closest analogy with the granite and associated rocks in the Braidwood country, and in various localities south of the Murrumbidgee. The surface of the granite country in this part of New England is precisely that of the Maneroo and Araluen granites, and putting together all the phenomena, there is a priori a just presumption that, as at Araluen and in the Alpine country, granite is auriferous, so will it be here; and as much of the slaty districts, though full of quartz, is not auriferous in Maneroo and Argyle, and yet that auriferous quartz does occur there, so in this part of New England similar results may be anticipated.

(26) I now, therefore, will endeavour to show how far these conclusions have been borne out by the facts observed by myself, in these respects.

Gold, undoubtedly, occurs at the head of Ogunbil or Dungowan Creek. Gold occurs also in the Cockburn. I found, at a spot where about six persons were established, a little above Brodie’s Station, a patch of soil, some feet below the bank of the river, of exactly the same character and constitution as that which furnishes the “dry diggings” at Hanging Rock. It is chiefly a decomposed serpentine impregnated with lime, derived from a spring in the bank, and with this lime some fragments of greenstone from a dyke in the vicinity were coated. This soil contains gold, as I personally proved. Close to it, the hard siliceous rock was traversed by a vein of quartz in which gold was visible, and from which it was extracted. The direction of this vein was 240 degrees, with a trend of 64 degrees to south-east. As the direction was evident by the prominent summit of a hill lower down the river, and through which I traced a quartz dyke to the granite, I think in this case, at least, the relations of the phenomena are those of cause and effect.

In all the creeks falling into the Cockburn gold is readily procured. Gold in small particles was found to occur on the upper part of the Moonbi Creek, in granitic detritus.

(27) Above Bendemeer, and below the junction of the granite with the transmuted rock, scale gold was procured by me at every accessible point which I tried in the river bed.

At Tara, at the junction of Congai Creek, I did not myself wash any soil; but there are persons digging there who obtain it in small quantities.

On Carlyle’s Gully Mr. Buchanan, junior, washed in my presence, from the surface of the granite on the creek near his house, gold of a very small rounded form, similar to that which occurs on Rocky River, and which I have denominated gunpowder gold from its granulated small appearance. It was also procured from the joints between the nodules of hard granite in the bed of the creek, I feel convinced gold will be found in Stony Creek, a branch of Carlyle’s Gully, and on the granite platform. The drainage falls along little channels like those at the head of Major’s Creek. It has been reported to me that it has been found there by a prospector. Mr. Buchanan promised to examine it near the junction of the gully.

(28) At the head of the Congai Creek gold occurs in quartz. I found gold also in quartz running through slate at my camp, on a knoll near a station at the head of Bergen-op-Zoom Creek, which is one head of the Apsley. I was drenched with the rain of a severe tempest and could not explore. The adjoining country is covered by quartz.

Gold has been reported to me as found in several places near Walcha; I have been unsuccessful; but on the run of that name (a tract of 100 square miles), I have found such indications as are common; rubies, zircons, and magnetic iron. In fact rubies and zircons, and the gems common in goldfields, are found in all parts of the country. The nearest approach to gold is a portion of a quartz vein with auriferous pyrites, which I took from the bed of the Apsley, near Walcha head station. I do not doubt that there is gold on this run, for the whole of the superficial and other phenomena justify the belief; and several persons tell me they have found it. I am not, however, sanguine respecting it, as there is a great similarity in some places, to the non-auriferous quartziferous slates of Maneroo.

Near Waterfoo, gold has been found in some of the gullies eastward of the Apsley, and one fragment, which I saw, of quartz, containing bright gold, was picked up a little above the head station. Gold is also found in Stony Creek, one of the gullies transverse to the Apsley below the second fall, and in the Emu Creek, six miles from Waterloo.

(29.) At Cobrabald and at Inglebar Creeks (as before mentioned) there is a little gold, and I saw it washed from the surface at the junction of the former with the Namoi. It has been also found in a creek at the back of Surveyor’s Creek, and in the latter in the granitic portion.

(30.) So far, then, as I have gone, I have found the country generally auriferous in some degree; and I am convinced that the same disposition apparent in its distribution along the Peel and its tributaries is persistent thus far. We may therefore anticipate that auriferous veins will be found occasionally distributed amidst the slates and altered rocks; and that there are various auriferous patches amidst others that contain no gold; the success therefore of the gold digger must depend upon various contingencies. But I feel sure that in the granite country there is far more probability of success, for the gunpowder gold of the Rocky River is found more or less all the way to the Cockburn.

I have not mentioned other metals, but such exist, and hereafter I may have an opportunity of reporting upon them.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

W. B. CLARKE. The Hon. the Colonial Secretary.


Written by macalba

September 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

Licences granted

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Wednesday 7 May 1851, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser


Licensing Meeting. – On the 15th ult. a Court of Petty Sessions was held for the purpose of considering the applications of persons wanting publicans’ and other licenses. The magistrates present were M. C. Marsh, Esq., and – Tourle, Esq. The following licenses were granted: Edward Allingham, Rose Inn, Armidale ; James Doran, Horse and Jockey Inn, Armidale; A. O’Dell, Sportsman’s Arms, Armidale ; E. M. Butler, Armidale; Robert Bicknell, Macdonald River ; James Starr, Macdonald River ; George Cormie, Falconer Arms, Falconer ; John Hamilton, Squatter’s Arms, Yarrowwitch ; Samuel McCrossen, Rockey River; William Stitt, Carlisle’s Gully ; Samuel Caldwell, Apsley Arms, Walcha; Jonathan Cock, Bundarra. – Confectioners : Phillip Simmons, Armidale ; Charles Selmes, Armidale. – Auctioneer : Thomas Boyce Dowling.

Churchwardens. – A meeting of parishioners was held in the vestry of St. Peter’s Church on Easter Tuesday for the purpose of examining and passing the accounts of the past year; and also the appointment of churchwardens for the ensuing one, when Mr. E. Allingham was appointed by the trustees, Mr. George Martin by the parishioners, and Mr. R. Furnifull by the Rev. H. Tingcombe.

The Weather. – The weather continues unusually mild for the season ; the night frosts, which prevailed at this time last year, have scarcely made their appearance.

The Police. – Mr. Day, inspector of police, is daily expected here. We understand that recently six prisoners, who had been forwarded from this place to Tamworth, made their escape from the lockup of the latter, by simultaneously rushing upon and overpowering the lockup keeper. This was during the visit of Mr. Day at Tamworth.

April 26, 1851.

Written by macalba

May 17, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Striking feature

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Saturday 27 October 1866, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

FREE SELECTION. – At the Quarter Sessions, held here last Monday, before Judge Mcymott, an assault case was tried, which revealed a striking feature of the easy manner in which a free selector secured a house, garden, and cultivation ready to his hand. The case will be better explained by a summary of the evidence produced at the trial. A man, named Timothy Mulreay, waited on the land agent in January last, and selected a portion of the Europambela run, known as Butler’s station, near Walcha; and, on offering the usual deposit, and describing the ground he desired, was told by the land agent that he believed the ground could not be selected, and referred him in the meantime to the district surveyor for definite information. Mulreay waited on the surveyor, from whom he learned not only that it was not open for selection, but that the lessee had applied for it in consequence of the valuable improvements on it, that the law did not allow it to be free selected, and if Mulreay did so the ground would be measured off, and any additional improvements he might make would go to the lessee. Mulreay said he would take it on chance, and take he did. In July the surveyor had instructions from the Government to survey the land, as applied for by the lessee, and proceeded to the place for that purpose, when Mulreay prevented him by assaulting him several times, and finally cutting his chain into five or six pieces. The survey was relinquished, Mulreay was prosecuted, and at the Sessions was convicted and sentenced for the assault; but I believe his family still retain possession of the land, house, garden, cultivation, and all. Now, if this is not taking possession of another man’s property by force and under colour of law, it would be difficult to say what forcible possession is. We are constantly witnessing the mischievous effects of some parts of the Land Act of 1801, but this appears to be one of the most daring violations of right that has come under my notice. Whether the Government will allow Mulreay or his family to retain possession of this land remains to be seen, for if the Government make no effort to disturb them it will be difficult to say if the squatter’s principal residence will not be the next point of attack by some equally as daring free-selector in search of a home made ready to his hand. – Armidale Correspondent of Herald.

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April 30, 2011 at 8:00 pm

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Deaths; Inquest; New Bank building

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Thursday 5 March 1863, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

(From the Armidale Express, Feb. 28.)

The greater portion of the weather this week has been muggy and sultry, and there have been a few showers, with a good deal of distant lightning.

Deaths by Drowning. – On the 16th instant a German labourer named John Nebey, aged 30, belonging to Europambela, was accidentally drowned. – On Thursday week there was also a man, whose name we cannot ascertain, drowned in Blick’s River, on the Grafton Road.

Fatal Accident. – We are informed that on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning a man known as “Lanky” was thrown from his horse near Walcha, and killed.

INQUEST. – Mr. L. Markham, district coroner, held an inquest at Gostwyck on Saturday last, on the body of Elizabeth Bond, a widow who had resided at one of the out-stations. It appeared that on the 18th inst. deceased went to the stockyard at the head station for some meat, and that at sundown she was seen by Mr. Gill, the superintendent, returning to the hut, but on the opposite side of the creek. On Friday morning a shepherd named Conway found her body lying in the creek, and it would appear that in attempting to cross the creek, whether in darkness or otherwise, she bad missed the proper crossing place, got out of her depth, and was drowned. An open verdict was returned that the deceased had been found drowned in the Gostwyck Creek.

THE Bank at Armidale. – The premises hitherto occupied as a branch of the Joint Stock Bank not having been found suitable for the expansion of the business, tenders are being invited for a new building, by the Bank authorities. We have seen the plan, and can say that when it is carried out it will give Armidale a finer building than it yet possesses. The front will be of two lofty stories, with a palisade in front, and the windows will be of plate glass.

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April 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm

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The Dora Dora Blacks

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Tuesday 19 January 1892, Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal

A wire yesterday says that two armed blackfellows supposed to be the Dora Dora murderers; called at the residence of a selector, 12 miles from Walcha, near Orandumby Station, about midday on Saturday last. A party of four police, with a black tracker, went quickly in pursuit. The blacks are only about a day and a half’s days journey from the Macleay, where they will reach very rough and difficult country. Parties of police at the head of the Macleay and at Cunderang and Long Flat direction will try to intercept them should they take that route. It will prove very rough, mountainous country, impassable for horses for miles upon miles. The Macleay and north coast police are exercising the utmost vigilance, and it will not be their fault if the blacks are not captured.

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April 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm

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Hotel Fire at Walcha

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Monday 29 August 1938, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane)

Guests Escape, Lose Luggage

TAMWORTH, Sunday. — The Royal Hotel at Walcha, a two story brick building in Fitzroy Street, was almost completely destroyed by fire early this morning. The main portion of the premises, comprising guest rooms and bar, was destroyed, the kitchen, pantry, and storeroom being saved. The fire was first noticed when smoke entered a guest’s room. The alarm was given, and all the guests were awakened, all the accommodation at the time being occupied. The electric light failed, and a number of guests, were unable to recover their, belongings before the fire compelled them to leave. The licensee, J. McDermott, his wife, and family escaped in night attire. A call was sent to the fire brigade at Armidale, 40 miles distant, and it arrived two hours later, to find the hotel well alight, but the kitchen, pantry, and storeroom were saved. The brigade pumped water from the Apsley River nearby.


Luckily a strong westerly wind was blowing, otherwise an adjoining furniture shop would have been destroyed. As it was, the walls were badly scorched and windows broken by the heat. This building was saved by a bucket brigade before the arrival of the Armidale brigade. Everything in the upstairs portion of the hotel was destroyed, and only a piano and a little furniture were saved from the ground floor. Money in the till was lost, as well as money kept by guests in their rooms. The safe was salvaged after the fire, but on being opened it was found the notes and cheques it contained had been destroyed. The building and contents were owned by A. E. Leedham, of Brookfield, Dungog, and were covered by insurance.

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April 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm

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Baby in Pram Plunges into River

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Saturday 13 January 1940, The Advertiser (Adelaide)

Nurse Follows But Nearly Drowns


SYDNEY, January 12.

A youth of 18 dived fully clothed into the Apsley River late this afternoon to rescue a girl and a six-month-old baby who were in danger of drowning. He brought them both safely to the shore. The youth was Cedric Lofberg, 18, of Walcha. the baby was Arthur Timothy Fenwicke, son of a Walcha grazier, and the girl was his nursemaid, Miss Irene Chandler, 18. The maid was wheeling a perambulator containing the baby along Derby street, Walcha, when a bicycle ridden by a 10-year-old boy swerved to avoid a motor car and knocked her down. The unattended perambulator ran 20 feet down an incline and plunged into 24 feet of water. Miss Chandler jumped into the water to save the child, but was quickly in difficulties herself. Lofberg first rescued the baby. The child was still in the perambulator, which was floating, but was practically submerged and had tilted on its side. The girl was struggling desperately and was drifting into deep water when he reached her. Lofberg, who is a strong swimmer, had little difficulty in bringing her ashore.

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April 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm

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