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Buried Rivers of Gold





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The Buried Rivers of Gold project is initiated by Business and Tourism Creswick Inc. The information presented in this website is sourced from the tour brochure and roadside signs. This project is funded and supported by RACV, Creswick & District Community Bank, Hepburn Council and Parks Victoria.

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Although the early gold rushes of the 1850s in the creeks and gullies surrounding Creswick brought prospectors, mining parties, families and businesses to the riches of the area, the 1872 discovery of a new ‘deep lead’ deposit of gold, buried in ancient rivers under the basaltic lands to the north east, secured the Creswick district a place in history as the world’s richest deep alluvial goldfield.



Between 1872 and 1914, this intense era of mining activity not only produced 51 tonnes of gold, it also fast-tracked Victoria’s engineering and manufacturing capabilities into the Twentieth Century, contributed to the rise of democratic workers’ movements in Australia and, finally, left its legacy on the surrounding landscape.

Buried Rivers of Gold

We encourage you to immerse yourself in the unique history of our Goldfield and to take a step back in time, to imagine, to learn and to keep the history of these Buried Rivers of Gold alive. 

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Our Goldfield

For those that cannot tour the 'Buried Rivers of Gold' the information contained on the self-guided tour roadside signs is available here. 

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Get the brochure

The brochure of the 31km self-guided tour is available at the Creswick Visitor Information Centre. Phone (03) 5345 1114. 

Brief history of the Goldfield

The discovery in 1872 of gold below Broomfield Gully began the much-needed revival of mining in Creswick which was in slow decline after the gold rushes of the mid 1850s. Government geologists had previously regarded the basaltic plains of the area as nonauriferous, so Brawn, Carter and Graham's discovery of a new gold source aroused great speculation. 

Brief History
Lewers Freehold Buried Rivers of Gold

Above: Lewers Freehold mine, 1874, by W. Tibbits.     

Shallow depths, rich rewards

By late 1872, Brawn, Carter and Graham's 'Golden Gate' mine had produced nearly 80kg of gold. Their success lead to a local bank manager, Mr Lewers, to open his lands on the north side of Spring Hill to mining for a royalty of 10% paid for the value of gold recovered.   


Local mining syndicates now rushed to secure their right to mine on the freehold farmlands which led to three separate gold-bearing leads between Broomfield and Kingston being discovered and worked to great success. 

By the late 1870s, 20 mines were working on the north side of Spring Hill. Nearly five tonnes of gold had been won from the Lewers, Lewers Western and Reserve leads and some mines were delivering incredible returns on their capital investment.


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The Golden Gates

The early mines  returned rich rewards from shallow depths and proved the potential of the new goldfield . 

Creswick Gold Fields Buried Rivers of Gold

It was also now evident that these ancient rivers were gradually getting deeper, wetter and richer as they headed north downstream

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The Dark Labyrinth

Working these mines came at great risk to the miners; the dangerous conditions unlike any other goldfield in Australia. 

Golden opportunity

The early successes at Spring Hill didn't go unnoticed. In 1875 William Bailey, Martin Loughlin and associates bought up all the freehold land over the projected goldfield and created the 'Seven Hills Estate'. Their intention was to profit from royalties from the mines leasing their land and from investing in their own.


The early mines were formed by small private syndicates which operated at relatively shallow depths, but as the leads weaved downstream, the working depths, volume of pressurised water and the presence of deadly gasses were becoming hazardous.

Deeper mining also required greater capital and companies' owners and shareholders banded together to make their fortunes while the company's miners united with W.G. Spence and the Amalgamated Miners Association for better working conditions and injury payments. 

Madame Berry Mine Buried Rivers of Gold

Above: Madame Berry No. 1 mine. Photo: Geological Survey of Victoria, Government of Victoria     

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The Jewellery Boxes

The Madame Berry No. 1 mine is one of the most celebrated gold mines in the history of Victoria.

A new era evolves


The gold won by miners now determined the share price, the profits paid dividends to shareholders and land owners received their royalties. A new era of gold mining had begun. With it came relentless demand for resources, technology, fortune and tragedy.


The pioneering age of the prospector's pan and cradle was over. Gold mining at an industrial scale had arrived

Allendale Buried Rivers of Gold

Looking down Elizabeth Street, the commercial centre of Allendale, early 1900s, with Collins Speculation Hotel and Allendale District Fire Brigade station and bell tower on the left hand side.

Big mines. Big business

Like Lewers, Bailey and Loughlin who were making their fortunes from mine ownership and royalties, Thomas Dibdin saw his golden opportunity in the inevitable demand for housing and the building of private towns.  

Dibdin's first purpose-built mining town was Allendale where in the early 1880s Dibdin, "the AV Jennings" of the goldfield, sold hundreds of cottages all of the same design. 


As mining operations moved further down the Deep Lead, new townships followed. Businesses hurried to supply the endless orders of building materials, iron fittings, engines, ropes, cables, boilers, pipes and pumps for the expanding mines – and blacksmiths, butchers, wagoners, ministers and bootmakers gravitated to the booming new mining towns. 

At their peak production, the large mines, like Madame Berry West and Berry Consols Extended, employed up to 350 boys and men who worked eight hour shifts, six days a week. 

The Transient Towns

Of the 10 towns created to service the goldfield, only Allendale and Broomfield remain. Learn about the 'lost townships'.

Buried Rivers of Gold

Above: Proud owners, managers, investors and miners in front of a deep lead mine. Photo: Creswick Museum

In these prosperous days it was not uncommon to see a thousand people crowded into the Ballarat Stock Exchange when gold yields were released; "The charged atmosphere being similar to that of a Melbourne Cup or a football final".

John Graham

Buried Rivers of Gold

Above: New Australasian No.2 Mine. 

"Like their own shadow, the ever-present threat of an accident was with a miner"

Harry Pearce

New Australasian No.2 mine disaster 

The New Australasian No. 2 mine site serves as a memorial to the 27 miners who were trapped when the New Australasian No. 2 mine flooded in 1882. It also commemorates the heroic efforts undertaken to rescue the miners.

A miscalculation of distance between the abandoned and flooded Australasian No. 1 mine and a lack of escape routes above the main drive in the new mine spelt disaster for 22 of the entombed miners.   

Buried Rivers of Gold

Above: (The) scene in the Shifting House after the recovery of the bodies. 

On the surface the pump was pushed to its limit removing ~190,000 litres per hour and a dive team from HMVS Cerberus at Williamstown was dispatched. 


Throughout the three-day rescue effort some 3,000 townsfolk became immersed in a tragedy that the miners had always feared would happen.


The inquest examining the disaster resulted in increased safety controls. Controversially however, in 1884 the £20,500 donated for the widows became the The Mining Accident Relief Fund Act with much of the fund being distributed elsewhere. 

Advancing innovation

The complexities of water, foul air, drift (a quicksand-like slurry) and working at great depth under the water table made these mines unique.


The establishment and operation of these mines demanded many local engineering and technological innovations. For instance, in 1883 when sinking the Madame Berry No. 2 shaft, iron cylinders, one inside the other like a telescope, were hydraulically forced through the drift – a bold display of ingenuity and skill that was required to overcome the unique problems this goldfield presented.  


At the forefront of Victoria's industrialisation, much of the equipment was engineered and manufactured in Ballarat, including two Cornish Beam Pumps; their 10 ton engines being the largest built in the Southern Hemisphere. 

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Industrial Strength

With the ability to pump 6.5M litres of water per-day, Berry No.1 Mines Beam Pump was cutting-edge technology.

West Berry Consols Buried Rivers of Gold

Above: West Berry Consols Mine No.2. 

Plan of underground workings. GSV archive.

End of an era

By the 1890s, gold production on the field began to decline. As the earlier mines closed, their richest gutters having been 'worked out', water flowing down into the mines to the north became a critical problem that caused excessive delays in production and therefore profitability.


Investors became weary and eventually the mines, mining families and their townships closed and anything of value was stripped and removed. 

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Discover more

Learn about the mining equipment and techniques that made this goldfield unique.  


By the early 1900s the height of the boom was well over.

The permanent agricultural towns of Kingston and Smeaton shrank back to their original size, leaving only the mullock heaps, slime dams and the occasional brick ruin we see today to remind us of this spectacular era of mining.  


Above: Berry No.1 Mine. Stop 3 on the self-guided tour

BROG Project
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