First Christmas on Gympie Goldfields

The reporting of a discovery of a quartz reef in Gympie ….
“quartz was loaded with gold, like plums in a Christmas pudding”
— 13 November 1867, Maryborough Chronicle

Brisbane Courier, 16 November 1867, page 5
Maryborough Chronicle, Saturday 21 December 1867

Scroll through the following report from H. King, Gold Commissioner
dated 9 December 1867:

The Miner.


MR. MENZIES, of the Union Hotel, has kindly placed the following letter at our disposal. The writer has recently come here from New Zealand, and is a person in whom Mr. Menzies has great confidence : —
” Nashville, December 22.
“Dear Sir, —I intended writing you sooner, but knowing of parties occasionally returning to Brisbane, who would give you all the news about this place, I have on that account always deferred it. It is now three weeks since we got here, and I must say it is a very good rush, in fact, as good as a great many of the good rushes that occurred in Victoria, when only about two months old. It all depends on what ground may be opened now; that was what made the diggings so good in Victoria, the country for miles round would turn out well, so it all depends now on the payable ground extending. If it does not it will only maintain a very small population, unless they find some payable gold in deeper ground, or a number of quartz-reefs proving payable. Four of us that stayed with you on our way up have got a prospecting claim granted on a quartz-reef called the ” “New Zealand;” we have got payable stone for fifteen or sixteen feet down in one shaft, but cannot get in the second one, and we are down now over twenty feet; however, we will give it a few weeks more, and try it well; perhaps there might be a crushing-machine up soon, when we would be able to say how it would pay. I should like to see Pollock and party sinking deeper, to prove their reef, and see whether the gold continues or not, as there are plenty of reefs, even in Victoria, which only pay for a few feet down, and are still rich on top, but not enough to pay the expense of getting a crushing machine on the ground. Mind, for all that, I think a good deal of the Lady Mary reef, and more, that there will be a good few reefs got, payable in this neighborhood. But then it takes money and hard work to open them up properly. We have not tried for alluvial gold much. Gilbert Muir (my mate) got a specimen on the surface the second day we were here, and commenced reefing at once. I know a good few on payable gold here —some parties very good. There are a good many of the New Zealanders on gold now. I have seen Jack Martin, who left Hokitika two weeks after us, and says that there are three or four hundred more who will be here soon. I only hope these will open some new ground. There are a great many out prospecting, but they do not appear to succeed yet. A great many have left for Brisbane already, and got their claims registered for a month. We must stick into work, as we have been too much out of pocket lately, and must get a bit of gold before we visit Brisbane again. I must close to be in time for the post. My mates join me in wishing you, and all your circle, a merry Christmas and happy new year, with many returns of the same.—l remain yours in sincerity, “Robt. Finlay Drew.”

We have also received the following from Mr. Geo. Crook: —” Knowing the great interest felt in the Gympie Creek gold-field in Brisbane, I thought I would give you any information about it that I could. The reef granted to Mr. Scott and mates still maintains its rich-ness, and, in fact, the farther it is examined the more promising does it appear. As far as it is yet known the depth of the reef is 12 feet by about 6 feet wide, and the whole of the stone is rich with gold, and no doubt will secure the permanency of the diggings. In a gully below the reef heavy gold has been found, and nuggets of 21 oz., 17 oz., and one of 3 lbs. weight, have been taken out, and large quantities are still being found, while all other claims are doing well. Complaints are made of the absence of crushing machinery—four reefs having been struck within a mile of each other. The town is healthy, but rain is very much wanted. The Commercial Bank has it all its own way, and the generality of diggers are not satisfied with the prices it gives, and many of them are keeping back the greater part of their gold. I think another bank would do well here, if they conducted their business on a liberal scale. The owners of the Smithfield Reef are displaying considerable energy, and have sent for all the necessary tools, but until they arrive little can be done. The above are facts, which I can vouch for, and I will try and let you hear further by next mail.
“Gympie Creek, December 21.”

The Maryborough Chronicle, of the 18th instant says:— We have seen persons who left Nashville yesterday morning. All we can learn from them of importance our correspondent’s letter below has furnished. The diggings are in a most flourishing state. The new ground recently rushed is turning out well, some fine nuggets being picked up there. The most sanguine expectations are indulged of the field proving something like what diggings used to be in the palmy days of gold mining in Victoria and New South Wales. A good deal of gold is now finding its way down, but nothing like what there would be if there were an escort. We know ourselves to between six and seven hundred ounces having arrived during the past week. The population is constantly increasing ; but few leave except to return. Nashville, Monday, December 16. Since my arrival here (six weeks ago) these diggings, which then could only number two stores, and a population of about 500 miners, have now attained colossal proportions ; scores of commodious stores have been built, and we speak within bounds when we assert that not less than a dozen public-houses are in course of completion; and as for shanties, their number is almost legion. I believe the greater portion of diggers are on payable gold, and taking into consideration the short time the place has been opened, this speaks well for the success of the Mary River diggings, and already stamps it as the greatest rush that has taken place in Queensland since the disastrous one at Canoona in 1859. Of course you have heard of the one-mile rush, and the finding of three nuggets there, weighing respectively 15, 17, and 21 ounces ; this rush, which at first was pronounced a “shicer,” is at present looking particularly healthy. I believe there are not less than twenty claims on payable gold, the number of which is daily increasing. Nash’s, White’s, and Walker’s gullies, absorb as yet the majority of the diggers, but a great many are scattered a mile or two around, some of whom are getting gold. The rare and often retarded arrival of the mail is causing a great deal of inconvenience to the people here ; it is disgraceful to think that, with a population at the present time equal to Rockhampton, and daily increasing, we have not the satisfaction of even having weekly communication with the rest of the world — such a state of things is discreditable to the Queensland Government. The bulk of the population here is now of a practical character, the most likely to develop the mineral resources of this district. The place is becoming thinned of that amateur class to which a few weeks ago Maryborough and Brisbane so largely contributed. The exceedingly low price which the Commercial Bank is giving for gold is causing a great deal of dissatisfaction. Last week the price was £3 8s. 6d. per ounce, the week before it was only £3 6s. The bank will have to give a still higher price for the precious metal, or the successful miner will have to keep the bulk of his gold till he can find time to sell it at a better market. I have no hesitation in saying that if a fair price were given, the bank could purchase at least 1000 ounces weekly. I think Nashville, at the present, is without exception the liveliest place in the colony —at least a stranger must think so as he perambulates the business part of the township on a Saturday evening. Everywhere he sees a dense stream of people continually passing and re-passing ; here and there he perceives groups of acquaintances who are talking over the current events of the week ; he sees almost every store crowded with customers ; at one public-house the pattering of feet announces the performance of a hornpipe ; at the next house the evolutions of the mazy waltz meet his view; and a strain of music from each of the two places striking his ear simultaneously produces a medley at sound, which, if not harmonious, is at least amusing. Everywhere he sees the township one scene of bustle and activity which denotes a healthful prosperity.

Published in ‘The Queenslander’, Saturday 28 December 1867, page 9 – ” The Miner”

You can read more about the history of the Gympie Goldifelds by downloading the free book “The Gympie Goldfield: 1867-2008” by John Ferguson and Elaine Brown

Authors John Ferguson and Elaine Brown tell the full story of one of Australia’s most productive goldfields and celebrate Gympie’s role as the town that saved Queensland.

Richly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, this book describes the growth of the local community, explores the prosperous eras of alluvial mining, shallow reefing and deep reefing, and discusses modern efforts to revive gold production.

In 2010, this book received a National Trust of Queensland Bendigo Bank Heritage Award.

Visit here to download for free.