Bendigo is a grand and gracious city. It was the place of one of the world’s most exciting gold rushes, with more gold found here between 1850 and 1900 than anywhere else in the world. The city is literally built on gold, gathered from the rich gold-bearing quartz reefs.
Around nine billion dollars worth of gold was found in Bendigo, making it the second highest producing gold field in Australia after Kalgoorlie, and seventh richest field in the world. Historic and elaborate bank buildings line the main streets, with gold smelter chimneys an ever-present reminder of the riches from the gold fields.
People came from across the world to seek their fortune in Bendigo in the mid to late 1800’s. Alluvial gold was discovered along the banks of the Bendigo Creek in 1851 and resulted in a major gold rush. The discovery is usually attributed to Mrs Kennedy and Mrs Farrell, the wives of two of workers on the Mt Alexander North pastoral property. In Christmas 1851 there were 800 people on the field and by the following June, 20,000 diggers had arrived in the alluvial field. Alluvial gold production was dominant in the first ten years of the field to 1860 and is estimated to account for up to four million ounces or almost one fifth of the total gold won from the Bendigo goldfield.
Deep, often speculative, shaft sinking remained the pre-eminent exploration tool throughout the early productive life of the field (1851 to 1954). Throughout the mining history of the Bendigo goldfield in excess of 5,000 shafts were sunk. At least 140 shafts exceeded 300 m in depth, 67 exceeded 600 m, and 11 were over 1,000 m deep. The Bendigo goldfield represents the largest concentration of deep shafts anywhere in the world.
To experience shaft mining, Central Deborah Gold Mine is a real gold mine that now operates as a tourist attraction. Pop on a hard hat with its miners light and take a mine experience tour 20 storeys below to Level 2 of the mine and learn about the fascinating history of gold mining in Bendigo. For the daring take an adventure tour to Level 3 of the mine. You'll climb ladders, operate drills and search for real gold. Yes you will be able to see gold in the quartz reef on the mine's tunnels. Central Deborah is the real thing!
The Central Deborah Gold Mine was the last commercial mine to operate in Bendigo. In the period from 1939 to 1954 almost one tonne of gold (929kg) was unearthed from the mine, worth around $17,000,000 AUS in today's prices. The mine closed for a number of years until 1986 when it was re-opened for underground tours and miners once again ventured below with visitors to explore the fascinating tunnels below.