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Bendigo Tourism Blog

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Striking Gold as a Miner for the Day

Did you know the deepest mine in Bendigo is so large, it could house Melbourne’s Eureka Tower with room to spare? Or that the method of blasting through rock walls in mines was invented in Bendigo, and that method was used in mines all over the world for many years?

I always knew Bendigo had a rich and diverse mining history but in order to get a true understanding of mining life, you can’t go past the tours at Central Deborah Goldmine. There are a few options (depending on age, and how game you are) and I started with the most basic tour that, as it turns out, isn’t very basic at all! 

Myself, and my eight-year-old fellow miner, struck gold (pun fully intended) with our guide. Ken Bice is a Bendigo local who has spent much of his life working in mines – from Tasmania to Kalgoorlie – before semi-retiring back in Bendigo and imparting both his extensive mining knowledge and passion as a tour guide. He really knows his stuff and he was able to explain, from a miner’s perspective, just what it’s like to work those long, hard days.

First, we suited up – hardhat, battery pack, head torch – and then headed into an industrial lift to skyrocket the equivalent of 20 storeys underground.  It’s cool down there (about 14 degrees) and even though it’s very dark and damp, there’s plenty to see and so much to discover.

Anyone older than three years is okay to join the tour, but my mini miner (and the other two under-10s in our tour group) were the perfect age to take it all in. We got to walk through Level Two of the mine and experience how miners over the years spent their day: from digging, blasting and removing rock, to the lifts, ladders and pulleys, the crib room and even the old thunder box!

I loved the chance to see the gold in the quartz walls – just how the miners would have found it back in the day – and to appreciate just how much work these men did in order to make a living (and grow a city).

At the end of the tour we got to have a wander around above the surface and check out the original mine facilities and equipment, as well as being able to pan for gold.  I will definitely be back later this year when the latest tour is ready: Nine Levels of Darkness. 228 metres underground in an old miner’s cage to Level 9 – spending the day as a 1940s gold miner being put to work by your shift boss – it’s taking an authentic, historical gold mining experience to a whole other level.

The Mine Experience Tour runs for 75 minutes, and The Underground Adventure Tour (with lunch 85m underground and the chance to dig for gold included) goes for 2.5 hours.

 

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