Cummings at the Turon Diggings 


Tuesday 23 September 1851

(From the Bathurst Free Press Correspondent. J

SINCE my last report I have visited the Diggings, both at the junction of the Oakey Creek and at the point where Mr. Blakefield is at work. At the former place they have driven into the hill to the extent of thirty-five to forty feet. Some of the places remind me forcibly of the Duke of Bridge water's canal at Worsley. The diggers here are doing pretty well, but they are not procuring as much gold as at Blakefield's Point. Mr. Cummings has lately bought a claim a few yards from the latter place, for which he paid £60. Since the purchase he has refused £250 for his interest in it. The party from whom he bought the claim had averaged nearly fifteen ounces a day for a considerable time. These particulars I had from Mr. Cummings  himself, who tells me that he expects doing something that will astonish the Turonites.

Many of the points are proving exceedingly rich. Air. Blackman was lucky enough to drop across a nest of nuggets, a few days ago, one of which weighed nine ounces and another two and a half ounces. In two days he netted up- wards of twenty ounces. His diggings are at the sheep station crossing-place, just below Mr. Dawson's store. A large quantity of gold has been procured during the last week, particularly when the superabundance of water in the river and its tributaries is taken into account. Mr. Cummings tells me that he purchased £740 worth yesterday in about an hour and a half, all sold in large quantities

To -day I have traversed a few miles of the river, and could not help remarking the very considerable condensation of population which had taken place in a short time. The immense congregation of hurain beings variously employed, some digging, others working the cradle, and not a few describing interesting circles with a tin dish, is truly wonderful. It is so unlike anything to which we have ever been accustomed, that until the mind becomes familiarised to the change, one feels as if he had been wafted by supernatural agency into some new planet, whose productions and modes of occupation differ from our own. Many, I am sorry to say, are neither so profitably nor yet so innocently employed. Gambling and intoxication fill up the leisure moments of noinconsiderable number, whilst others amuse. themselves by leaping and race-running. In fact, the diggings arc peopled by a motly con- ' course, and present an exhaustlcss field to the philosopher for the study of human nature under new circumstances.

The ale and beer license is not calculated to improve the moral tone of the Turon population. It presents a very convenient cloak for sly-grog-selling. But without arguing the feasibility of issuing licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors at the diggings, I am at a loss to understand the difference in the moral bearing of a man who gets drunk upon brown stout or colonial ale, and that of another who has a predilection for rum or whiskey. The temperance movement in Manchester found very warm advocates in the Manchester and . Salford brewers, many of whom joined the ' society, and were ranked amongst its: patrons. Their disinterested (t) advocacy arose from this feature in the rules of I the society, that the member were only pre-1 eluded from drinking ardent spirits, ergo there was an extensive demand for ale and porter, and as you may suppose, these "swipe" manufacturers vegetated wonderfully upon the temperance cause. At length the discovery was made that people could get quite as drunk on ale or porter as on spirits, and that to further the cause of temperance total abstinence must be preached up. Societies were formed to carry out the principles of tcetotalism, but I do not recollect a single brewer figuring as either speech-maker, patron, or committee-man. But what has all this to do with the diggings, I hear you say ?

You have most likely heard that Mr. Bedford lost £300 out of his pocket on his way out to the Turon a few days ago. The amount consisted of sixty £5 notes, which were tied up in a small leather bags. He has offered a reward of £25, but his chances of ever seeing it again are in the ratio of about 5000 to 1.

The river still remains too high ;o do much good, unlc«s on the sides of the ridges. Our own claim has been rather productive until the last day or two, when it began to show symptoms of exhaustion, but after washing the first ten buckets this afternoon we*discovered that they were improving, as thoy turned out more gold than the previous quarters continue pouring upon us, and in many parts of the river the diggers are nearly as truck as soldiers in rank and file! As usual, I have to report that amongst the large numbers doing well, that there are hundreds not supplying their stomachs from the produce of their labour ; but this story sounds like an old song, and I suppose will not be the means of deterring three people from a journey to the diggings. A little experience does more to produce conviction than a multitude of reports.



Thursday 30 October 1851

(From the Bathurst Free Press.)  

A NEW point, situate about midway between   Hawkins' Ridge and the junction of the Maquarie, has been discovered. On Monday, the 20th current, two persons only were at work on this angle, but the success of their united labours being so great, several parties, in the close of evening, were observed wending their way thither. There are now about 200 persons at work, most of whom are doing well;

and judging by the usual auriferous indications, it will turn out to be a rich spot. A pro-  vision store and butcher's shop are already opened on the grounds by the son of Mr. Cummings. A piece of crystalised quartz, richly streaked with gold, was this moment dug up by a party of three, for which they refuse to take £60. At Dirt Hide Creek, distant from this place about seven miles, there are 100 persons working, but varied luck attends their toil. While some gangs make an ounce in the day, others realise as much as seven ounces.

A few days ago, a person employed sinking post holes for a veranda. for Messrs. Trappitt and Co.'s store, turned out gold in such quantity that he was induced to employ a tin dish, and after repeated trials the spot was found to be very rich. News of the circumstance was speedily blazoned abroad in a single day the whole hill was marked out in claims, and parties are now at work in every direction. On Friday, the 24th instant, a comppany known as Scotchy's party, took upwards of 3 lbs. of gold out of the bed of the river, from a space of three feet square.



Tuesday 25 January 185

Rush to Clear Creek.-Within the last few days  a somewhat extensive rush has taken place from Sofala to some newly opened ground at Clear Creek, about three miles below Lawson'« upper sheep station, and eleven from Bathurst. Whatever may be the real merits of this field with regard to its alluvial deposits-and there appears to be some difference of opinion on the subject-very favorable opinions are entertained of the quartz reefs in the neighborhood. The specimens which we have seen present indications of exceeding richness. Indeed, so confident are practical men of the value of this discovery, that, as an instance, Mr. Willet, of Sofala, a quartz miner of considerable experience in the California and Victoria fields, has organized a party of swarthy diggers to commence operations immediately upon one of the reefs, the whole cost of the enterprise being at present borne by Mr. Willet and Mr. John Cummings, a storekeeper, on the Turon.

We are informed, nowever, that a subscription has been commenced for the purpose of aiding them in their operations, and that amongst other sums promised, Mr. Q-. Francis, of Peel, and Mr. W. H. Suttor, have promised to give £10 each, on condition that at least £100 be raised. Mr. Willet informs us that quartz reefs are divided into two classes, known as the A and V reefs-so named from their peculiar formation : the A reefs being narrow at the top, and increasing in width as they descend ; while the V reefs are wide at the surface and narrow at the bottom. Of the two classes, the A reefs are invariably richer and deeper. The reef on which operations have been commenced by Mr. Willet and his party is of the A class. Should this reef, on being worked without the aid of machinery, prove to be as rich as is anticipated, an effort will be made to procure a good Chilian mill. In addition to Mr. Willet's party, we hear that a Mr. Wood, who has also had considerable experience in quartz mining, and has lately been working at Burrendong, intends to commence proceedings at Clear Creek with the aid of rnachinery.-Bathurst JHmes.





Wednesday 16 July 1851


(From the Bathurst Free Press.)

We learn from Mr. Bush that he has just received a letter from his partner, Mr. W. Hardy, who is superintending a party at the Turon diggings on behalf of the firm, in which he states the astounding fact that they have procured 10 lbs. of gold with a quicksilver machine, in something less than two days. The letter, he states, was evidently written in a hurry, and Mr. Hardy is not very explicit as to the time. Mr. Bush is prepared to say that it cannot be more than two days, and is probably less.


From various and respectable source1; we have gleaned the following items of information respecting the present state of the Turon Diggings.

The immediate and most obvious effect of the new discoveries is a general dispersion of the mining population over a large extent of country, but none have contributed  largely to produce this result as the discovery of the gold fields of the Turon. There are gathered over a wide extent of country a mass of human beings variously estimated by different calculators at from 800 to 1500 souls.  But this dispersion  is not so much a matter of choice .but of necessity. The long intervals between the  water holes, not only in the Turon rivulet, but  in the Oakey Creek, Two-mile Creek, and. Crudine Creek, render it impossible to conduct mining operations, except in localities  distant from each other. The consequence is that wherever there is the greatest extent of  water frontage the largest number of miners |are assembled, and to a traveller the sight is a very interesting one, of a large mass of men  laboriously and most sedulously occupied in groups of 50, 100, and where water is abundant as many as 150, in a wild and rugged country.  which, "until within the last few weeks was the  seat of silence and solitude. Whatever direction  you may take in your rambles through the hills, you may unexpectedly stumble upon a small knot of many men located upon a water hole, addressing themselves to their golden | pursuits with characteristic diligence.

The great body of the miners are scattered jover about ten miles of the Turon rivulet, but there are parties at work in every quarter. We learn from Mr.. Cummings that there are about one hundred and fifty men now at work at the junction of the Turon with the Macquarie. He had with him a piece of the precious metal weighing about an ounce, which had been procured there the day before. This is the only piece of any size which has been found there, or which is worth dignifying with that ugly little appellation " nugget." As Mr. .Cummings is doing a flourishing business in mutton we presume a corresponding change in his sentiments relative to the gold discovery has taken place.

The principle group are as yet assembled about the Wallaby Rocks, owing to the prevalence to a greater extent than in any other spot yet discovered of the two prime requisites - gold and water. Except at the junction, there are comparatively few down the river. Our in- formant states that he unexpectedly stumbled on a party working by themselves in a quiet comer, a considerable distance down the river, where they had a good supply of water and were doing well. He know a few parties who had been getting an ounce a day each, but these were extreme instances. Several teams from Maitland had arrived within the last few days, and one individual from that town had opened a large stove immediately upon his arrival.

The issue of the licenses, and the collection of the fees, were proceeding peaceably ; but there was nevertheless a good deal of passive resistance. Every description of scheme and trick was resorted to by some to shirk the payment. Those who are doing very well . nave little inducement to scheme, and there- fore come forward voluntarily to take out their licenses ; but there are some, and always will be, Who doing either indifferently or moderately well, are seriously affected by the monthly tax of 30s., and it is not surprising that they do their best to avoid payment. In such cases, many of the diggers suddenly be- come idle spectators when the Commissioner heaves in sight, and affect to be gazing at anything about them in stupid wonder. Others scamper of into the bush, and deposit their bodies behind tree, returning to their labour when he has disappeared. In one way or another many evade payment altogether. The earnings of the miners generally have not been overrated in our reports, but rather the reverse. A gentleman of undoubted veracity, recently returned from the Turon, informs us that the party to which he belonged had been procuring an ounce of gold a day each, for some time past. He mentioned the names of several others who had been equally fortunate, and informed as that he had an ounce in his pocket which had been incurred by his son, who was at work by himself, in one day. Many of his neighbours, he stated, were earning £1 per day, and a man must be a " crawler" who did not make 10s. !

But from nil we have heard, the gentleman in  question has been at work in about the most  productive spot yet discovered. From another respectable individual, who has devoted some attention to the subject, and taken pains to  ascertain the general earnings of the Turon  miners, we learn that they vary greatly at| different points of the river, and that where water was plentiful and the diggings convenient thereto, they were making the most money. Ile fixes upon 5s. as the lowest, and ' rises to 30s. as the highest daily earnings. Isolated cases of a higher rate, he says, may occur, but they are too few in number to found a rule upon.

Several individuals have men employed, to whom they pay wages. Messrs. Want and Redman have about ten men at work on these terms, and are doing well. They are located near the second Wallaby Rocks. One party had a pump at work with a spout eight feet long, and were pretty successful. There was very little water about the place, but they sup- plied their wants by digging a hole in the bed of the creek, from which they procured sufficient for washing, cooking, &c. In many places the water is so scarce that the men were filling up the holes with the refuse from their cradles.

On Sunday and .Monday last, from forty to fifty Sydney people started back home. Many of them appear utterly helpless when they arrive at the mines, and remain there for a few days only, to cat up a portion of their supplies, and sacrifice the remainder. How many of them mustered courage to get through the journey up is astonishing, for one glance at the diggings appears to paralyse them.

As regards the public peace, the very best order prevails. On Tuesday night last a concert was got up, for admittance to which a trifling charge was made. There arc several females at the diggings. A professional gentleman from the metropolis;", accompanied by his young and blushing bride, is now rusticating at the Turon, and it is said is very successful in his digging operations. The party with whom he is connected have earned good wages.



Wednesday 30 July 1851

(From the Turon Correspondent of the Bathurst Free Press.)

SINCE my former visit to this plate, a wonderful ' change has occurred. The lonely gullies and solitary creeks and mountain sides where silence reigned supreme, are now alive with industrious and eager men anxious to win golden prizes. Two thousand people, at the very least, are scattered about the ranges of the Turon. On the day before my arrival more diggings had been discovered at Oakey Creek, about seven miles from the Wallaby Rocks, which promise to eclipse those already ' known. I have been over a large portion of the "round this week, and fro m all I can see and lean they appear to be exceedingly rich. Numerous pieces of three to fiveounces have been found. As you may suppose, when once the intelligence got abroad, hundreds rushed there helter skelter, and amongst them many parties who had been getting then: two to three ounces a day. Some of them in doing so changed for the better, and others, less successful, returned to their former ground to find it occupied by strangers. In consequence of this sudden migration, some of the storekeepers found themselves without customers, and were obliged to follow in their track.

After a very painstaking investigation and travelling over most of the diggings, the conclusion at which I have arrived is, that ninc teen-twentieths of the Turon miners are earning good wages. Any man who will work properly will earn good wages, 10s. a day, on an average. One party obtained 4 ounces yesterday, out of ten buckets of earth, at a part |f the river which goes by the name of i " Golden Point." I could give you a long list ' of cases of extraordinary good fortune, of which I have heard, but have* a disinclination to com- mit anything to paper of the truth of which I am not fully satisfied. Thus much, however, I will venture to affirm without citing instances, that numbers are making rapid fortunes, many more doing extremely well, and very fow complaining. The circumstance that cradles are greatly in demand, speaks volumes of itself. Philip Mylechorane informed me this morning, that he had just exchanged his cradle for an excellent horse, and was starting to Bathurst for a few moro, which he expected to soil advantageously. I am satisfied that a very good profit could be made at the Turon by the sale of cradles.

Mr. Cummings is doing a first rate business in mutton at the junction of the Oakey Creek with the Turon River, and is purchasing gold very extensively. As you observed in one of | your late papers, his opinions have undergone a considerable modification. Like Sir Roger De Coverly, he thinks that a great deal may be said on both sides. Considering his despond- ing views at the outbreak of the gold fever, a wonderful change must liavo como over the spirit of his drcom.

As regards myself I started as you know with the intention of steering for Dr. Kcrr's gold field, but on my way out met Mr. Suttor I and t'<e Doctor, who dissuaded me from my I purpose until I hcord further intelligence. For the remainder of the month I intend spending my time prospecting, in its comprehensive sense, This is a favourite game towards the conclusion of the month with many, and very naturally so. People cannot always make their arrangements so as to be on the ground at the beginning, and to strangers particularly, it is a very great hardship to be compelled to pay a month's licence for perhaps a week's work. To evade this unjust and unreasonable regulation numbers go a prospecting, which in this particular case means doing the Commissioner, by rocking their cradles at different points of the river, under the pretext of looking for a suitable spot to commence upon. As a matter of course this spot is never found until the commencement of the following month, when the prospecting business ceases by the payment of the license foe. With such a scope of available country as the Turon presents, 1 would defy any ten Commissioners in the universe, however indefatigable they may be in discharge of their duties, to prevent the men from working, license or no license. The best policy that government can pursue, therefore, is to charge the new-comers from the time of their arrival to the issue of the following month's licenses, There will then be much less inducement to dul4 e  the Commissioner.

There is another point to which government ought to direct its attention, and 'that is the correctness of the gold purchasers' weights, A gentleman informed me yesterday that he took a quantity of gold to a store and got it weighed. After carefully balancing the scales, the storekeeper pronounced it to be exactly 1 lb. To the great astonishment of the said storekeeper, the gentleman quietly pocketed his metal, and after thanking him, left the place. A few days afterwards, ti» gold was taken to Bathurst and sold, 'when by some means or other it had acquired an addition of 1¿ ounce on the road. Now, if this dishonest trader had the effrontery to try his villuny upon an educated and intelligent man, it is impossible to imagine to what extent he may cheat the unwary and less informed. A little time devoted to the inspection of the weights and scales of the cold merchants by one of the sub-Commissioners would be of infinite service to the gold-digging community. Gold is a precious commodity, and it is a pity to sec the industrious man cheated out of his earnings by such scheming rascal» as the individual alluded to.

There has been abundance of rain, and all the creeks are flooded. From those best acquainted with the Turon, I am informed that we may expect a constant supply of water for many months to come, as after such a flood as the present one, the river runs for a long time.

Since the receipt of our Turon Correspondent's letter, intelligence has come to hand of a lump of gold having been found by Mr. J. R. Baker, of the South Head Road, between the Golden Point and Oakey Creek, which was weighed at Mr. Austin's Turon store, and found to contain 41 <>z. 1 dwt. From this and other instances of a similar character it will be perceived that the precious metal is found in mass in the higher portion of the Turon.