Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins Reserve, Reefer Battery, 1870

From Engineering Heritage New South Wales

Gold exploration, winning the ore and its processing, are a much romanticised part of Australian history because gold was one of the few ways in which men, who were poor and had little or no capital, could become rich – and at times fabulously so.

The Adelong Goldfield was among the earliest reef mining localities in Australia. Payable alluvial gold was discovered in 1852 and gold mineralised in reefs in 1857. The total yield of the Adelong Gold-field over a productive life of nearly 100 years is estimated to be 25 tons, as such, Adelong ranks as one of the major gold producing districts in NSW[1].

By the 1860s, Australia was producing 40% of the World’s gold[2]. The Reefer Battery - now known as the Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins, is an integral part of the significant 19th century Adelong Goldfield mining landscape. Its significance relies upon those once productive sites along Adelong Creek with which the Reefer Battery had an important contextual relationship. It is an important reminder of the legendary 19th C gold rush era during which great wealth was produced for the Colony of NSW and as a result ensured the Colony’s financial viability.

The Reefer Battery started life as the Reefers Battery upstream of the Reefers Battery site in 1858 and was re-established at Adelong Falls site in 1870 where it worked for a further forty-five years and in 1915 was the last mill to close on the Adelong Goldfield. The then Inspector of Mines with the NSW Department of Mines [in 1878 appointed Chief Inspector] W H Slee who advised in his 1876 report on the Adelong Goldfields.

My practical experience of gold-mining during twenty-two years on the principal gold-fields of the Australian Colonies has led me to form these opinions. The Adelong Gold-field deserves better attention by bon fide capitalists. With capital judiciously invested, and prospecting carried out in a systematic manner, Adelong would take first rank among the gold-fields of New South Wales.

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Engineering Heritage Recognition Program

Marker Type Engineering Heritage Marker (EHM)
Award Date 6 April 2013
Prominent People Sir David Wilson, Sir William Ritchie, Sir Peter Nicoll Russell
Nomination Document Available here
Ceremony Booklet Not Available
Interpretation Panel None installed
  1. NSW Department of Primary Industry Prime Facts 558 February 2007
  2. Aust Mining History Assoc Bibliography of Australian Mining History
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