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In a historical review of the El Dorado field, the point needs to be made that its deep mining attracted a better class of miner than in the Gold rush areas further up the creek. For example, in those first years there is no record of murder at El Dorado.

Higher along the creek, no less than 15 murders are documented during the initial six months.

The Gold Rush at Beechworth and down into the Woolshed Valley was for surface alluvial gold which could be accessed at the surface of the river bed. Thus very few tools were necessary, and therefore anybody could dig for gold.

But El Dorado was situated at the end of the valley where the gold was far deeper, up to 100 metres, and expensive machinery was needed to gain access to the gold.  There was never a mad rush to El Dorado, as this new mining locality meant working for wages in the deep mines, in a regular and stable manner.





                    1852                  27,966 oz                         1858             245,291oz

                    1853                 198,436oz                         1859             284,017oz

                    1854                 138,588oz                         1860             286,616oz

                    1855                 192,027oz                         1861             244,056oz

                    1856                 342,828oz                         1862             167,137oz

                    1857                 346,809oz


The Prodution Records of El Dorado's two largest mines (open cut sluicing) of the 20th Century show the following total production


From 1901 until 1941,

                                        Total Gold                                 117,378ounces

                                        Total Tin Concetrates,                 1,673tons   


From 1936 until 1955

                                        Total Gold                                70,664ounces

                                        Total Tin Concentrates,               1,356tons




The Kneebone Gold & Tin Mining Co, 1858 to 1872

The McEvoy Company, 1859 to 1879, 1890 to 1901

                Mining Disaster, July 1895.

The Wellington Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1860 to 1877

The Great Extended Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1868 to 1870

The Golden Lake Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1868 to 1870

The Ovens Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1867 to 1878

The Try Again Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1883 to 1885

Eldorado Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1888 to 1895

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Cocks Pioneer Electric Gold & Tin Sluicing Company, 1898 to 1941

Cocks El Dorado Gold Dredging Company, 1935 to 1954



The principal of centrifugal sand pump system, known as hydraulic sluicing, is in its simplest terms is one where a high powered nozzle of water washes the dirt within an open cut to a lower point. A gravel pump draws up the water and solids and elevates it to sluice boxes, set out with a ripple system which catches the gold and tin because both are heavy materials. The tailings of the sluice boxes are brought together and a further gravel pump elevates this residue to a tailings dump, which is built on the downstream side of the workings.




The Gold Dredge commenced in 1936 and ceased operations in 1954. In total it produced 70,664 ounces of gold and 1,383 tons of tin concentrate. The dredge has remained tied up at ElDorado since it closed in 1954.

This was the largest dredge in the Southern Hemisphere. The dredge was a floating object with a weight of 2142 tons. Power for the whole electrical equipment of the dredge was supplied by the State Electricity Commission. El Dorado used so much electricity, that only two towns in all of Victoria pulled more electricity, they were Melbourne and Geelong.

The digging buckets travel around a top pivoted steel ladder with a weight of 163 tons. Moving around the digging ladder are approximately 110 buckets each weighing 1.6 tons. The buckets pass a given point at the rate of 21 per minute. The buckets lift the materials to the top tumbler, discharging their contents which pass via a chute to a trommel screen 14.6 metres in length and 2.7 metres in diameter. The gold and tin is so small or fine that it passes through the holes in the screen, whilst the larger gravel and clay is spiralled through the screen and is tailed off to the pond at the rear of the dredge.

The gold and tin are concentrated by the action of gravity fed pulsating jigs, located towards the rear of the main floor. The valueless tailings from these jigs are discharged to the pond by sand chutes.

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1    Bucket Ladder

2    Bucket ladder moved by elaborate set of pulleys and cables

3    A 160 horse power winch to raise and lower the bucket ladder.

4    Small jib crane (with lattce work) used to remove and replace buckets.

5    Original motor was 300 horse power. Used to move the bucket chain.

6    Large rotary screen.

7    Various jigs (agitators).

8    Course gravel and stones were caught in the rotary screen, (6), passed into the lower semi circular stone chute(8),          and discharged from the stern.

9    Poor grade material was ejected via the upper semi circular chute.

10    The waste material from the primary jigs was discharged as a slurry into open troughs or launders running down              each side of the dredge and protruding from the stern.

11    Fine waste from the jigs was pumped through a long pipe suspended from the stern on a lattice frame, and                  discharged on top of the course gravel and stones.

12    This small tin shed was the "Dunny" or toilet.

13    Overhead travelling crane, used to lift heavy equipment on and off the dredge.

14    The control room.

15    The elaborate system of electrical switches and meters which controlled the various motors.

16    This area has mechanical levers which controlled winches, which in turn controlled all movement of the dredge.



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The ElDorado Dredge on the Lake.

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Repairing the Bucket Chain





Eld15.JPG (28252 bytes) The Gold Dredge walk is a facinating walk around the lake that the dredge has remained moored in since 1954.

The lake is on the east side of town, 100 metres along Byawartha Road. There are seats and tables set up for tourists, plus there is an excellent brochure available at the tourist information board in the car park at the Dredge.

The brochure walks you round the track to various locations and vantage points, and explains the workings of the dredge and explains what you can see rom each point.

The walk is easily done in 15 minutes.


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