03 November, 2010

A wreck in the river

A regular trip takes me down river to the coast.  About 80 kilometers down there is one brief glimpse of something unusual showing in the water.  I was recently told it was a gold dredge so I stopped one time and took some photos.
Roxburgh.  Clutha River.
At Roxburgh.  Clutha River.
It seems that these are the remains of the 'Jubilee' gold Dredge that accidently sank here in January 1906.   It is amazing that anything visible still remains, given the power and ferocity of this great river tearing at it 24 hours a days for over 100 years ever since.

The area of trees on the far side of the river is the 'Ladysmith' gold mining area which was hugely significant in those years.  You will note the names of the era, both in regard to the Boer War, and the Queen Victoria.

In the early 1900s the gold dredges were at their peak.  With about 100 dredges on 150 km of river.  Victorian Technology at it's best.
Multiple dredges on the Lowburn flats.  About 10km from home.
The most successful gold Dredge of all time was the "Lady Ranfurly."  Which lies beneath the water just at our back gate on the north bank of the Kawarau.

Lady Ranfurly.  The most successful of all time.
Some were simply huge.  The Austral Dredge, below, worked Lowburn about 10kms from us, until 1952.  It finished because it ran out of accessible ground.

The Austral-NZ gold-dredge at Lowburn, the world's largest gold-dredge
But the human spirit springs eternal.  Recently, about 100 years after the peak of the lady Ranfurly success there is another dredge on the river.  About 80 kilometers downstream someone else is giving it a go.  The "Cold Gold' dredge started up for about six months ago.  Then ceased for modifications and now is back in operation.  It seems to be using a suction technique rather than buckets.    It's not a huge multinational, but you don't run a labour and fuel intensive dredge like this cheaply either.

They are still there, so they must be doing ok.  But as with all who follow the fascination with gold.  They are not saying much.
2013.  Still spending big money on chasing gold.  Modern Gold dredge
The constant drone of big powerful machinery drifts across the water.  Modern gold dredge

About the same size as the Lady Ranfurly.  Diesel not steam.


1 comment:

  1. Incredible to see how much land they moved (and destroyed) to get those mere suitcase volumes of gold (mind you, a suitcase worth a great deal of money). Thanks for the link over at Geotripper, these are great pictures.


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