Cape York has so much history both remembered but sadly a lot forgotten. On the way into Chilli Beach the other day some old mines popped up on the Hema as we headed along Portland Road. After a little digging we found the access track just after the Wenlock River. Not an easy track to find or navigate but was well worth the time and explore.
Formally called the Wenlock Goldfield - it was named back in 1892 and in the following years there were a few name changes, but it wasn’t until 1930 that a town emerged and was called Batavia.
The discovery of gold in the cape formally dates back to 1876 when the Palmer fields were discovered some 100 km away to the south near Coen.
At the time when the Batavia fields were going full steam they were the richest fields in cape York, and had two huge stampers operating, several boarding houses with nearly 80 workers operating the machinery. History states that one of the stampers ( a three headed one ) operated 24 hours a day, but by 1939 a round roller mill was bought in - a Huntington mill.
Over the next few years more gear was bought in that included a portable steam engine, compressors and rock drills, as most of the gold was located close to the surface.
The claims covered a 13km square area with a host of different mine names and camps. The Batavia Goldfields were worked solidly until 1950 when huge floods went through the area and the last of the miners William Stanley passed away in 1957.
Today its pretty amazing to find the old gear in the bush, slowly rusting away. We found the Huntington roller mill, several old steam engines, water pumps and bins, old vehicle chassis, boilers, mines and mine heads, the list goes on and a lot of it stamped Rushton, London.
We did find the lone grave of Mr Thomas Power who passed away in 1930, it's reported he died in a gun fight !!. His grave over looks the beautiful Wenlock river with huge mango trees nearby, this is where the locals had gardens and lined the paths with upturned beer bottles !
Very humbled to of walked around and to of seen the gear which is a passion of mine.
Anyone else been in here ?