Full Record

The Yilgarn Goldfields : The Report of the Commissioner of Crown Lands : views of the government
Record no:
6 July 1890 (see Notes)
No publication is stated, but is most likely to be The West Australian.
The date used is the date the article was written, as no publication date appears.
Some words are marked [unclear] where the original has been torn.
Kept: Press clippings book 1, pp. 39-40



His Excellency, the Administrator, has favoured the press with copies of
the report of the Commissioner of Crown Lands upon his late visit to the

Yilgarn goldfield, containing his suggestions and recommendations.  We
understand that the report was kept back for a short time in order that
the Executive and the Finance Committee might in the first instance
discuss it.  The following is the report in full: —

I have the honour to report for the information of His Excellency the
Administrator, that I have visited the Yilgarn Goldfields, and have
carried out instructions conveyed to me by His Excellency in writing and
verbally before my departure.

I left Perth on the 23rd June, and proceeded to Southern Cross via York,
Youndegin, Mooranoppin, Totadging and Yorkrakine.  I then visited Parker's
Range and returned to Southern Cross.  I then proceeded to Golden Valley
and returned to Northam via Mangowine, Yarragin, and Goomalling.  I
reached Northam on 10th July, and Perth on 12th.

I will, for the sake of convenience and easy reference, divide my report
into eight separate subjects, and deal with each separately.  The headings
will be,

1.  Main road and branch roads.
2. Telegraph line.
3.  Water supply for Southern Cross, Parker's Range and Golden Valley.
4.  Miscellaneous requirements.
5.  Land.
6.  Kauffman Borer.
7.  The Warden.
8.  Prospects of the Yilgarn Goldfields.


I am of opinion that the main road should start from York and proceed to
Youndegin, a distance of about 35 miles, where it can be met by a road
from Northam and Newcastle and from Beverley.  Youndegin is situated
From York about 35 miles.
From Northam about 43 miles
From Newcastle about 61 miles
From Beverley about 35 miles
Youndegin is a suitable place for the roads from Northam, Newcastle and
Beverley to join the main trunk road.  A Government Reserve with permanent
water exists there.  From Youndegin the main road will pass Tammin,
Mooranoppin, and Doodlekine along or near to the present track, but from
Doodlekine it will go straight to Merredin, as shown on map enclosed
herewith.  From Merredin it will go to Boorancoppin, and then straight to
the granite rocks within 14 miles of Southern Cross, and then straight to
Southern Cross.  From York to Southern Cross will be about 162 miles, and
the distances from the townships in the Avon Valley will therefore be:
From Newcastle to Southern Cross 188 miles.
From Northam to Southern Cross 170 miles.
From York to Southern Cross 162 miles.
From Beverley to Southern Cross 162 miles.

The road to Parker's range will turn off at the granite rocks 14 miles
westward of Southern Cross, and proceed straight to Strawberry granite
rocks, and thence to Tamarin tank and Parker's range.  The distances to
Parker's range will then be:

From Newcastle to Parker's range 212 miles.
From Northam to Parker's range 194 miles.
From York to Parker's range 186 miles.
From Beverley to Parker's range 186 miles.

The road to Golden Valley will turn off about 120 miles from York, and
proceed by Yorkrakine, Keokranie, and the police tanks, to Golden Valley.
The distances will be: —

From Newcastle to Golden Valley, 186 miles.
From Northam to Golden Valley about 168 miles.
From York to Golden Valley about 160 miles.
From Beverley to Golden Valley about 160 miles.

It will be clearly seen from an inspection of the accompanying map that
the road, as now proposed, is the most direct that can be adopted, the
straight distance from York to Southern Cross being 157 miles, and it will
satisfactorily meet the requirements of all the towns in the Avon Valley,
and the acceptable to the people living on the goldfields.

It is highly desirable that this road should be cleared at once to a width
of 40 ft at least, and the best way of doing there is to instruct Mr
Raeside, who is now working for the Public Works Department, and has
[unclear] the appliances at hand, to begin at Southern Cross without
delay, and clear the line now being survey by Mr Surveyor King as far as
Doodlekine, a distance of about 90 miles; [sic] The remainder of the road
could be cleared by contract as soon as it has been surveyed, and I
recommend that another surveyor be employed in surveying the road from
Doodlekine to Youndegin and on to York, and also the branch road to Northam.

The cost of clearing will not, I think, exceed £15 per mile, so that the
whole cost of clearing the 162 miles will amount to £2430, and this amount
would probably cover the cost of well-sinking and dams in the few places
where they will be required in addition to those now existing.

I hope no time will be lost in instructing Mr Raeside, who is just
finishing the tank-making he has in hand, to begin this work from the
Southern Cross end.

The road from the 14-mile granite rocks to Parker's Range should also be
surveyed and cleared half a chain wide — the cost would be about £525.  A
road, also, from the main road to Yorkrakine, should be cleared half a
chain wide, and cost of about £150.

The total cost of clearing the roads would, therefore, amount to about
£3105, and, I think, this expenditure is most urgent and necessary, and is
justified in the best interests of the colony.


I think it is imperatively necessary that a Telegraph line should be
erected at once.  The interests involved warrant the expenditure, and not
a moment should be lost in carrying out this work.

Poles of gimlet wood can be obtained, and placed in positions along the
road at a cost of about 4 s. each.  This timber is fairly good, and will
last a good time, provided the poles are of a diameter of not less than 7
inches at the butt.

I strongly recommend that this work be proceeded with.


Good work has been done by Mr Raeside for the Public Works Department in
building tanks.  The situations selected have been excellent, and the work
has been substantially performed.  The two tanks nearest to Southern Cross
are "Koorkoordine Tank," which holds 120,000 gallons, situated 5 miles
away, and "Sayers Tank," which will hold 750,000 gallons, when full,
situated about 7 miles away. Koorkoordine Tank is full, but Sayers Tank
was only just being completed, and had not any water in it, when I saw it;
but, it is in a good situation, and will soon fill, when next there is a
heavy downpour of rain.

There are also tanks at Lake Cotton, which were full, but the water was

In order to provide a water supply for Southern Cross, I am of opinion
that a condenser should at once the obtained.  Mr Raeside informs me that
all that is required is a common shell boiler, 30 feet long by 4 1/2 feet
diameter, and a 2 inch Tangye steam pump and fittings, and a number of
tanks to hold the fresh water.  He suggests that 600 feet of the casing
tubes belonging to the Kauffman borer should be used for the condenser.

With these appliances, Mr Raeside estimates that he could turn out 3000
gallons of water every 24 hours, and that the total cost of placing the
whole thing in positions would not exceed £1000.  The machinery would be
worked and supervised by three shifts of one man each shift.  It is stated
that 2d. a gallon would gladly be paid for water, and it seems to me, that
an expenditure of say £1000 is the easiest and most certain way of
remedying the water difficulty.  It is, I think, highly improbable, that
fresh water will be obtained by sinking in the gold bearing area, within a
reasonable depth, and it is, therefore, cheaper and better to adopt a
certain means, rather than prospect further for what is uncertain.

At Parker's Range the present necessities would be met by constructing a
large tank and a cost of say £500.  A very suitable site exists, and Mr
Raeside could also superintend its construction.

At Golden Valley the present tank should be enlarged and stoned up, and
the faces and bottom cemented, as at present the tank is useless and
unfinished.  I should say £5 [unclear] will be required for this work
also, and [unclear] would, when completed, meet all present requirements.

With the tanks already made, a condenser at Southern Cross, a tank at
Parker's Range, and another at Golden Valley, at an aggregate cost of
£2000, all present requirements would be met, and the water supply placed
on a satisfactory basis, and are strongly recommend that these works be


The establishment of a Local Court at Southern Cross, the establishment of
the Post Office Money Order system, the sale of Revenue Stamps, the
appointment of a medical officer, the residents being willing to guarantee
half his salary, the appointment of a Commissioner to revise the goldfield
regulations, a weekly mail to Parker's range, and the formation of a gold
escort, were all brought to my notice at a meeting of residents of
Southern Cross.

I beg most strongly to recommend all these subjects for favourable
consideration, as being absolutely necessary for the well-being and
progress of the goldfields.

5.  LAND.

From York and Northam to the goldfields a considerable area of good land
is passed, heavily timbered with salmon gum, gimlet wood and morrel, and
on this land nothing whatever grows at present, owing to the timber which
appears to prevent any green from growing.  If, however, this timber is
ringbarked and killed, the land being good will grow good grass, and, I
believe, if cultivated will grow good hay, if not corn.  The only obstacle
is the uncertainty of the rainfall.  I propose to mark out a small special
area near Southern Cross in order to give facilities for cultivation, and
I should like the Government to lead the way, by clearing and cultivating
say 100 acres, and thereby ascertain whether hay and corn can be grown.
When it is remembered that hay is never less than £24 a ton, the great
importance of testing the land is apparent, and I hope something may be
done in proving the matter.  I the believe experiment will be successful
in most years.


This very expensive machine has been dismantled, and is safely stacked and
packed away, and I think it had better remain where it is for the present.
 Some of the casing tubes can be used for the condenser, as before
suggested, and the remainder can be used for the borer, when it is next

The portable engine is in good order and well protected, and will be very
useful to the Government for any work that requires steam power,
especially could it be utilised for working a circular saw, and in cutting
timber for public purposes.  Being on the spot, and likely to be useful, I
would recommend that it remain where it is for the present.  The whole
machinery being in Mr Raeside's charge, will be looked after properly, and
will always be available when required.


Mr Finnerty appears to exercise his authority with care and discretion,
and appears to be highly respected.  It is time, I think, that more
suitable quarters should be provided, and seeing that forage is so very
expensive, some extra allowance should be made on that account.


From my own observation I have no hesitation in saying that we have a
goldfield at Yilgarn, and I felt confident that, having regard to the
large area of gold-bearing country, in the early future this field will be
largely developed.  It behoves the Government to encourage and assist by
every means in its power this development, and if a good straight road is
made, a telegraph line erected, and a permanent water supply assured, it
will encourage those who have embarked their fortunes in developing these
fields, to persevere.

It is not to be expected that much more than this can be done at the
present time, seeing the transition stage in which the Government is
situated, but I feel sure a great deal more will be expected from those
who have the charge of public affairs under the new Constitution.

I believe that there are many more reefs known even now, and not even
reported, owing to the impossibility of floating any more companies, until
the success of those now working has satisfied the public of the
permanency and richness of the fields.


The Central mine and Fraser's mine are constantly work with a 10 stamper
battery at each mine, and, I believe, both these mines are being worked
systematically, and will both proved successful mines.  A Huntingdon Mill
is also at work at the Exchange mine, and was working very smoothly and
well.  It had crushed all the stone already raised in the Exchange mine,
and was about to begin crushing for other companies, thereby supplying a
great want.  It will probably prove very remunerative work crushing for
others, and its services are likely to be largely availed of to the great
advantage of the goldfields generally.

At Hope's Hill, the machinery was being erected.  At Fraser's South a
large amount of good work had been done, and everything made ready for
machinery, and both these mines look promising ones.

At Central Extended, shafts have been sunk and stone raised, but no
machinery was erected.

Many other places had been worked to some extent.

Alluvial gold has been and is being successfully worked at Southern Cross,
but was uncertain results.  All those working, however, obtain some gold,
and in some cases rich fines have been made.  I believe alluvial gold
exists and will be found over a large area, they present experience points
to its being very patchy.  The absence of a fresh water supply, moreover,
adds to the difficulty of working the alluvial.


At Uphill's machinery was erected, but was delayed for starting owing to
the non-arrival of a steam pump.  It is proposed, I understand, to work
this machinery as a public crusher for the present.  With the exception of
Uphill's machinery, there is no machinery at Parker's range.  A good deal
of prospecting is being done and a considerable quantity of stone has been
raised, and is ready to be crushed.  The stone at Parker's Range appears
to be rich.  At one mine, a primitive crusher had been erected, worked by
hand, and the manager showed me a small bottle fall of gold he had
extracted, and said he hoped to be able to pay wages by this means.  Some
very excellent specimens were given to me by Mr Wm. Parker, obtained from
his mine, and I observed myself that the stone being raised was very
promising.  No great depth had, however, been reached, but the quantity of
stone visible seemed considerable.  A large amount of work had been done
at MacIntosh's; shafts had been sunk and an excellent tank built, which
was well filled with water.  The stone raised seemed of a promising


A great deal of work has been done here and many shafts and drives made.
The stone raised at Waterhall's, and from the Kathleen, Marion, and other
shafts, looked very promising, and when crushed should yield good results.
 This place is almost abandoned, for what reason it is hard to say.  I was
informed that if a means of getting the stone crushed were available
plenty of good stone could easily be procured.  There are several hundreds
of tons of good-looking stone ready for crushing.

Having now gone through the principal workings on the Yilgarn Goldfields,
I may add a few words as to their probable future.  The want of capital is
the great difficulty.  It must always be borne in mind that up to the
present time it has only proved to be a quartz reefing field.  This being
so, a great expenditure is necessary, and long delay occurs before any
return can be obtained.  Added to this, that mines have been placed on the
market by speculators and others, before any substantial work has been
done to prove the reefs or even to prospect the ground.  The natural
result has been many persons have invested in mines which have scarcely
any reef, while others have become tired of paying calls, were no return
was probable at an early date.  If to this is added that the mining
investors are but a few number, one can readily understand the many causes
which have operated to embarrass gold mining on [unclear] the Yilgarn
goldfields.  That the industry will, in the end, surmount all
difficulties, I have no doubt, but if substantial assistance is not
rendered by the Government the progress may be slow and unnecessarily
delayed, unless the success of Central's and Fraser's gives new hope to

In conclusion I may be committed to record my thanks to the Warden, Mr
Finnerty, to Mr Raeside, and to the managers and others resident on the
goldfields, for the courtesy they extended to me, and for the assistance
they so willingly rendered to me.  I believe the Yilgarn goldfields will
prove to be of great value to the Colony.
Commissioner of Crown Lands
and Surveyor General.
July 6th, 1890.

With regard to this report we understand that the Administrator has kept
before him the resolution of the Legislature of 12 August last, and the
reply of His Excellency the Governor of the 13th same month, relative to
the construction of a telegraph from the Eastern districts to the Yilgarn
goldfield.  It may be remembered that His Excellency, when in York, some
months ago, stated it was his opinion the road should be made by the
Government as a trunk line to goldfield from some point on the Eastern
Railway, having regard to the fact that the great necessity was to have
good and easy communication from the capital and chief port of the colony
to this promising field.  Accordingly we have been given to understand
that the subject was made one for the consideration of the Executive
Council, who agreed that Mr Forrest should be delegated by the Government
to proceed to the goldfield himself and, after a thorough examination,
report on the best line or route for a trunk road, and also on many other
matters connected with the goldfield, which demanded consideration at the
hands of the Government.  We believe it is now the intention of the
Government to proceed forthwith with the clearing of the road from York to
Southern Cross has recommended in the report, and probably the
construction of a telegraph.  This last will then be a very easy and
inexpensive work, as the party clearing the road will be instructed, as
far as practicable, to cut and stack along the line the poles necessary to
carry the telegraph on.  Whether the other works enumerated in the report,
including the purchase of the materials for the telegraph, will be carried
out before the Legislature meets, we have been given to understand is not
yet determined on.  The work of clearing the main road for 162 miles,
though for the most part, through light forest and thicket, is one which
will occupy some three months, even though the system in the report is
followed.  There is a great advantage to be gained by opening up a quick
means of transit for mails and passengers, as we believe the intention is
to get the mails taken through at the rate of 5 miles an hour, travelling
night and day, which will thus only occupy 32 hours on the journey.  The
reason why the Government may shrink from the cost of the telegraph at
this date is perhaps the cost of upkeep, which a report from the
Postmaster General, printed in the proceedings of the Legislative Council
1889, estimates that over £850 a year.  We shall recur to this matter a
greater length later on.
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