The Forbes & Parkes Goldfield .
The Forbes & Parkes goldfields are located approx 380km West North West of Sydney.
The fields contain gold of both primary and secondary nature and covers an area of approximately 50km long by 10km wide adjacent to the towns of Parkes and Forbes.
The combined total gold production of these fields is 18,900kg.
The discovery of gold in 1861 was followed by a frenzy of alluvial mining which resulted in approximately half this amount. In 1862 the first reef gold was found in the Parkes District and a tent town sprung up to serve the miners. This town was called "Currajong". By 1867 gold was not being found as readily and a new reef discovery at "Bushman's Hill" in 1871 led to another rush with the area being named "Bushman's" after the initial find .
In 1873 the town was renamed to Parkes, in honour of the then Prime Minister of New South Wales, Mr. Henry Parkes who visited the site during that year. On the day of his visit, 1 December, a nugget weighing 4.1kg was found at the nearby "Welcome" claim.
The first alluvial gold was dicovered in the Lauchlan River in June 1861.Within six months of this discovery the population had reached 28,000. The first discovery was led by several more substantial alluvial gold finds. Many of the finds were shallow alluvial deep leads. More than 7,310kg of alluvial gold was reported to have been won in less than 12 months. This figure rose to 9,330kg of gold after two years.
By 1863, the population had fallen to 3,500 and this included many experienced prospectors who began the search for the source of the alluvial gold. These were first of the Tertiary Deep Leads was discovered and worked in 1862. The most productive of the deep leads were:
The "South" deep lead which was worked to 65m,
The "Caldeonian" deep lead and tributaries which were worked to 25m,
and the "Bald Hill" deep lead which was worked from 55m to 73m.
The average depth of the wash in these leads was 70cm. Most of the alluvial gold was fine but the occasssional nugget was found.
These leads were worked intermittently up to the 1930's but mining was made difficult due to the presence of water in the mines.
After the easily found alluvial gold at Forbes was found the miners started prospecting in the Parkes area in 1862 leading to the first payable reef gold find by James Pugh. James was later awarded the £1000 for the first gold discovery on the "Currajong" Goldfield which was later renamed "Parkes" Goldfield. Reef mining continued until 1867. The official estimate of gold won from Parkes during this time was 1,244kg.
Deep leads were also worked in the Parkes Goldfield and generally the gold found was more abundant and nuggety. The most productive deep leads worked in the field were:
"Bushman's" deep lead and tributaries, which were worked to 28m,
The "London" deep lead and tributaries, which were worked to 60m,
The "Welcome Butcher" lead and tributaries, which were worked to 40m,
"McGuiggan's" deep lead which was worked to 49m,
The "No Mistake" and "Reed's Gully" deep leads and tributaries, and
The "Scrubby Plains" alluvial workings.
Between 1875 and 1878 many large nuggets were removed form these deep leads with the largest being 4.6kg. The lead which produced most nuggets was the "Welcome Butcher" lead and tributaries.
Many reef mines were worked on the site with the deepest being the "Koh-i-noor" mine which reached 304m. The first reef worked was the "Bushman's" in 1867 with many of the others being worked from 1883. The last to close was the "London" in 1947.
The most recent discovery of gold in the district is to be worked by North Broken Hill Peko Ltd and is at Goonumbla, approx 27km north of Parkes. The company expects to earn more than $5 billion during the estimated mine life span of 21 years.
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