The Young Goldfield, N.S.W

Young is 388km west of Sydney and has a present day population of around 7000 with numbers peaking during the times of the goldrush to over 20,000. The town was initially called Lambing Flat and was proclaimed Young in mid 1861, being named after the then Governer of New South Wales, Sir John Young.

The total gold estimated to have been found from the field was over 14,600kg and the majoirity of this was alluvial gold.
A rich deposit of alluvial gold was found in Burrangong Creek at Lambing Flat towards the end of June, 1860. Lambing Flat itself was a level sheltered valley which formed a small section of the Burrangong Station, owned by James White. This area earned its name from the fact the ewes were brought to the valley during lambing season.

Following the initial discovery of alluvial gold in Burrangong Creek, other rich recent and Tertiary deposits of alluvial gold were found in many other creeks and gullies. The most important of these were:
The number of nuggets recovered were small compared with most other gold fields - a number of nuggets between 31 and 187 grams were found at Muttama and one of 249 grams was found at Tipperary Gully.
There are four other minor Goldfields south of the Young goldfield and these are the Wombat, Harden-Murrumburrah, McMahons Reef and Garangula. They initially formed part of the Young Goldfield but it is only in recent years that they have been considered to be separated Goldfields.

Burrangong Creek still produces good colour even in the vicinity of the town. Other creeks and gullies that were rich in alluvial gold and still yield good colour are:
The last five gullies all flow into Burrangong Creek either from the East or the South.

The deposits of alluvial gold on the Young gold field were extremely rich but with so many claims staked on each new deposit discovered, it was inevitable that the alluvial deposits would son be worked out. By mid 1865 many of the diggers began to leave for other goldfields and by the end of the year only a scattering remained but they continued to win alluvial gold for over a decade. Within a few weeks of the discovery numerous bark and slab huts shanties tents and  were being erected along the banks of the creek ,. This settlement son became a town  known as lambing flats. and was eventually renamed Young. By the middle of 1861 the population had risen to 20000 and of this total almost 1000 were Chinese. The majority of the non Chinese were native born Australians, The rest were from Europe and North America. The Oriental bank was the first bank to open on the goldfield in January 1861. and immediately offered diggers $7.40 an ounce for their gold. Up until this time the diggers had been selling their gold to unscrupulous storekeepers and sly grog owners at prices that were far below current market prices.

In August 1860 Charles Allen was the first storekeeper to open a general store on the banks of Burrangong Creek. Prior to this event, Allen had found gold and pegged a claim in chance gully. He was a successful gold prospector that had mined gold and owned stores on the Turon River and Ballarat goldfields. While Allen worked his claim his wife and two sons worked the store. Allen had a fervent hatred of the Chinese and also despised the owners of sly grog shanties, boxing booths and houses of prostitution.

Amongst the earliest gold-seekers to make their way to the new gold discovery at Lambing Flat were five diggers who were on the Kiandra Goldfield in the Snowy Mountains, when news of the gold discovery reached them.  They were William Spicer, Charles Stuart, Donald Cameron, Hughie McBride and Douglas MacLean;  the first three were to play a major role in the riots.  They arrived at Lambing Flat in mid-September and soon found a rich patch of gold in Spring Creek, where they pegged a five-man claim.By the end of the first week they had won 620g of gold.

Spicer was a native-born Australian who had joined the earlier gold-rush to the Californian goldfields, where he was thought to have struck it fairly rich.This would have accounted for the fact that he never worked or pegged a claim in all the time he spent at Kiandra.He hoped to one day change the Australian colony to a republic following the example set by America decades earlier.

The remaining four were Scotsmen who had been partners in a very successful claim at Kiandra.  Stuart and Cameron were even more anti-colonial than S[picer.  They were also biased against all races who were not white.

In the third week of September 1860 a butcher named Fog opened the first butchers shop on the diggings at Spring Creek.His 'silent' partner was Frank Gardiner, the bushranger.They had made a deal for Gardiner to 'duff' cattle, re-brand them and then deliver them to Fogg. Fogg would then slaughter the cattle and sell the meat to the diggers.The profits would be shared equally by Gardiner and Fog.

Fogg decided that he could also earn a great deal more money if he dealt in sly-grog;which he did.This ultimately proved to be his downfall.

Towards the end of September 1860, a European by the name of McCulloch Henley, arrived at the Chinese diggings on Spring Creek and announced his intention of opening a store to deal with the Chinamen. Having spent 11 years in China he spoke fluent Cantonese and subsequently became a spokesman, protector and interpreter for the Chinamen.Henley was to save a good many Chinese lives during the many riots that occurred on the goldfield.

Four major riots and a number of minor riots occurred between the Chinese and the white diggers on the Lambing Flat Goldfields within the first 12 months of the gold rush. The first riot occurred in the first week of October, 1861. As a result of this riot the Government finally sent a Sub-Commissioner, David Dickson, and three troopers to 'bring' peace to the goldfield.

Despite the presence of Dickson and his troopers, a second riot occurred on 9 December, 1860 then a third on 27 January, 1861;then finally the fourth and most vicious of all, on 30 June, 1861. Officially the number of Chinese dead was given as two, plus several dozen injured. Unofficially eye witnesses estimated the total number of Chinese deaths at between 30 and 40, with several hundred injured. The number of white diggers killed was one, and he was accidentally shot by the police!

Blackguard Gully is a historical site containing a dam built in 1861, a reconstructed pug-mill, water racers and the remains of the original diggings. The dam, pug mill and water races were owned and built by the Chinese and the diggings were also worked by them. The pug mill is a horse-operated device that was used for puddling wash which was then fed over a long tom where the gold was collected in the riffles. The site is at the top end of Whiteman Avenue in the eastern suburbs of Young.

Blackguard Gully covers an area of 3 hectares and part of it is a Department of Mineral Resources official fossicking area for the Young District.
Several of these gullies are on private property so please approach the property owners for their permission before entering. As always, leave the gates as you find them and don't forget to clean up before leaving. This way every one can continue to enjoy this historic field.


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