Page images
PDF
EPUB

NEW SOUTH WALES..

feet above the general level, there is amidst the other detritus some silicified coniferous
wood, which cannot be distinguished from that which is so abundant in the carboniferous
basin of the Hunter and in the Illawarra.

Higher up to the southward this fossil wood abounds near Walcha and on Cobrabald
Creek, and it is intermediately dispersed. The detritus also exhibits abundance of frag-
ments of just such transmuted rocks as are common in the drift of the Hanging Rock and
Peel Gold Fields; baked grits, jasper, flinty slate, and fragments of local rock, granite, trap,
schist and quartz, which, if drifted, have come a little distance from the north ; and with
these occur the fragments of the iron ore before alluded to.

There can, therefore, be no doubt as to a vast disruption and destruction of the whole of the rocks in this area. But, it is impossible to suppose that these were the results of the breaking down of the side of the basin, towards the coast, by the formation of the Falls of the Macleay; simply because there are places on the dividing range which would have drained the water before it could have reached some of the points between the falls, and unless the water had attained a level equal to the culminating points of the basin, it could not have destroyed the rocks at those points.

20. Moreover, in the Rocky River, and on Kentucky Creek, and in other western waters, leading to which the gaps in the dividing range are low, there would be traces of the detritus derived from the eastward, which, so far as my examination of the “ tailings” of numerous cradles leads me to conclude, I cannot recognise. The detritus therein is traceable to the various forms of granite along these waters, and to the dominant plateau of trap and iron stone and quartz that overhang them,

21. Again, the iron ore before mentioned is found at such levels on the granite, and in the alluvial plains, and when examined appears to be such a modern conglomerate, entangling the pebbles of the surface, that it must be taken to have originated in the decomposition of trap, producing furruginous matter which was carried down probably by rains, and floods into the hollows which retained the water of the lagoons then existing and concreting the light materials that it met with, so forming a limit which marks the points to which these lagoons extended. Those lagoons, however, could not, even if suddenly drained, have produced the denudation and destruction which the higher grounds have undergone by water.

The gold, therefore, and gems which are on both sides of the range (both on eastern and western waters), could not have been dispersed by the bursting of a barrier to the eastward, and by the discharge of waters which could not have been retained on the western side. Such a disruption would only have left its traces in a very limited space : and what is called the table land is merely a sloping plateau.

22. I was called upon to review a similar question in Maneero. There, as here, exist numerous hollows in which rain water accumulates, in which are eroded blocks of granite, and on the shores of which iron stone and waterworn baked grits are in association with trap. Though in Maneero, there are a multiplicity of lakes formed by hollows in the trap) rocks, as well as swamps, just as there are in New England, there was nothing more satisfactory to my mind there than there is here, as to the existence of vast reservoirs of deep water upon the present narrow and broken table land. The dispersion of the gold is, therefore, due to some other cause. So far as Maneero is concerned, the melting of snows when the country was at a higher elevation (and of these, I think, I see evidence in the polished rocks mentioned in my Southern Report, No. XII.) seems a more probable cause of dispersion, either in connexion with, or independent of, a diluvial torrent.

23. That there was a subsidence of some portions of this continent before the final elevation during and since the tertiary epoch is, in some degree, proved by the polished condition of certain rocks in Maneero to which I made allusion in the XIIth Report of my southern expedition.

In my opinion, the polished surfaces in question owe their condition to snow.

In the present state of the climate, and at the present level above the sea of these rocks, snow never lies in their neighbourhood more than a few days or hours, and could not produce such effects.

But if the continent once stood at a generally higher, though not greatly higher elevation, the snows of the Alpine chain of the Muriong must have extended into these very localities, and ice would then have existed as glaciers; the snows would thus have produced here the same results ascribed to them in Europe and America.

On subsiding, the effects of these phenomena would be exhibited in just such a way as we now contemplate; and, therefore, it is in strict accordance with a favourably received hypothesis, to conclude that there must have been a subsidence of a great part of the Australian highlands previous to the elevation which commenced at the close of the tertiary period, and may in some localities, now be going on.

I suggested recently in a letter to Sir R. J. Murchison, that the dispersion of the gold might have been in some degree connected with the melting of the snows, as well as with the subsidence of the land. In coming to a safe conclusion as to the breaking up of the auriferous formations and the consequent first dispersion or accumulation of the gold, the deductions from the consideration of the existence of polished rocks and their probable origin must not be lost sight of. Further, it may be remarked, that the ocean current

[ocr errors]

NEW which has scattered the local drift in the present auriferous localities came from the southSOUTH WALES. ward, i.e. from the colder quarter.

24. The fossil wood which is so abundant on the highlands of both Maneero and New England offers also a further argument. When were they fossilized ? In the Hunter Basin and Illawarra they are undoubtedly of the age of the coal beds. I took the opportunity of inquiring as to the history of one fragment, which was given to me by a person who said, that, eight years since, he broke it from a silicified branch of a living casuarina lying in the waters of a hollow a few miles from Salisbury. I have been since informed by one who well knows, that no casuarina ever existed there at the time mentioned, or before it, nor is there even any such tree growing about the plain. *

Now, if these trees, which are not casuarina or of the kind of pine which still is found on the Dividing Range (as near Salisbury), did not grow on the table land, whence were they drifted ?

25. They must have come from a carboniferous formation which does not exist at all, or from the over-arching beds of that formation which now exists east, west, and northward of New England, and which, in geological sequence, must have been many hundred feet higher than the highest of the elevated transmuted rocks upon the Peel and its

Geology is conversant with such over-arching forms and with such denudation of strata.t

But if we admit this, it could not have been denudation which could scatter gold from a height of 20,000 feet, as some have imagined, the product of beds above the carboniferous formation alluded to; for the gold would all have disappeared with 20,000 feet of matter, and could not have rested upon the cordillera at all, when so decapitated; nor could there in such a case have been such reservoirs of water as others have imagined, and of which the present surface, waterworn as it is, affords no sufficient evidence.

26. The conviction of my mind is, that the dry land of Australia was once far wider than now; that is, extended to the eastward; that it stretched seaward so as to advance nearer to New Zealand, and the intermediate islands, which all evidently rise from the same submarine base ; that the continent, then occupying a nobler portion of the Pacific, has oscillated vertically, and, therefore, has been shattered and broken up; that we now inhabit but a portion, and that a ridge only of the ancient Australia ; that vast areas to the eastward have sunk, of which we have traces in our present sea-border; and that consequently there was once, if not more than once, a breadth of surface sufficiently wide, perhaps, to have allowed the formation of reservoirs, or when higher of melting snows, and other agencies by which drift has been produced in other regions; but I do not say, these reservoirs were, probable, on a mere ridge.

In fact, the surface phenomena require greater elevation above the sea, and a broader base, with wider breadth of land, if we would satisfactorily account for them : for they occur on the summit of a very narrow spine, and not in the low region surrounded by lofty mountains.

The scenery is too tame for the phenomena. At a higher elevation, the atmosphere could have operated towards such results as we see; it is now far too dry and languid for such exertion.

27. The above remarks will serve to meet a conjecture respecting such gold as appears in New England amidst granite. It is said by some, that such gold (as it occurs on the Ovens) has been recently drifted.

We may ask, whence would it have drifted up to New England ?

It may have drifted from the granite ranges immediately overhanging the Ovens and its Creeks, which are at a very trifling elevation above the sea compared with the head of the Peel, of the Rocky River, or of Tilbuster Creek.

It could not have been drifted up hill from the Lower M'Leay or the Gwydir. Wherever it comes from, it has not travelled far. If it came from the now denuded sclists, and supposed carboniferous beds, where in those rocks, elsewhere, do we find such abundance of gems, or where are the fragments of gold and auriferous quartz veins, the gold of which is so very different ? I see no other conclusion, therefore, than that to which I have come :-it is local gold, and its first dispersion took place by the waters of the ocean, the waves of which have left their traces not only in the destruction of hardened rocks, but in the accumulation of the fragments which they produced upon the lanı, during one of its ascents from below, and in the palpable erosions of the granite itself even upon the summit of the ranges as well as in those hollows, which even now, retain the appearance of shallow lagoons.

That trees yet standing may be partly converted into silex, is proved by the state of a silicified forest in King's Island (see Flinder's Voyage), but the trees are dead. The late Mr. Kennedy told me one of his party found a tree living partly fossilised near the sources of the Victoria River: he did not find it himself. I have seen no such instance, but in almost all cases, the fossil wood that is drifted has been subjected, before it was fossilised, to partial decay; the specimen now in question was worm-eaten also, and therefore, could not have been living when converted into stone. Some years

since I described a forest of the kind, the stumps of the trees all fossilised and standing in the midst of conglomerate at Awaaba or Lake Macquarie. The account is in the Proceedings of the Geological Society, and has been copied by Mantell and others.

+ See the Memoirs and Sections of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom.

NEW SOUTH WALES,

meanour.

28. As the wear and tear of the elements continue, now the land is again risen, no doubt decay goes on, and year by year the surface of the auriferous granite becomes more and more exposed; and thus the gold is collected into the drainage channels, and will, doubtless, be collected still, till these decaying store houses of wealth have disappeared, and man has gathered it into his own garner.

29. The localities in which it is known to occur in the present area are very many, but in some it is more abundant than in others.

On the eastern side of the Dividing Range it has not been worked, but it is procurable in Tilbuster Creek, in Gara water, in Saumarez Creek, in the neighbourhood of the Wollomumbi River, in some parts of the Salisbury waters, and in others falling from the range.

Ningiai Creek, near Armidale, also contains it. Of these, I can speak confidently,

I think it not unlikely that a man might obtain at least five shillings per diem from gold alone in some parts of the Tilbuster country; but the abundance of gems would, even at a low marketable value, increase the profit.

I do not know what these may be worth for the use of the lapidary; but at present they are thrown away in vast quantities as valueless, and are regarded by gold diggers as an inconvenience, it being difficult to separate them from the gold.

30. On the western side of the Range there is gold in all the creeks and river channels at the head of the Gwydir. No activity has yet been displayed except on the Uralla, which has been worked (under the head of the “Rocky River Diggings ") from about 3 miles above the junction of the Kentucky branch to a short distance from the junction with the Bondara, in all about fifteen miles.*

31. At this time there are employed in the occupation of gold-washing about 210 adult persons, and I consider it my duty to bear testimony to the respectability of their de

I have been many times along the river, and I have never seen one instance of impropriety or want of self-respect amongst them. Many of them are of a superior class, and all I have seen are well-conducted. I have not heard of any instance of “sly grog selling," and on the river I have seen no drunkenness. It is to be hoped, they will be able to maintain the character of their community, after additions from other fields. Mr. Commissioner Massie, to whose zeal, activity, and judgment too much praise cannot be accorded, tells me, that he has nothing to complain of in the way they have met his demands; I believe in this field every individual up to this date has paid, and cheerfully, bis License Fee.

32. As to the quantity of gold procured, I believe no available information can be had. Much of it has been bought by traders from other localities; and it has been, therefore, included in the remittances by the Tamworth Escort and by private hands. But, I presume, in consequence of its distinctive character, that there can be little difficulty in recognising it amidst the coarser samples from the Hanging rock and Peel.

I will merely observe, that my anticipations have not been disappointed, and the amount of licenses paid for, since the public commencement of the works, (now eleven weeks,) which I understand are 364, and which cover only fifteen miles of one narrow river, not half worked, show, that though this field makes no pretensions to anything extraordinary, it has respectable claims to consideration.

It is difficult to obtain precise information as to individual success or the contrary ; and I do not wish to rely upon what persons may please to tell me, either one way or the other.

I would rather rely upon the License Fees, my personal experience, and the general opinion which I can form of the country from its physical conditions.

33. In the preceding details, I have stated fully what are my views, and though I have therein pointed out, that a granite gold field is not always likely to be of very long continuance, in consequence of the facility of obtaining its alluvial gold; and on former occasions have shown that difficulties of other kinds exist, likely to aid the prejudices of gold-diggers, in general against such fine metal as such a field alone supplies, I think that as the researches of those employed are extended, other spots than those now worked will be found along this river, and on other streams belonging to the same system of waters. At present only two or three parties have employed any engineering skill, nor have the boulders been removed from the bed of the river in more than one or two claims. I do not doubt, that under these there is much gold.

The Hanging Rock Gold Field has revived, as I was sure it would ; and though some of the persons who have been working onthe Rocky River have expressed disappointment at the very capricious way in which the gold is there distributed, and have returned to the Hanging Rock, this has been under an influence easy to be understood, for the general remark made to me by those who keep steadily at work is, that on this river “a man is sure to make something."

* Gold exists, however, in small quantities all the way to the head of the Kentucky branch, and above the present works on the Rocky River ; and on the summit of the dividing range near the latter, always mingled with gems.

NEW

The very nature of the circumstances I have detailed in the former part of this Report SOUTH WALES. will, probably, prevent this river becoming a permanent field, nor will its limits allow

of a large population.

But, extending our views beyond the present moment to times when, it is to be hoped wages will be moderate and provisions at reasonable prices, it is more than probable, that a great number of persons will be able to find constant employment as gold-washers, not only in the rivers, but even on he table land itself.

34. I have already expressed my opinion as to the probable future importance of the country between this and the junction of the Namoi and Gwydir, over which, I am thoroughly persuaded, gold is to be found in numerous localities.

To test this experimentally, and as it ought to be tested, is not in my power, nor in that of any single individual ; it is the work of a multitude.

Yet, though “caution” is necessary in deducing extensive conclusions from the limited data supplied by what one set of gold washing implements can supply, and in the excitement of the public mind it may require extreme " caution” when dealing with the commercial value of a country as a gold region, I think sufficient has been advanced by me in this Report, and in those which precede it, which may be considered satisfactory as to the inference, that the Hanging Rock and Peel River Gold Fields are the "outskirts” of one of wider extent.

35. The following table of (approximate) elevations of localities in the areas which are the subject of this and my preceding Report, will supply data for the comprehension of the arguments I have advanced respecting the drainage of the country :

TABLE OF ELEVATIONS, CONTINUED FROM REPORT No. V.

[ocr errors]

Feet above
No.

sea level.
24. Camp on Cockburn River, near Nimmingar -

1217 25. Bendemeer, on the M‘Donald (Namoi)

2323
26. Point on the Moonbi Ranges

3065
27. Do.
do.

3296
28. Do.
do.

3593
29. Moonbi Pass

2938 30. Carlyle Gully (Crossing

2821 31. Granite Range above the descent from Bendemeer

3437 32. Dividing Range, head of Cougai Creek

3532 33. Head of Berg-op-Zoom Creek

3232 34. Walcha (Station

3122 35. Fall of the Apsley, near Waterloo

2927 36. Bottom of the Fall

2671 37. Camp on Stony Creek (above the crossing).

3027 38. Tiara (Denne)

3200
39. Tiah (M Nab

3152
40. Top of the high Fall of the Apsley River (below Tiara) 2987
41. Ridge above the right bank of the Apsley, at the Fall 3195
42. Summit of Apsley Range (head of Tiara, Wilson's Creek,
Stony Creek, and Reedy Creek)

3800
43. Dividing Range (south of Orundunbee)

3510 Do. eight miles further north

3481 45. Junction of Tinker's Fall' and the Cobrabald Creek

3059 46. Junction of Cobrabald Creek and M‘Donald (Namoi) River 2925 47. Blue Mountains, near Emu Creek

4126 48. Camp under Black Nob on Ohio Creek

3248 49. Black Nob

3368 50. Obio Hill

3579 51. Salisbury (Loondà

2935 52. Williwa (Harnham Hill) Dividing Range

3681 53. Dangar’s Lagoon, Dividing Range, north of Salisbury 2971 54. Uralla (Rocky River) M-Crossen's

2865 55. Summit of Trap Hill, above M'Crossen's

3085 56. Summit, to the west of No. 55 two miles

3082 57. Maister's Swamp

3072 58. Dividing Range between Maister's Swamp and Salisbury 3140 59. Head of Kentucky Creek

3083 60. Junction of Kentucky Creek and Rocky River

2653 61. Gattamburrumbee (Duval's Mountain

4174 62. Chandler's Peake

4501

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* N.B.--The Apsley passes between this and the Apsley Range

NEW SOUTH WALES

Feet above
No.

sea level.
63. Dividing Range between Saumarez and the Rocky River - 3014
64. Armidale (C. C. O.)

2879 65. Tilbuster (Station)

2817 66. Range between Ningiai Creek and Dumaresq Creek

308+ 67. Toombunyee (Little Duval)

3856

By these approximations it will be seen that the mean elevation of the Dividing Range in three localities south of Carlysle's Gully is but 3507 feet, as the differences are not, between any two of them, more than 23 feet; and as the distance is several miles, that the range is nearly level. It is equally level between Armidale and the Bundarra, but more than 400 feet lower.

The lowest point is at Dangar’s Lagoon where also it is extremely narrow.

The highest point at Williwa (Harnham Hill), above Salisbury Court, is only 174 feet above the mean of the three. None of these points equals the height of some of the hills on the subordinate ranges in the so called basin ; and the lowness of the Main Range about Dangar’s Lagoon shows, how completely impossible it would be to have retained water within 1,000 feet of the summits of the highest peaks, under any conceivable conditions of the surface as it must always in the present period have existed.

Had a lagoon at Armidale, for instance, have existed to the extent supposed, with no break to the M‘Leay, to which the Ningiai Creek now drains, it would have overflowed to the westward, with a depth of 34 fathoms; but, as proved by the bog iron ore on the ancient bank, it could not have been much more than a quarter of that depth.

Gold could not, therefore, have thus been lodged by it in places where it is now found.

The culminating point of all the country is about Benlomond, whence the various rivers falling to the coast and the interior are directed in distinct basins by ranges produced by the trappean conlees that radiated from the main focus of eruption. As I am not about to return to that quarter, I shall, probably, discover additional reasons for the conclusions to which I have come already. I do not believe the phenomena north of that locality will contradict the inferences which I have drawn from a very careful and detailed examination of the country to the south of it.

I have, &c. The Hon. the Colonial Secretary.

W. B. CLARKE.

[blocks in formation]

COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor-General Sir C. A. FitzRoy to

the Duke of NewCASTLE.

* Page 3.

(No. 78.)

Government House, Sydney,

June 18, 1853. My Lord DUKE,

(Received October 29, 1853.) With reference to my despatch, No. 60,* of 20th ultimo, forwarding the gold returns for the previous quarter of the current year, I have now the honour to transmit a return of the quantity and value of gold exported from the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria for the same period, which could not be completed in time to accompany the other returns.

2. I also enclose copy of a letter from the Rev. W. B. Clarke, in continuation of his Geological Survey Reports.

I have, &c. (Signed)

CHARLES A. FITZROY. His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, &c. &c.

&c.

« EelmineJätka »