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A peaceful rural setting near Adelong
 

Adelong
Attractive historic township which has been by-passed by modern development.
It is impossible to deny the charm and tranquillity of Adelong. This small town (now little more than a local service centre) was once a thriving gold mining centre. It is a pleasant and sleepy historic rural settlement set on the banks of the Adelong River and notable for both its turn-of-the-century feel - there are few new buildings in the main street - and its pleasant stands of deciduous trees which make the town particularly attractive in autumn.

Adelong is located 416 km south-west of Sydney via the Hume and Snowy Mountains Highways. It is 340 m above sea level and currently has a population of around 900 people.

It seems that the word 'adelong', or something similar, meant either 'river on a plain' or 'along the way' in the local Wiradjuri language. Europeans settled the area in the 1840s with Adelong Creek station being established in 1843. It wasn't until the discovery of gold in 1853 that the town really developed. A gold rush in the following years resulted in the population reaching an estimated 5,000 people by 1855. The result of this rush was that an Anglican parish was established in the same year and the following year, 1856, saw the formal establishment of the town.

In 1857 William Williams discovered both reef and alluvial gold on Mount Charcoal. It is said that Williams, who went by the nickname 'Old Gold Dust', bought a mining claim for 40,000 and sold it for 75,000 later the same day.

This rush of luck resulted in the town's population increasing to 20,000 by 1860 of whom nearly 3,000 miners came from China. The area yielded 7,000 ounces of alluvial gold and the reef mines reputedly produced 50 ounces to each ton which was crushed. In total the area yielded nearly 25 tonnes (or 200 tons - the sources are very confused) of gold.

The 1860s and 1870s saw the town booming. Mines and batteries (to crush the reef gold) sprung up along the valley. The mines included such romantically named operations as Donkey Hill, The Challenger, Lady Mary, Long Tunnel, Great Victoria and Gibraltar which, at its peak, was employing 450 men and had tunnels reaching over 400 metres into the surrounding mountains.

Both St James Roman Catholic Church (1862) and the Methodist Church (1866) were built and the town's Court House was completed in 1874. Gold continued to drive the town's economy until the Gibraltar mine was finally closed down in 1915. Since then the town, although servicing the surrounding farmers (cattle, sheep and orchards are common in the area) has declined particularly as access to the more prosperous nearby towns of Tumut and Wagga Wagga has become easier. What is left is a charming historic remnant of a thriving 19th century town with large sections of the main street being classified by the National Trust.

Things to see:   [Top of page]

 

The remnants of the gold mines at Adelong Falls Reserve
 

Richie's Gold Battery at the Adelong Falls Reserve
This is a very well preserved and fascinating area where the enthusiastic gold panner can try their luck in the creek where thousands of miners once made their fortune. The area is clearly signposted and many of the ruins are easy to recognise including the Richie's Gold Battery, the water wheels which were used to drive the battery, and the old brick chimney.

A guide to the town explains: "The ruins of the Richie's gold batteries are the remains of a quartz crushing and gold saving installation, which was praised as 'a credit to New South Wales' and which ranked 'foremost of any in Australia' (Department of Mines annual report 1882). The ruins are made up of what was called a 'reefer machine' and was operated from the earliest 'rush' days up until World War I.

"All the machinery at the site was worked by two large water wheels supplied with water from the Adelong Creek and carried down by races, either cut into the hillside or on wooden trestles."

There are three walks at the reserve: (a) Ferndale Walk - an easy 40 minute which passes the Sawyer's Gully waterfall and the Reefer Battery (b) Battery Walk - a 30 minute walk which includes the wheel houses and the long staircase and (c) the Campsie Lookout Walk - a 15 minute walk along the Adelong Creek. Toilets and barbecues are located on-site.

The site is located on Tumblong Road (clearly signposted from the western end of Tumut Street - the town's main street). It is possible to buy panning dishes from most of the stores in Adelong. Fo more information ring (02) 6946 2273.

 

Adelong Falls in flood
 

 

Historic Adelong
Substantial areas of Adelong have been classified by the National Trust. There is a simple one hour walk around the town which will take the visitor to most of the interesting buildings and locations. Start at The Royal Hotel at the corner of Campbell and Tumut Streets. It is the oldest hotel in town and is a typical country pub with a wide verandah and an easy charm. Over the road is the old Bank of New South Wales. It is a two-storey Classical Revival bank which was built in 1882 of sandstone bricks with a cast-iron and timber verandah and balcony. It is a typical well-designed example of a Victorian bank and, as such, is a symbol of the prosperity enjoyed by the town at the time.

Walk down Tumut Street past The Hotel Adelong (generally known as the Middle Hotel). Over the road is the Post Office (1886), the Apex Park and The Old Pharmacy (1877) which is now a guest house and restaurant. Continue to the corner of Havelock Street. On the western corner is a single-storey private house which was once a miner's dwelling. It is now over 120 years old (built in 1873) although it has had considerable modification over the years.

Turn into Havelock Street and continue up the road to St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (now closed) which was built in 1878 at the height of the gold boom. Walk along Lockhart Street past the Wesley Uniting Church. Although the present church was built in 1886 Methodists have been worshipping on the spot since 1853 with the first proper church being built in 1866. Around the corner in Campbell Street is the Police station with the Adelong Court House, a beautifully preserved building which was built in 1874. Over the road (bounded by Campbell and Lynch Streets) is Memorial Park at at the far end (on Gilmore Street) is the National Trust listed Adelong Public School with its church-like main school building (completed in 1877) with steep gables and its headmaster's house. Return toward The Royal Hotel on Campbell Street. To the right, in Gundagai Street, is St James Catholic Church (1862) which was opened in 1868 by Bishop Polding, the first Catholic Archbishop of Australia. Return to the Royal Hotel, keep walking, cross the Adelong Creek (you can see the town swimming pool to your left) and walk up Camp Street (not the Snowy Mountains Hwy) to Victoria Hill which is the town's most potent reminder of its gold digging past. It was here that the Great Victoria and Challenger mines. This trip is made much easier if you get a copy of Welcome to Historic Adelong which has a good map and detailed instructions. It is available from The Bank opposite the Royal Hotel.

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Adelong