The gold mining that occurred on Cornish Hill was central to the development of Daylesford and is a prominent symbol of the origins of the town.
Argus or Cornish Hill had three main periods of gold mining.
After the first gold was discovered on Wombat Flat, it was traced up the gully creeks draining from the hill. Before long, and using only hand tools, thousands of prospectors arrived to make their fortune. Soon after, the auriferous quartz reefs were discovered.
Large scale mining commenced. Extraction of reef gold needed the use of heavy machinery. Cornish miners had arrived in Australia and with them, the technology to mine deep into the reefs in some cases hundreds of feet underground. Four large companies began operations. They were able to raise capital, employ more men to create more wealth for the State as well as themselves.
Turn of Century
Intensive gold mining on Cornish Hill ceased in the early 1900s. The Victorian Cornish Company took over the hill and worked all the shafts. A system of railways conveyed the quartz to a central battery for crushing (Freemans – now the site of the skate park.)
The remaining features on the hill are from this turn of century period of mining, apart from a shallow open cut which may be from the 1850’s period.
- Mitchell’s Colliers Mine Site Large Mullock heap, filled or capped mine shaft, machinery foundations.
- Argus Company Mine Large Mullock heap, machinery foundations have not survived.
- Bonnards or Cornish Mine Large Mullock heap, shaft capped or filled. No surviving foundations remain.
- Thomas Lookout Top of the Bonnards mullock heap and survives as town lookout.
- Tramway Embankment At the base of Bonnards heap is a section of raised tramway.
- Little Cornish Sometimes known as “Old Cornish” Mullock heap. Line of shallow open cut running in a southerly direction from the west of Argus Company Mine.
- Long Tunnel Described in 1894 as being 2150 feet long with miles of underground workings off it. Entrance obscured by vegetation. Take a walk and look for the water race, now a walking track above the creek, small mullock heaps, quartz fragments and the remnants of a stone wall.