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HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

27 August 2014

Discovery of gold at Yalwal.

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homward-bound 1872 - August 24th - The Shoalhaven news announced the discovery of gold at Yalwal.
The Homeward Bound crushing and processing plant.

This led to a rush to make ones fortune by mining gold, within a few years, there were 7 mines working and many more small diggings.
A small town grew to support the miners. A post office, a Public School with around 40 children attending.
1890 - The town sports event drew a crowd of 200.
1891 -  There was enough people to support three stores, a bank and a hotel.
Eventually the gold petered out and the population left.
1939 - A savage bushfire devastated what was left and saw the end of the mining town and mining.

Yalwalites - a word used by the contemporary press to describe the miners and residents of the Yalwal gold field in the Shoalhaven district of N.S.W.

 Jumping Ship.yalwal-view
At it’s peak the lure of gold drew people from far and wide and ship captains were reluctant to stop at Jervis Bay, for fear of loosing their crew as they jumped ship and headed to the Gold fields, hoping to make their fortune.
Yalwal-view
Yalwal township before the devastating fires that scorched and destroyed the town and put an end to large scale gold mining in the area.
“The sleepy town would awaken to the deafening sound of silence.”
The stampers from all the different mines in the valley used to operate twenty-four hours a day, six days a week.
Rex Continued. ‘When the stampers would stop on the stroke of midnight, the whole town would instantly awaken from their sleep because of the deafening silence. But on Sunday midnight that painful noise would begin all over again”.
…..Extract from Yalwal Gold….David Gleeson.

“That fire it just exploded thru the valley.”
An account of the terrible day in 1939 by Rex. This whole valley was burnt out you know. Town and all. The fire swept through the whole valley and up those hills in less than an hour.”
Rex said that everything just began to erupt into fire. The very air itself seemed as if it was going to burst into flames”
……Condensed extract from Yalwal Gold…..David Gleeson.

Danjera Dam.
Located west of Nowra the area is now the site of the Danjera Dam, a part of the Shoalhaven Water Supply.
Once the dam was built the rising water covered all trace of the old town and many of the small mines dug into the hill side.

On one of my own visits around 1985 the dam water level was very low, while canoeing we came across many mining tunnels exposed by the low water going back into the hill side, tempting as it was to paddle into these dark tunnels dripping with water, common sense prevailed, leaving us to imagine how far back they might go.

gold-stamp-1 The low water level in 1985 exposed the gold stamper than is normally half covered by water and many hidden mines.

yawal yawal-2 Yalwal 1985.

If you visit the area you can explore some of the mines, see the old Gold stamp press on the banks of the dam and a visit to the old grave yard is fascinating.

The yawal-gold Denman has a fantastic book for purchase about Yalwal. including first hand accounts by Rex Fletcher at 86 years old, the last resident folk history and story teller left in the area…… written by David Glasson.

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