(Image of the Captains house)
On Sunday the 8th of September I was lucky enough to be invited out on a tour of the Lady Alice Mine by the South Australian Mining Heritage Group. Cameron Hartnell, with whom I have been working for my Directed Study, took the group on a tour of the Lady Alice in the second half of the day.
The first half of the day was a guided tour by Greg Drew from the South Australian Mining Heritage Group. Greg took the group on a tour of some of the Barossa Gold Fields. The trail that we followed was opened in 1991 and Greg helped produce the signage himself. Much of the information on these signs comes from first hand accounts from the miner’s families.
The walk took us through many of the main mines that once operated during the late 1800s. The tour was highly insightful; it showed ruins of 1-roomed cottages that once housed a whole family. Hearing stories of 14-year-old children who would walk for kilometres to buy the family’s groceries from the nearest town of Gawler put the life of the miners and their families into context.
In the second half of the day Cameron took the group over to the Lady Alice Mine which he has been researching. The Lady Alice Mine is the site that I have been doing by Directed Study on for the past two semesters. The first semester of my Directed study was aimed at the mining side of the mine, and this semester the focus has been on the domestic side of the mine.
The tour started at the site of the old school house, which sat adjacent to the schoolmaster’s house, which—mind you—wasn’t very small. The tour of the Lady Alice made me look at the whole site a lot differently. I was able to stand back and take the site in for what it was. Cameron brought along some photos of the site in the many stages of its life. Taking a look from the same perspective, as the photographer would have back when the photos were taken, allowed for a different appreciation of the site, including seeing how much the site had changed over time and the difference that mining had made to the landscape
The tour took us to a few of the onsite buildings and we ended up in front of a building that, only less than a month ago, was still standing. Since then a wall has collapsed as a result, we guess, of recent wild weather. The buildings were made from mud mortar, which puts them at risk. We then ended up at my favourite building of the whole site; it is one of the largest near the Lady Alice Mine. It sits by the dam and when visited in spring the whole area surrounding the site is in bloom.
The whole day was very interesting and I learnt a lot by being the student. It has allowed me to think about the site in a different way and take in others’ views of what certain places may have been. In all it was a very exciting day, enjoyed by all.