Tag Archives: Lady Alice Mine

The Domestic life: The Lady Alice Mine

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It is nearing the end of the semester and the blog posts are drawing to an end, but luckily this is not the last. The Lady Alice Mine has opened up my eyes to the life of gold mining in South Australia. While you may not know much about this, or be aware that South Australia had an active gold mining culture (although it was certainly not as successful as that in neighbouring Victoria), South Australian mining was still a successful industry.  I have been extremely lucky to have been able to do some study on this site. The heritage of the area is vast in nature and it would be great if more could be done on this site in order to find out more about not only Hamlins Gully but also about the Barossa Goldfields in general. It would be great if the history of South Australia’s mining culture could be shared with more than just the locals of the area.

The second semester’s Directed Study has focused on the domestic life of the Lady Alice, which is still largely unknown. There are a few photographs and paintings that show the different aspects of the Lady Alice Mine. These show different angles of the mine and how it once operated. They also shed some light on how the miners lived and worked. Nevertheless they give us some insight into the conditions and, having visited the site, allow for the mine to be put into perspective. From these photographs and paintings we are able to see that they miners lived in canvas tents, some of which had brick chimneys at one end. However, as the tents are transportable and were most probably taken with the miners when they left, there is no evidence supporting the photographs and paintings. It would be great if there was more photographic and written evidence of this time, but unfortunately the mine was poorly recorded and only some records survive, which can be accessed at the State Library of South Australia. There is not much information about the domestic life of the mine in these records, as lives were not documented as we’re able to do today. It’s fun to imagine what, if people of the 1800s had all the equipment that we do today to document daily life, we could have learnt.

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(The Globe INN)

When walking through the Lady Alice Mine area it becomes evident how the miners once lived and worked. There are few ruins and even less surface evidence of what types of dwellings they lived in. There are ruins of chimney butts that stand by themselves with no other material. Standing at the edge of a site and imaging what once stood by the sides of the chimneys. It has been an incredible experience to be able to walk through the area and imagine the fields being littered with tents and makeshift dwellings. Unfortunately, I do not have the authority to share the paintings or the photographs as they are not readily available on the internet. One of the two photos that I have shared today is a photograph I took myself and the other was available through http://www.trove.nla.gov.au. Anyway, I must stop imagining all of this and get back to writing my report. Please stay posted for my last post, which will be in just a few weeks.

A walk through the gold mines

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(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.

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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.

The Life of the Lady Alice Mine

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(Building remains)

Here we are once again. I’d like to invite you back to read about my second semester Directed Study on the Lady Alice Mine (continued).

This semester I will be looking more closely at the domestic side of the Lady Alice. It is clearly evident when you visit the site that there are many buildings that were once used for the mine, but where did people live whilst they were working on the mine? We know that the mine’s operations were on and off from 1871 to 1931 when it eventually closed.

On the 21 of July my Industry Partner, Dr Cameron Hartnell and I went out to the Lady Alice Mine so that he could show me the domestic side of the mine. As we made our way to the site, we stumbled upon a possible tent site with an animal pen.

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(Photo of site 1A, looking North)

It is hard to see from this photo, but in front of the bent tree is a shallow trench. This could have been one side of a fence. On the other side of the tree is a slight ridge where a temporary tent or hut would have stood. At the bottom of this site is a mine shaft. We were unable to predict how large the shaft was, as at the time it was filled with water.

To the left of the photo below was another site where we found remnants of a hut. This could have been a temporary sleeping site for a miner. The site is connected to the first site by a clear path. Image

There are buildings that still stand in the vicinity of the mine and we know the uses of these buildings. We know that there was a school, a captain’s house and a local pub. In newspaper articles, we know that James Goddard lived in the area until his death. By doing this study, we hope to get an insight into how and where people lived in association with the Lady Alice Mine, so stay tuned for more insights into the unravelling of the domestic life of the Lady Alice Mine.

We’ve struck gold!

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So it’s time for my third and final blog post. Above is a photo that I found with thanks to Trove (National Library of Australia)—it is believed that the house in this photo is of ‘The Hall’ at the Lady Alice Mine. With a lot of archival research through Trove I was able to find out who was present at the mine, what they found and what materials were being found.

There is not a huge amount of information available about the site, as it was only a small mine in South Australia. However, over the course of operations at the mine, many interstate ministers visited the site. They were highly interested in the amount of gold and copper that was being found at the site. The Lady Alice Mine was one of the most successful gold mines in South Australia. However it did close an re-open throughout the corse of its occupation.

As well as metal artefacts, there were also ceramics and glass collected. With these we were able to use those to give an approximate date range from 1863 until the early 20th century. These dates coincide with the date of the opening of the mine, which was in 1871. We know that people have always re-used and handed down ceramics and home wares, this could be the reason that the ceramics date earlier than the opening of the mine.

We can tell from the metal and iron artefacts that were collected is that the site was home to a working mine. A small amount of corrugated iron was found, this could be due to the fact that it is a light weight material and when those who lived there up and left the site, they took the corrugated iron with them.

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This photo shows a pipe that was found on the site, this could allow us to argue that there was some sort of water managment occurring. However this could always be debated.

It has now come to the end of my experience with the Lady Alice Mine, i hope that  this blog and my last blog posts have allowed you to learn a little about the site.

Metal you a story

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As a part of my directed study, for the past few weeks I have been visiting the museum storage down at Hindmarsh. There, I have been looking at individual pieces of metal that have been collected from the site of the Lady Alice Mine by Keryn Walshe and a few helpers.  The site was sectioned into 4 areas labeled A, B, C and D. From each of these sections they collected large amounts of ceramic, glass and metal.

It was decided that if we wanted to make a connection with the mining side of the Lady Alice Mine then we had to look at the metal more closely and determine which pieces are linked to people’s home life and more importantly which pieces are linked to the mine.

 Over the last few weeks I have looked at each section carefully and have tried to determine what these pieces of metal I had at my disposal were. Where there are easily identifiable pieces, there are always mind-boggling pieces right beside them.  Below is one certain piece that has stopped me, Cameron Hartnell and John Hodges in our tracks. It is a large piece of intertwined metal that looks like a modern day bed spring. 

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There are a few pieces of wired metal that have been wound together to increase strength and stability.  As I am not very familiar with metal and/or mining tools I am unsure whether this is some sort of industrial artefact. I guess that means a lot more research. 

There is a significant amount of  metal artefacts that I  have been able to connect back to the mining industry. With more research into the site and  a close look at each distinctive artefact I hope to make a few more connections to the lives of those who once worked and lived at the Lady Alice Mine.