Image 'Sergeants Freehold Quartz Gold Mining Company's claim, Redan, Ballarat', 1881

TLF ID R3323

This is a pen, ink and watercolour drawing, measuring 43.5 cm x 55 cm, of Sergeants Freehold Quartz Gold Mining Company's claim at Redan, Ballarat. It was drawn in 1881 by T G Moyle, a gold fields artist working in the 1880s and 1890s. Extensive mine buildings are spread over a wide area, but dwarfed by a huge pile of quartz. Buildings are situated above and below a steep cliff in order to utilise gravity to help shift the quartz. Smoking chimneys attest to the use of steam power to drive machinery such as quartz crushers. The mine head frame, complete with flag, can be seen beyond the tip of the quartz pile. The artist has painted dark, glowering clouds, suggesting pollution from the smokestacks of the factory.



Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows the expensive plant and machinery necessary once the more easily recoverable alluvial gold on or near the surface had been exhausted - deep shafts had to be constructed and gold-bearing quartz lifted to the surface to be crushed by huge machines in order to separate the gold.
  • It demonstrates the large scale of the activities undertaken by the gold mining companies, which required large numbers of workers - as the easily accessible gold dried up, many diggers left the gold fields rather than work for a company, their places taken by new arrivals who had little option but to accept company accommodation, low wages and unhealthy working conditions.
  • It depicts a gold mining company - such companies were first established in Ballarat, before rapidly spreading to other Australian gold fields; the shift from the digger who worked for himself to the miner who worked for wages soon prompted agitation about remuneration and working conditions; after miners agreed to pay cuts, the ten-hour working day was reduced to eight hours, although it took much longer to address health problems, such as the lung disease silicosis, faced by men working in the quartz dust underground.
  • It depicts the expensive buildings and machinery necessary to operate the deep shaft gold mines in the Ballarat and Bendigo areas - during the early 1860s, mining companies were floated almost daily, absorbing a great deal of local and foreign investment capital and leading speculators to trade mining company shares at a site known as 'The Corner' in the street outside Ballarat's Unicorn Hotel, until a proper exchange was opened in 1888; more fortunes were lost than made, with the few investors with pockets deep enough to survive long lead times and extra calls on funds being most likely to be successful.
  • It reveals the use of steam engines as a source of power on the gold fields, to drive both the heavy machinery necessary to raise and crush the quartz, and the pumps necessary to remove water from the deep shafts - by the 1860s there were more than 500 steam engines being used in Victorian quartz mines, 350 in the Ballarat area alone.
  • It illustrates the growth in the use of machinery in company mines, which in turn led to the growth of a metal fabricating industry to make spare parts locally - Ballarat had 798 blacksmiths working in increasingly sophisticated foundries by 1871.
  • It illustrates some of the environmental costs caused by the increasingly industrialised methods of extracting gold - the fires from steam engines consumed forests and produced polluting smoke, while some separating processes, such as the use of potassium cyanide or mercury, proved harmful to both workers and the environment; the constant need for water in the processes often meant major disruption to natural waterways.
Year level

3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
Strand
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change

Other details

Contributors
  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1881
  • Name: T G Moyle
  • Remarks: artist
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 31 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
Access profile
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
Browsers
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - minimum version: 8.0 (MS-Windows) - maximum version: 9.0 (MS-Windows)
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  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements