Camp Seed - History
The Camp. Mining.
The Stuart Mill township originated on farming land that was inundated with miners during the gold rush of the 1860s/70s. The Strathfillian valley hosted over 10,000 miners at the peak of the rush. Most of the mining activity was alluvial, but several larger mines were also established. The Department of Mines maps indicate that Camp Seed grounds was the site of one of these deeper gold mines.
The Isis mine was formed by a consortium in 1868.
Quarterly reports of the Mining Surveyors and Registrars for the Department of Mines provide some insight to the progress of the mine.
"In quartz mining there is little to report for this quarter. There is a large amount of stone raised and ready for crushing at the Isis Company's claim, Stuart Mill."
"I am informed that the machinery for the Isis Gold Mining Company, Stuart Mill, will be speedily in course of erection."
"Owing to the late exceedingly dry weather, the miners in the neighborhood of Victoria Gully have been very much in want of water. The Isis Quartz Mining Company, Stuartmill, have finished the erection of their engine and pumping plant, and have taken contracts for sinking the shaft a further depth of 60 feet. There have been a great many applications for leases in the neighborhood, and almost all the available ground has been marked out, containing reefs that were abandoned for a long time."
"The Isis Company are erecting an 18-inch cylinder engine for the purpose of driving a battery of 12 heads; the present depth of their shaft is 180 feet. They are putting in a cross-cut towards the Star of the East ; the lodes they have already cut look well."
"In quartz mining the Stuartmill portion of the division takes the lead. The Isis Company have nearly com-pleted their battery, and expect to crush in a fortnight. There are about 200 tons of very good-looking stone now raised and as the sinking becomes deeper the thickness of the stone increases : it is now about 6 feet. Several leases have been applied for and surveyed lately."
"In alluvial mining the extreme dryness of the season has been a great drawback to miners working shallow ground.
The Sphinx Company, Slaughter-yard Flat., have struck water; they were unable to cope with it by horse and whim, and are now engaged in placing pumps to be worked by a portable steam engine.
Quartz mining in the neighborhood of Stuartmill is progressing very favorably, and attracting the attention of capitalists.
It will be seen by the tabulated returns that the Isis Company have obtained very fair returns from their reef, and higher returns are expected. This company are adding ten additional head of stamps to their plant, and when completed the company will possess one of the most effective crushing plants in the colony; the machinery is of the best description, and combines the latest improvements; each battery is provided with Brown and Stansfield's concentrators, and the company are now engaged erecting furnaces and Wheeler's pans."
"During the quarter the Isis Company have added to their already extensive machinery, by erecting Wheeler’s pans. The tabulated returns show the yield of gold per ton from pyrites operated on ; they have also completed the erection of ten additional stamp-heads, and are now engaged in placing one of Ford's boring machines in the mine, which will, no doubt, when completed, greatly facilitate the working of the mine, and enable them to keep the mill constantly supplied with crushing stuff.
"The depressed state of the mining market, coupled with the yields from the Oxonian Reef having disappointed public expectation, has greatly retarded quartz mining operations in these subdivisions.
Alluvial mining appears to be prosecuted with little energy and unsatisfactory results, which may in some measure be attributable to the great scarcity of water.
"Quartz mining operations in this subdivision still remains in a very depressed condition."
"Quartz mining in this division during the past quarter has not been attended with such good results as were expected, and at the present time most of the companies are in difficulties.
Alluvial mining operations have been greatly retarded by the late floods.
"Very little has been done in quartz mining this quarter. The Isis claim is being carried on by a new company, the New Isis, who have let the mine on tribute.
"Quartz mining is still depressed in this division, the Isis being almost the only company now at work. The mine is being steadily opened out by the tributors.
"The New Isis tributors are engaged in sinking and driving, with much better prospects, as a comparison of the tables of last quarter and this will show.
"The New Isis tributers are stoping out at the 300-foot level, and sinking shaft on underlie.
"The tributers of the New Isis Company are working on the underlie at a depth of about 330 feet. The width of the reef is 4 feet 6 inches ; the stone looking well.
"The prospects of the New Isis Company's mine continue good. The reef is 5 feet thick at the lowest level and gold is visible in the stone.
"The stone at the New Isis Company's claim has not been quite so good, but is looking well again.
"Work is at present suspended on the New Isis Company's claim, but will shortly be resumed. The mine has I believe been re-let on tribute.
"At the New Isis Company’s claim it will be seen that there is a falling off in the quantity of quartz crushed. This is due to the fact that several tribute parties have taken up work and abandoned it. The tables show a lower average, but in the bottom level, I understand, both the reef and the stone are looking as well as ever.
"At the New Isis the tributers are working in the No. 7 level at a depth of about 450 feet. They are following a new make of stone with good prospects of its continuing towards the surface.
"The New Isis Company are getting out stone from the No. 6, or 386-foot level. The quality of the stone varies considerably, but the average yield would appear constant.
"At the New Isis claim the tributers have thrown up work. Northwards of their workings there is, I under-stand, a new make of stone showing gold freely. The mine will stand idle pending the erection of additional machinery. After this, sinking the shaft will be resumed.
"At the New Isis they are working at the 176 foot level northwards. The workings below this have been abandoned for the present on account of the water. They are also prospecting south of the main shaft from the surface.
"The New Isis Company are extending their drives south, and taking out stone at a depth of 140 feet.
"The New Isis Company are driving south at 140-foot level, Oxonian Reef, and stoping. They are also pre-paring to work the Star of the East Reef again.
"At the New Isis operations during the quarter have been confined to extending the 140-foot level, Oxonian Reef.
"Mining in this subdivision has during the quarter been in a very stagnant condition, and there is nothing worthy of note to record.
At Stuart Mill the Isis Company have two parties of tributers at work; but no yields of any consequence have been obtained.
No water has been sold during the quarter.
"Mining in this subdivision still continues in the same depressed state as reported for last quarter, and there is nothing worthy of note to record.
"There has been nothing of importance to report on in this subdivision.
Mining operations still continue in a very depressed state, and the want of water has operated very much against alluvial mining.
"No improvement in mining operations, either quartz or alluvial, can be (q)uoted during the quarter. The New Isis Company have worked out the payable stone at the shallow levels, and have stopped operations for the present, with a view to form a new company and to sink a new main shaft, so as to cut the stone at a much greater depth than has hitherto been attained.
"Both alluvial and quartz mining operations have been in a very depressed condition indeed during the quarter, and there seems little indication of a revival. The whole of the plant of the New Isis Company has been sold; the crushing engine and batteries have been purchased by the Sandhurst and St. Arnaud Tribute Company, and are now in course of erection at their mine, St. Arnaud.