Balaclava Mine

Useful Information

Location: Whroo (-36.645278, 145.023056)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineGold Mine ExplainOpen Cast Mining
Light: n/a
Dimension: VR=25 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Joyce Hammond (1978): Golden years of Rushworth and Whroo, Rushworth, 1978.
Miles Lewis (1977): Don John of Balaclava, 1977.
Address: Balaclava Mine, Reedy Lake Rd, Whroo VIC 3612
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1853 gold discovered at Rushworth.
OCT-1854 Balaclava Mine opened.
1857 Nickinson leaves the partnership.
1920s mine closed.
1960 mine shaft filled in by the Mines Department for security reasons.
1983 mine opened as a show mine, steps and trails built, overlooks and explanatory signs.



Balaclava Mine was opened in October 1854 after a gold nugget was discovered by John Thomas Lewis and James Meek Nickinson, two sailors. The mine was named after the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War, which was in the same month. Lewis and Nickinson partnered and opened the mine, hiring 100 men in the first year, earning a £15,000 profit. The rush brought thousands of miners to Whroo. Nickinson left the partnership in 1857 and Lewis operated it on his own. But the profits dropped, and in 1859 they were only £6000 per year. 1881 there were only 150 employed miners left in the Rushworth area. At the turn of the century many small mines were worked and wood cutting from the ironbark forests around Whroo became the main local industry. And finally in the 1920s the mine was closed. The school was closed in 1933 and the mechanics’ institute building was sold in 1955 to be used as a barn at nearby Baillieston. Wroo became a ghost town.

The huge open cast mine with numerous tunnels was opened as a show mine in 1983. Government funding provided an information hut, displaying historical photographs and information about the Balaclava mine. The mine open cut was made accessible to the public. A trail and a long staircase with railings were built into the open cast, also several outlooks along the rim with explanatory signs. For some time it brought a little income to the remains of the town.

Due to rockfalls the tunnels are now all gated and the staircase down into the open cast was blocked some years ago because of a landslide. Even the geocache at the outlook is gone. So only the outlooks are still open, and while being quite impressive and free, this is not a mine tour you'll drive half a day for.