|Copeland Tops State Conservation Area near Gloucester
All year Wed, Sun 9:30-15:30.
Daily during school holidays.
Booking is essential.
Adults AUD 10, Children () AUD 8, Family () AUD 25.
|Incandescent Electric Light System
NPWS Barrington Tops Area Office, Juanita McCarthy, 59 Church Street, Gloucester NSW 2422, Tel: +61-2-6538-5302.
Booking: Gloucester Visitor Information Centre, PO Box 11, 27 Denison Street, Gloucester NSW 2422, Tel: +61-2-6558-1408, Fax: +61-2-6558-9808.
|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.
|first gold discovered by start of gold mining.
|Mountain Maid Reef discovered.
|end of gold mining.
|managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
|show mine closed for renovation.
The gold was first found in alluvial deposits along both branches of Back Creek. But the bed of the creek was narrow, and the gold content low, the deposits were soon worked out. The gold was often attached to water-worn fragments of quartz. The miners looked for the quartz veins and discovered auriferous reef in the surrounding hills. Gold bearing reefs were found between the Barrington River through Copeland to the Bowman River in an some 8 km long strip.
The Mountain Maid Reef runs east northeast to west southwest with an average width of 15 cm.
The historic Mountain Maid Mine is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as part of Copeland Tops State Conservation Area. It is one mine of the Copeland Goldfield, which was discovered in 1876 and produced about 11 tons of gold, which equals about AUD 400 Million. The very fist gold at Copeland was discovered by the cedar getter Mr. Saxby in July 1876, at Back Creek close to the later site of the township of Copeland. The population increased rapidly to 1,100, of which 800 were miners. During the last 25 years of the 19th century there were about 70 mines around the mining town Copeland. Then the number slowly decreased until 1930 when most of the mines were closed. The town Copeland vanished, and today only few remains of the town exist.
Mountain Maid Mine is the last remaining mine of Copeland. It is located in lush rain forest in the valley of the Copeland Creek. There is an exhibition of mining memorabilia and tools. From the machinery the stamper battery with the steam engines, which powered the stamper once, both still exist, but are defunct. Other machinery are the ore crusher, conveying equipment, railway with wagons, and a turntable.
The tour also includes an underground part, where the gold mine is entered and the gold bearing quartz vein can be seen. A wooden walkway extends hundreds of meters into the mountain. The mine extends some 395 m into the hillside and to a depth of 180 m.
The Mountain Maid Reef was discovered in October 1876 by Doust, Gill and Irwin. They opened Mountain Maid Mine the same year and yielded 417kg of gold during the first ten years. This mine was once the richest of the Copeland mines.
Some years ago Mountain Maid Gold Mine was the central part of the award-winning, heritage listed Gold Town theme park. The mine was called a working mine, probably because some gold bearing quartz was removed for the on-site gold washing for the visitors. Then the mine was closed and since 2003 it is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). They closed the site for renovation for several years, but it was reopened in 2010 by Jodi McKay, the Minister for Tourism. The NSW Government has invested NZD 820,000 into the upgrade of the facilities. The site now has three official trails. The Hidden Treasures walk (4.5 km) and the Basin Loop Trail (7 km) are both self-guided. The trails have new walkways and viewing platforms, and new explanatory signs. The Mountain Maid Link Trail is a guided tour only, which includes the underground tour. The light system of the underground tour was upgraded.