Gold Mine Jan 2011
Over the years we have bred many fine young horses here at Bogong Horseback Adventures. The vast majority of the working team today are “locals” having been born, trained and worked here, surrounded by the high plains and peaks of the Bogongs. They have taken their names from the places that make up the rich landscape of the Victorian High Country, names like Feathertop, Fainter, Lankey, Joker, Weston, Faithful, Woollybutt, Dungey, Harriette, Basalt and many others.
Our foundation stallion was an Australian Stock Horse called Inca Gold and his blood lines run through a lot of our stock. More recently we introduced another Stock Horse stallion to strengthen our breeding program when Lin acquired Simply Red from Ashlar Stud.
In keeping with our traditions Lin now calls him Simply Red Robin, with reference to the a local landmark, the heritage listed Red Robin gold mine. All the young horses being bred here at Spring Spur are now named after local gold mines. New additions to the horse family this year include Indigo, out of Feathertop and Stringer, out of Caddie.
The Red Robin mine and battery continues in operation today, owned and operated by Ken Harris. In 1941, after several years of prospecting the country between Mts. Hotham and Feathertop, Bill Spargo opened up the Hotham Heights field, which comprised two reefs: the Red Robin and One Alone. The Red Robin was fabulously rich where it outcropped: a sample crushing yielded an average 112-oz per ton. Small, rich crushings continued through the 1940s. In 1949, a road into the Red Robin mine was completed and a 3-head battery brought in. Three years later the mine was purchased by the owners of the Sambas mine at Harrietville. They cut an improved track down to the mine and reconditioned the battery, also adding a hopper and self-feeder. At that time, the Red Robin was one of the richest in Victoria—in terms of its yield per ton, not total production and was the highest mine in the State. Being well above the snow line, the mine could only be worked seasonally, and its crushings remained small. In 1954, the mine crushed 49 tons for a gold return of 48 oz. From 1956 stone from the Red Robin was sent to the government battery at Bright for crushing. A 10-head battery (formerly the Bairnsdale government battery) was erected at the Red Robin mine in 1966, lower down the valley than the earlier plant had been.
Located as it is in the upper reaches of the West Kiewa River Valley, the Red Robin battery buildings were burnt in the 2003 bushfires. Ken has more recently restored the old battery buildings and the heartbeat of the the upper Kiewa is once again heard echoeing off the ranges when Ken is crushing ore.
References: Kenny, J.P.L., “Red Robin and One Alone Reefs, Hotham Heights”, in Mining and Geological Journal, September 1941, pp. 263-7. Mining and Geological Journal, 1941-57.