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emerged from their pits like rabbits from their burrows when they are invaded by the ferret. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
The hills here are called the White Hills, from the mass of white sandy stuff which is now thrown out upon them, and they are seven in number, forming a continuous chain. Their appearance is strange. Their sides, all bare of trees, have been industriously bored by the miners, exhibiting heaps of yellow clay and gravel thrown out, while along the summits rise continuous heaps-immense heaps, ten or twelve feet high-of the white clayey sand, which lies contiguous to the gold stratum, and of pipe clay, which lies under it. Here and there amongst them rises an abode, half tent, half hut, with a wooden or bullock-hide chimney, while projecting windlasses, and here and there a blasted, leafless tree, or bole deprived of its head, and a road winding up the ascent, complete the scene.
If you descend from the hills to the creek, there you
find a busy scene. There the diggers are washing the stuff containing the gold in cradles, or long Toms. There are scores of them, often hundreds, at work, occupying the whole banks of the stream. You have seen lithographs of the diggings, and know the aspect of this scene, the costume of the diggers, and the form of their cradles. The costume of the digger is generally a blue or scarlet woollen jumper, mostly worn as a shirt, a pair of moleskin or corduroy trousers, well stained with the yellow clay ; hats, often huge waterproof ones, and broad-brimmed cabbage-tree hats, or drab or green wide-awakes. Exactly behind their backs, they have a butcher's knife at their waist, in a leathern case, called a fossicking knife, to pick out nuggets, and scrape the bottom of their holes.
The mode in which they wash their gold in the cradles is this : One man generally fills the hopper, or square box at top, which is usually about four inches deep, and has a bottom of sheet iron, punched full of holes, or is made of hooping iron laid crosswise, with washing stuff. If it be dry stuff, it has previously been well worked in a tub of water, called a puddling tub, so as to dissolve the earth from the gold, and enable the stuff to pass easily through the cradle. The hopper filled, the man at the cradle rocks it gently, at the same time stirring the earth about in the hopper with a stick; while the other man pours water upon it, with a tin at the end of a stick, called a bailer. When all the earth is washed from the stones, these are thrown out; and the process is repeated till a certain quantity has been passed through, when the cradler stops, takes out the hopper, and draws out the slanting slide beneath it. This slide slants backwards, to carry all that passes through the hopper, down in that direction ; but at the bottom of the slide there stands a ledge an inch or so high, against which the gold lodges, while the mud and water pass out into the bottom of the cradle, and are, for the most part, washed away. There are, however, in the bottom of the cradle two or three other ledges, so as to detain any particles of gold that may chance to pass the ledge of the slide.
The gold and the small quantity of gravel which lie against the ledge of the slide are now scraped away into what is called a riddle, a tin dish, with the bottom full of holes, like a cullender, when the gold is again washed through, and separated from the gravel which has gone through the hopper. This gold in the dish remains there till a considerable number of these deposits is added, when they are washed by a peculiar circular motion, and the mud and gravel gradually separated from the gold, which remains clean and bright in the dish; and happy is the digger to see a good deal there! The gold now only wants drying over a gentle heat, and is then put into wash-leather bags, or purses, ready for market.
That is the process with the cradle. A longTom is an open trough of perhaps twelve feet long, and eighteen inches wide, and six or eight inches deep. At the lower end it is terminated by a kind of iron grate, which acts like the hopper of the cradle, letting the smaller gravel and gold go through. There is a shallow box placed under this end of the Tom to catch these, and then a stream of water is allowed to pass through the Tom. The men then keep throwing into the Tom a bucket-full or two of the washing-stuff, and shovel it about in the running water till all the earth has passed from the stones. When a certain number of buckets-full have passed through, they take
the shallow box from under the end of the long-Tom, and wash away the small gravel from the gold in the tin dish, as described before. These long-Toms, of course, from the stream of water constantly flowing through them, wash at a much greater rate than cradles.
But they require a stream of water, which is not always to be had. To supply these long-Toms, you must bring a small race 6 of water, as it is brought to the wheels of water-mills. These have often to be cut a considerable distance from the streams above, and even when that can be done is always liable to be laid dry by diggers washing above. Along the banks of the creeks where washing is going on, you see dykes and water-races cut in almost numberless places, and other schemes to get a stream of water for your long-Tom. Here men are working a Californian belt-pump to raise water out of the creek into the race, and there they are pumping up the water by a water-wheel turned by a horse. There is also what is called sluice-washing, that is, conducting a race of water to a certain point of the creek, and then allowing it to fall from a certain height upon the washing-stuff so as to wash away the earth from the gold; and again, there are large puddling-troughs fixed to the upper end of a long-Tom, in which they can agitate the stuff in water with rakes before putting it through the Tom.
Thus you would, as I have observed, find the side of a washing creek a busy place, carts coming continually loaded with the washing-stuff from the mines, and the creek itself running a yellow puddle thick as batter.
But now let us take a peep at the diggers' huts. These are scattered about in a very miscellaneous manner, for the most part on the bald, bare places where they have felled the trees. Many of them are half hut, half tent, put together of wood and canvas, often of blankets and quilts, just as they can get them. In the winter they build each a chimney to their tent, and these are many of them funny constructions, some of wood, some of brick, some of tin, some of sheepskins, or bullock hides, and some of several of these materials, in a most mosaic style. Some surmount these structures by. a tub instead of a chimney-pot, and others hoist up old bags on the side the wind comes, and shift these as it changes by means of a pole.
Many of the diggers, however, pitch their tents out in the borders of the woodlands, which look very pleasant, and if there be grass, they can graze their horses under their eye. Numbers of them have their families with them, and there are heaps of children playing about, as well as goats and cocks and hens.
Along the main road are miles of shops, or stores, as they are called, most of them huge tents, but some of them of wood. These hoist their signs in the shape of flags, with various designs, besides having their names and the names of their stores over the doors, as "Californian Stores," “American Store," “Adelaide Store," "Tasmanian Store," "Port Fairy Store,” “Hamburg Store,” " London Store.” There are doctors' shops, druggists' shops, general stores, blacksmiths, butchers, bakers, eating-houses: sellers of new tools and