Rehabilitating an open cut gold mine 

Beechworth

After the 1880 operational start-up of its tailrace drainpipe into the lower reaches of Spring Creek, the Rocky Mountain Sluicing Company continued its operation for a further 40 years.

With eventual workings that extended upstream to Silver Creek, the mine left behind a very large problem for Beechworth when it closed in 1921.

This was summed up in a newspaper article several years later in 1924, where it was noted that:

“Travellers approaching Beechworth from Stanley and Yackandandah have frequently remarked on the ugliness of the deserted Rocky Mountains Sluicing claim.”

It recognised that the students from the Beechworth school were “rapidly covering the disfigured land with young trees and two acres already planted are showing splendid growth.”

Further progress on rehabilitating the former mine site was made several years later when a local benefactor, John McConville, donated £200 to the cause. This rectified a major budget shortfall, and allowed for the involvement of esteemed local shire engineer Leslie Sambell, who opened the new lake in late 1928. Also launched that day was the new McConville Avenue and the lake band rotunda.

The tourist map of Beechworth produced by the Beechworth Progress Association circa 1948 provides an interesting insight into what the lake would have looked like during this start-up phase. The second right handkink in McConville Avenue leading up to the dam wall is evidence that this initial structure lay further to the east than its present location.

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