This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2002 Travels May 15

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After breakfast, we wandered up to the house to find Mike.

He took us through a series of mullock heaps beyond his house. His claim seemed quite extensive. He stressed that we were to keep to the obvious path between the old shafts – of which there were plenty scattered about, not fenced nor barricaded off.

Mike seemed to us to be exploring and extending old shafts, rather than completely digging new ones – and he seemed to be working down about 6 or 7 metres.

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Mike’s current mine

We spent some of the day, then,  with Mike at his current shaft. John helped him mine by winding up buckets of gravel, whenever Mike wanted, and by operating the tumbler that “sifts” the gravel, in between times. That piece of machinery had a petrol driven motor.

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John sorting gravel in the rumbler

Mike was excavating a previously dug shaft, hoping to soon reach the bottom, and the level of possible opal bearing rock, so what he was sending up was mostly rubbish, but worth sifting, just in case.

I wandered around, taking photos, watching birds, and being very careful to watch where I was walking!

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The honeycomb of old shafts around Mike’s place

The rest of the day was spent at the van.. There were lots of different birds around and some were  starting to get curious and come to check us out. A couple of other miners – B and wife – called in to see Mike and we met them. They mine at nearby Sheep Station Creek diggings. Mike also had a neighbour  who had moved to a new claim further away. He returned periodically to his old camp to raid it for corrugated iron. Occasionally we heard demolition type noises coming from that direction.

Again, we went up the lookout hill on dusk, to look at the skies.

We had established a campfire area behind the van, where we could put our little portable BBQ stand over a fire. Thus, we could BBQ meat, and heat water for dishwashing – and us washing – in the boiler pot. There was plenty of dead mulga wood around the area, for firewood. It burns well and makes a great campfire.

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Cooking dinner

We had also set up the gas camp stove, outside, to save heating up inside the van.

After tea, John went to fulfil his social obligations by watching videos with Mike. There is electric power from a generator to drive things like this. John says Mike has watched the same ones so many times that he can mimic the dialogue exactly! I guess this isolated and “free” lifestyle suits a certain type of personality?

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