It’s 1876, and James Hooper is scouring the dry ground on Karawater farm near Ruigtevlei looking for a particular type of gravel that his ostrich needs to help with its digestion. He is crouched close to the earth, digging up handfuls and running it through his fingers trying to determine if what he sees is good enough for his beloved flightless bird’s consumption.
He reaches down and picks up an unusual looking stone, and holding it up to the fading sunlight he turns it a few times in his fingers and then shoves it into his pocket to examine properly later that evening.
The next day James, unsure of what he has found, takes the stone down to the local chemist, William Groom, to see if he could confirm his suspicions.
He does, almost immediately.
James had struck gold.
This accidental discovery marked the start of a feverish gold rush as word of the discovery had spread more rapidly than a dry grass fire. Within days, the quiet town was overrun with treasure seekers and the Millwood Gold Mine had sprung up within weeks.
Today the mine stands empty, its cavernous depths having left a select few filthy rich, but disappointing most who had rushed there to find their fortune.
An excursion to the Millwood Goldmine Museum, situated in the original building at the entrance to what was the Millwood Mining Village, is a fascinating trip back in time. We at The Turbine Hotel will be happy to book the excursion for you. Wander through the village which was once a bustling hive of gold seekers and traders, but which now stands as a derelict ghost town serving as a reminder of the short-lived interest in land after it has been stripped of its resources.
The Bendingo mining equipment, although restored, stands abandoned and eerily still. Tours of the village and mines take visitors back to a time of hope, where men risked their lives digging in depths of over 30 metres, just as the graveyard gives life to the histories of those who died in pursuit of prosperity.
Contact: Goudveld Forestry Station – 044 389 0129