Spent the day exploring an old gold mining town in Mogo along the south coast of New South Wales.
This amazing country I call home; Australia, is always surprising me. Three times I’ve been to visit the small coastal town of Mogo and not once did I ever know the town was made famous fo it’s gold mine in the late 1800s.
Mogo is mostly known for being a cute little boutique coastal town around ten minutes south of Batemans Bay, which is the main fishing town around the south coast. In Mogo, you’ll find around seven shops (maybe a few more) max and several residential properties, and then nothing else, but bushlands and a main highway heading further south towards Bega. The town is well known for their zoo, which is a small one compared to most. But this zoo is is a special one, as all the retired animals from far busier zoos like Dubbo and Taronga come here to spend the rest of their days being treated like royalty as their enjoy their retirement.
The zoo itself is a brilliant place to visit, with panthers, cheetahs, lions and tigers, all old and over large crowds and spoilt rotten by the keepers, as they live out the remainder of their days in a sleepy old seaside village.
What I didn’t realise was Mogo was first made famous for its gold in the late 1800s when Australia was a buzz with the massive Gold Rush.
Whilst visiting Batemans Bay last week, we found ourselves with a day of nothing planned to do. Or rather we had plans, but the weather was looking bad, all overcast, cold and a little windy and we were unsure when the sky would open up and let lose with rain. We had two options, visit Mogo and hope for the best no rain will fall. Or hop on a boat and explore the river ways of Batemans Bay for three hours, enjoying a three course lunch. To be honest, none of us really fancied a three hour boat ride, especially after spending four hours or more in the car the day before, driving from Sydney to Batemans Bay.
So Mogo it was. We figured we would see about the zoo, and take the weather for what it is, knowing at least if it did start to rain, there would be some cover at least, throughout some parts of the zoo.
When we arrived into Mogo, we saw the old sign (which was fairly tired and worn out) for the old gold mining village. We debated wether it would be worth it, I mean how historical could it be in such a small place. But we figured, let’s park up, I’ll go check it out first and if I think it’s worth it, let’s do it. The clouds were still sitting high in the sky and although it looked like it might rain, it also looked like it may pass. Beats sitting down on an old boat for three hours that’s for sure.
I walked into reception to chat with the staff. She showed me a map of the village and I couldn’t believe the size. It was no moon, it was a space station! Sorry about the Star Wars reference there. It was massive and certainly worth a tour. This gold mining town was obviously paramount in the creation of Mogo and with Batemans Bay only ten minutes north, the most ideal location for transporting gold back to the Queen, which is where it was all sent at the time throughout the Gold rush of Australia.
I went back to the car to share the exciting news on how fabulous this places looked and to advise it was a winner and we should do it. And off we went to tour a small, but significant part of Aussie history and the foundation of Mogo.
The village is in perfect condition and has been restored back to how it would have been throughout the gold rush. With a general store, a barber shop, a post office, a Chinese temple, living huts and of course the actual mine itself.
The mine was both a tunnel in the ground and an associated panning area where a lot of gold was washed down from the mountain into a flowing river. Funny enough, hardly any Gold was actually found whilst digging into the side of the small mountain at Mogo, and most was found panning the waterways which raked from the mountain into the river.
And Mogo produced some of the finest gold around back in the day, and still produces gold today. Though you would be lucky if you came across any nuggets that is, mostly the gold you find there, are small flakes. But still, we did a small pan of gold whilst there and walked away with a few genuine flakes of real gold. Exciting!
Australia’s Gold Mining history is a fascinating one, and although there were many places around Australia where you could pan, dig and search for gold independently (and even still today, as long as you have a license), most gold miners in the late 1800s were all government employment. Which meant they got paid by the hour and all gold found was sent to the Queen in England. It was hard work, but honest work, for the most part.
From time to time, there would always be someone sneaking through pretending to be a government worker there and whatever gold they would find, they would steal it and be off with it, if they didn’t get caught that was. It Mogo, most of the men were all employed and worked sixteen hour days digging and panning for gold. And even if the work was honest, they were no doubt paid hardly anything for their labour. Compared to what a miner would earn today in a gold field, for sure.
What a fascinating day spent learning about the history of the old mining town of Mogo.