The Dunolly Government Battery was managed by Mr. Hamilton. Stone was carted to Dunolly from Waanyarra for crushing. In February Raven and Gourley crushed two ton of stone for 55 1/2 ozs. of gold and another load of quartz weighing six ton yielded 5 2 ozs. 12 dwt.
The Mines Department called tenders for moving the Government Battery from Dunolly to Waanyarra in April, 1902. The equipment weighed 13 ton. The heaviest piece of machinery was the engine which weighed 41/2 ton. By the end of the month the machinery was dismantled and ready for removal to Waanyarra. Mr. Hamilton, who had been in charge of the Battery at Dunolly, was leaving the district.
Raven, Gourley and Thomson’s claim had been worked profitably for about three years. In April, 1 903 they worked 20 loads of stone through the battery and it yielded 50 ozs. The stone was taken from the south end of the reef adjoining Jarry and Baker’s claim which also had good stone.
Weather conditions affected mining operations to a great degree. The lack or surplus of water was an important factor on the goldfields. During the summer of 1862 temperatures soared to 120degrees F. in shade, and mining operations had ceased. There was little water in the creek for washing gold. There was often a great scarcity of water on the fields and for farming purposes at Waanyarra.
In 1888 the Shire of Bet Bet had built a dam which saved many animals from death. In the drought year of 1902 dust storms whipped through the area ruining orchards and vegetable gardens. Diggers were taking wash dirt to the Loddon River for washing as water was so scarce in the Waanyarra area, in January, 1903. Authorities quickly gave notice that washing in the Loddon River Backwater was forbidden.
Lack of water was a drawback at the Waanyarra Rush.
The Dunolly Express, 20th January, 1903, reported that parties were leaving the Waanyarra Rush daily. Many claims were getting payable wash, but many were getting nothing.
Workings at Waanyarra were upset by a heavy storm and flooding in March, 1903. Recorded fmds for March were made by the following parties:-
- Carroll and Baker 9 ozs. (nuggets)
- Lowrie and party 1 % oz. piece
- Ampher and party 4V4 from 9 loads
- Cain and Chivers 9 dwt. from 3 loads
- Taig and Scorer 5 dwt. to the load
- Nicholls and Radnell 2% from 5 loads
- Young and Peppin 11/4 oz from 4 loads
By the end of March the Waanyarra Rush was still recovering from the recent flood and the latest gold returns were the smallest for some time. Parties still working included Lockett and Scholes (3 oz. 14 dwt.), Wilson and party, Brooker, O’Brien brothers (6 1/2 oz.’Speck’), E. Williamson and party’s claim was said to be the best on the creek at the time. But work was made slow because holes in the creek had fallen in and were too dangerous to work.
Radnell brothers and Nicholls had discovered an 8 oz. nugget and had obtained 3 1/2 ozs. of gold from 4 loads of dirt. An undisclosed party had sold £ 1 00 worth of gold in Tarnagulla some time in the last week of March, 1903. Another party had finds of nuggets weighing 5 ozs., 15 ozs. and 27 ozs.
April, 1903, saw a falling of numbers at the Waanyarra Rush. The large volume of water in the creek made work dangerous. McPherson and Co.’s claim near the creek was suddenly flooded, but the miners escaped in time. Water was being pumped from many claims.
A party of miners, which had been clearing out a portion of the creek with the idea of paddocking the ground, had difficulties, as the ground had fallen in on all sides. It was intended to timber the workings before removing the wash dirt. Claim holders stored wash dirt to put through puddlers.
For about three years, Raven, Gourley and Thomson had worked indicators in a profitable claim. About the beginning of April, 1903, a reef 5 ft wide was struck at the south end of the lease, where 20 loads of stone yielded 50 ozs. Jarry and Baker’s adjoining claim also had good stone.
J. McEvoy applied to select a water reserve in the Parish of Waanyarra in April, 1903, but the Mining Board refused his application, its reason being that all water should be available for miners and others.
May, 1903, saw the Williams brothers discover a rich reef in Tipperary Gully, a 1/4 mile east of the Waanyarra Post Office. A dish of stone from the 2 ft. wide reef yielded 5 ozs. of gold. The next month Morton, Neil and party discovered a rich patch near the Government Battery where 111/2 Ibs. of stone yielded 3 ozs. of gold.
June 1903 – Waanyarra Rush was described as ‘almost a thing of the past’ because of the rising of the creek, but still diggers were working and having success. Baker and Jarry found a 2 oz. nugget. Many other finds were not reported, or recorded. The people who lived at Waanyarra kept on with their claims and managed to keep their families by small finds and by producing their own food.
September, 1907 saw Goodman and Malone, Howard, O’Brien, Strahan and Baker, Hill and Schiller, and Baker and Jones working in the area. Yields at Nuggetty Gully, Waanyarra were improving.
Dunolly Borough Council sought a reduction of fees (6/- a ton) at the Waanyarra Battery. Cr. Desmond said there were two other Batteries at Waanyarra besides the Government one. Mr. Brooker and Mr. Nankervis said they would cart stone to Waanyarra if the rates were reduced.
Prospecting and stone crushing continued on at Waanyarra with small and substantial finds at various intervals. The next ‘Rush’ was in the 1930’s when the Great Depression saw many men ‘shipped off to the goldfields with a pan and pick, a tent and 6/- a week to supplement their finds. This was one way the government relieved the burden from the city’s unemployment problem.
There was a canvas township at Waanyarra Rush where nearly 100 were camped. Claims were 7 x 11 ft. It was like a revival of the early days where men with little experience were trying to survive on the gold.
The ‘old hands’ were still unearthing nuggets. Cooper and Neal found a 221/2 oz. nugget on Morton’s ground.
Two hundred men were on the field where water was scarce in February, 1932. J. Morton and Neal found another nugget this time weighing 25 ozs. and adjoining Mr. Graaf s claim. Mr Graaf recently got 56 ozs.