Cock’s Eldorado Dredge

Friday 1 January 2021. On the final evening of our short stay in the small former mining town of Eldorado, on the fringes of the High Country in northeastern Victoria, we walked a short way west along the Wangaratta–Eldorado Road to visit Cock’s Eldorado Dredge, an enormous bucket dredge used in alluvial gold and tin mining, essentially a giant gold-panning machine. It is the largest and best preserved bucket dredge in Australia and weighs nearly 2,000 tonnes. It is located two kilometres or so to the west of town in the self-dug pond it has occupied since being taken out of service 66 years ago.

On the way we passed three amusing hay-bale figures, two celebrating Christmas and one promoting sensible coronavirus measures.

We arrived at what appeared to be an enormous tin shed in a field. As we approached, it proved to be the dredge.

The dredge operated from 1936–1954 in Reedy Creek (also known as Reid’s Creek), which arises in the hills to the northeast of Eldorado and flows westward in an arc to the north of town. During its working life the dredge extracted nearly two tonnes of alluvial gold and some 1,300 tonnes of alluvial tin from artificial ponds dug alongside the creek as well as in the creek itself. The dredge’s superstructure, clad then as now in its iron sheeting, floated on a pontoon.

A metal walkway gives access to the dredge’s control room, from where all manner of strange and mysterious pieces of equipment can be seen close up, including the all-important bucket belt itself.

A path allows one to circumambulate the pond and see the dredge from many angles. In the beautiful late-afternoon light it looked rather splendid, its browns and greys harmonising pleasingly with the greens of the landscape.

On the far side of the pond a flock of beautiful Red-browed Finches flew by, two of which obliged me by pausing long enough to be photographed.

We finished our circular walk and returned to the Wangaratta–Eldorado Road. We turned left and reached our rental house as dusk was gathering. A mixed chorus of frogs, birds and insects greeted us as we arrived.

2 comments

  1. What an intruiging relice of years gone by. We have relatives how live not far from there and while we’ve talked about it, never actually gone for a looksee.

    It looks to be a fascinating collection of steel and ingenuity.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s