Chapter 1

Mitchell’s Creek, Sunny Corner, New South Wales, Australia.

Sunny Corner is a small village in the central west of New South Wales (NSW), Australia (OZ) and a former mining area located between Lithgow and Bathurst; this little bit of heaven, just north of the Great Western Highway (Route 32). Sunny Corner had a population of 626 people.

Sunny corner was never officially known as Sunny Corner until it was gazetted in 1885. In consequence the place was brought into existence by the development and success of the Sunny Corner Silver-mining Company’s mine, and therefore the people generally acquired the habit of calling the whole place, including the newly surveyed town, after the company’s property. By November 1884 there was talk of Sunny Corner being named Mitchell. This became a reality by February 1885, however the townsfolk were not in favour of the new name. The township was also called Mitchell’s Creek[5] but the local community always called the area Sunny Corner and the name continued in use.

The original inhabitants of the area later called Sunny Corner were Aboriginal people, probably from the Wiradjuri tribe or nation. Although by the time written records of the area were created there were no Aboriginal people living there. Powys notes some archaeological evidence of their occupation in the form of stone axes.

The town of Sunny Corner grew up following the discovery of silver lodes in the area in 1884. This prompted a “rush” to the area, which had previously not been settled, and a town grew up on Crown Land adjacent to the mining leases.

The village of Sunny Corner was formally gazetted on 2 October 1885 (as R No 122). The gazette also revoked temporary reserves presumably gazetted to cover the rush to Sunny Corner. Immediately to the north-west a recreation reserve was gazetted, and a camping reserve was located on the southern border of the town. WIKI.

While not as prolific as other Gold Rush areas, nevertheless, one hundred tons of silver was mined in the vicinity, along with copper, gold and gemstones.

The decline in the price of silver spelled the end of mining and the land reverted to pastoralists. Farming, ranching and shepherding became the tax base.

Except for the few crazies prospecting ceased ... until the price of gold in the United States, exceeded five hundred dollars an ounce. Now that gold is one thousand an ounce there is a resurgence of the Hobby prospector. My friend Jim Mac is one such nut. He lived next door ... there’s a worry.

Many’s the time he’d be at the door with his carton of 24 one liter cans of Reschs Draught.

“Come out, come out, Davy. See what I found today.”

And he’s be off with locations and high bankers and sluices, scrapers and crevassing tools ... sure he found gold ... maybe it was just a few colors but it excited him. Me? Not so much. What interested me more was his photographs. The man is genius with a camera.

Bang bang bang at the door. Four fooking thirty?

“Come on, mate. Get your runners on and have a go,” Was his insistent day off cry.

Jim Mac worked hard and long over the weekend just so he could take weekdays off to go walkabout. Although walkabout was in the company of his Toyota Troop Carrier, he did get in the klics shanks mare.

The Troop carrier worried me.

Actually ... the location of the intake and exhaust pipes worried me ... and the water tight cab. With the stacks two feet above the top of the cab, I worried about the places Jim Mac drove through to get to the places he prospected.

I’m retired. I had an idea. I took the trouble to patent it. Well, what do you know. The military showed up at my door with a whole bunch of untaxable money and some rubber TOP SECRET stamps and RED ink. I can’t even hint at the idea and I didn’t get clearance so I can’t work on it. But ... that doesn’t stop me from thinking of improvements ... and those improvements earned me more money than the original idea.

Untaxable? Well, yeah. Some IRS auditor was sure to want to know WHERE my money came from. And I wouldn’t be able to tell him. Well ... I could ... but he wouldn’t like the result.

I’m not an Australian. But I thought getting away from the possible consequences of my great idea was an even better idea ... so I moved. I swapped hemispheres and continents. My State Department talked to their State Department and I didn’t even have to bribe my way in.

It’s not a big town ... it’s hilly ... I run, swim in my pool, lift and generally hide out ... and I’m 25 years old. The rot hasn’t set in yet.

Bang bang bang at the door. Four fooking thirty? Yeah ... we’re back to that.

Two days ago Mac showed up with his damned carton of liter cans ... and I drank one too many.

I said I’d go. It was the beer.

The drive was memorable. The scenery fantastic ... a one hour drive became a two hour photography drive. Sunrise was awesome. We left the three lane tarmac for the two lane ... for the one lane ... for the gravel ... for the dirt ... and then we drove through the river and that explained the stacks. Turn right at the creek. Then we walked ... encumbered with two little gas operated water pumps ... an assortment of tools, hoses, extra gas, lunch, drinking water, beer and a conglomerate of tin pieces ... all stuck in a pair of back ... and chest ... packs that resembled what a whole squad would carry into combat ... all nine of them.

Not a bad little hike ... for an uphill hike ... and a downhill slide...

At the bottom I considered the return. Australia has strict gun laws. Mac shall live another day.

Mac said, “As far as I can tell ... nobody has prospected here.”

And it had that untouched and untrammeled look that few places on earth have. Man has been everywhere. The Gold Rush was hard on Australia. Even today, metal detectors and their carriers are finding three and four pound nuggets out in the flat Australian desert ... in the hardpan ... and it’s rough gold ... not water tumbled.

Across the creek ... it’s not really a creek ... it’s a dry rill, there was a solid nearly vertical grey rock wall that curved back on itself. Where we were we could hear Mitchell’s Creek and the Mitchell’s Creek small falls on the other side of the grey rock wall.

“I’d never found this place but I tripped and fell in the crack,” Mac said.

The crack is where there’s a gap in the wall ... but the crack looks like a shadow setback. Can’t see it until you’re right on top of it.

Right off the bat we were finding nuggets ... maybe a gram each. Loading our scratchings in buckets we’d carry them out to the high banker, dump them in the top ... scrub a little to wash the bigger rocks and let the water do the work. We worked ‘til noon and broke for lunch. I heard something like rock falling back in our hideyhole and got up to investigate ... nothing. I stepped back to the creek and heard another rush of stone.

“Jim ... there’s something going on back there,” I said.

“Just rocks shifting in the heat of the sun,” He said.

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah,” He said...

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