And plenty were.
Of course, it wasn't just on the river and the larger creeks that the prospectors tried their luck. Every little gully and streamlet was scoured in search of gold-bearing soil and rocks, so as claims were taken up at Dolly's Creek, Tea Tree Creek and other nearby diggings, prospectors began to look further afield. One of the places they looked to was Mount Doran, a few miles to the north of Dolly's Creek and now part of the Lal Lal State Forest.
The workings around Mount Doran date back to 1858 and were most active throughout the 1860s. Recently I had the opportunity to investigate some of the area - in particular, a disused mine about 1.5km south of Bungal Dam. Our route in took us along rutted 4WD tracks, past the crumbling remains of a chimney, whose original purpose I have not be able to determine, but which I assume belonged to an early settler.
|Abandoned mineshaft entrance|
|Gully running past the mine|
|Main branch of the tunnel|
|Deeper inside the tunnel|
From local descriptions, such a mine would have been worked by a small group of men, possibly taking shifts and working by hand to dig and extract the rocks and soil. The number of branches off the main tunnel indicate that the miners were able to follow the lead in several different directions back into the hillside, stopping as the gold ran out.
|Dead end branch|
|The earliest graffiti I could find from Jan 7th 1928|
|C Birkett Lal Lal, K Fisher Geelong, J Davis Geelong, Jan 27 1933|
Once again, a quick Google search turns up the Bound family in Lal Lal as early as 1914 when Alfred Charles Bound was born there. Even today there is a Bound Lane in the town and looking at the handwriting above I suspect we are looking at generations of the Bound family visiting the mine.
In addition to these examples there are names from 1945, 1980 and even one from 2014, creating what is possibly one of the most obscure genealogical records I have found to date.