Monday, 27 August 2007

Story of an Auzzie Gold Digger in the South African Gold Rush

I loved this story of an Australian that took the Natal Bank for a ride during the 1870 gold rush at Pilgrims Rest in the Eastern Transvaal.
It would appear as though a certain Mr. Gardiner arrived at the Natal Bank in Pilgrims Rest, and promptly began to peg out a claim on the four corners of the banks erf. Once he had done this, and with a bunch of his buddies following his every move, he summoned the Manager. He informed the Manager that he had pegged his claim for prospecting purposes, as he was entitled to do by law. The law also stated that he had to pay the bank for any improvements, before said improvements could be removed.
So while the bank people we trying to sort this lot out, he promptly loaded a wheelbarrow full of gravel from the bank entrance area, and waltzed down to the river where he washed it. He then returned to the bank for another load. Both loads produced gold in each pan washed. The crowd became excited and the bank became very, very concerned. He had obviously found an area with gold. After removing and washing a couple more barrows full, he suddenly advised all and sundry he was no longer interested and disappeared with his cart, after pulling out his pegs.
Only afterwards did the penny drop. All nuggets contained traces of iron, and the procedure was to crush iron nuggets bought from the miners at the bank. This process was always undertaken at the same spot. Gardiner believed that dust had collected there over a period of time. He was correct. Folklore has it that he collected quite a few ounces that day.

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