Mineral Wealth in South Australia

As the agricultural industry boomed the colony was about to experience more (if not accidental) good fortune. During 1841, a carrier, while driving his team of bullocks over the Mount Lofty range, had been obliged, by the steepness of the road, to fasten a log to the back of his wagon, in order to steady the load and prevent its descending too quickly. As the log dragged roughly behind on the road, it tore great furrows in the soil, and in one of these the carrier noticed a stone which blanced and glittered like a metal. On looking more closely, he saw that there were large quantities of the same substance lying near the surface of the earth in all directions. Having taken some specimens with him, he made inquires in Adelaide, and learned that the substance he had discovered was galena, a mineral in which sulphur is combined with lead and small quantities of silver. The land on which this valuable ore had been found was soon purchased and mines opened on it. At first there was a large profit obtained from the enterprise; and though, in after years, the mines became exhausted, yet they served to call attention of the colonists to the possibility of discovering more permanent and lucrative sources of mineral wealth.


At the Kapunda Station, about forty miles north-west of Adelaide, there lived a squatter named Captain Bagot. One day during 1842, he sent his overseer, Mr Dutton, to search for a number of sheep which had strayed into the bush. After spending sometime in fruitless efforts, Mr Dutton ascended a small hill in order to have a more extensive view of the country, but still he saw nothing of the lost sheep. On turning to descend, his attention was attracted by a bright green rock jutting from the earth. it seemed to him peculiar, so he broke a small piece off and carried it down to Captain Bagot's house, where he and the Captain examined the specimen and came to the conclusion that it consisted of the mineral malachite, containing copper in combination with water and carbonic dioxide. They let no one know of their discovery, but proceeded to apply for the land in the usual manner, without breathing a word as to their purpose. The section of eighty acres was advertised for a month, and then put up to auction ; but no one was anxious for this barren piece of ground, they had no competitors, and the land fell to them for the price of £80. As soon as they became possessed of it , they commenced operations, their secret was out. During the first year the mines yielded £4,000 ; during the next, £10,000 ; and for several years they continued to enrich the two proprietors, until each realised they had accumulated a handsome fortune and sold the land to an English company.


History of Australia