Our gold history
Ophir, 30kms north east of Orange, is an important site which changed the course of Australian history in the 19th century. The first Australian payable gold discovery was made in 1851 at Ophir. Other gold fields soon overshadowed Ophir in size and richness, but to Ophir belongs the honour of being the first field where those very Australian words, digger and diggings, were first used.Orange city has grown from its rich mining past when in 1851 William Tom and John Lister found the first payable gold in Australia at Ophir. In the same year gold was found at Lucknow and these rich mines were worked for many years afterwards, which brought great wealth to the area.
Lucknow was the town that arose on the Wentworth estate - a privately owned tract of land just to the south east of Orange that happened to be very rich in gold.
These same golden riches are today at the heart of one of Australia's largest gold mining operations just across the ridgeline at Cadia Valley.
Mining at Lucknow extended from the very outset of the NSW gold rush in 1851 through well into the 20th century.
The Lucknow goldfield was discovered in 1851. The Wentworth Main Mine is located on the eastern side of Lucknow village.
Wentworth Main Mine
The Wentworth Main Mine is located on the eastern side of Lucknow and relates to the 1890s and 1930s mining booms.
Many of the buildings and the poppet head were rebuilt in the 1930s when the Wentworth Mine operated 24 hours a day to lower the water table, enabling mining to occur at the Reform Mine (the poppet head on the south side of the highway)
Wentworth Main Mine is open the first full Saturday and Sunday of each month from 10am - 2.30pm
Admission is $2 per adult with children, students and pensioners free of charge
The site requires a medium level of fitness, 300 metre round trip with approximately 30 steps on gravel surfaces.
It is recommended you wear enclosed shoes and bring along a hat, sunscreen and some water.
For enquires and bookings or information on disabled access, phone 02 6365 5589 during Mine opening hours
or 02 6393 8170 during office hours.
Visit www.wentworthmine.com.au for more information
The Poppet Head lit at night Don't miss the Virtual Miner who talks about
life at Wentworth Mine in the 1930s
The Wash Room sat Wentworth Main Mine. The Pay Office at Wentworth Main Mine.
Ophir, 30kms north east of Orange, is an important site which changed the course of Australian history in the 19th century. The first Australian payable gold discovery was made in 1851 at Ophir. Other gold fields soon overshadowed Ophir in size and richness, but to Ophir belongs the honour of being the first field where those very Australian words, digger and diggings, were first used.
It is also the oldest continually worked goldfield in Australia with a rich social and cultural history. Hundreds of relics and historic sites relating to mining can be found within the boundaries of this 560 hectare reserve. Evidence of old alluvial, reef and deep lead mines is still visible for the visitor who may wish to explore the area.
Today Ophir is a recreational reserve - a picturesque picnic and camping ground at the junction of the Lewis Ponds and Summer Hill Creeks.
Ophir has so much to offer.
- Camp for a night or two ($10 per vehicle / per night)
- 4WD on designated roads
- Hire a gold pan at the Orange Visitor Centre and try your luck in Summer Hill Creek (Pan hire - cash only / no Eftpos)
- Throw a line in the creek (fishing licence required)
- Enjoy a picnic lunch or use the BBQ pits (BYO wood)
- Walk around the historical areas and browse the headstones at the old cemetery
- Great spot for bird watching and spoting some local wildlife
- An oasis for photographers and artists
For further information contact Orange Visitor Information Centre 1800 069 466