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About the Omeo
Thanks and credit to
Vic Webber
for most
of the information below.

Locally known as the "sheep caves" there is
an interesting story for those interested in
early mining. See below for inside image
Misconception: The name Oriental Claims conjours up a vision of thousands of Chinese scurrying about with
shovels and wicker baskets. In fact, most of the gravel was shifted by less than 50 men working at any one time.
Half of them were European and water, supplied by long "races" or channels did most of the work. To confuse us,
the Oriental Company was European while the Omeo Sluicing Company was Chinese. The French were not
French but French-Canadian and Duncan McCrae and D`Arcy Fitzgerald were American.

The Main Claims and Water Races
The Pioneer party included E.D.Fitzgerald and Duncan McCrae who arrived in 1853 and started to cut their race
in 1855. It took 8 men, 9 months to complete the race which supplied water to Bloomfield's Gully and the Pioneer Claims. Pioneer 2 was started in 1876 and sold to Dan Ah Sam and party in 1883. They worked it until 1889 when
it was sold to the Oriental Company.
The Oriental Company was formed in 1876, but, because of a dispute with E.D.Fitzgerald, who would not let them
cut their race across his property, they did not start full scale sluicing until 1880. The claim then worked continually until 1904 when the Sludge Abatement Board prohibited them washing gravel into the creek. A further attempt was made to overcome this prohibition by dumping the gravel on worked ground but it was not successful and work
ceased in 1914. In 1889 when the Pioneer race obtained the lease it was sluiced away except for 5 mounds
which indicate the depth of the gravel worked by the Pioneer Company.

Walking path through claims

Inside the "sheep caves"

Image on right is just inside the "Sheep Caves"
and showing the boundary between the
bedrock which is an older sedimentary rock and
the gravels which have formed a conglomerate
rock above. When this was all looser and in water the
alluvial gold would have worked its way to this
bottommost point and therefore would be expected
to carry good gold. That is not to say that the
gold would not also occur more thinly through the
gravels and in seams (runs) in places.

The Claims can be accessed easily by car or foot from Omeo township with short or longer walks to suit most peoples tastes. The Flora is different to that of the surrounding bushland with many varieties of wild orchid, native trees and shrubs.

Interpretive signage exists throughout the "claims".

There is nothing quite like it!

Here's some more about the Claims,
our thanks again to Vic Webber

Working Methods
Alluvial gold (gold carried by river or stream), as distinct
from reef gold (still in the rock where it was formed ),
although distributed through the gravel, is
concentrated above layers of fine clay and on the
bedrock. The gravel forms parts of ancient river
beds which eroded gold bearing mountains many
millions of years ago. With a distribution of about
one ounce(31gram per troy ounce ), to every 100 cubic
metres of gravel a cubic metre would yield about
$4- at todays prices.
Since one man can only pan about a cubic metre
a day, faster methods of recovery were necessary.
Water, from above the claims, either flowed down
the face, or, with the help of pipes and nozzle, was
sprayed against the face, washing the gravels
through Sluice boxes, down a tail race, into the
Livingstone Creek.
The claims area as a whole produced
an estimated 58000 ounces of gold.
At todays price of around Aus$400 ounce,
this represents a value of around
23 million dollars.
As most of the claims area was not
worked to its full depth and the ground
south of these claims, right to the foot
of Mt Livingstone, is of a similar nature,
it is estimated that a further 100 million
dollars worth of gold may still be there.

If you imagine turning from looking at the Sheep Caves at top
of this page you would be looking at this, giving a bit of an idea
of the extent of the workings, the cliff visible is the other side of
the claim and it extends for 100's of metres to either side.

At the end of the Ah Fong Loop not far from the car park
is this lovely swimming hole on the Livingstone Creek which
runs along one side of the "Claims". Deep clear and still you
can imagine the pleasure this place would have provided to
many. Although Omeo has snow in winter in summer
temperatures can easily top 40 degrees celsius.

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