Thesis title: The Woolgar Goldfield, NW Queensland: A study of technology transfer and ephemerality
The Woolgar goldfield though relatively isolated is part of an extensive network of goldfields made up of Croydon, Gilbert, Oaks and the extensive Etheridge that covers the eastern aspects of these interrelated fields. The Woolgar at the southern tip of this wide ranging complex, some 600 kilometres from the eastern seaboard in the piedmonts of the Gregory Range was discovered in 1879 and its rush of 1880 was considered the last in the nomadic age of gold rushes in eastern Australia (Bolton 1972: 61-2). Like most fields in the region, the demographics and mining methods quickly changed once the easy winnings from alluvial mining ran out. The combined population of the three mining settlements along the Woolgar River also quickly dropped from 600 to around 100 within months of its discovery as the industrial focus turned towards reef mining with poor separation techniques. As such, the Woolgar goldfield could be considered as 'a small man's field' or akin to Philipp's (1987) 'poor man's diggings'.
The populist hypotheses that such remote goldfields were disadvantaged by their remoteness, recalcitrant investment and poor technological transfer will be re-examined in a framework of structuration (see Taylor 2003). In re-considering the Woolgar's duality of structure, Agency and a number of social dynamics will be offered as an alternative premise for the poor advancement of the goldfield's technology.
Bolton, G., C. (1972). A Thousand Miles Away: A History of North Queensland to 1920. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
Philipp, J. (1987). A poor man's digging: Mining and community at Bethanga, Victoria, 1875-1912. Melbourne: Hyland House.
Taylor, V. J. (2003). Structuration Revisited: A Test Case for an Industrial Archaeology Methodology for Far North Queensland, in Industrial Archaeology Review, 25(2): 129-45.