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The Mine

History will come alive as you drive along the road through the Appollyon Valley thinking "how did they find this mine?" Then coming over the hill to view the magnificent smelter built by the Daydream Mining Association and used by Broken Hill. Then the old township which once had a population of approx 500.

Rod Wilkinson
The Smelter

The remains of the Daydream Smelter located 20km North West of Broken Hill, NSW Australia. The smelter was built to treat the ore from the Daydream Mine close by and was opened in 1885. The Daydream Mine was short lived and in 1886, just 10 months after the Smelter was built, it was closed as there was insufficient ore to keep it open.

It was reopened sometime between 1886 and 1887 to treat the first silver ore from the new Broken Hill mines, as they had not yet built their own furnaces.

By the end of 1888 the smelter was closed for ever, and everything that could be used in the new Broken Hill Smelters was salvaged.

All that remains at the site is the circular chimney stack (built of stone in its lower half and brick in its upper section), the stone sided walls of a rising flue tunnel that connected the smelter to the chimney stack on the hilltop and various support walls and foundations.

The whole site was State Heritage Listed in 1999.
(Photo and copy Courtesy of Rod Wilkinson)

The History

The Day Dream

The Day Dream Mine, one of the principle mines on the field is situated about 16km’s in a Northerly direction from Silverton. Years before the prospectors ventured into the Barrier, the lonely shepherds on the out-stations of the Mundi Mundi Run wandered over the spot. Here and there cairns of stone have been thrown together as landmarks, but flock tenders had little knowledge of the treasures at their feet.

Two of the old pioneers of Thackaringa, W. Sinclair and Joe Meech pushed out north into the ranges in the hope of finding another Gypsy Girl or Umberumberka. Days were passed on short supplies of food and often only a pint of water a day, until their perseverance was rewarded by by finding what is now known as the Appollyon Mine (December 1875).

A camp was pitched in the neighbourhood and a further search made for lodes which the surface indicated in almost every direction. Sinclair’s version of the discovery is that a tacit understanding existed between the two partners that they should choose opposite directions and report findings to each other in the evening camp.

Joe Meech found the Day Dream or Meech’s Blow as it was originally known by, pegged it out and registered it in another name and claimed the hole. A law-suit resulted between the two partners in 1881-1882 which was carried out in Sydney. Meech sold one-third of his interest for one thousand pounds and gave another to some Melbourne speculator to carry out the law proceedings. In the meantime Barrier Ranges Mining Association stepped in and purchased a portion of the mine and terminated what gave every promise of protected litigation.

The Association acquired eight-tenths of the claim in August 1884, the two other tenths being held by Messers Bagot and Co. of Adelaide. The dual proprietors decided upon floating it as a company. The change was made for the more effective working of the Property. The capital of the company was fixed at ninety thousand pounds in 72,000 shares of one pound-five shillings each. They were issued at one pound and paid up 64,000 to the Barrier Ranges Association, being share for the share on the stock of that proprietary and 8,000 to Bagot and Co.

In 1884 is was estimated that 500 people were living in and around the township of ‘Wilson’, which was commonly known as Day Dream. Some of the residents of the time were:

Manager – Day Dream Silver Mining Co.: – E. Perrow
Mine Managers: – W. Young & Morrison,
Foreman: – J Semmens,
Hotel Keeper: – T . Fitzpatrick,
Store Keeper: – J Grose,
Engine Driver: – N Moore,
Assayer: – W E Perrow
Miners: – A Currow, J Somerville, T Whitford and H Visser.

Travel was by bullock wagon and the road from Silverton was frequently travelled. Water for the township was carted by wagons from the Day Dream Dam about three miles east of the mine. Water for the smelters was carted from the Appollyon and Bobby Burns mines about two miles distance and coke carted from Adelaide and the necessary fluxes are obtained from the Gypsy Girl Mine and Silverton.

The Miner

A miner’s life consisted of twelve hour days, six days a week. Miners worked by Candle light which were held in holders known as spiders. Miners bought their own candles, picks and shovels. Mining method was mostly by hammer and tapping holes, then firing them. Miners did not leave the workings for firings. Pickey boys (Lads of 14-15 years old) would hand pick the ore after a firing, and bag it. Waste rock was carried back into the opening for back-fill. A miners living conditions were poor with the average life span only 40 years. Most miners suffered failing eyesight and respiratory diseases.

The first production from the Broken Hill Mine, some 1,500 tons was brought by bullock wagon to the Hen & Chicken lease and smeltered at the Day Dream Smelters. This smelter was the first in the district commencing operations on the 13th August 1885. Teams laden with ore regularly left for Terowie.