Pioneer Mine walk, Mitta Mitta

Off Hedley Lane, Mitta Mitta 3701

Pioneer Mine walk, Mitta Mitta

Off Hedley Lane, Mitta Mitta 3701

Staff Pick
1 h
1.43 km
Easy

Walk two loops immersed in a lost world open cut goldmine that is old, large and isolated enough from the wider world to have evolved an insulated ecosystem. It is a revegetated wonderland.

Pioneer Mine walk, Mitta Mitta

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Summary

Walk two loops immersed in a lost world open cut goldmine that is old, large and isolated enough from the wider world to have evolved an insulated ecosystem. It is a revegetated wonderland.

Description

As you approach the tea-tree closes in around you. The sense of entering a place of enchantment is strong. The clearing at the Pioneer Mine walking track entry is surrounded by a dense perimeter. You have entered another world.

The Pioneer Mine information sign is historically comprehensive, but it doesn't prepare you. As you climb the mullock heap to begin your exploration you still think this is just an abandoned open cut mine. How wrong you are!

You descend the other side into a place walled off by sheer red cliffs, of fairy dells and sprites never seen but always felt. A place where no path is straight and every path disappears around another corner, where magic may happen and you hope it does. It is bewitching.

This was one of the largest historic open cut gold mines in the Southern Hemisphere. 440kg of gold was extracted. The tracks follow the abandoned sluice ways and cuttings used between 1859 and 1913. Amongst the gentle rise and fall of these meandering and intriguing earthen and sometimes rocky tracks you will find a few small stairways and boardwalks.

This human created space is now home to a distinct quiet and sheltered ecosystem. Lyrebirds scratch the rich humus of the floor, raptors nest on the sheer cliffs above. Listen carefully for their calls and you might be lucky enough to make an observation.

There are no amenities at this site. Public toilets and picnic facilities are located on the Omeo Highway opposite at Mill Picnic Area.

You can also access this site by foot from the Mitta Mitta Historic Park Reserve and the Mitta Mitta River walk (which means crossing the Omeo Highway).

Dogs are not permitted.

Other walks in this region
Mitta Mitta River walk
Waterfall and Darbyshire Hill trestle bridges walk
Mitta Bridge to Old Tallangatta
Playles Hill Lookout walk, Corryong
Koetong "Spa" and Wildflower walk

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Points of Interest

1. Across the mullock heap

Walking up and over the rocky waste of the mullock heap really doesn't prepare you for what is to come. There is excellent signage along the way that explains why this place is unique.

2. Steps down into a world of its own

The steps (and the track) are uneven in places. Just take your time to enjoy the space even more. As native vegetation communities have been reestablished the open cut has evolved it's own ecology.

3. The directional sign

This is a space enclosed by cliff and rock faces. The walk is essentially two loops in a figure of eight.

4. A wispy, windy and mysterious path

The air of mystery is strong. What is around every corner?

5. Climb in and out of narrow gullies

The miners cut sluiceways for washing and collecting gold deposits. These now manifest as mossy hollows, craggy gullies and tantalising pathways.

6. On the way to the dam wall

Tea tree tunnels create a cloistered, ethereal atmosphere. Observe for wildlife along the these weaving tracks such as lyrebirds and wombats.

7. A few boardwalks

There are boardwalks for crossing wetter areas.

8. The Lookout

Viewing the red faced escarpments surrounding you shows why this enclosed and isolated man made space has evolved its unique natural character.

9. The dam wall

The dam wall has become so integrated into the surrounding environment is hard to identify at first. Look for the pipe protruding from the bottom.

10. Sluice Box Cutting

Hydraulic pressure was used to wash alluvial gold out of surrounding clay and loam. The resulting effluent was discharged into the Mitt Mitta River.

11. Kangaroo apple

As vegetation returned to the mining ravaged landscape iconic native plants were reestablished.

12. Disappear into the fern gullies

Fern Gully is a mystical place full of secret corners and hidden spaces. The foliage is dense. The track often passes into and under rather than through.

13. Cross wetland boardwalks

It is wet underfoot here and the water ferns love it. They brush at your feet where they crowd the boardwalk.

14. Tail Race

Waste water and soil were washed into the tail race and down to the river by a tunnel cut into the hillside.

15. Car park

There is a car park with room for a half dozen cars at the start of this walk. Alternatively, you can choose to walk across the Omeo Highway from the Mitta Mitta River walk to get here.


Features

Historical interest Historical interest
Nature trail Nature trail
Lake, creek, river Lake, creek, river