Surfacing or Paddocking

Does this barren red landscape look familiar? It’s a fairly common sight throughout the old goldfields of Victoria.

During the gold rush, miners stripped large areas of shallow gold-rich ground down to the bedrock and processed all the earth they removed using equipment such as tubs, cradles, and puddling machines.

This method of alluvial mining is known as paddocking, or surfacing, and it’s fairly easy to spot from above.

Look for the conspicuous red or orange colour of stripped bedrock. They will be barren areas which are very sparsely vegetated because all the topsoil in which plants can grow has been removed.

These paddocked areas are of particular interest because they tell us that there was gold here, and lots of it, and it wasn’t very deep. There’s often still gold left in the ground alongside the paddocking.

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