Gulgong’s gold rush began in 1870, almost twenty years after the finds at Ophir, the Turon River and Hill End. During that time, prospectors scoured the surrounding country and a few staked claims that yielded little.
One of these, Joseph Dietz, searched in the area around Gulgong for several years before his employee, Tom Saunders, found significant traces of gold at Red Hill, in the heart of the present town.
The Gulgong find has been called the last of the small man’s gold rushes, because large amounts of gold were close enough to the surface to be mined with hand tools, rather than the heavy machinery needed for deep reef gold.
The gold was washed, over eons, from quartz at the peak of Red Hill. From there it was pushed down the small streams that led off in all directions, became mixed with silt and plants and mud, and was eventually covered over.
The prospector’s task was to find the leads, track their twist and turns, and discover the levels at which the gold had been spread. Even for experts, it was a daunting task, over an area covering hundreds of square kilometres. For amateurs it could be a futile gamble.