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The Island Goldfield (Austin), Cue Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 27° 37' 48'' South , 117° 52' 30'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -27.63021,117.87503
GeoHash:G#: qe5ff61fr
Locality type:Ore Field
Köppen climate type:BWh : Hot deserts climate

Located approximately 20 kilometres south of Cue, bordering the Great Northern Highway. Gold production from the area started in 1892.

The first European in the district was surveyor Robert Austin, after whom the Lake Austin saltpan is named after. He mentioned in his report the country looked like it could contain gold, but few took any notice. Later, after discoveries of gold, the town of Austin was gazetted in 1895. A tourist rest area, along the highway, contains an information sign about the former town. Little remains apart from an old railway platform and cemetery, just west of the highway.

The goldfield can be divided into three portions. The northern most is called Mainland, after several companies who historically operated in the area, and also because it is physically part of the mainland, along the northern shore of Lake Austin. This section of the goldfield is immediately east of the highway, roughly 8 kilometres east-west and 2 kilometres north-south, and contains countless historic shafts. The goldfield becomes wider as you head east. It is a series of rough greenstone and quartzite ridges running east north-east to west south-west, with country rock a coarse grained diorite, decomposed down to 100 feet. Gold is found where the reef are in contact with the quartzite bars.

The Island is a north-south trending ridgeline, surrounded by the Lake Austin saltpan. The Island is 5 kilometres north-south, and 2 kilometres at its widest point, rising to a maximum of 50 metres. The New Orient Mine is on a separate small island off the north-east of the main landmass. The highway travels along the western side of the ridge. Some small pits and trenches are on the western side, but most activity is hidden from view on the eastern side of the ridge. Some stone building ruins exist, and a rusting processing plant at the northern end, as well as many shafts and diggings.

After the initial alluvial goldrush, London companies moved in to undertake reef mining between 1897 to 1905. The adjoining Golconda and Island Eureka gold mines produced 75% of gold from The Island. To 1954, the area had produced 37 900 tonnes for 52 203 oz, with a further 3 738 oz alluvial, but production records are fragmented.

The Island contains a series of north-south trending parallel quartzite bars, rising as ridges, dipping steeply west, and containing banded quartz, hematite and magnetite, with pyrite prevalent at depth. The greenstone is coarse grained diorite, decomposed to 150 feet down.
Gold is mainly found in quartz veins in narrow shear zones, faults and tension fractures in interbedded mafic metavolcanics and BIF. The quartz veins are generally parallel to the BIF. The most gold is found where the reefs are in contact with the quartzite bars. The reefs are rubbly near the surface, but become more pronounced at depth. These are found in the Golconda Formation, a steep west dipping limb of a north trending and plunging anticline. In this are three sets of faults and set of strike slip faults in mafic volcanics.

The southern section is called Moyagee, and is west of the highway. Large numbers of shafts, trenches and clear scraped areas exist between a south-west running ridge and the Lake Austin shoreline.

As the goldfield is easily accessible there are many no entry signs along the highway, although such things are by no means limited to this goldfield in Western Australia. Many of these signs remain long after the company has left. Not all are accurate, at least based on the WA Mining Act, and the sign at the tourist pull-out area is an example of this. If you wish to visit these areas, I recommend you wade through the WA Mining Act which is available on line, so you know your rights. Then try to avoid mining and exploration personnel, many of whom have not read the act and/or don't care about your rights.

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5 valid minerals.

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The West Australian newspaper (Perth) (1903), Island and Mainland. Lake Austin, 21/10/1903

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