Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
22 July 2011 - Cumberland Chimney
Twenty kilometres west of Georgetown, and clearly visible from the Gulf Developmental Road when driving from Croydon, stands a large square, brick chimney set back from the road. This is the Cumberland chimney erected in 1889 to carry smoke from large boilers driving batteries of stampers crushing gold-bearing rock.

Cumberland was registered as a prospecting claim in 1872 and reached a peak of gold production in 1886. Gold production then declined as lower grade ore from greater depth was mined and by 1889 only a few hundred ounces were recovered. The chimney was built to serve a declining gold mine and a dwindling workforce.

Cumberland miner's camp was a small town in its own right, sometimes rivalling nearby Georgetown. At the time of maximum gold production in 1886 there were nearly 400 mine workers with their families living there, as well as another hundred or so people servicing the mine workers' families in the numerous shops and businesses. In 1885 a police station was built and a telegraph station established. The Bank of New South Wales established a branch at Cumberland in 1887 and the settlement was formally proclaimed a township in 1889. A school was opened in 1891 and four hotels were in business by 1894.

Once the gold petered out the township began to die. By 1898 there was only one hotel in operation; bank and police station were withdrawn and the telegraph office closed in 1899. The school lasted until 1915. Attempts to use the battery continued until 1934 although the site had been abandoned by the owning company in 1897.

With the passage of time since the Cumberland site was abandoned obvious traces of habitation have gone and much of the site is available to passing travellers for camping. The chimney remains as an obvious landmark visible to passing travellers from the road. Behind the chimney, the lake formed by damming a stream to ensure water for the boilers also remains; this lake has a good covering of water-lily and nardoo and a substantial water-bird population.
Cumberland Chimney Cumberland Chimney built when this was a thriving gold mining area. The gold mined here was embedded in rock which had to be crushed to remove the precious metal.

The lake at Cumberland Cumberland Lake formed to provide water for boilers powering the crushers is now a water-bird habitat of note.

Travelling Australia - Georgetown, Cumberland - page2
Jacana Jacana walking across lily pads and nardoo leaves. Very long toes visible in the photograph allow the bird to spread its weight across the leaves as it walks.

Magpie-Goose Magpie-goose pausing while feeding on water lilies in Cumberland Lake.

Bush scene Study in contrast in the natural bush scene less than a kilometre from the chimney and away from the lake. This was probably a residential area when Cumberland was a thriving town.