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One of the pioneering families, the Athertons first leased Rosewood as a pastoral property in 1860. Rosewood is approximately 51 km west, by north west from Rockhampton and 26 km west from Ridgelands. It was around this time, that many of these pioneers took up land around the Rockhampton area. During the next decade, many of these pastoral leases would became part of the gold & mineral fields surrounding Rockhampton.
Gold was first discovered at Rosewood soon after the Ridgelands field opened in 1867 by an ex Morinish digger, John Williams. The amount of gold was not a significant find until William Brady (who was involved in the original discovery of gold at Crocodile Creek) located a payable pocket in the creek. It is said that Brady picked up a 250 gram nugget and washed 2 ozs of gold from 6 buckets of dirt he scraped from the surface at Brady's Creek. Both Brady and Williams applied for the government reward and finally the money of £250 was paid the reward as he was the cause of the big rush. Opinions were greatly divided in the community of the justice of this decision. Gold nuggets were found and, as expected, the news spread like wildfire with claims taken up in all directions. News travelled quickly to the neighbouring fields and soon over 200 men walked over a rugged track from Morinish to try their luck. Up and down the creek men worked frantically to gather the gold.
"Hungry, hard up diggers would go to work in the morning with empty pockets, and even emptier stomachs, and would return that night with perhaps 100 pounds worth of gold. There were lumps of pure gold, clean as a whistle, like so many marbles or pure potatoes and many weighed between 10 - 15 ozs. Much of this gold was exhibited in jeweller's windows in Rockhampton and also in Brisbane". (According to D W de Havelland in his book "Gold & Ghost).
In January 1871, the Queensland Government purchased one of these pure gold nuggets from the Rosewood field and this formed part of a collection that was sent to a London Exhibition. It is believed this nugget was found by Burke, Hannon and McKinnon. Many other large nuggets were discovered either in the creek or close to the surface. It is said that pieces were between 10 to 50 ozs. In November 1871 a party of three men, Nixon, Morrison and Wilson, dug down 17 feet and found a vein which yielded approximately four buckets of pure gold.
A small township with numerous hotels and stores was soon established to cater for the diggers and their families. In its heyday, there were over 1000 diggers on the field. However after a few years, many of the diggers moved on to newer fields - south to Gympie or north to Ravenswood - and some German diggers took their place. Gold was still being sought in the late 1900's with little reward. It was not until 1908, when copper prices were at a new high that there was renewed interest in this area.
On the abandoned Rosewood goldfields, the great Northern Copper and Gold Mining Company took up the freehold copper working in 1898 and announced plans to erect smelting works plus a rail line to the Central Railway. Control passed to London with a large sale of shares. There were also reports of gold being found. According to Kerr (1989 pp 119), "Warden Phillips travelled up from Melbourne after reading about the company's achievements in the Melbourne Press only to discover he had been reading fiction, another audacious scheme to swindle the investing public".
Today, Rosewood is a quiet rural area although some old timers still believe there is gold to be found there. Although Rosewood is relatively unknown today, it must stand alongside other gold fields such as Crocodile Creek for its gold production and especially for its purity of gold.
The following names are to be found in CQ Family History Association records as being at Rosewood in this early period.
JTS BIRD - THE EARLY HISTORY OF ROCKHAMPTON
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