THE story of early Shoalhaven gold mining town Yalwal is told in a book to be launched this weekend.
Mountain of Gold, The Yalwal Gold Field is the latest publication by local historian and Shoalhaven Historical Society member Robyn Florance.
Through her own research and with the aid of a conservation management plan by Barry McGowan and Brendan O’Keefe commissioned by Shoalhaven City Council in 1995, Mrs Florance has been able to tell the story of the township, west of Nowra, which was once a rich flourishing community.
The book will be launched as part of this weekend’s Shoalhaven River Festival, at the historical society’s market stall on the banks of the Shoalhaven River.
“We have so many people come into the museum asking about Yalwal and its history, it was time it was documented,” Mrs Florance said.
There township has a rich history, with gold and silver both discovered in the region.
“Silver was found in 1849 and gold in 1852,” she said.
“Pioneer fossickers were busy in the 1870s and by 1878 the Yalwal Goldfields were proclaimed covering 256 square kilometres.”
Mountain of Gold tells the story of the region, its many mining operations such as Homeward Bound, The Poor Man, Pioneer, Eclipse, The Golden Crown and Star just to name a few.
The stories of the prominent men who worked the area like Robert Thorburn, Alexander Hay and families such as the Fletchers, Atkinsons and Jacksons and the last Yalwal gold miner William Chapman, who died aged 81 in 2010, are also told.
Between 1882 and 1900 the Homeward Bound operation produced 24,000 ounces of gold.
The township flourished with a public school, stores, a bank, hotel and school of arts established.
The book tells how World War I effectively ended gold mining, before the town re-established itself. How a bushfire destroyed the village in 1939 and Danjera Dam was built in the 1960s flooding the northern end of the mining area.
Mountain of Gold is a story of prosperity, decline and revival.
The book also features a number of superb historical photographs.
As well as being available at this weekend’s river festival the book will also be on sale at the Nowra Museum.