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Undermining at Moonlight Flat

This extract from Records of the Castlemaine Pioneers describes the distinctively Cornish practice of ‘driving’ or ‘undermining’, on the diggings at Moonlight Flat.

Undermining was a frequent cause of disturbances on the goldfields. This practice involved mining under another digger's hole, in order to steal his wash dirt before he reached it.

Published Source
Castlemaine Association of Pioneers and Old Residents, Records of the Castlemaine Pioneers, Rigby, Adelaide, 1972. Details


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There were generally one or more fights daily among the Tipperary Boys and the Cornishmen. The latter, as soon as they bottomed, would drive like rats and undermine the Irishmen’s claim and remove the washdirt. The ground being wet enabled the Cornishmen, who were expert miners to excel all others in driving. The Tipperary Boy would suddenly drop through with a yell into the drive of a Cornishman and be up to his neck in water. A crowd would gather, and woe betide the Cornishman if he were caught.