From Gentle Annie we drove some 300 kilometres to Castlemaine. Although this is quite a long run for us, the Hume Highway made some of the trip a lot faster than my normal 80 km/h. We were invited to a gathering on a private property close to Castlemaine.
We have been here for over a week now. For me it was an opportunity to finalise the installation of the LiFePo4 batteries in the LandCruiser and to replace the van’s failing AGM batteries with LiFePo4 batteries with the help of an expert in the field. This, as well as socialising, took up most of our time.
We did get away for some trips. The first excursion was to Castlemaine on the Wednesday. Castlemaine is an interesting small town built amongst hills. In the Information Centre we got a map for a historical walk which highlights the many historic buildings in this town.
This diving chamber was used to recover gold ingots from the ocean liner Niagara which was sunk by a German mine on its voyage from Auckland to Vancouver. The ship carried amongst its cargo 590 gold bars, weighing 8 tonnes. At today’s gold price this would be worth around 380 Million Australian Dollars. This was in payment for the purchase of war materials by England from the United States.
The diving chamber was used in a salvage operation in 1940. The operation recovered 555 gold bars with a further 30 gold bars recovered in 1953. A man sealed in this tube directed cranes and other machinery to retrieve the gold ingots, staying under water for up to 10 hours at a time. This link to the Niagara tells more of the story. Even the synopsis of the book ‘Deep Water Gold‘ makes interesting reading. I am sure the book itself would be fascinating. But why is this diving chamber in Castlemaine? It was designed and constructed in Castlemaine by the Thompson foundry.
There was an interesting café in one of these buildings along Mostyn Street: ‘Saffs‘ is a meeting place of diverse customers. At the table next to us there were 3 people talking with the author of a book, all of them taking notes. On the way in I heard somebody explaining she had just finished an exhibition. There were also mothers with children enjoying the fare. We had a delicious tomato soup which was spot on for the cold day.
I don’t know the Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen, but it brought back memories from my time in Switzerland where wheat beer often was the beer of choice for a drink after work. Might have a look for it at Dan Murphy’s as it is available there.