• The lure of gold was strong, especially after it had been found in New South Wales and Victoria.
  • The South Australian government sent a series of experienced men into the Flinders Ranges to look for gold, other minerals and water.
  • They included B.H. Babbage, A.R.C. Selwyn and E.H. Hargraves
  • Gold was never to be found in great quantity, although old mines such as those at Mt Ogilvie produced rich ore for a short time. (Corbett 1969:8). Deposits are widespread but not concentrated enough to be profitable.

B.H. Babbage.

  • The Government of South Australia sent Babbage north to search for gold in the Flinders Ranges in 1856, inspired by the goldfields discoveries in Victoria.
  • Babbage was unsuccessful in his quest for gold, and surprisingly he made no more than passing mention of copper, traces of which had attracted the attention of the early settlers to the extent that several mineral leases had been taken out by the time of the Babbage expedition.

Photo: State Library of South Australia  B36287

Benjamin Herschel Babbage in about 1860.

Benjamin Herschel Babbage in about 1860.
Benjamin Herschel Babbage in about 1860.


Selwyn, the Victorian Government Geologist, visited SA in 1859.

  • Selwyn ‘made an extensive traverse through the Mt. Lofty and Flinders Ranges. His main objective was to collect information on the distribution of gold-bearing rocks, but his survey was also to cover any potential coal deposits and underground water occurrences’ (Corbett 1969: 7-8).
  • He travelled north via Kanyaka, Mt Remarkable and Wilpena and was the first to recognise and describe the synclinal structure of Wilpena Pound.
  • He reported unfavourably on gold, coal and water, but was impressed by the beauty of Wilpena Pound.

E. H. Hargraves

  • His discovery of gold in New South Wales sparked the 1851 gold rush there.
  • Hargraves ‘scratched creek-beds and hill-sides throughout the Flinders proving that “Gold can be found …but certainly not … of sufficient value to make it remunerative”’ (Mincham 1986).