Gold rush tragedy at Two Mile, Gympie

In 1867, James Nash discovered gold at Gympie, kicking off the Queensland goldrush. At some point, Thomas Waddell switched careers from timber mills to gold mining. He is believed to have arrived in Australia in 1863, only 4 years before the gold rush (see previous post). By 1878 he was working at the Bristol mine when he was killed by a falling mine bucket – his son George Waddell was tragically the “braceman” in charge of the bucket at the top of the shaft when it fell and killed his father who was at the base. The news reports report the mine as the “Bristol” mine but descendants Jim Waddell refer the “Sedoa” mine in an interview in 1978.

Report of Thomas Waddells death in a mining accident in the Telegraph, 22 Oct 1878. [7]

There is an excellent site prospectinglocations.com which lists all the old prospecting sites, and there are many in Two Mile, near Gympie. It was a hive of activity although the amount of gold recovered was ultimately fairly modest. There is a “Bristol” gold reef which had several mine shafts – one called Bristol (several shafts) and one called “Sadowa” (which I assume is the same as “Sedoa” in the news article with Jim Waddell about the Two Mile hotel), both of which are in Two Mile and now appear to be in the backyards of houses in Two Mile Gympie (specifically, 14 Vanessa Court, and 27/28 Fraser Road).

Map of mine locations in Two Mile, annotated to show Two Mile Hotel location on Waddell Road, and Waddell Road, where George Waddell later had his hotel. Map from prospectinglocations.com

I dont think there are any photos of the Bristol mine around, but to give an idea of what it might have looked like, here is a photo of the Cinnebar mine which was also around Gympie (Kilivan area)

Shaft, windlass & wind sock at Cinnabar mine, Gympie area. Source: https://www.facebook.com/GRLibraries/photos/fpp.146712842135348/1659545024185448/?type=3&theater

Thomas Waddell’s death certificate states that he died of “injuries sustained in the Bristol Claim”. His death was certified by his brother-in-law Malcolm Kay. He left his poor wife Mary Waddell (nee Best) as a widow with 7 children to raise – the eldest was poor George Waddell who was only 14 when the accident happened, through to the youngest John, aged 4 months when Thomas died. Mary never remarried.

Death certificate of Thomas Waddell (2nd from bottom) in 1878.

In 1878 the Queensland mining industry was too new for safety rules, and a register of mining accidents and the investigations was not started until 1882. There was an inquest into his death, although I havent managed to get a copy of this yet. However in 2008 a new monument for the 149 Gympie & Kilkivan gold miners who lost their lives in accidents between 1868-1952 was erected in Zig Zag Gardens, Gympie. Thomas Waddell’s name is listed in 1878.

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