Prospectors joining the rush to the Western Australian gold strikes in the late 19th century soon found that water was more valuable than gold in this arid region. They turned to waterless gold panning methods such as the dryblower, first used on the Queensland gold diggings in the 1860s.
Several local versions of this innovative gold extraction machine were patented. Sales to hopeful prospectors were brisk, retailing at £6 in Kalgoorlie in 1899 – almost $800 in today’s currency.
Nowadays, visitors can see dryblowing and gold panning demonstrations at the Society on Boulder Market Day, held on the third Sunday of every month.
Image: Prospector Lindsay Stockdale demonstrates a dryblower at a Boulder Market Day. (Courtesy Eastern Goldfields Historical Society)