James McGinty

Famous Tasmanian Prospectors, Explorers and Track Cutters

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James McGinty

Post by Fox » Sun May 04, 2014 12:42 am

Further to previous discussion regarding the discoverer of Tasmania's largest gold nugget, I have dug up a little more info on him.
Not much is known about his early life, but he was born in Ireland circa 1836 and most likely found his way to the
Victorian goldfields where he may have gained his prospecting experience.
LIke most prospectors, both oldtimers and modern, he seems to have kept under the radar & not much was heard
of him until he made that famous discovery.
Towards the end of December 1882, James McGinty & his companions, D.Neil and T.Richards arrived on the Rocky R having prospected their way up the Whyte R. To their knowledge the Rocky had not been prospected before.
Good colour was found in the river bed and they continued prospecting their way upstream, eventually finding a nice pocket of nuggets. The three men kept working their way up the river until they reached a sharp bend about 1km upstream from its confluence with the Whyte which had good concentrations of heavy gold.
They set up camp nearby and proceeded to work the alluvial terraces on the inside of the bend.
On the 23rd January !883 a 243oz nugget was found at a depth of 5ft in the gravels of the terrace. A week later a 39oz nugget was found nearby. The gold was buried under the floor of the tent for safe keeping while the men worked.
Meanwhile another party comprising Jim Griffin and two others were working their way upstream too and not doing too badly on the crumbs left behind by McGinty's party. On enquiring how James & Co were doing, they were
told "Well, we have got a little gold."They were invited into the tent, where the gold was ceremoniously unveiled.
Apparently Jim's eyes nearly jumped out of his head when he saw it. Nothing even approaching that size had been seen in Tasmania before.
Anyway Jim Griffin and his mates struck it lucky too, finding a 143oz nugget in the Riverbed in 5ft of water and 4ft of gravel.
Subsequent prospectors did very well on the field too, many of them leaving with as much as 100ozs of gold.
McGinty made his way to Launceston where he tried to sell his gold. Obviously not satisfied with the price he was offered, he sailed for Melbourne. Fortunately casts were made before the big nuggets were melted down.
He seems to have dropped off the radar screen again for quite some time but apparently was drawn back to the West Coast again by the lure of gold to prospect creeks in the Savage R & Heazlewood area. In fact one of the creeks near the Nineteen Mile Osmiridium field still bears his name.
When Osmiridium became valuable after about !910 he spent his later years mining it until he died out on the Nineteen Mile in April 1920 at the age of 83, a pretty good age for someone who had spent a hard life in the bush.
James McGinty was buried at the Waratah Pioneer Cemetary on April 25th 1920.
If you go to the MRT website and download OS_258.pdf, there is an image of him on page 4 .

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Re: James McGinty

Post by Philski » Thu May 22, 2014 1:09 am

Hi Fox and all

i put in a submission today with Mineral resources Tasmania to see how we can go about protecting James McGinty's workings in the 19 mile area and or rocky river. His discoveries of gold and later marketing of osmiridium are noteworthy and historical enough in the state without the amazing work done on his diggings.

i will let you know the outcome when MRT get back to me about it.


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Re: James McGinty

Post by karl » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:09 pm

The document on Osmiridium is currently here:
http://www.mrt.tas.gov.au/mrtdoc/dominf ... OS_258.pdf
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