Townsville, Queensland, Australia
December 4, 2001
Venus battery is open daily from 9.30am to 3.30pm. There are guided tours at 10am and 2pm. I strongly recommend a tour. Howard is the curator and tour guide and his sense of bush humour and general knowledge turns what could be a fairly ordinary visit into something quite fascinating. The battery shows its age badly but encouragingly, there is evidence of some restoration. More is needed. At present, visitor facilities are limited.
Despite these shortcomings, the tour was excellent. Howard explained how miners brought a ton of ore into the works and watched intently for several hours as it passed through various crushing and reduction processes until finally all that remained was an ounce of gold. His stories of the dangers of the process (it used mercury and cyanide) and the attempts by workers to smuggle gold out of the plant brought history to life for us.
We saw the primary crusher, the stampers, the Wilfrey shaking table, and the Burdan pans where mercury was added to the amalgamate. Finally we walked around the remains of the Cyanide plant. The mill was converted from steam to electricity in 1946 and sadly nothing remains of the original boilers. A few old transport pieces are stored at the battery, including a 1934 Chevrolet bus that was used as part of the Charters Towers bus service until the 1960s. They add to the interest but could do with better signage.
From journal Gold, History and the Outback