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MOUNT COOLON GOLD MINES N.L. & WILLIAM MATHESON MORGAN, QLD

This commemorative registered opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge cover has a blue regitration R. 6 label of Sydney Harbour Bridge/ N.E. PYLON (North East Pylon) and a single red 2d and 3d Harbour Bridge stamps, postmarked SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE N.E. PYLON/ 23 MR 32.  The cover was addressed to W.M. Morgan Esq, c/o Mt. Coolon Gold Mines N.L., Private Mail Bag, Collinsville, Queensland.  The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

Mount Coolon Gold Mines N.L. (No Liability) Company operated the gold and silver mine in Mount Coolon in Queensland.  Gold was discovered in 1913 and commercial mining commenced the following year.  The mine closed in February 1939.  The total production from this mine was about 197,500 oz of gold and approximately 60,000 oz of silver was produced after 1930 (no records of silver production prior to 1930).

Mount Coolon (shown with a blue arrow) is situated ca. 200 km south-south-east of Charters Towers and 200 km north of Clermont in an isolated area of Queensland’s Central East region (Figure 2).  

Luke Reynolds a jackeroo (or jackaroo: a horseman on an Australian sheep station) discovered gold there in 1913, but Thomas Coolon was the first to peg a claim in 1914, and other claims were quickly taken up, including one of the most active prospectors, James Barclay.  He expanded and consolidated his claims and brought in battery machines to crush the ore, developed an assay plant, a smelting furnace as well began operating a cyanide plant by 1918.  In 1921 over 2100 ounces of gold were produced and by 1922 there were 12 adjacent leases on the Mount Coolon lode.

By 1932 Mount Coolon Gold Mines had been taken over, bought out Barclay, and was operating as the Mount Coolon Gold Mines No Liability Company (the name on the cover).  This company  had the highest gold production in Queensland.   In the late 1930s the Coolon gold mines were a profitable concern, for the now parent company was known as the mining giant, Western Mining Corporation.  However by 1941, this company had left the field, abandoned their leases and disposed of most of their machinery.  In 1947 prospecting had recommenced for alluvial gold and bismuth.  The remains of Barclay’s battery machine is seen in Figure 3.

The addressee was William Matheson Morgan (1906-72), born in South Australia, a son of a doctor.  William graduated in Civil Engineering in 1929 from the University of Adelaide, gained practical experience at the Zinc Corporation mine at Broken Hill before taking a surveying job at Mount Coolon Gold Mines in Queensland in 1931.   He subsequently moved to Bendigo Mines in 1933 and later moved to Lake George Mines at Captains Flat N.S.W.  During WW2 he served with the RAAF’s construction unit, and post-war he made substantial contributions to the mining industry in Australia.   He was President of the Australian Mining Industry Council in 1970, and a member of the Science & Industry Forum of the prestigious Australian Academy of Science.  He was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in 1971 for his contribution to the industry.   He retired in November 1971 and died in Melbourne in February 1972, leaving a wife and 2 sons, both of whom followed in the mining industry.  A photo of William Morgan is seen in Figure 4.


 
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