Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

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Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  nero_design on Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:49 pm

OPHIR GOLDFIELD RESERVE: JANUARY 2017

I was talking to Admin/Mods here about posting on the forum as soon as I could get around to it... and apparently that's today Wink

I took two young friends of ours out to the Ophir Goldfields (NSW) a couple of weeks ago and rather than write some blocky paragraphs about kangaroos and not finding enough gold, I thought it might be easier to show some of the highlights with pictures and captions, shown roughly in the order they were taken.  Images are all 800 pixels wide to speed up loading.  Shouldn't be a problem for anyone these days to view them.

I like to drive Bell's Line of Road to get from Sydney to Lithgow because the roads are smoother with less traffic lights and more attractive views.  We left at 4am and returned around 11pm at night - so we had a fairly good day and I took plenty of pictures to share here that might inspire others to take a day-trip or to bring back memories to those who camp out there regularly. Since the Ophir District is right near the site where gold was first discovered in Payable quantities here in Australia in 1851, I find there's a strong attraction to this place.  

SNAKES: We didn't see any snakes this day but there ARE some venomous snakes in the area so be sure to wear your snake-guards if you're off the path or in the long grass.  That said, I was struck on the ankle by what I immediately presumed was a snake (or a peculiar two-thorned cactus?) when I got out of the car to take a soil sample.  It left two droplets of blood on the skin at the site of each puncture and we were unable to spot the culprit.  No further effects were noted and one of my companions was a medical professional and she kept an eye on me. Sometimes snakes don't eject venom when striking (in order to conserve their fluids) so this is also a possibility.  I have had two reliable reports of Death Adders here and the heat tends to bring them out at night. The punctures I received were shallow but were 2cm apart.  Hopefully it was a cactus but I couldn't find one when I turned around to see what it was.

The drive from Sydney's Western Suburbs is around 3.5 hours to get to Ophir.  The most common route is by the Great Western Highway which travels straight from Parramatta to Orange.  Ophir is about 15 minutes away from Orange by turning North-East from the town center.  The roads are sealed most of the way and the unsealed section of road at the reserve is very well maintained for the benefit of tourists.  There's a toilet block there but water at the site cannot be drunk as a result of toxins from the mining days.  It's a popular camping spot and I'd consider it a safe spot for families with the following precautions to be taken:

The only safety concerns in the area are as follows:

  • Watch out for Mine Shafts (Many have been filled in but not all)
  • Watch out for Snakes (Brown Snakes, Black Snakes and Death Adders have been reported here)
  • Don't Drink the Water (there's mercury and arsenic in the water)
  • Bring fluids and beverages or water to drink.  An esky full of ice will also make your day.
  • Bring a flashlight/torch
  • It gets VERY cold here in Winter and Hot in Summer.




A Praying Mantis grooming with the sun rising behind it... on the metal rail of the Kurrajong Lookout on the way to the goldfields via Bell's Line Of Road. I was staring at the sunset and hadn't seen the insect... so I was grateful when my friends pointed it out to me since they know I like insects.


Surprisingly these were the natural "pastel colors" of the sunrise as it began.



Pretty impressive view of the sun as it climbed above the fog bank.  I had to be VERY careful to shoot this before the sun rose any higher or it could have damaged the sensor on my camera and even burned my retina (just like a magnifying glass).



Couldn't stick around any longer... there was a cloud/fog bank below the sun which prevented it from properly illuminating the scene.  And we had a long way to drive to get to the Ophir goldfields.


A familiar sight to those in the Bathurst and surrounding districts.  A lot of gold came out of these hills.  


One of the abandoned gold mines at Lucknow (near Orange) that you pass on the way.  The locals tell me that only gold was found here but I saw mountains of recently extracted coal nearby that seemed to suggest other possibilities.


A REALLY old lawnmower parked out the front of Darcy's Old Wares and Antiques store at Lucknow (near Orange, NSW).


OPHIR Goldfield Reserve.  Hard to believe that there were in excess of 30,000 people cramped here alongside a Gold Commissioner's tent in the late 1850s.  They won a staggering amount of gold here.  A guy and his wife from the Opal Fields at Coober Pedy were camped here and the guy kept calling out advice to us as we explored the minerals around us.  We knew what we were after and we knew how to pan but this guy was continuously disagreeing which "which colored soil" we were digging and "which clumps of clay" we were crushing... and he just kept shouting out to us from his deck chair.  After half an hour of questionable advice being broadcast to us, my friends were annoyed enough to complain to me.  Profanity was rising among us each time he shouted at us.  I stood up, turned to him and said "mate, I've been doing this for 20 years, I know what I'm looking for" ...to which he replied "well I've been doing it for 45 years!".  He shut up when we found some small gold in the soil at the base of an upturned tree and had to take our time to extract it from the pans.


A couple of 'gold-tourists' trying their luck in the stream at Ophir.  They brought a pan and shovel... but I'd have preferred to have dug soil from elsewhere since this spot has been turned over by thousands of people since 1851.  There were a lot of Water Skinks and Jackie Dragons around as well as Water Dragons and Bearded Dragons which I saw on previous visits to the reserve.


Raindrops on a native gum leaf after a flash-storm.  They caught the light everywhere we looked.  When we pulled up at the camping site I was approached by two prospectors I know (based on the Central Coast) who immediately recognized me and were themselves just packing up to go home. I think they're members of this forum too.  They introduced themselves to my friends and gave us some tips on the weather and local conditions before moving on. Good to see them there.


Without a doubt, this is the largest species of Black House Spider I have ever seen.  Almost 2 inches across.


At the Ophir camping grounds the water was calm... but not drinkable.  No leeches today either.


Happy that the rain had stopped.  These guys only got married a couple of years ago so they're welcome to be as happy as they please in the 46C+ heat and staggering after-rain humidity.  She's from Brazil so it's a big treat to her whenever we interact with local wildlife or visit remote locations away from the cities.


Exploring the Ore-cart drive which forms part of the mine-system in Ophir - right near the camping ground.  Vandals appear to have stolen the signs outside the cave which normally indicate that they may be entered by visitors (the more dangerous areas have been sealed off). It was SO NICE AND COLD in here and a great way to replenish our temperatures with the raging heat outside.  The mosquitoes were also in agreement and were apparently very happy to see me.  Outside, a huge thunderstorm gathered.  My friends used their mobile phones to illuminate the walls of the mine tunnel and found "gold" embedded in it... in the forms of cubic squares about 2mm wide.  It really did look like gold too... but it was pyrite crystals.  (Fool's Gold).


Someone moved one hell of a lot of shale to expose the gold-filled bedrock here.  You can see how much effort went into it by the endless piles of rock. Often, the amount of gold struck is proportional to the amount of effort used to extract it all.


A native Banded Bee on a stem of grass.  I saw him land from the car window and caught this shot.  He's grabbed the grass with his jaws and then sweeps any mites off his body with all six legs.  I often see them do this but this is the only species that has learned this trick.


A long-abandoned ore-cart bridge over what used to be a fairly busy (and occasionally fast flowing) creek near the Ophir workings.


A truly monster species of Orb Weaving Spider (unknown species) which I haven't seen before... which was eating a grasshopper that was about the length of my hand when we found it.  Unfortunately I dropped my metal pick on the bedrock in order to unholster my camera and the spider retreated to this spot.  The body was about the size of a small plum.  She also had two red eyes on either side of her head.  Peculiar.


Introducing my young friends to the joys of crevicing - at a temperature of around 46.5C.  There were some light, flaky bits of gold but really nothing impressive enough.  It ended up in the snuffer bottle.  But there was one REALLY cool thing we found: A tiny diamond.  It was too small to be bothered even taking a picture of it but under a loupe I could see the structure and sheen...but it was the effect that the sunlight had on it when I was panning out the fines that really caught my eye.  There's no mistaking a diamond and the only reason i didn't bother to take a picture of it was because we'd accidentally cleaved it in half with the pick during our crevicing session.  The remaining half was probably 4mm wide but it was stunning to see it in the pan.  Not unusual to find gem-grade diamonds in this general area.  Going to watch more closely and will start to mesh my soil next time.


The rolling hills of the Bathurst-Orange goldfield districts.  Filled with gold and very, very angry ants.



Another long-necked turtle we had to rescue from the road.  They named it 'Louise' for some reason.  We let him go at the first flowing creek we found.  He was probably forced out of his pond when the heatwave dried it up and the recent rain got him moving again.


Closeup of I've since learned to show caution as they have "stink glands" that can be used to quirt you with some particularly FOUL smelling fluid. Only happened to me once but I'll never forget the smell... plus I had to eat dinner with my hands that night which made me nauseous.


A handheld shot of the Orion Nebula (M42) whilst leaning against the car for stability in the night air.  The clear, non-polluted skies in the goldfields make it possible to capture more detail and color. I can't believe I can get shots like this without the use of a telescope.  Camera lenses have come so far these days.  The blurred stars are from the 4 second exposure... surprisingly the Image Stabilizer kept the camera/lens steady in my hands for the full 4 seconds.  I need a CGEM or CPC EQ Tripod mount to track the sky for shots like this.  You can barely make out the nebula with your eyes and there's no color visible - but the camera can see it.  It's an easy nebula to find too.


Half Moon in the night sky (rotated so it looks a bit more symmetrical).  Handheld.


A Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko on the ground at night.  We were lucky not to step on him.  I counted close to 20 more on the rocks and trees around us at a site we stopped at on the way home.  Half were missing tails... not sure exactly why.  All the ones we saw that had tails had regrown them recently - because the colors didn't quite match.


The Orion Nebula (M42) as seen with a wider lens on my tripod. My poor old tripod suffered damage from the intense heat in the goldfields this week and will have to be replaced today with a newer model.  One of the leg clasps snapped as I was packing up after taking this photograph.


A really distorted partial moon rising over Sydney - as seen on my return trip - taken at the Kurrajong Lookout (again) in the Blue Mountains on Bell's Line Of Road.  Those lights are from Windsor or Richmond. Too much heat to make out Sydney's buildings in the distance.
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Ophir

Post  whatsthetime on Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:01 pm

Thanks Nero. Interesting read and nice pics.
Ophir must be the only goldfield I havent been.
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  davsgold on Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:05 pm

Thanks Nero, great read and great pictures, they say pictures tell a thousand words, I reckon there right. Very Happy

cheers dave

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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  G.B. on Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:33 pm

Nero

Great photo's and taken with what l assume would be a fairly expensive camera. For a camera hack like me what camera would you recommend that takes good realible clear shots and is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Basically point and shoot. Time lapse night mode ect.
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  flyspecks on Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:12 pm

Thanks nero, that's a wonderful bunch of pics you put up sport.  They bought back some great memories . cheers Smile Smile
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  Axtyr on Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:21 pm

Great photos there Nero, excellent work.

Regards Axtyr.

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Post  ttrash on Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:10 pm

Cool post

Great photos

Marco - Nice to read you've been out & about

Thanks for posting
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  nero_design on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:01 am

G.B. wrote:Nero

Great photo's and taken with what l assume would be a fairly expensive camera. For a camera hack like me what camera would you recommend  that takes good reliable clear shots and is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Basically point and shoot. Time lapse night mode ect.

You pick a hard subject to answer because photography has so many options.  I guess the bottom line is that there's no single camera or lens that does everything - although a 'compact camera' with a larger sensor size comes pretty close.

I used two cameras on the day at Ophir:

  • Canon EOS-M mirrorless camera with EF-M 28mm f3.5-5.6 Macro IS STM lens.
  • Canon EOS 6D full-frame DSLR with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM lens (+ EF 1.4x III Extender for the moon shots).
    (I also used a wide EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens for the wide view of the Orion nebula).



My two cameras at breakfast - at the 'Pie In The Sky' cafe.  The weight of the larger one with dual battery grip and large lens attached is over 3 Kilos.  You'll feel the pain for the next day.  The little EOSM was great value.  I take most of my shots with that camera


My Canon EOSM (as photographed with my Canon EOS 6D DSLR) once retailed for as low as $299 at one point.  I've edited this image to show it with the EF-M 28mm f/3.5 IS Macro STM lens - which is what I was using at Ophir. This lens retails for about $449 and has a dimmable LED powered ring-shaped light on the front of it (not a ring-flash). The fast little EF-M 22mm STM lens (better for night skies) is incredible for lowlight or even night-sky shots... but it was once on sale at Paxtons cameras for as low as $150.  It retails now at $229 because it became so popular after I ran commercial tests with this lens to show what it could do and demand rose.


My EOS-M (with an EF-M 11-22mm wide-angle lens) fitted to my shoulder strap on the Turon goldfields last year.  It's out of the way and I can still swing a pick or detector.  Didn't prevent me from getting attacked by bees though... which happened just after this picture was taken.

I'd probably recommend the Canon brand cameras because I like the color that their sensors produce and I like the reliability and menu ergonomics on the Canon system.  For travel and for use in the goldfields, the smaller all-in-one compact cameras are the best way to go.  If you can get a pouch that fits on your belt that the camera will fit in... then you're good to go. If I was detecting or expecting hard digging in dirt on the day, I would have used a compact for sure instead of the two cameras I'd brought.  Sony and Olympus make excellent cameras these days as well.  In fact the first person to show me a mirrorless Sony camera was a gold prospector who likes gadgets and though I might be impressed with his new toy (and I certainly was!).  Soon afterwards, Canon announced their first mirrorless camera which would still take my existing Canon lenses - so I ran with what I knew and bought the Canon.

Something to note is that Mobile Phone cameras have come a LONG way in just the last two years.  The Apple iPhone '6s' and now the 7 can take VERY impressive photographs.  The new Google 'PIXEL' phone takes an even BETTER picture.  In fact, the PIXEL can take a picture on par with a good, expensive low-light lens on a DSLR.  Most mobile phones (other than the PIXEL) tend to smear details when shooting in lowlight.  That's why I still carry a camera.  Mobile phone cameras don't offer a decent optical zoom either. Yet.



Panorama taken with my Apple iPhone 6s in the Sydney Blue Mountains National Park


If you enjoy photography, and you don't want to just use your mobile phone (which these days works GREAT), then a compact camera with a LARGE sensor is the way to go.   If you like to shoot in very low light without a flash or if you like to get soft backgrounds, you need a "fast lens" and a larger sensor. Cameras can artificially blur backgrounds these days too.  The new iPhone 7 and Google Pixel can do this using software built into the camera - but occasionally they can mess things up and blur a part of someone's face etc.

Three cameras that can do quite a lot these days are the Canon PowerShot G7X II, the Canon PowerShot G9X II and the larger Canon PowerShot G1X II.  They all have larger sensors.  The G1X II is larger but it has an even bigger sensor (1.5 inches wide).


  • CAMERA PHONES: recent Apple iPhones, Samsung and Google PIXEL mobile phones.
  • SUB-COMPACT CAMERAS (with large 1 inch sensors) - BETTER than Camera Phones. Robust. Practical.
  • COMPACT CAMERAS (with LARGER 1.5 inch sensors)
  • MIRRORLESS CAMERAS (APS-C sized sensor) - Better images in low light and softer backgrounds than Compacts
  • APS-C DSLR - (APS-C sized sensor) - Faster operation and focus than Mirrorless cameras but same image quality.
  • Full Frame DSLR - (with Full Frame Sensor) - Capture up to 5x same amount of light with a much larger sensor than APS-C DSLRs. The downside would be higher prices (in the thousands) and more weight.


CAMERAS in the GOLDFIELDS:
For the goldfields, you probably don't want to be changing lenses in case you get dust or even moisture inside the camera.  You also want minimal weight and the least amount of metal on you if you are detecting.  Again, this is where a good compact camera with a reasonably large sensor comes into play.  They can capture wide scenes, they can shoot closeups of mineral deposits or landscapes and they usually have a bit of zoom for wildlife.  You can keep it on a pouch or in your backback or you can place it on your detecting harness or belt with a Peak Design Clip ( https://www.peakdesign.com/product/clips/capturepro/ ).

For an all-in-one camera that is both compact and powerful, I would strongly recommend the recent Canon PowerShot G7X II ... https://www.dpreview.com/products/canon/compacts/canon_g7xii  .  The only reason I don't have one is because I make do with the equipment I already have.  But if I was starting afresh and wanted a good compact for the goldfields, this is the camera I'd be using.  It even has a star time-lapse setting built in.  A DSLR will give you even more control but this comes at a steep price with bulk, weight, cost and convenience.  If you're moving towards a DSLR, the recent Canon EOS 80D is an excellent choice.  There's also a Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II model available which is rather similar.

If you're interested in photography and would like even more creative control and even more ability to shoot in very low light, the EOS M6 has just been announced but the prices are steeper than my older EOS-M as they reflect the inclusion of new technology and a new type of dual-layered sensor.  it was only announced last night so no prices yet.  The very recent EOS M5 only just hit the shelves in late 2016. Despite pictures, these cameras are REALLY small. The lenses for mirrorless cameras are some of the best in the world and are very affordable compared to full-sized DSLR lenses.

Don't be put off by any plastic bodied cameras.  The newer models often use a composite material that bounces slighty (rather than dents) when dropped and can withstand greater thermal changes in hot or cold weather than metal can.  The interior tends to be an alloy metal frame though - which has the exterior panels secured to it. I'm fairly sure the one's I've mentioned are mostly metal construction.

Hope this is useful.


Last edited by nero_design on Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  G.B. on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:24 am

Thanks Nero the compact Cannon you recomend looks the goods and the starlight feature is what l've regretted not having. Some of the night skies we see out camping I always regret not being able to photograph. Trying to focus and zoom in on shy wildlife with the mobile phone ends up with more out of focus than in focus shots. But l did get a shot of a fungas that was ok but l reckon a better camera would of had a better result.





Also zoom in on the face in the cloud.

Thanks great write up.
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  nero_design on Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:33 am

Those are some clear shots.  Those came from your phone camera?  

I haven't used the new "star modes" but what I suspect that feature does is allow your camera to take several long exposures and them merges the streaks of the stars into long trails as part of a photographic effect.  Now the Milky Way at night is an awesome sight in the clear skies of the goldfields but you'll need a sensor larger than 1.5 inches in order to photograph it with any detail.  I have the PowerShot G1X and even with its 1.5 inch sensor (which is very large on a compact camera) it's still not quite enough to capture the night skies. APS-C is much larger and captures much more light.

If you want to take shots of the Milky Way at night, you'll definitely need to look at an APS-C sized sensors (DSLR or mirrorless camera) with a fast lens of f/2 or even faster/brighter.  A lens that is f/3.5 or slower simply won't do what you want if you want detailed shots of The Milky Way.  If you buy a DSLR you'll need to buy a fast lens to go with it.  The cheapest option available for shooting the Milky Way at the moment is still the one I've been using (by co-incidence)... and that's the EOS-M mirrorless camera system.  


A shot taken near the Pie In The Sky cafe on Bells Line Of Road with the EOSM + 22mm f/2 lens.

I'm seeing the original EOS-M camera selling online on Ebay at the moment. You can buy the EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM lens by itself for between $160 and $229 (rrp) at the moment and it fits on any of the EOS-M cameras.  The M10 model has no hotshoe for a flash... but the EOS M3 model is easily sourced for about $499. It's also faster than my original EOS-M. If you want to wait a couple of weeks, the prices should drop as sellers rush to offload earlier models (EOS-M, EOS M2, EOS M3, M10 and EOS M5) before the EOS-M6 is released.

There's an optional lens adapter that you can get for the EOS-M series which allows you to mount any EF and EF-S series lens (for DSLRS) to this camera.  And for night sky shooting or astro photography, there's a company called Rokinon (aka Samyang) who produce inexpensive manual-focus-only lenses (no autofocus) for the EOS-M which you can usually source at both Paxtons stores and also Teds camera house.  One that I was looking at is the "Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS Lens for Canon EF-M Mount (Black)".  These were designed for shooting the night sky and are surprisingly affordable.  You can buy them in different mounts for other brands of cameras too.
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  G.B. on Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:50 am

Thanks for the reply Nero. Those shots were taken with my Galaxy S5 mini. But is no good for night shots. Tried t photograph the moon once but all I got was a small bright dot. I have been trying to photograph the Nightjar owlet we have done here they often get disturbed from there hollows as you walk past detecting but the S5 mini hasn't been up to it because as soon as you try to get close enough for a clear close up shot they take of.
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  adrian ss on Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:00 am

Great pics and info nero.
Think i'll toss my P900 in tha bin. Laughing
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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  kiwijw on Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:34 pm

Awesome Nero, thanks for the show....& not one gold photo.  lol!  now..... where is my box brownie  scratch

JW  V08
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OPHIR GOLDFIELD RESERVE

Post  jmp333 on Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:45 pm

Geez Nero you certainly know how to take good photos. I remember your posts from ages ago where you also showed great photos of the great Country we live in.

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Re: Ophir Goldfield Reserve trip - 2017 - in pictures.

Post  Detectist on Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:10 pm

Thanks for posting Nero. Nice to see your photos again.

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