The conversion table

£1 = $2 when converted to decimal currency in February 1966.
1 mile = 4.8kms
3000 acres = 1214 hectares
4 feet to 6 feet = 1.2 to 1.8 meters
110 to 130 gallons = 416.4 to 492 litres
1 ton = .9 metric ton




During the past two years active prospecting operations have been conducted near Murrurundi, in opening up shale deposits. Although it is a good many years since shale was discovered there, very little was done to develop it. The Australian Shale Syndicate Limited, has taken the matter up, and the district of Murrurundi may expect, at no distant date, to see the deposits developed into a large oil producing industry. Although a large amount of money has already been expended, it is said the matter of increasing the company to a capital of £300,000 is nearing completion in England.

The syndicate's leases are situated north north-east, and north-west of Murrurundi, about 3 miles (4.8km) distant and comprise about 3000 acres (12.1sq km). A large portion of this area has been proved, by prospecting shafts and tunnels, to contain a 4ft (1.2m) to 6ft (1.8m) seam of shale, which is stated to be of good quality. In the lower section of the seam is found what is termed "export shale", carrying as has been proved by practical test, from 110 to 130 gallons of crude oil per ton. Up to the present, this rich quality shale has only been used for gas enrichment purposes in the colony and on the continent. On these leases this is found to a thickness of 22 inches (55.8 centimetres)of consistent quality. This deposit of "export quality" shale is the only one of any magnitude in the colony within easy distance of railway communication.

Proven site

In the top section of the seam is found the "oil" shale, or shale commonly used in the western districts for the extraction of crude oil. The top section of oil shale will be worked in conjunction with the bottom section of export shale and the whole retorted for the extraction of crude oil and sulphate of ammonia in which latter the shale oil is rich. Should however, it be desired at any time to put export shale on the market for gas enrichment purposes, the natural parting between it and the top oil shale renders it capable of ready and economical sorting.

Black gold

The ringbarking of the timber has been largely adopted, and in every case has been attended with the most satisfactory results in the increasing the feeding capabilities of the country; and everywhere skill and experience have been exerted to render the land productive in a pastoral sense. In agriculture the results have been somewhat less extensive, as the land has been cultivated principally for the partial supply of local wants; but in this direction also the opening of the railway may very reasonably be expected to offer inducements to farmers and free-selectors to produce for other markets than those in their own immediate neighbourhood. There is certainly the possibility of very extensive development of the agricultural resources of the district, and the extension of the railway increases this possibility almost indefinitely, for it solves a problem which must often have been presented to the farmer in the interior, "What is the use of raising a large crop; to whom shall I dispose of it?" While the ranges and ridges, and many of the gullies and flats seem to be fitted only for the pasturage of cattle and sheep, there is many a nook of rich soil, formerly valueless for cultivation while there was no market for the produce, which may now be devoted to agricultural cultivation solely, without injury to or decrease of the pasturage area of the district. Thus the new railway extension may give an impetus and encouragement to the expenditure of capital, may serve to attract a larger population to the Northern district, and may tend to the increase of the wealth-yielding products of the colony.


Walking around the prospecting shafts and tunnels, and noting how consistently the seam occurs, one gets an impression of the enormous reserves of shale contained in the leases. At a rough guess it must run into millions of tons. A main haulage tunnel is being driven due north into the centre of the leases and the face is now in a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile, (402 metres) at which point the seam of shale is of excellent quality and 5ft (152cm) thick.

Millions of tons

A little to the west of the mouth of the mine about half a mile (0.8km) ~ there was recently erected an up to date sawmill plant, at which may be seen large stacks of sawn timber, which is to be used as quickly as possible for the erection of workmen's cottages on a site close to the mine. In all, about 20 will be erected, when the employees at the mine will be enabled to live under much more comfortable conditions than are offered by the 'bark humpies' in which all hands are housed at present. In addition to cutting timber for these residences the sawmill is used for preparing mine timber.


A route has been surveyed from near Murrurundi right over the mountain to the mine mouth for the construction of a small gauge tramway, which is to convey the shale from the mine to the retorts. This in itself, passing over such a high mountain, will be a novelty, and when in work a sight worth witnessing. The retorts will most probably be situated at the foot of the Page Mountain, adjoining the township. At this point there is an abundance of clay, from which suitable bricks can be made of the quality required for an oil retort plant, also for ordinary building purposes. This will mean a considerable saving to the syndicate.


From the retorts southward a railway of standard gauge is to be constructed for about three-quarters of a mile (1.2km), where it will connect on to the Great Northern Railway, about a mile (1.6km) from Murrurundi station, for the purpose of transporting the crude oil and sulphate of ammonia to the refinery which is to be constructed nearer to the coast, and the sulphate of ammonia direct for sale. The lands through which the tramway (or railway) will pass have already been purchased, as also has the land upon which the retorting works are to be erected. An ample supply of water abounds on the southern slopes of the Page Mountains, some 1500 feet (0.45km) above the site of the retorts. The position of these springs should lend itself admirably to the adoption of hydraulic power at the retorts.

Great Northern

A fair number of hands have been constantly employed at the mine. A new mine overseer in Mr. J.H. Potts has recently taken up his duties. A residence is now nearly completed at the northern end of Murrurundi, and in a splendid commanding position on the syndicate's property, for the manager Mr. W.E. Jones, who seems to understand his business thoroughly. News is expected at any time giving the result of the recent trial shipment sent to Glasgow. The successful establishment of this industry is sure to be a great boon to this town, and the early completion of the undertaking is confidently looked forward to by the residents. —The Quirindi Advocate, Friday, September 11, 1908

News expected at any time

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