Oh yeah, actually we did go to a mine. But not down one. We just hung out on the surface, which is a pretty good museum piece on its own. There are original buildings and gear that was essential to the mine's operation, including various pieces of equipment and machinery from the other Deborah mines (aha! You didn't know there were others, did you!?!? Me neither. I should get out more).
I didn't know there was a South & a North Deborah, or that there was one called Deborah Extended. Must've run out of inclination to come up with unique names. What I do know (now) is that you can have a wander around the surface museum, climb up the poppet head for an ace view of Bendigo, and see a big old gold nugget (replica). Oh, and it's free. Yay!
Central Deborah operated from 1939 til 1954, reached over 400m underground and apparently had the best working conditions for the time because hot showers were available for the miners.
This massive bit of machinery (up there, on the right) is what gets peeps up and down the mine shaft. The Winder was installed in 1945 and is the only working example left in Australia. It's still used by the staff who maintain the underground workings and it's kept in good nick because no bugger wants to get stuck down a mine shaft.
For the history buffs among you, it was apparently a Margaret Kennedy who first found gold in Bendigo Creek (because you know...stuff doesn't get done unless a woman does it) and next thing you know - 20 thousand people turn up ready to dig up half the state looking for a fortune.
I'm sure poor old Margaret had no idea what she'd just kicked off. Bendigo ended up being a major gold producing area so it went from being a little settlement to a bustling township in no time. Remember the Chinese folk that came to find their fortunes? They called it Dai Gum San. That's Big Gold Mountain to those of us who don't parlay any of the Chinese dialects.