A group of die-hard adventurers have been exploring the state's old mine shafts one by one.
The Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers formed when a collection of abseilers, prospectors, rockclimbers and bushwalkers found each other through social media about eight years ago.
Made up of 25 members, they are spread all over the state from Echuca to Melbourne and Horsham to Gippsland.
Robert McBeath, from Melbourne, joined two years ago.
"I was a prospector and wanted to know what was down these holes," he said.
"Ray Shaw started it and had been doing it on with just his his nephew. He has been doing it a long time, even as kid he was getting out there looking around. We all did that.
"With social media, Ray was able to put the product out there and showcase his photos, people got involved that way. They liked what he did.
"It was people who had abseiled or wanted to learn. I'd done rock climbing but not much on a harness down a hole."
At least 10 of the members are active on a weekly basis with the adventurers fond of the old mine shafts around central Victoria.
Mr McBeath said areas around Inglewood were particularly good at this time of year.
The team also explore shafts in the Dunolly, Castlemaine, Maryborough, Guildford, Vaughan Springs and Heathcote areas in central Victoria.
It's the peace and quiet, being outside the city and reliving a bit of history. Knowing the gold miners and forefathers lived out there in horrifying conditions to mine silly precious gems and gold, you can't believe how they managed to survive out there.- Robert McBeath
"Inglewood at the moment is really good because it's quite dry," Mr McBeath said.
"Most of the workings there are accessible all year round. In places like West Gippsland and the Alpine area, (shafts) get wet and sloppy.
"We have done a whole heap in and up to the area around Heathcote. You could name anywhere and we've tried to go there."
The crew's expeditions are always about the thrill of exploration and they often find bits and pieces of history.
"It's rewarding. There's never gold," Mr McBeath said. "Sometimes there's clothes or old paraphernalia, hardware like picks and mining equipment, some clay pipes or explosive boxes.
"What was rubbish to them tickles our fancy. Their rubbish is our treasure."
Mr McBeath said there were countless reasons he enjoyed getting underground.
"It's the peace and quiet, being outside the city and reliving a bit of history," he said.
"Knowing the gold miners and forefathers lived out there in horrifying conditions to mine silly precious gems and gold, you can't believe how they managed to survive out there."
But before the enjoyment of descending unknown space came, Mr McBeath had to get over the edge for the first time.
"I didn't want to go down (the first time)," he said. "I got to the edge and was thinking, 'this isn't the smartest thing to be doing'.
"Once I was over the edge, that was the hardest bit. It was an unnatural feeling to sit there in a harness and go over the edge but once you do it a couple of times it's better.
"Once you're inside with the bolts set up and you're trusting that the rope system to go down another shaft (is good). That's next level scary.
"You have to trust the rigging can get you back out. It's so exciting to be somewhere no one has been for a long time, who knows what going to be down there."
Bendigo's Sam Bradbury can relate to the thrill of being the first person in decades or more to get down a mine shaft.
"When you're that far down, you see the pick marks in the wall and can see the whole shaft and tunnel has been dug by hand," he said.
"I reckon the biggest one I have been down was about a 50 metre shaft and we were under there for few hours.
"There were explosive boxes, bottles, bits of old picks, little bits of things that were left. Some of the others have found mine carts and stuff but I wasn't there for that."
Mr Bradbury has been with the mine chasers for 10 months after first exploring a cave by himself.
"I had just went down a couple by myself but it's a bit dangerous, so I got in touch with (the mine chasers) through Facebook," he said.
"(Around here) I have been down shafts at Maldon, Muckleford and Castlemaine.
"That first drop in at the very start it was a bit scary but you get over it after the first time. I get more worried about snakes. You can get them at the bottom if they fall down a shaft and get stuck."
Above the ground, Eaglehawk explorer Darby Lee is involved with the Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers in a research capacity.
He also runs his own prospecting workshop (Goldfinger Prospectors) and tour company (Goldfinger Historic Tours).
"There are a lot people interested in what's below ground, I'm not that keen on it but Ray knows what he's doing. He makes sure everyone well and truly safe, which is a great thing," Mr Lee said.
"They pick up a lot artifacts and I am always picking stuff up, I picked up an old 20kg weight, there's always Chinese coins and thing like that.
"But there are some amazing things that take you back like old belt clips from the US in the 1830s. I have found stuff from the American Civil War in Eaglehawk Creek. You wonder about the story of an American who came here for gold and lost his buckle while going to toilet or something,
"There's always a story and sometimes it's a great thing to work that out."
Mr Lee has been an an avid explorer and prospector since he was a child.
"I have been prospecting since I was a young boy on Spring Gully side of town. I used to go panning with mum when I was eight,' he said.
"I started sleuthing and dry washing, long before I was metal detecting. After a trip to Darwin, I noticed everywhere that has natural resources do these tours, so I started thinking Bendigo needs something like that.
"When I realised nobody was really doing it, I started about 14 months ago and am taking customers out quite regularly.
"You get people South Australia, Melbourne, Mildura and Darwin come to see Bendigo and think 'I might as well do detecting workshop'. Some of those shafts and things haven't been seen for 100 years or more."
For more information these groups find the Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers, Goldfinger Prospecting or Goldfinger Historical Tours on Facebook.
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