History hidden in the dirt in a South West town could prove an exciting new tourism avenue for the region, according to a local geotourism operator. Bridgetown-based Lithium Valley Rocks owner Andrew Matthews launched Donnybrook Gold in collaboration with the Old Goldfield Orchard in the hope of promoting the area’s rich history and catapulting geotourism in the area. Mr Matthews said the Donnybrook gold rush was short but had a big impact on the town and sharing that experience could help boost its economy. “I want to recreate the gold rush experience for people and bring prospectors back to the goldfield to follow in the footsteps of pioneers,” he said. Mr Matthews said he believed geotourism in Donnybrook was a growing industry that could attract new investment and tourist expenditure to the town. Donnybrook Gold recently held its first muster camp at the goldfield, as members of the Perth Amateur Prospectors travelled to the region to experience their own gold rush. Mr Matthews is among a group of residents concerned remediation work on Donnybrook’s old gold mine shafts could destroy the heritage. More than 190,000 abandoned mine features have been recorded in WA, some of which are undergoing remediation in Donnybrook as part of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s abandoned mines program. Safety concerns surrounding the Donnybrook shafts reignited in July when a curious eight-month-old Australian Shephard found herself stuck down a six metre abandoned shaft for two days after she wandered away from home. DMIRS director of mineral and petroleum resources Michele Spencer said assessments completed earlier this year recommended backfilling some abandoned mine features with soil to remove the risk to people in the forest. Ms Spencer said stakeholder engagement was ongoing in the project and the heritage and tourism potential of the shafts was recently raised with DMIRS. “While the abandoned shafts may have some cultural heritage value, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage advised DMIRS the features are unlikely to meet the condition for entry in the State Register under the Heritage Act 2018,” she said. “DMIRS does not make assessments, determinations or statements on the heritage value of the shafts. The shafts are not currently listed on the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup Municipal Heritage Inventory.” DMIRS said earthworks would not progress on the remediation work until the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions provided final approval.