Mining of the Magenta Reef commenced as an open cut operation in 1860. Earth, rock and quartz were excavated and carted out by horse and dray. As the open cut was extended, it was also widened. This bright lower yields, but increased production kept the mine profitable. The open cut was worked to a depth of 15metres. (It was later partially filled with mullock).
The following is taken from one of the self-guided drives produced by the National Parks Service, Victoria.
Two shafts were later sunk to wine mine ore. You can see one of these if you walk up the eastern side of the open cut. This shaft was sunk to a depth of 90m, but like hundreds of other shafts in the forest it has since been filled and sealed for safety reasons.
Follow the gravel track around the northern end of the open cut to the fenced open stope. The enlarged tunnel or drive was worked at a depth of 30m. The gold-bearing ore was removed by excavating the roof of the drive and mining upwards.
Walk along the track to the site of the mine's quartz crusher or stamping battery. You may see part of the concrete foundations.
About 50m further south is the site of place's quartz crusher - the timber foundations can still be seen. This crusher operated independently of the Magenta Mine.
The magenta mine closed some time after 1910, but there was a minor revival during the depression years. According to published figures, a total of 21,665 tons of material was crushed, which yielded 9,900 ounces of gold. However the records are incomplete and it is thought that a yield of 13,000 ounces of gold is more accurate.
In its heyday, Magenta was a significant residential area, and in late 1860 people thought it was only a matter of time before trams ran between Magenta and New Ballarat (now Chiltern).
The name "Magenta" may have come from the purplish colour of the rock, or from the battle of Magenta in Italy in 1859.