Mining and mineral exploration has been a feature of the history and landscape at Cadia since the 1860s, alongside grazing and agriculture. The Cadiangullong Creek flows through the valley into the Belubula River and from the 1860s mines were opened on either side of the creek, while Cadia village developed on its eastern bank. Water is essential for mining and for mining communities.
In 1865 the Cornish engine house was erected for use on the south section of the West Cadia mines. The plain stone building with its impressive stone and brick chimney contained a Cornish condensing engine with a 25-inch cylinder and a ten ton boiler. Steam power drove a range of pumping, winding, stone-breaking, crusher and jigging machinery. Pumping water from mineshafts was just one of the challenges of mining at Cadia in the nineteenth century.