• Introduction• First discoveries• Gold Fever!• New Arrivals• Finding Gold• Life on the Goldfields• The Eureka Stockade• New wealth• Facts• Bibliography
Since the earliest civilisations, therare heavy metal, gold, has alwaysbeen valued and prized. Itsdiscovery in Australia played asignificant role in Australian Gold panning with myhistory. Many townships and cities Mum at Warburton Vic.that exist today owe theirbeginnings from the gold rush thateventuated. The migration of newpeople to Australia in the quest forgold, not only brought greatdiversity in customs but alsoincreased population. Even thoughthe great rush for gold hasdispersed today, many people stillsearch for gold in order to ‘strike itrich’, including myself!
Many other people had discovered gold previously but the first recorded discovery of gold in Australia was made by surveyor, James Mcbrien at Bathurst, N.S.W. in 1823. He was surveying a road along the Fish River and noticed particles of gold on the creek bed. Following this, there were a number of other discoveries, however, these discoveries were kept secret as the early Governors feared that it might cause a convict revolt and that free workers would leave their farms and jobs to search for gold, which would be disastrous for the colonies.1)Where was the first recorded gold found? The first discovery of gold was made at a creek near Bathurst,N.S.W.
Edward Hammond Hargraves(1816-1891)was born in Britain and settled in N.S.W. in1832 where he worked as a grazier but whenhe heard of the discovery of gold inCalifornia, America, he decided to join thegold rush that was happening in 1849. Hereturned to Australia having found very littlebut was convinced that Australia had lots ofgold. He also had gained knowledge of howto prospect for gold and this gained A portrait ofexperience would prove helpful. By the Edward1840’s,the situation had changed in N.S.W. Hargraves.and transportation of convicts had ceasedand the possibility of a convict revolt was nota problem.
Governor Fitz Roy, in order to commence a goldindustry, gained permission from the British Governmentto appoint a geologist to search for mineral deposits inhis colony. A prize was also offered of 500 pounds forthe first person to find gold. Edward Hargraves went tosearch for gold on horseback near Bathurst and met upwith John Lister and together they found a few specks ofgold at Lewis Ponds Creek, a tributary of SummerhillCreek, on the 5th of February 1851. Hargreaves wentback to Sydney to claim the prize for finding the first goldin Australia but meanwhile Lister and two neighbours,James and William Tom, found nuggets of gold. Wordquickly spread and within a week there were over 400people digging and in May 1851 there were soonthousands. The rush had begun…2)Who was Edward Hargraves?
This first goldfield was named Ophirafter the city of gold in the Bible. Othergoldfields were established on the TuronRiver at Sofala and Hill End causing therush to grow. As people flocked to thegoldfields, the government sent soldiersto the goldfields in order to maintain orderand according to the law, the governmentowned all gold in N.S.W., so miners were Map showing first goldfield -Ophirforced to buy a licence to mine for gold.Many people left other states to go toN.S.W. and in particular the VictorianGovernment feared that workers wouldleave Melbourne and so in June 1851,anaward was offered also for anyone whofound gold in Victoria. Map showing early Victorian goldfield areas.
In July 1851, a timber James Esmond dug gold from the creek at Clunes, then Louis John Michel found gold at Warrandyte. Another discovery was found soon after by blacksmith, Thomas Hiscock near Ballarat and all three received awards for their findings. People rushed to these areas for the chance to get rich quickly and people went from one goldfield to another as reports of new findings were made known. Men left their jobs, homes and families to rush to the goldfields in N.S.W. and Victoria. The fever spread to Queensland, and then finally to all the colonies of Australia.3)When did the Australian Gold Rush Begin?
News soon spread around the world and ships full ofhopeful immigrants sailed into Melbourne and Sydney insearch of their fortune. By late 1851, people came fromBritain, North America, Germany, France, Switzerland, andItaly and many other countries. In 1854,thousands ofChinese began to arrive and increased the populationsubstantially. Not every one got along though ,for instance, Aboriginalgroups were driven off their land by the rush for gold,diggers ruined the land and scared off the native animalsthat the Aboriginals hunted for food and some minersdisliked the Chinese because they were different. Theminers also brought diseases, for example measles andinfluenza with them which killed thousands of indigenouspeople. Chinese arrived to search for gold. 4)Name the indigenous people who were disadvantaged by the rush for gold? 5)Why did the European miners become increasingly hostile towards the Chinese?
The Chinese gold miners were very hardworking and their campswere very organised .Many sifted through leftover mounds of soilcalled slag and often found gold that others had missed. Racismwas common in the 1850’s and there was much anti-Chinesefeeling ,so much so that a law was passed in order to tax everyChinese person who landed in a Victorian port. This did not work,however, and Chinese miners would get off ships in SouthAustralia walk to the Victorian goldfields.Within ten years the population in Australia more thandoubled. New towns and cities grew. More farming land wasrequired to feed the diggers and their families and newindustries were developed to provide building materials,furniture, clothes and food, and equipment for mines. A hard working Chinese digger. Many people from different parts of the world arrived to search for gold.
There are two types of gold. Alluvial gold is the gold found as small flakes, nuggets or dust that is attainable within the grounds surface while buried gold is gold found beneath the earth’s surface. Diggers either would find gold flakes or nuggets when they washed dirt and sand from old creek and river beds or dig shafts 30 metres deep or more.Panning for A goldgold. mine.
The simplest way to find the alluvial goldwas to pan for it. Diggers would require apick to break up the soil and rock, a shoveland a panning dish to wash the soil androck. The first panning dishes were justany round dish, some using the wide tindishes used in dairies to separate milk andcream. Tinsmiths began making specialpans with a wide base and shallow trim. With gold being a heavy metal ,afterrepeated washing of the soil and rock , itwould hopefully be the only grains left inthe pan! Using a shallow dish such as the one in the picture was the most common way to search for gold.
Another tool used was a cradle, whichlooked like a baby’s cradle. It operatedmuch the same as the panning dish withdiggers washing the dirt and gravel untilonly the gold remained. One man wouldrock the cradle and the other wouldshovel in mud. When all the mud andstones are washed away, any gold wouldbe caught in the bottom of the cradle. Where water was plentiful, some builtlong troughs called sluices. As water waspoured down the sluice, which washedaway the mud, it left the gold behind.Another method was hydraulic sluicingwhich was a quick way to find gold.
A huge hose forced water against rock and dirt, washing and breaking it up into the sluice below.If water was scarce a method called dry blowing was used in which bellows were attached to the cradle which blew away everything except the heavier gold. When all the alluvial gold was found, diggers would dig a vertical hole called a shaft in which they cut tunnels off to the side looking for gold inside quartz rock. Buckets of rock were hauled to the top by horses and then taken away to be crushed and washed. This became very expensive and miners joined together to form large companies and sold shares to raise money. Many diggers ended up working for a wage in these companies and this was the beginnings of our gold mining industry as we know today. 6)What was the simplest way to find alluvial gold?
A Typical Goldfield. Life on the goldfields was primitive and rough with only thebasics and many lived in tents. So many people arrived inMelbourne in the 1850’s that a huge tent city was establishedwith as many as 30000 people living along the banks of theYarra River. It soon became polluted with no fresh water orsewerage and living conditions became unhealthy. Diggerswould leave their wives and children and head off with justclothes, boots, a roll of canvas and cooking equipment. Thosewho could not afford a carriage or horse walked to thegoldfields. As there were no roads, people followed roughtracks through the bush. Once at the site it was noisy, with thesounds of digging, carting, crushing and the washing of dirtand rock. Sunday was the only day that diggers did notfrantically search for gold. Home was often a canvas tent orbark hut with simple furnishings with simple meals cooked onan open fire. It was hard work. Shelter consisted of canvas tents or primitive huts.
There were very few children living on the goldfields in the early days, most were left behind . Once diggers settled in a particular area though, shops, schools and hospitals opened. The presence of wives and children lessened the drinking and bad behaviour of some of the men. Food would be very basic and consist of damper, mutton and tea. A meal would be a stew of some kind. A food store would provide food such as meat, tea, flour, sugar, biscuits and potatoes and some vegetables and very rarely, fruit. There was little or no medical help and the mixed living conditions led to the spread of diseases. There was whooping cough, scarlet fever and measles which resulted in many deaths. In addition, mining was dangerous work and many died due to accidents. Those that were lucky and found gold either drank the value of all they had found ,bought land or a small business, or lifted their family out of debt.7)What shelter did the miners have?8)List 3 types of food available for people living on the goldfields?
Miners resented the fact that they had to pay a licence fee. The fee was 30 shillings a month and represented half the wages of an ordinary worker. Miners claimed the fee was too high and troopers (mounted police), were conducting licence checks unfairly. Troopers could fine diggers with no licence and keep half of the fine money for themselves, which is why they constantly checked them. A dispute occurred about a court case involving James Bentley, a friend of the troopers, being acquitted of murdering a miner outside the Eureka Hotel and this sparked a protest as many thought that the police were corrupt and tensions between the diggers and authorities rose.A painting depicting the diggers revenge by burning the EurekaHotel owned by James Bentley.
Three arrests were made and extra soldiers were sent for. The diggersdemanded that the three be pardoned .On the 1st of December 1854, about10,000 diggers met at Bakery Hill in Ballarat to hear the verdict but theGovernor refused and the diggers, in revolt, burned their licences, electedleaders and built a fort, the Eureka Stockade on which they erected a flag.Peter Lalor, an Irish digger, became the leader and about 1000 minersgathered inside with guns and dared the troops to attack them. In the early hours of the 3rd of December 1854, 400 soldiers and policeattacked the stockade-a battle which lasted only about 15 minutes. Fivesoldiers and about 30 diggers were killed. Hundreds of diggers were arrestedand 13 miners were charged with treason but with the exception of one man,they were found not guilty at their trial in 1855.The government realised that the diggers were hard done by and licenceswere banned, the gold commissioners sacked and the miners were grantedthe right to vote. The Eureka flag has been a powerful symbol of rebellionagainst authority since that day.9)What was the Eureka Stockade?10)What did you have to pay for in The famous Eureka flag-blue with a whiteorder to search for gold? cross and 5 stars representing the Southern Cross.
During the 1900s gold mining inAustralia gradually declined and the rushhad eased. The deeper the gold wasunderground, the more expensive it wasto mine and the price of gold wasn’tenough to make it worthwhile. However,in the late 1970s the price of gold beganto climb again and big mining companies The Gold Rush created muchstarted production again in many of wealth and began the townsAustralia’s goldmines. Australia is the and cities we know today.third largest producer of gold after SouthAfrica and the United States in the worldtoday. It is our largest manufacturedexport and is worth $7 billion dollars ayear to the Australian economy with15000 people employed in the industry.
The most important result of the gold rushes wasthat it increased Australia becoming a nation by firstlygiving two of the colonies N.S.W. and Victoria greatwealth and secondly by bringing a sudden influx ofpeople, many of whom stayed on, boosting theeconomy. Government taxes made it possible forthe building of infrastructure and services requiredin new towns and cities and the immigrants broughtwith them great diversity in culture, language, religionand skills.
1.Australia has 10% of the world’s gold deposits.2.One of the largest nuggets found was called the ‘Welcome Stranger’ and weighed 90kg and its value in 1869 was 9210pounds but today it would be worth $3,000,000.3.The total population of Australia increased from 430,000in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871 due to the gold rush.4.Gold was carried from the diggings by armed escorts as they attracted the attention of bushrangers.If robbed ,the owners of the gold would lose it.5.With so many people travelling to and from the goldfields, the 1850’s also saw the construction of the first railway and the operation of the first telegraphs. Regular gold transports were targets of bushrangers.
Books:1.Gold Fever, Kimberley, Webber, Powerhouse Museum, Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd,20012.The Gold Rushes, John and Jennifer Barwick, Heinemann Library,20013.The Rush to Gold –A world Turned Topsie –turvey, Geoff Hocking,The Five Mile Press, 20054.Australia’s Gold Rushes, Robert Coupe, New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd ,20005.Gold Australia, Tony Crago, Murray David Publishing Pty Ltd,20006.Gold Rush, John and Jennifer Barwick ,Heinemann Library,19997.Australia Changing Times-The Gold Rushes-Striving for Wealth, Barrie Sheppard ,Echidna Books,20048.Gold Rushes, Jordan Thomas, Franklin Watts Australia,19999.The Golden Years 1850-1890,Michael Dugan, Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd,199710.Gold in Australia, Bruce McClish, Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd,199611.The Eureka Stockade –Big Trouble on the Diggings, Geoff Hocking , Waverton Press,200512.Settling Australia-The Gold Seekers ,Stephen Gard, Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd,1998