Gold

Key points

  • The discovery of gold in California in 1848 led to the California gold rush.
  • Edward Hammond Hargraves claimed the reward for being the first discoverer of payable gold in the colony, with his find at Ophir NSW on 12 February 1851. This led to a great rush of people into NSW and later to Ballarat after gold was discovered there in September 1851.
  • The Victorian population tripled between 1851-54.
  • People living on the goldfields shared a diverse mix of cultures, languages and ways of life.
  • Indigenous people watched the effects of the gold prospecting. Some became involved in trade and others became part of the first police on the goldfields - the Native Police Corps.
  • As people became wealthy, bushrangers started holding up and robbing travellers.
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Gold prospecting

Events of the gold rush era

The news of the strike spread everywhere in a sort of instantaneous way spread like a flash to the very ends of the earth. A celebrity so prompt and so universal has hardly been paralleled in history, perhaps. It was as if the name Ballarat had suddenly been written on the sky, where all the world could read it at once.Mark Twain1897, Following the Equator
  • Rebelling against what they considered to be unfair mining licensing, the miners at Ballarat built the Eureka Stockade to resist police and military in November 1854.

    The rebellion had terrible casualties and was unsuccessful at that time, but later brought about the changes the miners wanted.
  • There were Chinese riots in Victoria in 1857 and in NSW in 1860-1861. Opposition to Chinese miners' claims and prospecting was widespread.

    There was competition between the groups for gold, jobs and women and the disgruntled miners blamed their own misfortunes on the Chinese, which lead to whites attacking the Chinese miners.

 

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