Getting there, Life there, stuck there and back from there

Getting there                    Entertainment

Life under a canvas         New Arrivals (New Chums)

How to mine                     Lucky and unlucky


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Itinerary Mon 3 March – Wed 5 March

Year 5 Camp 2014 Itinerary


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Monday, 3 – 5 March 2014

Camp, it’s coming up fast. Information will be sent home with students very soon.


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Bass and Flinders

Bass and Flinders’ exploration of Tasmania and Victoria allowed others to follow.  Hume and Hovell walked to present day Geelong, all the way from Sydney.  They had to cross rivers and difficult terrain.  In 1834, the Henty Brothers settled Portland, and the following year, John Batman bought much of  the land from Geelong to Melbourne (including all the land around the Yarra River) from the Aborigines for a few trinkets, shirts, scissors, blankets and tomahawks.  Discuss if you think this was a fair swap.  Remember, the Wurundjeri people didn’t really know what Batman intended.  Land was very sacred to them, but Batman believed that he had struck a deal, and now the land was his and Britain’s.  John Pascoe Fawkner joined him and together they brought new settlers from Tasmania, Sydney and Britain to populate their new town, later to be named Melbourne, after the British Primeminister, Viscount Melbourne.

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What is Gold

a yellow metal

precious, valuable

rare, difficult to find


‘Au’ – from aurium, a Latin word for gold

durable – almost indestructible

A good conductor of heat and electricity

does not tarnish or corrode

alloyed with other metals to increase hardness

content of gold in gold alloy is measured in carats (24 carats is pure gold)

Some facts about gold.  Some people have gold fillings in their teeth.

There is gold in computers and smart phones.

Space ships and space equipment requires gold.

Some buildings have real gold on their ceilings- several banks in Melbourne have real gold in their ceilings.  Some churches in Greece and other parts of Europe have gold paint in the ceilings.  Chinese costumes from the 19th Century contained real gold thread, and the best surviving examples of this artistry is found in Bendigo.

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Discovery of Gold 19th Century Australia

First Australian Discoveries

  • first discovered in 1823, when James McBrienn, a government surveyor, found gold at Bathurst, NSW.
  • In 1841, explorer Paul Strzelecki found gold in the Blue Mountains.
  • Governor of NSW George Gipps requests that discoveries of gold not be mentioned.
  • 1840’s William Clarke discovered gold traces near Lithgow.
  • Governor Gipps: “Put it away, Mr. Clarke, or we shall all have our throats cut.”
  • Government was frightened of the reaction of convicts to news of a gold discovery.  They thought that the lure of instant wealth would encourage convicts and free settlers to desert the cities and their jobs in search of gold.

Gold in America

  • Gold was discovered in California in 1849.
  • Many people left NSW to sail to America to find gold only to return in the 1850’s.  Australian miners introduced eucalyptus trees to America and they’ve become a noxious weed.

End of Transportation

  • In 1840 transportation of convicts to NSW stopped.
  • By 1850 the number of convicts in the population was dwindling.

Changing Population – need for a new industry to create wealth

  • Settlers leaving Australia for America to find gold.
  • No more convicts to increase numbers.
  • With less convicts, no real fear of convict uprising.
  • Poor farming produces low results in 1849.

Gold Discoveries announced in NSW

  • Edward Hargraves discovers gold in 1851, near Bathurst.
  • Hargraves names area Ophir, after the city of gold mentioned in the Bible.
  • May 1851, a public announcement of the discovery of gold was made by the Sydney Morning Herald, which ignited the gold fever.
  • Hargraves was paid 10,000 pounds for discovering gold.
  • The government legally owned all land in NSW, so miners had to buy a licence.
  • Licensed miners could keep all the gold they found.

Victorian Gold Rush Begins

  • Victorian settlers rushed to NSW to look for gold.  Victoria’s economy was in crisis, because there was no one left to tend farms, business and government affairs.  Ships were left abandoned with captains unable to find crews.
  • The Victorian government offered 200 pounds to anyone who could discover gold in Victoria.
  • James Esmonds, returned from California on the same ship as Edward Hargraves, discovers gold at Clunes (near Ballarat) in June, 1851.
  • Two months later, news spread that a richer find had been made near Ballarat.
  • Months later, more finds are made at Bendigo, Castlemaine and Beechworth.
  • Ballaarat’s population in July 1851 – a few hundred
  • Ballaarat’s population in October 1851 – 10,000
  • Ballarat (notice the spelling change) in December 1852 – 30,ooo

Too many people

  • Immigrants from Britain (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Cornwell), the United States of America, Germany, Italy, France and China poured into Australia all searching for gold.
  • The Chinese were discriminated against and victimised, because they looked different, had a strong work ethic, worked cooperatively, were good at finding gold and were numerous.
  • Melbourne was too small to cope with the influx.  A huge tent city grew around the outskirts of town.
  • The roads to the gold fields were muddy and difficult to pass.
  • The police force was too small to control the growing population.  Ex convicts who had been transported to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) were employed to make up the short fall.  They were often corrupt and cruel.
  • Criminals took to the bush and became known as ‘bushrangers’.
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Introduction to the Gold Rush

Up until the time of the Gold Rush in New South Wales and Victoria, most people coming to Australia were convicts or free settlers.  Many of the free settlers were lured to Australia with the promise of becoming ‘landed gentry’ or people of means, something they were unlikely to achieve in Britain.  Britain was a class structured society, and it was difficult for ambitious, creative people to make a success of their lives.  Many free settlers were trying to escape the crowded cities of Britain, and the madness of the ‘Industrial Revolution’.  Others were in debt, and their only way of paying off their debt was to emigrate to Australia.

Goldfields region map

Whatever the reasons free settlers came to Australia, not too many came at once.  However, all this changed in 1823.  A government worker found alluvial (surface) gold in a river bed in Bathurst, New South Wales.  Gold was also found inBathurst by an explorer, Strzelecki who also climbed and named Mount Kosiosko. However, no credit was given to him and he was upset that a reward of ten thousand pounds went to Edward Hargraves: On October 16, 1839, Strzelecki wrote to James Walker: `On this side of the Dividing Range the variety of rocks and embedded minerals augment indications most positive of the existing gold and silver veins.’ Ten days later, on October 26, 1839, he wrote to James Macarthur: `I have a specimen of native silver in hornblende rock, and gold in specks in silicate, both serving as strong indications of the existence of these precious metals in New SouthWales.’ Another place where Strzelecki found gold was the bank of Cox River, near Hartley. However, the Governor of the colony, Sir George Gipps, requested him to keep the news secret because the maintenance of discipline among 45,000 convicts would become impossible. However, the government kept this news quiet, as it didn’t want people to leave the colonies, especially the convicts or their guards.

In 1851, Edward Hargraves found gold in Ophir, New South Wales.  Thousands of hopeful seekers came looking for the gold treasure, and so the first Australian Gold Rush had begun.

Melbourne was only a small city in the early the 1850’s, and so many people were leaving to seek their fortune in New South Wales, that the government offered a reward to anyone who could find gold in Victoria, which was a brand new colony.  In the same year that Victoria gained its independence from New South Wales, gold was found in Ballarat.  The following year gold was found in Bendigo.

Soon more gold was found in Castlemaine, and Beechworth and there were 10,000 men on the ‘diggings’ in Victoria.  Gold was also found at Stawell, Chiltern and Gippsland.

The cities of Geelong and Melbourne and most farming areas lost many of their working men to the gold fields.  As the alluvial gold disappeared, most of them returned to their previous work and helped to keep the trade flowing between the colonies and Britain.

Portland and Warrnambool were smaller ports, but they were important centres for conveying farming produce, such as wool, potatoes and wheat, to the major cities, whaling (the bones and baleen were used in the construction of ladies garments, the oil for lighting and the blubber for cosmetics and soap), and for receiving products that couldn’t be manufactured in the South West.  At this stage, ports were integral to the success of the colony because the roads were rough and undeveloped.  It wasn’t until Cobb and Co introduced the American Stagecoach that road travel could show minimum improvement in comfort and speed.  It wasn’t until later in the 19th Century that the introduction of trains made connections between cities and towns more effective.

By 1852, when news of the discovery of gold had reached Britain, Europe and the rest of the World, gold seekers flooded into Victoria.  In 1851, the the population of Victoria was 77,000.  In 1861 it had swelled to 500,000.

The Gold Rush in Victoria lasted for ten years.  After that, only companies that could afford the expense of deep shaft mining could continue.  Many of the alluvial miners then moved on to Queensland, Western Australia or New Zealand which also had smaller gold rushes.

After the Strike – Taking the Gold

There are two different types of gold – alluvial and mined

Alluvial Gold was basically mined in two ways:

  1. Panning– a gold pan was about thirty centimetres in diameter at the tops and twenty centimetres at the base.  When the miner panned he filled the dish to about 3/4 and rotated it rapidly from side to side.  With the dish tilted forward the prospector carefully ‘washed’ the dirt and stones away except for the gold, which is heavier than the other material and would stay at the bottom of the pan.
  2. The Cradle – The prospector (alluvial miner) filled a box, which looked like a baby’s cradle, and rocked and washed the material through the sieve and riffle bars.  Any gold would catch behind the riffle bars or in the apron.


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