The next few posts will all hang around the topic of Gold. There was the importance of Gold as an impetus to growth, there was the major influx of migrants, especially the Chinese and the reaction of the whole world. But I do want to keep the written work brief but illustrate it with photographs. Most will be mine but I will mention any that are not.

Gold was discovered in Victoria – principally in the area marked out by Ballarat, Castlemaine, Bendigo and Ararat.

The gold was found initially in creek beds but very soon deep mines were dug and much of it was in quartz rock. Quartz rocks have been used to build the monument above and at the top is a miniature mine-head and a replica of the “Welcome Nugget”.   It was 50 cm (20 inches) long, 30 cm (12 inches) wide, 20 cm (8 inches0 thick, weighed 2217 troy ounces (69 kg) and was 99.6 pure gold. From 1851 to 1896 the Victorian Mines Department reported that a total of 61,034,682 oz (1,898,391 kg) of gold was mined in Victoria. At its peak about two metric tons of gold per week arrived in Melbourne from the gold fields.

There were of course accidents. I have a photo of only one memorial. There are others. 

The plaque is easier to read below.

Miners came from all over the world. Most were from England and Ireland but many were from California and came to Ballarat as the gold in the US became more difficult to find. Some of the small towns and suburbs surrounding Ballarat and Bendigo are testament to these people. Napoleons was originally Napoleon’s Reef. Most names did originally have the word “reef” attached. There is ‘Canadian’, Scotsburn, Durham Lead and Staffordshire Reef. There are areas that no longer have any buildings but are simply a name on the map. Navigators, Cambrian Hill, Scotsman’s Lead, Garibaldi and Alma.

Many of the people came to make their fortune but many also were leaving because of troubles in their home country. In the US the problem of slavery was about to erupt into the Civil War where 620,000 died. This is only marginally less than the number who have died in foreign wars. Britain, France, Sardinia, Russia and the Ottoman Empire were at war in the Crimea. The second Opium war in China. There was revolution in France, Uprisings in Germany, revolutions in Italy, Hungary Austria and Czechoslovakia. And famine in Ireland and all Europe.

But Gold brought great wealth to Australia although most of it ended in Britain.

In Ballarat there was great change.

Painting by Eugene von Guérard , an Austrian-born artist, of Ballarat 1853.

Only nine years later Craig’s Hotel was built in Ballarat at testament to the power of Gold.

It was in this hotel that the men of the CSS Shenandoah were entertained in 1865 only three years after it was built.

The men of the CSS Shenandoah dined behind the doors.


The drawing room.

There is more about the Shenandoah in an earlier post

Tomorrow “The Chinese”. Don’t miss it.

14 thoughts on “Gold!

  1. My first wifes maiden name was Hunter. Her father was a John Henry Hunter. born around 1918/19.

    His aunt, Claire; (who raised my first wife after John Henry’s wife disappeared with a Yankee serviceman, during WWII); a lady in her 80’s back in the late 1950’s when I was a courting; used to regale me with stories about the family and gold mining and the riches.

    I took it to be the ramblings of an elderly lady. She certainly wasn’t short of a quid, the Rönisch piano she bought Joan for her 16th birthday in 1956 cost 400 guineas

    Perhaps I should have taken more notice.


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