the gold fields of Victoria

the gold fields of Victoria

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Victoria was a part of the colony of New South Wales up to the early 1850's, when it became an independent colony in its own right. All burgeoning States have growing pains and Victoria was no exception. Rich in agricultural lands early settlers took out sheep runs granted by the government over large tracts of land, where both sheep and some cattle were grazed. Van Diemen's Land to the south, now the State of Tasmania had large penal settlements and the government bureaucracy was both well established and manned. Victoria drew on these reserves in the early years of settlement.
The wealth of gold hidden in Central Victoria lay undiscovered for some time and true recognition of the potential was not realized until the finds were widely publicized.
Ballarat is an aboriginal name meaning "a good place to rest". An aboriginal tribe known as the Kulin inhabited the area. These inhabitants had dark brown skin rather than black. Although they were the traditional owners of the land, they were simply pushed aside by European settlement, and decimated by disease, poisoning, shootings and in fact genocide. Within 60 years they were no more.
The first recorded gold finds in the district was at Clunes, July 1851, some 20 miles north of Ballarat, and this started a small rush. A few weeks later gold was found at Buninyong about 10 miles south of Ballarat. This was poor yielding ground and although diggers came to the area, they quickly dispersed seeking more profitable ground.
Two such characters were John Dunlop, a seventy-year-old veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, and a much younger James Regan, whose ancestry was Irish. They had been disappointed with the gold at Buninyong, so decided to prospect the area themselves in anticipation that both Clunes and Buninyong would not be the only gold bearing ground in the district. They were right and after finding gold in creek beds along the White Horse Range on Ballarat Station, they came to a small hill on the northern end of the range and washed the first gold from what was to become one of the great gold bonanza's of all time. The date was 21st August 1851. This hill became known as Poverty Point. (Only because the top of the hill contained no gold) The discovery only remained a secret for about a week, and with news of the gold find the first great gold rush of Victoria had begun.

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Even in those days news of gold finds travelled fast, and within a few days the area was inundated with no less than 2,500 men all seeking their share of the precious yellow metal. Al least 100 men were arriving daily. With a new find on a hill across the gully at Golden Point, the gold fever reached a crescendo and the area mushroomed into a digging frenzy. Both these areas were exceptionally rich. Within weeks there were 10,000 men at the diggings.

After the gold rush in California in 1949, many immigrants came from all over the world to find gold in Ballarat, Australia by 1851.

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