Major discoveries of gold in Victoria

Argus 17 July 1851, 2/5-6. [Geelong correspondent]

The fact of a gold-field existing at the Pyrenees is now ascertained to be indisputable. Mr. Esmond has gone to considerable expense in providing himself with tools, cradle, &c., and starts for the gold-field to-morrow morning. The gold abounds there in the quartz rock, as well as in the soil; in the latter, Mr. Esmond found, after about TEN MINUTES washing, nearly one pound sterling worth of gold.

He has communicated the locale to one gentleman of my acquaintance, but says he knows it will not be long before he is found out at work with his cradle, and till then, he will do the bes, [? = best] he can for himself quietly! We have nowt [sic] [? = now,] therefore, the pleasing fact staring us in the face, that in Victoria we can find gold to an almost endless extent (for this is the opinion of those who have been out prospecting in the Pyrenees). Let us see how we shall turn it to our advantage best; let the utmost publicity be given to the intelligence, and let us shoe [show] the superior advantages to be gained by emigrants landing at Geelong, or Melbourne, instead of going on to Sydney. It is impossible to know how our new government will act in this matter, but I fancy moderation and a certain degree of latitude shown, will de the wisest policy; to attempt to force anything in the present weak state of the government would be preposterous.

The gold deposit at present alluded to is about twenty miles nearer Geelong than it is to Melbourne, and I have no doubt that many parties will be induced to start for the "diggings;" but let them first consider well their chance. By all means, let those who are idle or doing badly, go there; but let no man who is doing a good business, or holding a comfortable situation, think of giving them op for the precarious chances of fortune-making which gold digging affords. Let them take warning by the thousands who rushed to California and Bathurst to dig for gold, but eventually cursed the day they heard of it. There can be no doubt that gold is plentiful; but the chances of making one’s fortune among such a number as will likely wend their way thither, are small indeed, and ought to be very warily taken.

The Victoria Colonist and Western District Daily Advertiser 15 August 1851, 2/1-2:

We have no desire to lend our columns to the purpose of promoting the excitement consequent on the gold discoveries; it is nevertheless our duty to chronicle for the information of our readers in every part of the world facts, the existence of which can he (sic) no longer doubted nor concealed, whatever may be the consequences to the colony or to the nation. It is now placed beyond a doubt that gold does exist in quantities that will amply repay the labour of collecting it in many localities fully explored and others but imperfectly explored throughout the length and breadth of this colony. The latest gold field to which labour has been directed is at Buninyong. Yesterday’s [2/1-2] post has brought us accounts from three different parties, who all concur in describing the produce as the most satisfactory of all the gold fields of Victoria.

It appears that eight cradles which were intercepted on the route to the Pyrenees by the richness of the Buninyong deposit, and are now at work there; and by the report, which we consider entitled to credit, are each getting 2 oz. a day.

The quantities said to be obtained even by the dish washers are almost incredible; some are said to average an ounce per day, it is almost on the suface (sic).

Making every allowance for exaggeration the fact is now established that Victoria as a gold producing country—is equal to any that has been discovered in modern times—and that great numbers of people are abandoning their regular employments and betaking themselves to the gold diggings; and we look forward with very serious apprehensions to the scarcity of labour for hay making and harvest.

The Victoria Colonist and Western District Daily Advertiser 15 August 1851, 2/4-5:

THE GOLD FIELD BUNINYONG.— We have been informed by the driver of the mail to and from the above place, that there are at present upwards of eighty persons on the gold field, successfully em[2/4-5]ployed in digging, one man who possessed a cradle obtained £3 worth on Monday last and between 30s and 40s worth the following day. A woman with three children using only a common tin dish is getting about 25s per day, and that all he could hear from other parties on the ground was that they seldom obtain less than 1 lworth per day, by washing in the rude manner they employed.

Geelong Advertiser 9 September 1851, 2/1: [EDITORIAL]:

The news from the Gold Field is exciting. We feel complete confidence in the accuracy of our correspondent’s statements [see report by A.C. immediately following]. The fact of TWENTY-THREE OUNCES having been obtained by one party, on the first opening of a new "claim," will bear comparison with any of the successes of the first Bathurst diggers. The deposit of gold is now known to extend along the Leigh River, near its source; and there can be very little doubt that it will be found in the course of the Moorabool, the Wardiyallock, and other streams, flowing from the same mountain system. Rich as are the present diggings, there is every probability that still richer will be found, when the floods abate, and the bars of the river can be searched.

There will no doubt be large parcels of gold speedily sent into town for sale. As yet there are few parties who have expressed their intention of purchasing. It depends upon the people of Geelong whether they will secure the GOLD TRADE to themselves, or merely allow it to pass through the town ‘en route’ to other markets. There can scarcely be two opinions on the subject; and before many days we expect to see almost every merchant and trader dealing in the precious metal.

Geelong Advertiser 9 September 1851, 2/2-3: [from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent, A. C.]:


Monday Morning.

I write in the flush of great expectations realised, and with firm founded hope of still greater ones to be developed into facts, perhaps in a few hours, for every day is pregnant with important discovery, and good news comes on so fast, that it bids fair to trip up its antecedent. I think I may claim for this missive the character of being one of the most important ever transmitted to Geelong—one fraught with the greatest importance to society of every grade, and which will be the herald of a new order of things in this colony in general, and to the Geelong district in particular.

The difficulty is to sober down my statements, so as to give them as much as possible the hue of every day occurrences, and to limit the truth within its narrowest bourne, so as to prevent excitement overflowing its legitimate channel. Let me then say, that success has exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine, and that Geelong may proudly boast, without fear of contradiction, that she possesses a gold field as rich as any ever yet discovered, and tenanted by denizens of her own, whose labors in the busy scene are repaid by a "golden harvest"—a proper recompense for hard toil and enterprise expended.

Here is no grumbling, no quarrelling, but happy faces from break of day to night-fall—one continued scene of unceasing industry and unbroken application to the attainment of the object in view. Out of a hundred and twenty on the ground, there is not one idle hand. I never witnessed such a cheerful untiring scene of industry in my life, carried on in silence, broken only by the rocking of the cradle, or the exclamations elicited by an occasional extraordinary yield, or the upturning of a "nugget." I begin to look with veneration on a cradle, and regard a tin dish with awe, and a colander as a sacred utensil, debased when applied to culinary purposes, ever since I saw twenty-three pieces of gold, too large to be riddled through its perforations, taken as a portion of one cradle yield; three of the pieces were as large as peas, and the remainder about the size of swan-drops. I have seen half-an-ounce turned out from one tin dish full taken from the cradle; and on Saturday evening three-quarters of an ounce was netted by a similar operation. Three ounces are despatched by this mail by Mr Veitch to Mr Drummond, of Geelong, which I refer to as a fair specimen of our yield. Mr Veitch purchased 20 ounces this week. Mr Atkins made one purchase of 7 ounces, from two parties, and £12 worth since, the proceeds of the week’s work; and about five ounces from a party just arrived from the Pyrenees.

Argus 30 September 1851, 2/4:


The amount of gold brought down by the party alluded to in my express, has not turned out quite forty pounds gold weight, but the several samples, or small parcels in the possession of the parties will help to make up part of the deficiency.

A still more astounding piece of information I have got is, that three men, forming part of a party of fourteen, have arrived in town, each bringing eleven pounds weight of pure gold as his share. So that the party have amongst them considerably more than one hundred weight!!! The accounts from the mines are really incredible.

An escort arrived yesterday, bringing, it is supposed, £18,000 worth of gold.

Argus 30 September 1851, 2/4:

( From the Geelong Advertiser.)

On Saturday night, two brothers named Cavenagh, arrived in Geelong, with sixty pounds weight of gold (value £2300), the produce of four weeks’ working. The party actually AVERAGED £100 PER DAY! .... There are many extraordinary accounts of success, such as the finding of 16 lbs weight in one morning, and 90 lvalue in one dishful.

Argus 30 September 1851 2/5:

HALF HUNDRED-WEIGHT OF GOLD. VICTORIA COLONIST OFFICE. MONDAY MORNING, 3 O’CLOCK. Yesterday the astounding intelligence spread like wildfire through the town, that some parties had brought in a HALF-HUNDRED of GOLD! We made enquiries, and are enabled to state that it is a fact. The parties are at Mr Donnelley’s, Joiner’s Arms, opposite to our office. We have not seen the glittering mass, as it is sealed up, but Mr Donnelly [sic] informed us that the reports as to the quantity of gold are quite correct. It varies in size from duck-shot to a hen’s egg! No admixture of quartz. It was collected in two days and a half, by Cavangh’s party of seven men, and the cradle was not required to separate it from the soil.

We hear that if not purchased by Dalgety, Gore and Co., it will be deposited in one of the Banks.


POSTSCRIPT. We stop the press to announce that a still larger quantity of gold has been discovered by another party of fourteen—about a HUNDREDWEIGHT.

The police are escorting at least £17,000 worth into Geelong.

Geelong Advertiser 7 October 1851, 2/2-3: [from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent, A.C.]:

BALLARAT DIGGINGS. B UNINYONG, MONDAY MORNING. The industry of the Colony is fairly revolutionised by the new channel opened to our working population. Feeling, principle, everything gives way to one absorbing thought—the idea of getting possession of the ruling commodity—Gold. Day by day, hour by hour, the population increases and concentrates at Ballarat,—a population who appear at the same time, merely as heralds of coming multitudes. We are thousands, and our tents may be numbered by the hundred, our huts and mia-mias by fifties. Men flock to Ballarat, as did the tribes of old to Rome. Drays and carts, equestrians and men a-foot, M.L.C’s., Bank Directors, Captains of Vessels, Aldermen, Common Councilmen, Lawyers, Doctors, every grade of man down to him who carries a "swag," pour in upon us—battalions of tin dishes glint in the sunshine, brigades of picks emerge from the ranges and gullies, regiments of shovels and troops of crowbars deploy from the forests, and take up their stations in array for gold-digging, make their preparations, and bivouac for the night. The roads are lined with encampments, the trees are felled in every diection, and the route marked by the nightly watch-fires of the adventurers....

Who will take upon himself to predicate what the next twelvemonth shall bring forth? Geelong enterprise has burst through, successfully, a limited sphere of occupation, and discovered, Columbus-like, new worlds of wealth. To the Western District belongs the honor, and the pride of the discovery of our teeming gold field, to which the inhabitants of other provinces will rush as to the Mecca of their hopes; and to this may be added the proud, exalted feeling, that WE have saved Victoria from desolation, by staying the efflux of thousands of her wealth producers to Bathurst; ere two months have elapsed, Geelong will richly participate of that enterprise, by the inpouring of wealth, and of enriched inhabitants.

Time was when I recorded a few ounces, as a satisfactory exposition of the success of the parties engaged at Ballarat. Time has been when I recorded some thirty ounces, found in one day, as a yield not likely to recur; but the time now is, when I could multiply such instances daily, and point out several parties whose yield far surpasses it. I could quote now by the pound weight, and point to a quiet party of four, who have realized during the last six days, not an ounce less than two hundred ounces, and last evening at dusk, a man put into my hand a leather bag, containing three pounds weight, the {the} result of the day’s work, and he said that he had more than another pound then to clean, and dry off. Another party handed me a tin pannikin, and told me to judge for myself. I really would not trust myself to state the weight, but there was at least three quarters of a pint of gold in it. Another lot told me that they were little short of sixty ounces up to half past three o’clock. Several told me to put them down at twelve and fourteen ounces, and one mob struck work at four o’clock p.m., observing as they did so, that nineteen ounces was sufficient for a Saturday’s work, and that a fortnight more would make them very comfortable. A.C.

Geelong Advertiser 1 December 1851, 2/5-6:

(From the Correspondent of the "Argus.")

November 27th.

The reports of large quantities of gold being found, have become so frequent, that it is now looked upon as quite common; but I think the present will throw all former ones into the shade. Yesterday a lump of pure, clean gold, free from quartz, was obtained from the surface near Messrs. Feutum & Edmiston’s new tent, weighing 60 ounces. A party of four obtained on Monday £1,200 worth before night; and numerous instances occur of one, two, three, and four pounds’ weight being obtained. I feel satisfied that many will have doubts as to the truth of such reports, but as I will not give such accounts without seeing them, they may be depended on. A gentleman who had his doubts as to these facts, would not be satisfied until I introduced him to the parties, and, on showing him the precious metal, he could only find words to exclaim, "’Tis wonderful!" The generality of the diggers are doing well, although I hear complaints from parties that they have not paid their expenses, and intend returning. This is not unlikely; out of a multitude (some 12,000 or 14,000) it cannot be expected that all will be lucky, but I will not hesitate in saying, that four out of five, when asked, "What success?" will answer, "Why, I can’t complain!" .... The escort left here yesterday, with [£]32,000 worth of gold, and the same day Mr. Powlett had £10,000 worth more deposited for the next conveyance. What will the Sydney folks say to this?

Geelong Advertiser 10 September 1852, 2/2:


Our diggings are going a-head, and a more surprising diggings still have been found in our neighbourhood. The gully in which they are situated has been named by me the Prince Regent Gully, opposite Canadian gully, where heavier gold will, I believe, be found than has ever been got at Ballarat. One party in the Canadian Gully, where I opened, got a nugget weighing 102 ounces, another 19 ounces, the next 18 ounces, all within six inches of the surface. Within two days I have seen no less than 70 tents pitched in Canadian gully, and so far as they have gone, every one has been successful. The Prince Regent diggings are the fourth diggings I have opened, and every one of them has been highly productive. There are now about 6000 people on these four diggings, and I think that the Canadian and Prince Regent gullies will take the lead of the Eureka, and beat them all to sticks.

I may mention that the way in which the Eureka diggings were discovered, was on the occasion of my sending out a black fellow in search of a horse, who picked up a nugget on the surface. Afterwards I sent a party to explore, who proved that gold was really to be found, and that in abundance, as it has since turned out. I have still richer diggings in view.


Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/1:

EUREKA DIGGINGS. As per last letter, we are floating gently and comfortably on the stream of fortune by prosperous gales. Eureka will be long remembered by hundreds who have participated in her riches, and made of her a stepping stone from dependance to wealth. And yet the workings despite the large Escorts are confined to a small—a very small area. Some five gullies and hill-side sinkings comprise the diggings, and thence have been taken, by a population varying from a thousand to fifteen hundred[,] gold in weekly quantities fluctuating from four to five thousand ounces as published in the Escort Returns which to my own knowledge although furnishing an approximate index by no means must be taken as a correct estimate of the yield of Eureka, although sufficient to stamp the diggings as equal to, if not superior to any yet found. I could mention independently of quantities held on the ground which are very large; quantities taken privately by private individuals during the last ten days, which would amount to one-third of the largest Escort from Eureka to Geelong. Still many are unfortunate, absolutely, and many deem themselves unfortunate, comparatively with others, but the system of ratiocination at the diggings and in town is very distinct—bad luck here, would be good fortune elsewhere, taking the absolute returns; but diggers, especially those who have been successful, have a patent for grumbling, where the yield falls short of some fifteen hundred a-year, and washing for anything less than an ounce or so per head, per man, with an occasional extra tubful is not to be tolerated, anything less is not gold-digging, but humbugging—so runs the "dictum."

Many an arrival, chiefly a-foot, swag a-back, surmounted with a tin dish, like the barber in "Don Quixote." Drays making slow progress, and parties push forward, leaving the bullocks to follow as best they may. Stores are springing up, and preparations for many others are in course of progress. Two gentlemen who have been keeping a store at Friar’s Creek have come down here to engage the same occupation. They told me that immediately it was known that a Geelong Advertiser was in the tent, the place was besieged, the news of the Eureka Diggings [came out], and within an hour ten tents were struck, and all the men complaining of the conduct of the Melbourne papers, which they subscribed, in keeping the news [of Eureka] dark, left for the Eureka. At Friars Creek, the stores are advertising to sell off—desolation reigns in the gullies there, her people are gone.

Geelong Advertiser 24 September 1852, 2/1:

(From a Correspondent.)

Dry weather, and an increasing population are the means of new discoveries being made. During last week—a party at Little Bendigo obtained in a day, TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHT OUNCES, which every day since has increased as the party gets further into the dip of the rock. This party certainly deserved success, for they sunk the hole where no other party was sinking, and having been some months unfortunate were determined in the event of that hole proving a failure to bid farewell to the digging. A great many instances of equally good luck are daily coming to my knowledge. Everything is now wearing a brighter aspect. It may be safely asserted that Eureka, if not now, will soon become the "El Dorado" of Victoria. We have had splendid weather last week, for developing the resources of this auriferous country .... I hear daily instances of success, but many more will, no doubt, be heard of in town, because here it is in the interest of every party who has a good hole to keep the matter quiet, otherwise some kind neighbour may rob him of the precious metal by undermining. It is in town where the successful boast of their great gains, and where the unsuccessful shrink from notice.

Argus 1 September 1853, 5/3:


Wednesday, 31st August, 1853.

The whole town was thrown into a high state of excitement yesterday by the arrival of private intelligence of a most startling nature from the diggings at Balaarat. The excitement was worked up to a still higher pitch by the arrival of intelligence from Melbourne, that the Government had received a despatch referring to the unparalleled discoveries just made in that locality (the depth of the sinking being from 90 to 130 feet.) All accounts agree that some of the most wonderful finds of gold have ben made during the past week, that have ever been revealed to the world. The following extract is from a letter received by Mr. Paterson, gold-buyer of this town, from a gentleman in whom he has implicit confidence:—
Balaarat, 28th August, 1853.

"At the bottom of Prince Regent’s Gully, Gardiner’s party washed out on Friday morning, between three and nine o’clock, ninety pounds weight of gold; and the party deposited in the escort office yesterday morning, one thousand nine hundred and sixty ounces, washed out in three days, and dug out in the same time, the party being afraid to keep it on hand. I have seen one of the party, and he expects that the hole will yield, at least, from ten to twelve hundredweight!!! The escort will be upwards of 8000 ounces, and next week, if the weather takes up, I expect it to be at least 10,000 ounces."—J.C.B.

The escort arrived last night, bringing down 8378 ounces, and leaving about 3000 ounces behind.

Updated:  18 October 2010/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications