The rush to the goldfields

Argus 9 June 1851, 4/1:


Hurrah! for the diggins! come join in the cry—
Let us pack up our swag without bother—
With a well temper’d pick and a cradle, we’ll try
Our luck there as well as another.

Hurrah! for the diggins!—come shut up your shop,
And over the hills let us ramble;
I’ve dined upon worse than a damper and chop,
And we’re yet in time for the scramble.

Hurrah! for the diggins! there’s gold in galore:
You’ve got but to dig there to find it;
Though you’re up to your middle while washing for ore,
As for consequence,—pshaw! never mind it!

Hurrah! for the diggins! come shoulder your spade;
The secret we’ll quickly unravel;
I doubt not we’ll soon do a rattling trade,
When we’re shaking our bowls full of gravel.

Hurrah! for the diggins! come hasten away,
You’ll find there, priests, doctors, and lawyers!
Hutkeepers and shepherds, in goodly array,
And seamen, and splitters, and sawyers!

Hurrah! for the diggins! you’ll find in the dirt
Some scions of high aristocracy,
Who are digging away in the humble blue shirt
In a mob of the lowest democracy.

Hurrah! for the diggins! hurrah for the road!
Come, muster your tools each brave party—
Hope nerves every limb, while it lightens our load;
Then, hurrah! for the diggins! all hearty.


Argus 18 August 1851, 2/4-5:


Friday, 15th August.

The news I forwarded you yesterday, about the Buninyong gold field, is confirmed in the local papers this morning. There is an intense degree of excitement in Geelong, the new gold field being the one engrossing topic. Several respectable parties have sold off, or are about to do so, and intend starting for the mines. I have not yet heard how the farmers and their servants are affected by the news, but I hope they will have sufficient sense and foresight to discover that on their endeavours to produce a supply of food for man and beast, will mainly depend the prosperity of the country, and their own individual advancement to fortune.

The discovery of gold can be only productive of good or evil. If the latter, the discovery is too public now, to admit of concealment, and the best thing we can do is, to make the best of a bad job. I am one of those, however, who think that the discovery of the gold will be productive of immense good, so long as peace and order prevail, and whether I am right in so thinking, or whether we are to make the best use of what may be an evil, let all possible publicity be given to the great fact, that an unlimited gold field exists in this, the finest colony in the Southern Hemisphere—the advantages we enjoy over our neighbours in Sydney cannot be too often repeated, or too glowingly penned—they are facts, stubborn facts, that will not admit of denial.

Our gold fields are in close proximity to our ports, one within four hours walk of Melbourne, another within one day’s walk of Geelong, and others within one hard day’s ride of either town; we have a superabundance of animal food; we have a superabundance of the richest land for agricultural purposes, only waiting for what the mother country has too much of,—labour; we have a climate that cannot be surpassed under heaven.—All we require is an ardent desire implanted in our breasts to make headway, and a determined resolve that we shall not lag behind.

Saturday, 16th August, 1851.

One could scarcely credit the extent to which that magic word "gold" is used amongst us at present. A stranger would think the town was full of it; the people of the town think the country is full of it, and the country people begin to think their pockets are full of it. I could hardly have thought that the most extravagant accounts of gold finding would have produced the same amount of excitement that the news from Buninyong have done. I do not doubt the delightful weather we have had the last few days, has added to the golden fever at present raging, for after the many weeks of rain and muddy streets that we have been blessed with lately, I can easily conceive the desire every one must feel to enjoy the present lovely weather.


A special messenger arrived in Geelong last night from the New El Dorado at Buninyong, he was despatched by a respectable store keeper in that township to procure a supply of flour, and other provisions, and also to obtain a supply of quicksilver for the use of the diggers, as an immense quantity of fine gold is lost and thrown away. I am indebted to him for the following particulars concerning the new gold field. He left Buninyong about 12 o’clock on the night of Thursday last; on that day there were about 70 adults at work at the mines; they appeared to be all satisfied that their exertions were not wasted; there were seven cradle parties working, the rest had tin dishes. Mr. Hiscock and party, consisting of five individuals, had obtained half-a-pound avoirdupois in four days! The tin dishers were earning on an average from 12s. to 15s. per day, and one or two had made upwards of 30s. Two boys had gathered! each a quarter of an ounce in one day.

Good order prevails, and all hands are in the highest spirits; the one great thing to be attended to at present, is the preservation of a supply of water for the summer season. One individual has about fifty "nice little nuggets" to send down, varying in size from a grain of hempseed to a large pea; and Mr. Hiscock intends presenting the nugget , (the largest piece yet found, to which I drew your attention before,) to His Excellency when he arrives, which is daily expected. Two gentlemen who were at Buninyong about ten days since, traced the same range down on their way to Geelong, and found it to run out at the Leigh River, about 18 miles from Geelong. Another party traced another arm of the same range, which abutted out on the Moorabool River, about 16 miles from Geelong, so that there can be little doubt but ere long we shall have no occasion to go so far as Buninyong to dig for gold; in fact, good gold was brought into town yesterday, reported to have been found within six miles of this.

The upper soil at the Buninyong mines, which is rich, produces a fair share of gold, a little is also found in the first stratum of gravel below the soil; then you come to a bed of clay, about a foot and a half thick; below this and at a depth of about five feet is another stratum of gravel or decomposed quartz, in which the gold is found plentifully, and of great purity; as there were but two holes opened to this depth when my informant left, we may likely expect more exciting news by Monday’s mail.

Geelong Advertiser 26 August 1851, 2/3-4: [from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent A.C.]:

BUNINYONG, WEDNESDAY EVENING. The inhabitants of Geelong are becoming ‘nomadic’. Various tribes from Corio, Chilwell, and Ashby [viz., suburbs of Geelong] have sent their deputations, and the denizens of the Western District may be described ere long as ‘dwellers in tents’ as ‘hewers of wood, and drawers of water.’ Geelong is going out of town—and coming to Buninyong, bricks and mortar are deserted for tarpaulins, comfort for inconvenience, ease for hardship, ordinary travail for hard labour, and all is set at nought and succumbs to the desire for gold, gold that is to be rent from the bowels of the earth. Neither rain, or storm, overpowers the desire, the cry is still ‘they come, they come’.

And now one word before closing this despatch, I would advise all parties who have comfortable situations to stay at home, and "let well alone," make no sacrifices of the present for the future, but patiently await the result of the present experiments, which will be found duly and truly chronicled in the columns of the Geelong Advertiser, and Intelligencer. I say wait awhile, rush not rashly to the christening of the gold-birth—there will be plenty without you at its baptism, and your time will be to celebrate its maturity, which may be attained at no distant epoch—my last word is, "pause! before you plunge."

Heavy rain till midnight, and heavy showers all day.


Argus 20 September 1851, 2/4:


Notwithstanding the fearful inclemency of the weather—the cry is still "they go." The old fashioned flash expression of "when did you come out?" has given way to the modern one of "when are you going?" and it is so well understood, that no one ever thinks of asking to what place the question applies. If the present migration of males continues much longer, Geelong will be entirely under petticoat Government. Have you got your cradle? says one, out of breath, as he meets another in the street; have you got your tools? asks a second,—where did you buy your tarpaulin? asks a third. These questions so continually asked, coupled with the extraordinary demand for "shay carts" and "hosses" as ’ill go in harness, prove, that if Geelong was mad yesterday, it is still madder to day. Nor is this excitement confined to the lower classes; doctors, lawyers, and master tradesmen are off to the Ballarat Diggings. The weather and the state of the roads are mere trifles apparently to these enthusiasts—these slaves of Old King Gold.

Argus 20 September 1851, 2/5:

(From a Correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser.)

The "Clunes Diggings" have removed to Ballarat, and Geelong has come up to Buninyong. Every available vehicle has been called into requisition, from a bullock dray to a wheelbarrow; and no small surprise was created the other day by the appearance of a man driving before him the last mentioned vehicle, containing his provisions and swag, which he had wheeled from Ashby [a suburb of Geelong] to the Buninyong Gully in two days and a half. The man appeared quite fresh, and as indifferent to fatigue as the wheelbarrow itself. Another man brought his cradle from New Town [in Geelong] on his back, and the only complaint that he made was, that he was detained when leaving New Town, by a short gentleman in black, with a white neck-tie; he accused him of running away with his pulpit, but who apologised after examining its construction, and "bade the man God speed"—and on he sped, through mire and mud, bog and quagmire, until he reached the diggings, where it is hoped such perseverance may meet a fitting reward.

Argus 30 September 1851, 2/4-5:

(From the Victoria Colonist .) Accounts of great success are constantly arriving in town, and parties are daily leaving for the diggings. Tradesmen are fast shutting up to spend the gold season at that fashionable watering-place, Buninyong. Cradles of every size and description are being exported in the shape of bathing-machines for the precious metal, and perhaps occasionally used by fond mothers after the labours of the day to wash the ‘darlings’ in. On Saturday, the town was in a state of much excitement, consequent on a report that one man had obtained £900 worth in one day! All seem to believe in the general good fortune attendant on those who seek for gold. The numbers at the diggings are continually increasing; from the latest accounts there cannot be less than two thousand persons there. There is a large quantity of gold waiting to be brought down, but of course people must submit to the inconvenience of guarding it themselves until Mr La Trobe chooses to send an escort. Messrs. Paterson and Dalton arrived late on Friday night from Buninyong, bringing with them some very fine specimens; the former brought gold to the value of between £600 and £700. It appears to us from the geological formation of the country in that locality, that a rich field of the precious metal is now opening to the colonists, which will, in all probability, prove far richer than California, or any similar modern discovery.

Argus 1 October 1851, 3/1:

THE GOLD—A gentleman who rode in from Keilor, yesterday, informs us that as a matter of curiosity, he counted the number of persons fully accoutred for the diggings that he met on the road within ten miles of Melbourne. The result of the enumeration was a total of one hundred and thirty-four horsemen; seventeen horse drays, mostly two horses, and three pack horses; whilst about twenty drays were camped within a mile of where the country commenced. With the vehicles were a motley assemblage of all sorts, stout sturdy, active men, an assortment of lame and halt, women with young children, boys with frying pans and tin dishes, girls with bundles as big as themselves, and old men with loads that would appal even the sturdiest in the mother country. In the city itself the excitement is very great; not a group collects, not a party of three passes, without the words "cradle," "licenses," "pick," "ounces," and others equally fraught with golden ideas being heard. In passing through the town about twelve o’clock, we observed no less than a dozen drays loading for the diggings, and a person resident at the north end of Swanston-street counted no less than twenty-two drays that passed in the course of an hour. A house made of paling, weatherboard fashion, was yesterday taken up to the diggings from Wright’s timber yard, being made in compartments, so as to be put together in a very short space of time. In another week we expect that all Melbourne will be at the diggings, as parties are being made up amongst respectable shopkeepers, who, finding that all their customers are going, have resolved upon going too.

Geelong Advertiser 4 October 1851, 2/2-3:

(From the Argus.)

The Yellow-fever rages to an extent that would be incredible to ears which have not become somewhat gradually accustomed to the sound. On all sides the sole topic of conversation is Gold, Gold, Gold. The most absurd reports are bandied about on all sides, and tidings of ounces become pounds as they travel from one street corner to the other. Men of all sorts, sizes, countries, and callings, are either going, or are already gone; and as far as the Lords of Creation are concerned, Melbourne threatens to be fairly depopulated.

To check the tide which now flows so copiously towards Ballarat would be impossible, even if it would be expedient; and if it could be kept within ordinary bounds, it would be just as well to let it roll on undisturbed. But we fear, that combined with the good arising from the infusion of so much, and so active an industry, there are likely to arise very serious evils, which may cause most bitter regrets hereafter. We would therefore appeal to the calmer judgment of such as are not too far gone with the disease, and endeavour to prevent some of the ill effects which, we fear, may follow.

The course of a fever is usually rapid in proportion to the energy of its action[;] and the fever for gold having reached in intensity anything that is possible, we may expect the crisis ere very long. When this re-action sets in, will not some of our most hasty neighbours have cause to regret the steps they have taken during the delirium of the complaint? All Victoria cannot find employment upon two or three hills at Ballarat. The gold digger market must almost necessarily be overstocked if these crowds of pilgrims continue to follow in long lines from every point of the compass. That phase of the hunt for Gold once reached, what next? The surplus must look for other employment, and may possibly not then find themselves quite so well situated as before they joined in the scramble.

Here in town, we are mad especially. We have gossiped, and chattered of nuggets till we have worked ourselves into a state of excitement capable of any length of credulity. But before a fortnight is over, we think that we can predict a change. We do not believe that more than one of every four who start for Ballarat will remain there. Rough bush work, like gold digging, does not suit everybody, and a vast proportion of the amateur diggers will get quite enough of it in a day or two. We do not attempt to deter people from going. If they are severely afflicted with the fever, a look at Ballarat may be the readiest cure. But we are sorry to hear of prospects abandoned and situations thrown up, by parties who we feel convinced are scarcely cut out for successful gold diggers. Let har workers go by all means, if not already well employed; gardeners, splitters, sawyers, quarrymen, brick-makers, and even blacksmiths, masons, and carpenters. A man had better dig up a nugget than grub a tree; it is no harder to delve down to auriferous blue clay than to dig a post-hole; but let men beware how they sacrifice a certainty for a lottery, if they are not accustomed to severe personal labour, and have still to learn the sensation of a bent back, for a long day, under a hot sun.

There are two things in connexion with the diggings, which it will be well to remember, before people crowd together at Ballarat, with a firm conviction that their employment is a permanent one, and that they therefore can disregard every other. The large quantity of water required for successful digging, will cause the supply to some thousands of diggers to become very short as soon as the river ceases to run, which will take place, we believe, in a very few weeks. The good people of Ballarat will look rather blank some fine morning, to find themselves without this most essential element for the gold-digger, and those who have not been very successful, and have others dependent upon them, may begin to feel uneasy at their prospect. This is one consideration which it is worth while to dwell upon. The other is so too, and though a mere matter-of-fact, it is one rather calculated to damp the extravagant ardour of intending diggers. Excessive, then, as are the expectations of people hurrying from the towns, of what they will be able to do if once they reach the diggings, we are informed, upon the undoubted authority of a gentleman who left the diggings on Tuesday, that plenty of men were offering themselves for hire upon the ground, for from a guinea per week to five shillings a day, and their rations.

This fact had better be taken into the calculation of parties throwing up good situations, which they can not probably recover; as it may prevent after-disappointment, when they find that they have not quite rivalled the fortunate Messrs. Cavenagh, and that it has been their fate in the lottery, to pitch upon one of the very numerous blanks in which all lotteries abound.

Geelong Advertiser 4 October 1851, 2/3:

GOLD AT MOUNT MACEDON.—It has only just now transpired that there are twenty cradles snugly at work at Mount Macedon doing an excellent stroke of business, so quietly and slyly have the diggers been working. A rush was made for the field there yesterday.— HERALD.

Geelong Advertiser 4 October 1851, 2/3:

THE GOLD MANIA.—The yellow fever is still in a high and critical state through the city, and as far as we can learn it is fast spreading over the country. A gentleman arrived in town from the elevation of the gold regions, reports that the numbers he has met, exceed any degree of credibility. Shepherds, stockmen, farm-servants "et hoc genus omne" are absconding from all quarters. He has counted over one hundred drays within a very short space, as having passed him on the road. From town it is estimated that no less than one hundred expeditions started yesterday, and many more are in preparation. There is to be a great move in the mechanical and labouring classes on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday

Geelong Advertiser 7 October 1851, 2/2:

Notwithstanding the extraordinary accounts before us, we feel convinced that the gold is not the most valuable item of our wealth. We look upon the precious metal as having to perform the mission of accelerating the peopling of this vast territory, and of bringing about the early development of its great resources. The first accession to our population will be from California. The British and Australian sojourners in that land of Lynch-law, will quickly leave its inhospitable shores. The Americans will not be long in coming to beg for themselves that friendly reception which they have denied to others. The stream of emigration will, within four months set in from England, Ireland, Scotland, and, indeed from all parts of the world not absolutely uncivilised. May we be fully prepared to receive it.

Geelong Advertiser 14 October 1851, 2/2:


We can now speak of the Diggings in the vicinity of Buninyong, from personal inspection; but after the day’s ride down do not feel inclined to be prolix. Before entering into particulars, we will state our impressions respecting the probability of success for the influx of new arrivals on the various fields.

On a former occasion, we remarked that the vast increase of the digging population would necessitate their dispersion, in search of other suitable fields, and that the same hardships would have to be sustained by the new hands, as were overcome by the discoverers of Ballarat. That opinion has been confirmed by actual experience. Even the original discoverers, having worked out their claims, must commence prospecting for new ones; and although the surface soil throughout a wide extent of country, yields gold in sufficient abundance to remunerate the diggers, yet the knowledge of the underlying strata, and the probability of hitting the "rich vein" can only be acquired by hard-earned experience. Even at moderate distances on the same field, the difference of thickness in the strata through which the excavations must be made is so variable, that even the oldest hands cannot predict the result of sinking.

The new arrivals, especially those from Melbourne, who are not well informed of the actualities of gold finding, and who have few acquaintances among the gold diggers, from whom they could get advice, are bitterly disappointed when they arrive on the ground. They seem to have flocked to Ballarat, with the idea which possessed Dick Whittington when he went to London, that gold was as plentiful as paving stones. They walk about bewildered. The fever is followed by the panic, and having done one foolish thing, they straightway do another. One of the principal sources of annoyance, also, is, that the parties arrive on the ground long before their drays with their outfit—tents, tools, and provisions—get halfway along the road, and they live in greater misery than if they were actually digging and getting nothing. Numbers of the drays will never arrive at their destination. Overloaded at starting, their progress along the roads is miserably slow. We saw, five miles from the diggings, on the Melbourne road, three drays which had taken the wrong road from Geelong, and instead of reaching the diggings had struck into the Melbourne road twelve miles to the eastward. Here their troubles began. In one day they had gone a mile and a half. They clubbed their bullocks, assisting each other; and at the time we met them there were eighteen bullocks tugging at one dray without the slightest prospect of moving it an inch. The number of drays in similar fixes, is very great; and the wearying anxiety of parties after their arrival effectually cures the fever. The new comers from the eastward are, from these and similar causes, going back in hundreds.

Our advice to those who have not committed themselves in joining ill-assorted parties, is this—Do not go to the Diggings unless you make up your minds to go through the same hardships, submit to the same chances, and display the same patience and perseverance as the original discoverers did. There is no royal road to gold-finding. Make up your minds to work for a month or more on the "pleasures of hope," or stay at home. If you cannot work like horses, and be content with bad luck as well as good, you will mistake your vocation if you go digging. If you feel yourselves equal to the task, you may go, and take your chance of large gains, but remember that ALL cannot be fortunate.

The population of male adults is immense, and if there were the usual proportion of women and children, Ballarat would be as populous as the metropolis was when the census was taken. There are, we should say, about a thousand cradles at work, within a mile of the Golden Point, at Ballarat. There are about fifty near the Black Hill, about a mile and a half distant, and at the Brown Bill Diggings there are about three or four hundred more; to say nothing of hundreds on the ground not yet set at work. Allowing five for each cradle, the population within a radius of five miles must be a population of about seven thousand men.

Geelong Advertiser 14 October 1851, 2/4:


We have Launceston papers to the 11th instant, and Hobart Town papers to the 10th instant.

The news of our gold field was creating intense excitement. The papers before us contain extracts from our columns up to the 9th instant.

The advertisements in the Hobart Town papers show that we may expect a large accession to our labouring population from that quarter. In the Colonial Times of the 10th, the barque Vanguard is advertised to carry passengers—to sail on the 18th instant. The Victoria Packet to sail for Melbourne on the 11th, the Captain announcing that he will show a sample of our gold. The Baltimore clipper, Go-a-head, advertises that she will take passengers to Geelong at 20s a head, without provisions. The Circassian is advertised for the "Gold Country." The Jenny Lind offers "a most desirable opportunity for persons proceeding to the newly discovered gold regions, near Geelong."

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

(From the Correspondent of the "Argus.")

November 27th.

A gentleman from Melbourne informs me, that there at least 300 drays on the road. If they continue to come at this rate you will not have many left in Melbourne.



BANK CLERKS.—The Bank Clerks are in a state of great frenzy. The immense quantities of gold coming under their inspection, coupled with the number of cheques for large amounts presented as payment for gold by common looking men, being sufficient to turn their brains. Many of them are about leaving for the "diggings."

Geelong Advertiser 4 December 1851, 2/7:


Old England is a golden land,
By traffic and by trade;
But here the terms we understand,
By cradle, pick, and spade.

The "Settler" here upon his "run,"
Sees flocks and herds increase,
And when the shearing time is done,
He has a golden fleece.
The tradesman and the labourer too,

Find work and wages high;
There is enough for all to do,
‘More hands!’ is still the cry.

But now a different cry from that,
Attracts both young and old;
The diggings up at Ballarat,
‘Come boys, and get some gold.’

And now the shopman leaves his shop—
The farmer leaves his plough;
Or, hastens to put in his crop,
And join the general row.

The shepherd gives his sheep the slip,
The clerk will write no more;
And Jack bolts from his new come ship,
To dig the precious ore.

Mount Alexander too abounds,
In rich auriferous soil;
And many ounces, many pounds,
Have paid the digger’s toil.

Thousands are digging day by day,
And will you doubt my pen,
One dishful of this golden clay,

Makes independent men.
In months to come there is no doubt,
More treasures will unfold;
And creeks and hills will be found out,
With lots of virgin go’d [sic].

There’s gold enough, and work enough,
And bread enough for all;
And England can find men enough,
If we but loudly call.

Let thousands come, and thus supply,
The want our mines demand,
And join the loud Colonial cry,
Advance, Victoria’s land.


Geelong Advertiser 5 December 1851, 2/2.

THE AURIFEROUS EXCITEMENT.— Once more the "dog star rages," and the community is again passing through a hot fit of the auriferous fever. The quantities of Mount Alexander gold, brought into Melbourne and Geelong, cause men’s minds to be unsettled; those who are able and fit for the work, take the advice given to Lady Macbeth, at the banquet, when she desired the guests not "to stand on the order of their going, but go at once;" while those who feel that they have not sufficient energy or power to go, are fettered by their occupations and engagements, console themselves by talking about gold, as some compensation for not being able to procure it. There will, doubtless, ere long, be another re-action: meantime, we will continue to hear of gold being found here, there, and everywhere, even in all manner of unlikely places, and individuals will fluctuate about, some chasing a "Will-o’-the-Wisp," only to land in a bog, and others proving more or less successful, as if their "luck," were expressly intended to tantalise and mislead their less fortunate or less energetic neighbours.

Geelong Advertiser 6 December 1851, 2/1-2.

The attempt to condense into a small space a description of the momentous events of the last few months, must needs be a failure. Six months ago we were looking forward to the consequences of the discovery of gold at Bathurst. Some feared a drain of our population.— Others, ourselves among the number, were hopeful of the effect of the discovery on our agricultural interests, while the recollection of former rumours of the finding of gold at the Pyrenees led us to anticipate the discovery of a gold field of our own. A few short weeks brought about the verification of our hopes. Several hardy adventurers had gone forth in various directions, and, after many mistakes and disappointments, at last hit upon the gold-bearing quartz veins of Clunes, near Burnbank, 75 miles north-west from Geelong. Here the work was severe, and the yield small, although remunerative. The next discovery was at Buninyong, 25 miles nearer town. At first the gains were promising, but did not exceed those at Clunes, and the diggers prosecuted further researches in the neighbourhood. One of the prospecting parties settled down on a creek about five miles distant, and turned up gold in much greater abundance. Other parties joined them, and the work of excavation proceeded merrily. Some had extraordinary luck; and the news of their findings spread rapidly over the land, producing the first access of the gold fever. All the other diggings were deserted, and the miners settled down on the Golden Point of Ballarat, where individual gains were soon reckoned by tens and twenties of ounces in the day. The townspeople went mad. Every available vehicle, was loaded with the paraphernalia of gold washing and the necessary supplies. It was the depth of winter, and the roads were fearfully bad. But Saxon and Celtic energies were at work, and in a few weeks there were concentrated on a small area of land, not exceeding 300 acres, at least six thousand people, digging, smashing, shovelling, wheeling, puddling the earth, and rocking at least a thousand cradles! In one week seven thousand ounces of gold were handed to the government escort for conveyance to town, and this was estimated to be only a fifth of the yield.

And yet it was no holiday work to pick up the gold. Each party worked in a space of ground eight feet square, and many of the holes were sunk to three times eight feet deep! In the motley crowd that gathered there, hundreds were physically unfit for the work; hundreds more were morally incapable to enter on a task requiring so much perseverance; hundreds, again, of those who were in every way fitted for the work obtained but moderate gains, for here, as in every other gold field, there were blanks as well as prizes. The neighbouring hills and river banks were tried; but, although gold was everywhere found, there was no place so rich as the Golden Point, and small grains were now despised. Numbers returned to the towns; others penetrated into the interior. Rumours of parties at work near Mount Alexander, fifty miles away to the northward, reached Ballarat; many went thither, and, before reaching the Mount, pitched upon a field more wonderfully auriferous than Ballarat itself.

These are the Loddon diggings, about 80 miles north-by-west from Geelong, and the same distance north-west from Melbourne. The yields here have been perfectly astounding. The escort brings weekly half-a-ton of gold, and at least an equal quantity is brought by private individuals, while the quantity that is kept on the ground, for want of the means of conveyance, must be half-a-ton more. We feel satisfied that we do not exaggerate in estimating the yield of our gold mines at TWO TONS weekly.

The Ballarat field, although nearly deserted, still affords extraordinary yields. The last weekly escort brought down 3000 ounces, the earnings of about 500 men! There are more Golden Points to be delved into, but as the gold lies deep, it will remain undisturbed, while the superficial workings at the Loddon yield so largely.

Argus 10 December 1851, 2/2. [Geelong correspondent]

There appears to be a most extraordinary demand for guns, pistols, powder and ball, and even cutlasses are inquired for. The diggers are generally the purchasers, and people wonder what they can want with such a quantity of arms As it is not likely that the diggers are providing themselves with fire arms to shoot at the gold, we may be allowed to suppose that they contemplate an excursion to the moors at the expiration of the present year.

Geelong Advertiser 12 December 1851, 2/2.

THE RUSH TO THE DIGGINGS.— The infatuation of individuals in rushing to the "diggings" is certainly astounding. Men, who under ordinary circumstances, would be reckoned perfectly sane, are flying away in many circumstances without plan, preparation, or foresight. It is quite enough for them that gold is to be found, and away they go. We have yet to learn that gold digging is a business as well as a pursuit, and that the "helter skelter" rush is not the way to go about it. But remonstrance is useless, the thing will gradually cure itself although, meantime much injury will be perpetrated on families and society. The temptation is unquestionably great, and as gambling has a prodigious influence over both civilized and uncivilized man, we can hardly be surprised, though for the sake of themselves and the general interests of the community, it is much to be regretted. There will, however, be a re-action, and individuals may then both feel and know that all is not gold that glitters.

Argus 2 October 1852, 4/1:




My native land,—not in despair
I part from thee and thine;
Nor time nor space shall chill the pray’r
I offer to thy shrine.
To thee I still shall homage pay,
And marvel oft, when far away,
What destiny is thine.

Time was, when o’er thy sunny plains
Disgrace a pall had flung;
And ’mid the gloom rose clanking chains,
And groans from mis’ry wrung.
The nations—nay, thine own free-born,
Mam’d [sic] thee but with a blighting scorn,
And cheek with blushes stung.

This was thy first—thine iron age,
Searing thy infant brow,
Imprinting on thy earliest page
Traces of shame and woe.
Remorseless—blasting ev’ry bud,
Teeming with cherish’d hope and good,
That might hereafter blow.

Time is! No longer let me pine
O’er by-gone days of care;
Behold the sunburst!—Now shall shine,
Thy skies in splendour rare.
Lo! from thy vales and running streams,
Thy cliffs, and mountain gorges, gleams
A treasure now laid bare.

’Tis gold, ’tis gold! The craggy steeps,
The torrent, tumbling down
The wild ravine—the shatter’d heaps
Around in fragments thrown—
The pathless plain, whose verdant sod,
Alone, the naked savage trod,
With golden seeds are sown.

From lonely hut and lordly hall,
From anvil, desk, and plough,
Men rush, as when the trumpet-call
Summons to charge the foe.
Gold, gold is grasp’d vy ev’ry hand,
Nor touch of Eastern genii’s wand
E’er wrought such weal or woe.

The Golden Age, by poets sung,
Sank ’neath the Iron blast;
And oft their harp, in sadness strung,
Laments the glorious past.
Thy earliest were thy darkest days;
Resplendent as thy sun’s bright rays,
Thy Golden Age COMES LAST.

Adie [sic], adieu! Thy future fame,
Careering o’er the sea,
Thy rank, thy worth, thy long scorn’d name,
Each breeze shall waft to me,
When wandering on a distant strand,
[I] claim my own—my NATIVE land,
And proudly point to THEE!

W.F. Chatsbury, Sept. 8, 1852.

Argus 2 October 1852, 4/2: [on convicts from Tasmania decamping to the Victorian goldfields]:


RUNAWAYS .—Passholders still continue to absent themselves, and slope to the Victoria Diggings. One man during the past week received £3 to fetch a horse from the interior. but he paid his passage to Melbourne with the money, and decamped. Five passholders were sentenced to various punishments within the last few days at the police office, who had been taken by the Victoria police, but where one is so taken, twenty escape. Unless the absconders are known and identified by persons from hence, the magistrates across the water cannot detain them, and the Melbourne press assert that the convict authorities here are not very anxious for them to be returned.— Colonist.

Geelong Advertiser 29 October 1852, 2/3:


Illustrations are daily occurring of the state of vague excitement which now prevails in the minds of the immigrants who are pouring into Victoria. Formerly, all Australia, including Van Diemen’s Land, was included in one general notice, that it was a place where convicts were sent to, and from whence wool came. Now, it is believed that gold can be picked up on the highways and byeways of Victoria; and all idea of working for reasonable rates, or even any rate at all, is scouted as an imposition.



In these days of desertion, particularly on the part of Merchant Seamen, it is gratifying to learn that the whole of the seamen who left the Sir Robert Sale, about two months ago, after having realised some very large sums, to the extent of £1500 per man, at the Eureka Diggings, have one and all made their intentions known of again joining their old ship under Captain Loder, and making up, by assiduous attention to their duty, any differences which may now prevail. This will enable the gallant old seman to get-off sometime about Christmas.

Geelong Advertiser 19 April 1853,Supplement 1/4:


Hurrah! for the metal that comes from afar,
Where the rich auriferous Diggings are,
Hurrah! for the harvest golden!
We are poor—very poor—in this land of old,
And running streams do not run o’er gold;
And the ore, whichour blasted rocks unfold,
Must be smelted, and hammered, and bought, and sold
For the little gain, which is easily told,
As it was in ages olden.

O! send us away to that glittering land,
Which is golden littered, ’mid mountain and sand,
Where nuggets are picked from rock niches.
We are paupers here, in thousands, and men
Are living lumber, which now and then
Will take to thieving or poaching, when,
By the magical power of the laws—Amen!
They are sent to that country of riches.

We have gold! plus gold! to advertisements wed,
And golden dreams in every one’s head,
Till that "tide in the affairs of men," is led,
By the tide of emigration;
For, men of all classes, have taken the itch
Of sudennly growing impossibly rich;
All dreaming of picking up gold in a ditch,
It seems Dame Fortune must mean to bewitch,
And totally ruin the nation.

Our currency will be a current joke
For the land and labour marts to smoke,
As ingots are duly imported.
Say, how shall we manage the national debt?
And how shall the pension-list question be met?
But a fig for all politics, can we forget
That an idol of gold will be idolised yet,
And a whole population transported.

Then, hurrah for the diggings: whose yellow veins
Run richly rife with golden gains.
Hurrah! for the shovel and cradle.
With an empty purse to that land we’ll go,
And rock the fradle to and fro,
Till our coffers shall fill to overflow,
And be worth as much as that eye of a Jew;
And we’ll merrily live our life-time thro’
As rich as a Prince in a fable.

Argus 26 April 1853, 4/4:

Forest Creek

21st April, 1853.

Forest Creek is again becoming absolutely deserted; hundreds are running like mad to other and distant localities, although from the many and conflicting accounts we receive from them, it is not unlikely that the pilgrims will be glad to return to their quiet and remunerative holes at Forest Creek. The late heavy fall of rain has, as I anticipated, led to a rush in the direction of Specimen Gully, one very large flat having been turned up with great and general success. The holes vary in depth from three to thirteen feet, in all of which more or less gold has been taken.

Unless fresh localities are opened and the present rush from this place ceases, to use an Irishism, "nothing will be heard but silence" at Forest Creek.


Geelong Advertiser 27 April 1853, 2/1:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.— A portion of the Old Sailor’s Gully was turned up last week with great success. Report says one man alone got 95 lbs weight, another 50 lbs, and another 24 lbs. A heavy rush took place immediately it was known, and crowds are still at work upon the spot. Much talk is heard of new diggings found a little way from Campbell’s Creek, and situated between two ranges of hills. Many are said to be doing well, and many are leaving this part to try their hand on new ground.

Argus 6 June 1853, 5/7:


Behold how "gold" has widely spread our fame,
And "first among the nations" set our name!
The astounding news, first carried here and there,
Widening its course, went spreading everywhere.
From place to place, when rumor reach’d its height,
Swift as the lightning was its rapid flight.
The news explosive breaks upon the ear,
And startled nations move with joy to hear;
A wild excitement everywhere prevails,
And the glad tidings every person hails;
Hither directed is the public mind—
All wish to come, and leave their homes behind.
Throng’d are the ports, and ships in full demand
To take the people to this golden land.
The timid now rush boldly to the shore,
And scorn the danger terrible before;
Dire storms may brew, and blacken in the clouds;
The whistling winds may rattle in the shrouds;
Tempests may shake, and awful thunders roll,
And vivid lightnings flash from pole to pole;
Nothing can daunt their now courageous heart,
Or the fix’d purpose of their mind can thwart:
Strangers to fear, they brave the stormy deep,
Hoping ere long our golden fruit to reap.
Hence crowded vessels meet with quick despatch,
And start together oft a sailing match;
Hither they pour in one continuous stream.
Ship follows ship, and all with people teem;
Sometimes abreast a dozen vessels run,
And clouds of canvas whiten in the sun.
See from the flag staff how the placid bay
Dotted with sails is, almost every day!
A few bright specks, that glisten in the sun,
Is all, at first, that marks the horizon;
But as they near the sails become more white,—
Grow larger—then, the hull appears in sight;
Till each is seen, enlarging as she runs,
A gallant vessel of a thousand tons;
On, on she glides, her canvas white as snow,
Drops in her berth, and lets her anchors go.
Day after day thus quick the vessels come,
Some of larger tonnage, and of smaller some;
From every place they come to pay their court,
To grace our harbor, and to crowd our port.


Argus 29 June 1853, 3/7:


To the Editor of the Argus.

Sir,—I am very happy to observe, in to-day’s Argus, some hopes of the real state of the gold-diggings being at length fairly represented. This will, I trust, check the increase of the distress now, and for some time past, witnessed amongst the innumerable gold-seekers who have been induced to come to this colony, led away by the high colored accounts of "Our own correspondent," &c., and for which to a certain degree, the press is morally responsible.

It is a notorious fact, and can be proved by figures, that the gold-fields have been gradually falling off in the yield of produce since October last. There were at that time about 80,000 persons, producing upwards of 110,000 ounces weekly; whereas at the present moment upwards of 120,000 persons scarcely produce 35,000 ounces (!) weekly, and even this amount is on the decline. Yet, in the very face of these results, the gold-fields are still represented in the most encouraging manner. I do not mean to say that a few more discoveries may not be made in different parts of the colony, which may afford a profitable occupation to a large number of industrious diggers for many years to come; but when we consider the scattered, and very superficial character of the gold-fields, the rapidity of their exhaustion, and the absence of any mines on which to fall back, I do maintain that there is nothing to justify the extravagant estimates which have been, and are being, made of the extent and permanency of the metallic wealth of this colony. All the intelligent diggers, and agents of the respective gold-fields, will bear out and confirm my views on this point; and I am sorry for the sake of thousands who are landing here daily, that the truth has been so long concealed, and now appears in all its startling nakedness.

I am, Sir,
Yours respectfully,

27th. June.

P.S.—The extravagance of the successful diggers are things of the past: great prizes are getting scarce, and in a very short time these gold-fields will be brought to the ordinary level of all gold-producing countries.— E.H.

[The game having been fairly worried and all the choicest portions consumed, it is evident that it is quite time to beat off the dogs that ran it down, and have greedily devoured the best of it, and to make over the carcass to the sly, keen-sighted old hawk, which has sat quietly upon his perch, and waited so patiently for his turn. Mr. Hopkins proves most satisfactorily that the gold-fields of Victoria are unmistakeably done for, and nothing appears left for it now but to make them over forthwith to any enterprising mining company which will take them for fifty years at a pepper-corn rent.— Ed. A. ]

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