Gold rush in Australia antique print. Original cartoon from Punch Magazine published July 31, 1852.
The Following text is from a blog published in Reach plc’s ‘In Your Area’.
On this day 14 May in 1851 a ‘gold rush’ was officially proclaimed by the government of New South Wales, Australia. Some three months earlier Edward Hargraves, with John Lister, had found five specks of alluvial gold at Ophir near Orange in NSW. Hargreaves, a veteran of the California gold rush, had learned new gold prospecting techniques whilst in the United States such as ‘panning’. Then, in April 1851, John Lister and William Tom, who had been taught prospecting techniques by Edward Hargraves, found 120 grams of gold. Rumours of the finds quickly spread and by the time the New South Wales government declared the gold rush, it is estimated that some 300 ‘diggers’ were already working the findings. Later that year, the newly established Colony of Victoria had its own gold finding and migration towards the area occurred. In ten years the population of Victoria increased sevenfold from 76,000 to 540,000. Many of these migrants arriving from Great Britain and particularly from Ireland. Within a few years gold was discovered in Tasmania and South Australia and by the end of the decade in Queensland which attracted its own ‘diggers’. Employees of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line found gold while digging holes for telegraph poles in the Northern Territory in 1871, whilst in the mid-1880s as many as 10,000 men joined the Western Australia gold rush. Western Australia may have been last to join the ‘gold rush’ but it had staying power. In 2015-2016 it accounted for 6% of the world’s gold production, worth A$10 billion and employing about 19,000 people. Our image was published in Punch magazine on 31st. July 1852 and shows two ‘diggers’ fighting next to some playing cards, presumably a gambling argument!