|Most supplies were taken to the goldfields on drays, pulled by either
bullocks or horse teams. In winter, it cost 150 pounds a ton to transport
goods from Melbourne to Bendigo and the trip took up to fourteen days to
make using bullocks.
Many drivers preferred the two-wheeled dray as it could travel over
rough ground, dodging stumps and holes. The four-wheeled wagon had a larger
turning circle and was difficult to pull out of mud. It was also more difficult
to make as it needed a front axle which was able to turn left and right.
While slow, bullocks were often used, as they were very strong and could
work on half as much food as a horse. They were also easy to harness. Six
to eight bullocks usually made a team although as many as forty-two have
Public transport began with the carrying of mail, at first by horse,
and then by light carts. As early as October 1851, a coach service ran
from Melbourne to the Ballarat diggings. It cost twenty-five shillings
to make the journey in one direction, the equivalent of twenty-five hours of
work. Another way to reach Ballarat was to take the steamer to Geelong
and then the coach from there at a cost of 3 pounds or sixty hours’ work.
Coach horses were changed at ten mile (16 km) intervals and during the
early days, involved at least one stop overnight.
Travel by coach was not only expensive but difficult, over rough
roads and steep gullies. The roads were so bad that passengers often had
to get out and walk or help push the coach through a mud hole or creek.
The accident that occurred most often was a broken metal spring which meant
a long wait for repairs or continuing the journey another way.
In 1853, the first Concord coach was imported from the USA by Cobb &
Co. It was able to handle the Australian conditions much better. It was
lightweight and its body rested on leather straps. This made them last
longer and they were able to travel over bad roads at speed. Unfortunately,
many passengers became ‘seasick’ because of the rocking motion of the coach.
The early Concord coaches carried up to fifteen passengers and in 1858
some of the larger Concords were able to carry as many as thirty-two people.
In 1862 the Leviathan coach was built in Ballarat for Cobb & Co.
to make the journey to Geelong. It was believed to have a passenger capacity
of between fifty-six and eighty-nine people. It usually needed eight to
twelve horses to pull it but drivers found it hard to manage the horse
as the lead horse was so far away from the coach.
The gold rush made it possible for people to make a great deal money
and the streets of Ballarat started to fill with many two-wheel gigs and
four-wheeled carts called phaetons. The coachbuilding industry grew in
Ballarat and provided jobs for many workers. Until the arrival of trains
in 1861, transport in Ballarat was totally dependent on the power of animals.