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Online Education - Term 4, 2001

Small amounts of gold were found in Australia as early as 1823 but the government of the time kept this information a secret. There was concern that if the convicts heard about the finding of gold they would rebel and also make every attempt to escape. The free settlers would leave their jobs to search for gold. After 1840, when convicts were no longer transported to New South Wales, news of gold discoveries did not create too much concern and there was the added worry that many people were now starting to leave the Australian colonies to find their fortune in other parts of the world, particularly California.

In February, 1851, while panning for gold near Bathurst in New South Wales, Edward Hargraves discovered small amounts of this precious metal and this was recognised as the first official gold find in Australia. By May of the same year, larger discoveries were made in the same area and when the news was announced to the public, a gold rush started immediately. Not long afterwards, Jemmy Irving, an aboriginal, found a nugget weighing 48 kilograms making his discovery between the Macquarie River and Meroo. Other profitable sites were found and the cities started to empty as more and more people went in search of their fortunes. Many of the early finds were on the surface of the ground and it was not expensive for most seekers to buy shovels, pans and other necessary equipment.
Gold in Victoria:

Thousands of people began leaving the colony of Victoria heading for the gold fields of New South Wales. Workmen walked away from their jobs and there was no one to replace them. This was a terrible state of affairs for newly established Melbourne and something had to be done to stop so many workers from departing. A special committee was set up to solve the problem and a reward of 200 pounds ($400) was offered to anyone who found large quantities of gold within 320 kilometres of Melbourne. Some prospectors made discoveries at Clunes and within a short time rich deposits of gold were found in the Buninyong Ranges near Ballarat. Wealth seekers from all parts of the country and from overseas started to arrive and more sites, much better and larger than the ones in New South Wales, were found.

How to Complete This Unit:

This unit has been designed to assist your research on the topic of Gold. The following Activity pages contain links to other websites. Each Activity page also has a task for you to complete. To use this unit:

  • Read through the introduction and all Activity pages before commencing,
  • Your teachers will then instruct you when to begin,
  • Complete each Activity in order,
  • Make sure you PROOF READ and EDIT your work before handing it in,
  • Ask lots of questions. If you are stuck, ask a teacher for help,
  • Enjoy the activities - this will be an enjoyable unit.
On completion of this unit you should be able to:
  • Understand and explain some of the scientific properties of gold,
  • Identify and locate the main areas of the Victorian Goldfields,
  • Relate the events leading to and including the Eureka Stockade,
  • Explain the different mining methods and technology used during the 1850s,
  • Explain what life was like living on the goldfields,
  • Utilise a spreadsheet to perform calculations in relation gold values,
  • Describe the methods of transport used during the goldrush.

Activity 1
Activity 2
Activity 3
Activity 4
Activity 5
Activity 6
Activity 7

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