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the Victorian gold rush of the 1850's


  • the discovery of gold in Victoria rapidly changed Victoria from a collection of sheep runs with whaling ports to one of the richest regions in the world, with grand rural towns of Ballarat and Bendigo, and indeed, making Melbourne, the richest city in the world by the 1880's.
  • but this came at a massive cost to the environment which was destroyed by the miners who cut down nearly every tree in the regions, and destroyed all the waterways, which was further exacerbated by the introduction of more modern mining techniques such as the puddling machine of 1854 which pumped sludge into the waterways while hydraulic methods destroyed the gullies and deep mine shafts still remain to make these regions uninhabitable.

A brief timeline

  • in January 1849, an ex-convict called Thomas Chapman found a 38 ounce gold nugget in Daisy Creek (7 km from Talbot) while working as a shepherd, this was to spark a minor Gold Rush which authorities had been trying to keep quiet to avoid lawlessness invading the land. The main gold rush only commenced in 1851 after the law was changed allowing miners to own the gold as long as they paid a miner's licence (formerly, any gold found was deemed property of the Crown).
  • 1851, colony of Victoria founded, with Charles La Trobe of Latrobe St fame (1801-1875) appointed as 1st governor, coinciding with the gold rush which resulted in 313,000 new settlers immigrating to Victoria, rapidly outstripping NSW in population & development. In 1852 alone, 86,000 British migrated seeking their fortune.
  • 1854, the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat; .
  • 1855: Governor Bull of Castlemaine tries to reduce the environmental impact of the new puddling machines but was over-ruled by the Royal Commission which was set up to investigate the Eureka massacre 1)
  • 1856: 136 hotels, inns and taverns crowded into an area one mile long and half a mile broad, bounded by Flinders, Spencer, Latrobe and Spring Streets, The hours were 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the warmer months of the year, with special licences available until midnight. Beer for ‘off the premises consumption’ could be bought on Sundays for two hours after 1 p.m.
  • 1857: Kyneton was proclaimed a municipality and, thanks to the gold rush and through traffic, Kyneton became the state's major agricultural town and the general prosperity and development resulted in a building boom which saw bluestone quarrying become a substantial industry.
  • 1859: the Bendigo train line construction reaches Sunbury
history/goldrush.txt · Last modified: 2018/01/21 15:06 by gary1