The Australian Goldrush
When the Gold Rush started, there was no roads to the goldfields. People travelled by horse or bullock to the goldfields. Some people walked to the goldfields with a wheelbarrow with there things in them.
When the diggers came to Australia , they would camp out in huge camp sites. When they first started camping they would have to sleep in tents. Later on they started to sleep in huts made from a few different materials. They were made out of canvas, wood and bark. Later on when people had gold, gold buyers built hotels and boarding houses. The government also built a jail and accommodation for the soldiers who were there.
On the goldfields, there was a lot of violence. Everyone was crammed in one small spot whilst everyone wanted to get gold. There were a lot of fights because everyone was fighting for gold.
Searching for Gold
What is Gold?
Gold is a precious rare metal. It is rocks all mixed with river sand. People pan In river sand for gold. People dig underground for gold. Lumps of gold are called gold nuggets.
When diggers wanted to dig for gold they had to pay 30 shillings for a gold licence. They had to pay the money every month to keep digging. Most diggers could not afford this money every month. Even if diggers did not find any gold, they still had to pay for the licence. Most of the time two or three people would work together to find the gold so they would only have to pay for one licence instead of 2.
Gold is very heavy. Most of the gold in the rivers sunk to the bottom of the river because it is 6 times heaver than sand.
Chinese On the Goldfields
In 1853, China was suffering from hunger and starvation. They came to Australia to find gold for their families. They came to get the gold so that their families could become wealthier. When the Chinese arrived in Australia, they stayed in large groups with a head leader in charge.
They Chinese men worked very hard to get gold as they also allocated duties such as cooking, mining or growing vegetables. They white people were very mean to the Chinese because they teased them about they skin colour and there culture. They thought that the Chinese were different and strange. The people that were the diggers were very suspicious about the Chinese and kept a close eye on them.
The Eurecka Stockade
In 1851 there were a less than 50 soldiers and a few police. Each goldfield was run by a Gold Commissioner who was paid 500 pounds a year and his assistance who was a police inspector.
The gold rush had left very few men available to work in all different types of work because they went to go and find there fortune which was gold. To try and stop everyone coming to find gold, the Government made people buy a licence to mine. The system of making people buy licences caused a lot of trouble at every goldfield. Miners had to pay a fee of 30 shillings each month to renew their licence whether they found gold or not. They had to carry their licence with them everywhere because they were checked twice a week by police.
The Stockade Attack
On the 11th of November 1854, about 10,000 diggers met to demand paying the licence fee every month. They all dropped their licences and demanded that males should be aloud to vote because in those days being aloud to vote was restricted.
At the second meeting that the miners held on the 29th of November, they displayed their flag the Eureka flag with blue and a white cross and 5 stars representing the Southern Cross. They purposely burnt their licences and elected leaders.
The next day they met again and burnt more licences at a meeting on Bakery Hill. Peter Lalor led the diggers to the Eureka diggings. There they built a fort named the Eureka Stockade. It was a wooden barricade circling about an acre of land. Inside the barricade, about 1000 rebels swore on oath under the Eureka flag and prepared to fight.
Women On The Goldfields
Life was very hard on the goldfields. It was mostly men who were digging. Women and their children joined them later on. The women washed dishes as shopkeepers and some danced and sung for the diggers.
In the early years of the gold rush, their were very few women on the goldfields. A few women were diggers but the rest were shopkeepers. Most women stayed home with their children with very little money to spend. They left their husbands to go and find gold and travelled to find it.
A few years later many women joined their husbands with their children when the conditions improved. The women's work became harder with the washing, ironing and cooking. The living conditions were very cramped and very little comfort in the fields. The water was clean drinkable water which they could drink.
The wealthy goldfields in Bendigo were found by a women called Margaret Kennedy who saw gold in a river bed in September 1851.