Women & Children on the Goldfields

by Chris


In 1854 in Ballarat there were about 4000 women and about 12660 men. About 5% of the women were single.


Conditions were poor on the goldfields. Many children died because of the foul muddy waters they had to drink. People died from whooping cough, measles and other diseases because there were no hospitals. Cemetries were set up to bury the dead. Women helped other women give birth because nurses and medicines were limited. Often a male would play the role of 4 or 5 professionals. It was common that a doctor was also the communities barber and dentist.

Children and education

Children moved schools often. Parents kept moving to find richer goldfields. Often there was no schooling because there was no school built. Schools were made from tents. The roof was made from canvas material.

*As the goldfields developed so did the types of housing. Bark houses were built in place of tents.

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Roles and Responsibilities

Women usally stayed home to work. They made bread, butter, jam, soap and clothes.

Women unusually worked with their husbands. The women who worked with their husbands usually did panning. Some responsibilities included:

1. cooking

2. singing and dancing for diggers

3. some women were diggers

4. shopkeepers

5. caring for children

6. make bread, butter and jams

*The image below is of a woman carrying out the responsibility of caring for her child and panning for gold.

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