Life On The Aussie Goldfields

By Connor M 5/6H

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Two Main Types Of Mining


Alluvial gold is gold found in flakes or lumps. It is found near the surface of the earth. Australia's gold mining started with alluvial. A single miner with only a few tools can find a lot of gold. In the gold rush most of it was found quite quickly for this reason. When the chinese miners came they found more gold near the surface because they worked in teams.


Shaft mining is the earnest form of underground mining. Underground mining is selected when the rock or mineral is so far to reach using surface mining. Shaft mining is the kind of mine that you normally see in movies where the miner travels straight down into a profound, dark tunnel until he reaches the base.

Tools Used For Mining

When you are alluvial mining, you would need a pan to collect the gold, a shovel to put the gold and gravel into a pan and a pickaxe to cut rocks or clay to make a hole.

When you are shaft mining, you would need a windlass to lower the bucket{which collects the gold] down to the mine. You would need a cradle to separate the gold from the gravel and a pickaxe for the same reason as you would in alluvial mining. To make a hole to mine in.

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Chinese on the goldfields

It is believed about 7000 Chinese worked in the Araluen gold fields in Southern NSW. Gold mining at that time was a man’s game, no more so than among the Chinese. By 1880, there were still less than a hundred Chinese women in the colony, alongside a population of 10,000 Chinese men. However, Chinese men were not necessarily without female company.
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Women on the goldfields

Most of the men who flocked to the diggings in the early years of the Australian gold rush left their wives and family at home. The harsh life of the goldfields was considered too rough for a respectable woman. It was not long, however, before women travelled to the goldfields, and as early as 1851 there were women digging for gold alongside their husbands. An 1854, a study of the Ballarat goldfields found there were 4023 women compared to 12,660 men living on the diggings and only 5 percent of these women were single.

Life on the goldfields

Living On the Goldfields:

When miners first came to the gold fields they lived in calico tents. The miner’s would sleep on makeshift mattresses which were stuffed with leaves. Outside their tent they would have a cooking fire, a bucket of water and something specific to the miners to help them identify which tent was their own, such as a flag.


The miner’s diet was very simple; it consisted of Mutton, damper (made from floor and water) and tea. The mutton was sold by a butcher, who would have a tent set up in the camp; it was easy to find the butcher’s tent as it was always surrounded by flies which were swarming the mutton carcasses hanging outside.


There were barely any qualified doctors, surgeons, pharmacists or dentists on the gold fields so treatment for the sick or injured was unreliable.