Life On the Goldfields

By Connor Donaghy


Imagine yourself in a place where you were very poor, you left everything to come here, there was very little food and you had to work all day. That was people's life. Those people worked on the goldfields. Life was hard for them. Everyone on the goldfields was there for one reason. What you ask? To find gold.

Different Mining Teqniques

Most diggers would pan for alluvial gold. Alluvial gold is found on the surface of the earth. The process of panning is quite simple. Firsly, the digger would shuvel up some dirt and put it in his pan. Next, he would mix it up in some water and carefully scrape all of the dirt and rocks out of his pan. All the gold would sink to the bottom because it is heavier than water.

Another technique the diggers would use is making a shaft. Their shaft would go straight down and would have a windlass at the top. The windlass is used to bring the rocks up in a bucket. After they took it up to the surface the would use the same method as panning. This technique is more expensive and more time consuming but gives you a better chance of finding gold. Gold is found in bigger quantities underground.

Tools Used To Mine

Pick axes, pans, cradles and windlasses are all tool that digger used to use to find gold. Pick axes were use to break up dirt so it could be shovelled up into pans. Pans were use to put water in with dirt, mix up the dirt so the gold falls to the bottom. Cradles were used like a sieve but your had to rock it like a cradle so all the gold would separate from the dirt. Windlasses were used to get rocks out of shafts. Shafts are deep holes that miners made to get gold that is underground.

Chinese On the Goldfields

Chinese on the goldfields were the hardest workers. The main way they made money was by selling crops. Once they were fed the Chinese sold their left over crops. The Chinese were finding most of the gold because they were working so hard. All the others digger from around the world ganged up on the Chinese because all the other diggers were jealous of them. All the diggers became part of a riot against the Chinese. Back then most Chinese people had pony tail so all the other diggers cut them off. No Chinese gold diggers were officially killed but some were unofficially killed.

Women On the Goldfields

In the early years of the gold rush there were very few women at any of the goldfields. A few women were diggers and some were shopkeepers at the diggings. Most women stayed home with their children. Later in the gold rush women used to take their children to the goldfields to join their husbands when the conditions improved. However, there was always more men on the goldfields than women. Women's work consisted of washing ironing cooking and cleaning. They made everything for the family. Some women had babies while at the goldfields but sadly most women who gave birth died because of all the diseases around.

The wealthy Bendigo goldfields was found by a woman called Margaret Kennedy, who saw gold lying in the creek bed. Within a few months when the word spread 20,000 people were digging there.

Life On the Goldfields

Life on the goldfields was very tough. There was hardly any food. The food that was around didn't give you many vitamans. Lots of diggers died on the goldfields not only from sickness but from riots. Everyday you had to get up, pan for gold all day, sleep then repeat the cycle. As you can see no one would like to live in those conditions.


Overall, life on the goldfields was hard work. You had to work all day and everyone was poor. There wasn't much food either. I wouldn't like to live in the goldfields but it would be good to find gold.