Life On The Goldfields
Women And Children
Miners bought their wives and sisters to cook and clean for them. Many white Australian and European women found new freedom on the goldfields, however indigenous women suffered terribly from the time the first rush of gold seekers swarmed onto their lands.
A goldfield was a dangerous place for a child. Some families did live on the diggings, and many children helped dig for gold.
Home On The Diggings
The first diggers to arrive at a new goldfield found themselves in the middle of the bush with no shelter of any kind. They had to chop down trees to make a cleaning for their tents. Before long thousands of other diggers would arrive pitching tents wherever they could.
Many new diggers had no idea how hard gold mining would be. Newspapers reported fantastic stories of gold nuggets lying on the goldfields, ready to be picked up. But the truth was very different. The gold was underground. Getting the gold was back-breaking work.
Mix Of Cultures
Diggers from all over the world usually worked together peacefully. People from the same country tended to pitch their tents close to one another, giving rise to names such as Irish Town or Frenchman Gully.
The discovery of gold brought a great rush of people to Australia. Most immigrant diggers came from Ireland, Scotland and England, but others came from North and South America, Europe and China.
Food was very expensive on the diggings. Flour, tea and sugar had to be carted from town by bullocks. There was no refrigeration, so fresh food was impossible to keep.