Goldfields: Women and Children

by jadon


Women on the goldfields were changing a lot.In 1854 there were many women on the goldfields. There were 4023 women there! Including men there was a total population of 12660.

5% of the women there were single and the other percentage of women there were all married.


Life was hard for children because parents constantly moved around to richer goldfields.

This meant that the children had to move to new schools, this was hard because goldfields kept growing so it took longer for schools to be built.While the parents mined for gold the children instead of learning they had to do chores like doing the shopping and looking after family.Some parents sent their child/children to schools on the goldfields which were in tents.Some of the tents could hold up to one hundred students.You can infer that the standard education at those schools wasn't that high.Children moved from one goldfield to another if there wasn't a teacher there they had to wait until one turned up to the tent.As a bench children were to sit on long piece of thick wood.Their parents had to pay a fee so that their child/children could go to school.

Roles and Responsibilities of women in the goldfields

From the beginning there were some women who went to the goldfields with their husbands, brothers or friends. Women shared all of the discomforts of life on the goldfields. They worked as hard as men they had to: do the washing, do the cooking,chopping wood and also helping the men with their gold digging.

Other women travelled to the goldfields later when their husbands had struck enough gold to build more comfortable huts and send for their children. As the number of women on the goldfields became much bigger, life became more settled. There were other women on the goldfields. Laundresses took in the washing that the men were not bothered to do.


Often when females were in labour they were accompanied by other women. Many women passed away while giving birth. Epidemics of sicknesses such as diptheria,whooping cough,measles,typhoid, and scarlet fever came through the goldfields. Sadly many men, women and children all lost their lives due to the tragic illnesses. At pennyweight flats childrens cemetery more than 200 children are buried . The childrens weak immune systems meant they were taken by dysentry and cholera. Often doctors were people that were skilled in the field of health. These people were simply bush doctors (random people that were not doctors but were skilled in the field of health and care). Life in the goldfields had very poor sanitation (water supply) which meant there was cholera around making it hard for life in the goldfields. It was very hot so their shower water was very muddy. Diseases that are contagious like dysentery and typhus were all there and struck many people.