Effects of Gold Discovery in Australia
For some years after 1851 the colony of New South Wales passed through a severe ordeal. The separation of Port Phillip had reduced her population by one fourth and descreased her wealth by a third; the discoveries of gold at Ballarat and Bendigo had deprived her of many of her most desirable colonists. But the resources of the colony were too vast to allow of more than a merely temporary check and, after a year or two, her progress was steady and marked. The gloomy anticipations with which the gold discoveries had been regarded by the squatters and employers of labour were by no means realized; for though men were for a time scarce and the wages exceedingly high, yet, when the real nature of a gold digger's life and the meagreness of the average earnings became apparent, the great majority of the miners returned to their ordinary employments and the colony resumed its former career of steady success, though, with this difference, that the population was greater and business consequently brisker than it ever had been before.
Fortune, however, had given to Victoria so great an impetus in 1851, that the firm prosperity of New South Wales was completely lost from sight, in the brilliant success of its younger neighbour. The yield of gold in New South Wales was never great as compared with that of Victoria ; for, with the exception of 1852, no year produced more than two million pounds worth.