Gold In Ballarat

On the 10th of August 1851, the Geelong newspapers announced that deposits of auriferous earth had been discovered at Buninyong and very soon the sunny slopes of that peaceful and pastoral district were swarming with prospecting parties ; the quietly browsing sheep were startled from their favourite solitudes by crowds of men, who hastened with picks and spades to break up the soil in very direction, each eager to outstrip the other in the race for wealth. This region, however, did not realise the expectations that had been formed of it and many of the diggers began to move northwards in the direction of Clunes. But at Clunes, also, there had been disappointment, for the gold was all embedded in the quartz rock, and these early miners were not prepared to extract it ; parties from Clunes were therefore moving southbound to Buninyong, and the two currents met on the slopes of the Yarrowee, a streamlet whose banks were afterwards famous as the Ballarat diggings. The first comers began to work at a bend in the creek, which they called Golden Point. Here, for a time, each man could easily earn from twenty to forty pounds a day and crowds of people hurried to the scene. Every one selected a piece of ground, which he called his claim and set to work to dig a hole in it ; but when the bottom of the sandy layer was reached, and there seemed to be nothing but pipe-clay below, the claim was supposed to be worked out and was straight away abandoned. However a miner named Cavenagh determined to try an experiment, and having entered one of these deserted claims, he dug through the layer of pipe-clay, when he had the good fortune to come uddenly upon several large deposits of grain gold. He had reached what had been in long past ages the bed of the creek, where, in every little hollow, for century after century, the flowing waters had gently deposited the gold which they had carried with them from the mountains. In many cases these "pockets', as they were called, were found to contain gold to the value of thousands of pounds, so that very soon all claims were carried down a few feet further, and with such success that, before a month had passed, Ballarat took rank as the richest gold field in the world.

In October , there were 10,000 men at work at Yarrowee ; acre after acre was covered with circular heaps of red and yellow sand, each with its shaft in the middle, in which men were toiling beneath the ground to excavate the soil and pass it to their companions above, who quickly hurried with it to the banks of the creek, where twelve hundred "cradles", rocked by brawny arms, were washing the sand from the gold.

 

History of Australia