Gold in Queensland

In 1858 it was reported that gold had been discovered far to the north, on the banks of the Fitzroy River and in a short time many vessels had arrived in Keppel Bay, their holds and decks crowded with men, who eagerly landed and hastened to Canoona, a place about 60 or 70 miles up the river. Ere long there were about 15,000 diggers on the scene; but is was soon discovered that the gold was confined to a very small area and by no means plentiful; and those who had spent all their money in getting the the place were in a wretched plight. A large population had been hurriedly gathered in an isolated region, without provisions or the possibility of obtaining them; their expectations of the gold field had been disappointing and for some time the Fitzroy River was one great scene of misery and starvation, till the Governments of New South Wales and Victoia sent vessels to remove the unfortunate diggers from the place. Some, however, in the extremity of the famine, had selected portions of the fertile land on the banks of the river and had begun to cultivate them as farms. They were pleased with the district, and, having settled down on their land, they formed the thriving town of Rockhampton.

A greater amount of success, however, attended  subsequent effort in 1867. The Government of Queensland offered rewards, varying from £200- £3,000 for the discovery of payable gold fields; and, during the course of the next 2-3 years, many districts were opened up to the miner. Towards the end of 1867 a man named Nash, who had been wandering idle way over the country, found an auriferous region of great extent at Gympie, about 130 miles from Brisbane. He concealed his discovery for a time and set to work to collect as much of the gold as possible, before attracting others to the spot. In the course of a day or two, he gathered several hundred pounds worth of gold, hoever, often disturbed in his operations by the approach of travellers on the adjacent road, when he had to crouch among the bushes, until the footsteps died away and he could again pursue his solitary task. After some time, it seemed impossible to avoid discovery and lest anyone should forestall him in making known the district, ne entered Maryborough , announced his discovery and received his award. A rush took place to Gympie, which was found to be exceedingly rich and it was not long before a nugget worth about £4,000 was discovered close to the surface.

Far to the north, on the Palmer River, a tributary of the Mitchell, there had been discovered rich gold fields, where, in spite of the great heat and dangers from the blacks, there were crowds of diggers at work. Many thousand of Chinamen settled down in the district and to these the natives seemed to have special antipathy, as they speared them on every possible occassion.


History of Australia