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Unlucky Edward Hargraves struck gold in Australia

Posted in Australia, Famous news stories, Geology, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 27 March 2013

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This edited article about Australia originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 213 published on 12 February 1966.

Australian Gold Rush, picture, image, illustration

The Australian Gold Rush by Barrie Linklater

Like many Australians, Edward Hargraves had gone to California to seek his fortune in the gold rush of 1849. But he came back poorer than when he left.

Struggling through the scrubland at the foot of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, on February 10, 1851, something struck him as being familiar. The ground was very similar to that of the gold bearing hills of California. His training as a prospector was aroused and he started to dig. In a few hours he had found gold: and gold in unbelievably rich ore.

That was the beginning of the great Australian gold strike. News of Hargraves’s discovery swept through Australia like a bush fire and within a few weeks the whole way of life in New South Wales was shaken.

Thousands of men came to stake claims in the new gold fields. Shops, offices and factories soon found themselves without staff. In the harbours wharves were deserted and crews walked off their ships. Stockmen left their flocks and herds unattended while they searched for gold.

Within a few months of Hargraves’s discovery, even richer deposits of the precious metal were found in Victoria. Reports of fabulous nuggets being found spread throughout the world. Soon fortune hunters were pouring off hundreds of ships at every Australian port. After the gold seekers came tradesmen and shopkeepers to supply their needs.

Within two months the Australian gold fields had produced nearly £2,000,000 worth of the precious metal. But even more remarkable was the increase in the country’s population.

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