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  The History of Gold in Australia



There is much conjecture about who was the first person to find gold in Australia. It would be fair to say that perhaps we will never actually know who was the first person to find gold. However, there are some records of notable people finding gold. Surveyor James McBrien reported finding gold near Bathurst, NSW in 1833. Among the first is the explorer, Paul de Strezlecki, who found gold in the New South Wales in 1839 near Wellington, and in the Victorian Alps later the same year. William Campbell found gold on his sheep property at Strahlodden, Victoria, in 1840. In 1851 Edward Hargraves allegedly found gold at Ophir, in New South Wales. However, many believe it was a man named Lister who led Hargraves to the gold. The real facts will probably never be known. But many people did find gold and this triggered off the greatest gold rush the world has ever seen.


  Victoria Large gold fields were found in what is now known as the Golden Triangle. An area in Central Victoria bounded by Bendigo in the east, Ballarat in the south, and Ararat to the west. The largest nuggets in the world come from this region.  
  New South Wales Most early gold fields were on the western side of the Blue Mountains, notably Bathurst and surrounding districts.  
  Queensland Early gold fields were near Rockhampton, Cooktown and Gympie.  
  Western Australia Halls Creek, Kalgoorlie, Coolgardi, Leonora.  
  South Australia Echunga and the Barossa Gold Fields.  
  Tasmania Beaconsfield and surrounding areas in the north west of the island.  
  Northern TerritoryEast of Alice Springs, Adelaide River and Tennant Creek.  


  1833Surveyor James McBrien reports finding gold near Bathurst, NSW.  
  1845-51 Gold found in NSW. 1851 first gold officially recognised as being 'discovered' in New South Wales.  
  1846 Small gold field discovered at Montacute, South Australia.  
  1851 Gold officially discovered in Victoria.  
  1854 Eureka Stockade, Ballarat, Victoria.  
  1858 Gold discovered in Queensland.  
  1877 Gold first discovered in Tasmania.  


  Adit Entrance to a mine - usually horizontal.  
  Alluvial Ground Gold bearing ground derived from sediments of ancient water ways, possibly millions of years old. View Alluvial Ground  
  Bucket Dredge A floating vessel which is fitted with an endless chain with buckets attached, that can be raised and lowered mechanically. These buckets excavate the gold bearing sediment on the river or stream bed, bringing the gold bearing material onto the vessel where the gold can be extracted. View Bucket Dredge  
  Cradle A wooden box about 1 metre x 2 mteres, usually situated near the ground. The gold bearing dirt is shovelled into the cradle, which has a metal sieve. The box is rocked backwards and forwards manually with the fine dirt falling to the ground below. Water can also be used to clean away the waste dirt. This separates the gold from the dirt. Some cradles were dry cradles and these were used where water was scarce. e.g. Western Australia. View Cradle  
  Gold Pan A metal or fibre glass pan - usually not less than 30cm in diameter. The pan contains some pay dirt, and using a circular motion the dirt is washed over the lip of the pan - leaving the gold in the pan. View Gold Pan  
  Hydraulic Sluicing Used by old miners, who dammed water upstream and used the force of gravity to wash pay dirt on the lower slopes, which then in turn was directed into ground sluices where the gold could be recovered. View Hydraulic Sluicing  
  Mine Shaft A vertical hole sunk into the ground to recover precious metals at depth. View Mine Shaft  
  Mullock heap Dirt and rocks taken from a mine and placed in a heap with the intention of taking the gold from the dirt and rocks by various methods.  
  Nugget A piece of gold in solid form. Ranging in weight from 1 gram up to several hundred ounces. View Nugget  
  Ore Precious metals contained in dirt and rocks.  
  Pay Dirt General name for gold bearing ore.  
  Poppet Head A large wooden structure erected over a mine shaft, usually fitted with a wheel at the top, which was controlled by pulleys. It was used to lift pay dirt from a mine so it could be worked on the surface. View Poppet Head  
  Puddler A circular structure dug into the ground, usually about 7 metres in diameter with the hole about 1 to 1.3 metres wide. A central mound which had a large wooden pole erected vertically and another wooden pole that was horizontal and attached to a metal rake designed to rake and break up the gold bearing dirt. A horse was harnessed to complete this task, by walking around and around the puddler. View Puddler  
  Quartz Crushing battery A large metal machine constructed to pulvarise gold bearing rocks. The machine was hydraulically driven, with the stampers being forced down onto the rocks crushing them so the gold could be recovered. View Quartz Crusher  
  Sluice A small machine designed to provide a channel for water and wash dirt, with the object of removing the dirt and leaving the gold in the bottom of the sluice.  
  Stamp Mill See Quartz Crushing Battery above. View Stamp Mill  
  Tailings The waste material carried off after the gold has been extracted from wash dirt.  
  Washdirt The layer of dirt in which gold was found - the only dirt worth washing.  
  Water Race An aqueduct or artificial water way or race, bringing water from a source to a working mine. View Water Race  
  Welcome Stranger The largest gold nugget found anywhere in the world. Found at Moliagal, Victoria in 1869. View Welcome Stranger  
  Whim Horizontal drum or windlass usually worked by a horse harnessed to a boom and walking in a circle.  
  Whip A post and pulley system, usually worked by a horse to bring pay dirt from a mine to the surface, using a small container with the horse walking forward and backwards to raise and lower the device.  
  Windlass A device for raising or objects, usually consisting of a horizontal cylinder or barrel turned by a crank, that was usually worked by a horse.  

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