The discovery of gold changed the course of Australia's history, when the gold rush era saw the population triple, the creation of inland towns on what had been vast sheep runs, the end of convict transportation, new transport networks and hastened the introduction of a representative democracy.
The dramatised event of the discovery of the first payable goldfield in Australia, near Bathurst in New South Wales.
Bill Peach traces the events which led to the dramatic confrontation at the Eureka stockade, one of the key events in Australian political history, when miners organised a doomed resistance to the police and the army, in revolt against the harsh and expensive licensing system.
Life on the Goldfields
Life on the goldfields after the Eureka Stockade was colourful and violent, with gold seemingly so plentiful that miners showered the stage with nuggets when their favourite actresses appeared. In Ballarat, the notorious Lola Montez engaged in a horse-whip dual with a newspaper editor. Out of this free-wheeling era emerged the beginnings of a new society.
The Golden Age
Within ten years of the first Australian gold rushes, a new era of gold mining began, with the smaller digger replaced by big companies and massive machines. More gold was found deep underground and the new finds benefited the entire population through the development of coaching lines and railways, and the growth of cities like Melbourne, a boom town built on gold.
Land of Gold
The last great gold strikes at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia proved that the country was indeed a "land of gold". Following the economic crash of the 1890s and the exhaustion of the goldfields at Ballarat and Bendigo, the rich fields of the west rescued Australia from the depths of depression and have contributed to the country's economy right up to the present day.
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