Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Gold FeverGold Fever

Australia may have been built on the sheep's back, but gold certainly held up the veranda. Australia's first official payable load was discovered in the Central West of NSW and gold is still being mined there today.

Story and photos James McCormack

Gold! It was the cry that changed a nation. Following the first discovery of the precious metal in payable amounts, it was this single cry that wrought arguably the most spectacular social and economic changes Australia has ever seen, short of colonisation itself. A massive influx of fortune-seekers ensued. Though most were disappointed and many returned home, Australia's population nearly trebled in the ten years after the discovery. Meanwhile, the fledgling colonies grew wealthy, exporting a staggering 124 million pounds-worth of gold.

Gold FeverIt began in 1851, at Ophir in the central west of NSW. Earlier gold finds had occurred, but they were either hushed up or ignored by officialdom. But by 1851, a Californian-style gold rush seemed attractive to the government, and a large reward was offered to the first discoverer of gold in payable quantities. In April of that year, Edward Hargraves announced he had found gold at the junction of Summer Hill and Lewis Ponds Creeks and claimed his reward. Story end

Full story Issue 34 April/May 2004

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