Ophir, near Orange, in New South Wales was the site of the first ‘official’ Discovery of Gold in Australia. Here is the story of that discovery, and the ramifications of it, from the newspapers of the time.
The Sydney Morning Herald.
21st March 1851:
“WE often hear people say, ‘Oh ! Bathurst is done; there is no business doing now; competition has cut down the prices of everything; and our trade is intercepted by the towns in the interior.’ A portion of this may be true, but we cannot now, and never did attach much importance to the outcry raised by these bewailers of the loss of our prosperity, as we always felt satisfied that far from having any real cause for lamentation, we had, on the contrary, good reason to be grateful for the measure of success which in nine cases out of ten attend the exertions of honest and persevering industry. Rapid fortunes, certainly, are not generally made with the same ease now as in former times; but we believe that is the case not in Bathurst only, but in every other part of the colony likewise. That our trade has decreased on the whole we do not believe, although the up-country stores which have lately sprung into existence must certainly take a considerable sum, which would otherwise find its way to us; but on the other hand, the great increase of population in the town and suburbs has caused an increased expenditure which more than makes up for the loss on that head; and it would be unreasonable to expect always to monopolise the whole trade of the Western districts. The fact is that our trade is as great, if not more so, than ever; but is divided amongst a great many more individuals than formerly, and even if some of them are not realizing that full degree of worldly prosperity, which an anxious desire of amazing wealth might have led them fondly to anticipate, still very few cases of individuals vainly striving against pecuniary difficulties come under our notice, and those few are generally, mainly caused by other circumstances, to which the loss of business may more properly be attributed, than to the general depression and stagnation of our trade. We have been led to these remarks, by noticing the small number of uninhabited houses there are in our town, as appears by the proceedings of the collectors of the Census, and which we have always been led to consider is a favourable indication of local prosperity. The number of inhabited houses in Bathurst and Kelso being 464; whilst the number of those untenanted appears to be but 12.”
22nd March 1851:
“LECTURE ON CALIFORNIA. - We perceive that Mr. Rudder will give a lecture on California at the School of Arts, on Tuesday evening. The paper on California which Mr. Rudder furnished to the Herald a few weeks since, shows that he is possessed of considerable information on the subject, and we have no doubt his lecture will be both instructive and interesting.”
25th March 1851:
“MR. E. W. RUDDER’S LECTURE ON CALIFORNIA. - Last evening this gentleman gave a lecture at the theatre of the School of Arts, upon the Climate, Productions, and Resources of California; founded upon his experience during a sojourn of nine months in the gold country. Whilst he depicted, in graphic terms, the magnificence of the country, and the splendour of its climate, during the brief vernal season, he, on the other hand, in language of eloquent warning, described the reverse of the picture during the greater part of each year. The unhealthy character of the country, the consequence of its peculiar geological formation; the dangers and risks of the mining operations, and the disappointment and disease which in so great a proportion prevails among the gold-seeker. Mr. Rudder stated, that careful calculations estimated the amount of emigration since the discovery of gold, at 350,000 souls, of whom it could not be doubted, that at least one-third had perished. He candidly admitted, that, in many instances, fortunes had been made, and even health preserved; but in the vast majority of cases the result was ruin, disease, and death; and very earnestly did he implore those who, by patient industry, were pursuing their course in healthy climes, to pause before they exchanged comfort for certain misery. The details of each branch of this subject were listened to with marked interest, and at its conclusion the applause was loud and universal.”
4th April 1851:
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - When I was in California I was so struck with the similarity of the auriferous formation I inspected, with what I had seen in New South Wales, that I felt perfectly assured gold would be found in this colony, in those parts where the geological features corresponded. The subject formed matter for conversation when at the mines. My companions all agreed with my views, and so perfectly satisfied were we on the subject that we determined as soon as possible after our return to New South Wales to commence a diligent search for the precious metal. It gives me the greatest pleasure to be enabled to inform you that we were not mistaken in the opinion we formed. A gold field has been discovered extending over a tract of country of about 300 miles in length. The gold resembled that of California in every respect externally, and appears equally pure. I have seen the specimens procured, and from what I know I have no doubt but gold will be found distributed over as wide if not larger space than in California. The discovery has been made by a gentleman (an old well known colonist) with whom I had the pleasure to travel many hundreds of miles when in California, and know him to be a miner of very considerable experience, both in the northern and southern mines of that famed country. The facts have been communicated to the Government, and will no doubt be brought before the public (after due investigation) at a fitting time. At present it may be sufficient to remark that the geological features of the auriferous formation in this colony and in California are analogous. The latter was fully described in my recent lecture, together with the modes of working and the machinery in use. I trust it will not be very long ere we may bid adieu to Californian immigration from these shores, and that the Government will adopt without delay such measures as shall tend further to develope the riches of this colony, and enable the people to reap the golden harvest which now appears to invite attention.
“I remain, gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
E. W. RUDDER.
Sydney, April 2.”
7th April 1851:
“POPULATION OF BATHURST. - By the census taken of our town, it appears that not above two inland towns of the colony will be found to outnumber us in population. Parramatta and West Maitland may, but I am not by any means certain that they will. The number of inhabitants in Bathurst and Kelso, which are, in fact, almost one town, being separated only by the river, is - Bathurst, 2252; and Kelso, 339 : total, 259. [sic]”
2nd May 1851:
“THE GOLD DISCOVERY. - It is no longer any secret that gold has been found in the earth in several places in the western country. The fact was first established on the 12th February, 1851, by Mr. E. H. Hargraves, a resident of Brisbane Water, who returned from California a few months since. While in California, Mr. Hargraves felt persuaded that from the similarity of the geological formation there there must be gold in several districts of this colony, and when he returned here is expectations were realized. What the value of the discovery may be it is impossible to say. Three men who worked for three days with very imperfect machinery realized L2 4s. 8d. each per diem [day]; whether they will continue to do so remains to be seen. The subject was brought under the consideration of the Government, who admitted Mr. Hargrave’s claim for some consideration for the discovery, but of course could make no definite promise until the value of the gold field was ascertained. Mr. Stutchbury, the Geological Surveyor, is now in the district, and Mr. Hargraves has proceeded there to communicate with him, and in a few weeks we may expect definite information. At present all that is known is that there is gold over a considerable district; whether it is in sufficient quantities to pay for the trouble of obtaining it remains to be ascertained. Should it be found in large quantities a strict system of licensing diggers will be immediately necessary.”
5th May 1851:
“THE GOLD DISCOVERY.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, In this morning’s Herald I found the following statement : - ‘It is no longer any secret that gold has been found in the earth in several places in the western country. The fact was first established on the 12th February, 1851, by Mr. E. H. Hargraves, a resident of Brisbane Water, who returned from California. Mr. Hargraves felt persuaded that, from the similarity of the geological formation, there must be gold in several districts of this colony, and when he returned his expectations were realized.
“Here are two asseverations - one as to the date of the first discovery of gold in this colony; the other as to the method by which Mr. Hargrave is asserted to have made that discovery.
“The object of this letter is to deny to Mr. Hargraves the merit of the first discovery, or that he is the first person who was led to the conclusion that the similarity of formation in California and New South Wales indicated the presence of gold.
“I almost wonder how you could have forgotten the many articles connected with this very subject which you have published long ago, even, I believe, before Mr. Hargraves went to California, in which a comparison is instituted between that country and this respecting this very matter of gold finding. The Maitland Mercury bears testimony of a distinct date to the same fact.
“Now, as to the assertion that it was on the 12th February, 1851, that the said fact was established, if you will turn to your own files you will find on 28th September, 1847, the geological formation of this colony is investigated, and mention distinctly made of the existence of gold; and the article I allude to states that from ‘facts communicated’ (long before) to the Geological Society, Sir R.J. Murchison had already, in a letter that had been published in the Philosophical Magazine, addressed to Sir C. Lemon, his advice that ‘a person well acquainted with the washing of mineral sands, be sent to Australia, speculating on the probability of auriferous alluvia being abundant,’ and suggesting ‘that such will be found at the base of the western flanks of the dividing Ranges.’
“The ‘facts communicated’ were that gold had so been found; and some of that gold is still in my possession. Mr. Hargraves, has, therefore, merely acted upon suggestions thrown out years ago, and he has therefore, no claim as a ‘discover.’ The discoverer is he who first proclaims a fact. The fact in question was not first proclaimed by him. If any merit exists deserving reward, why should the cultivation of our science that leads others to those riches be set aside ? There are numerous localities in which gold has been found in this colony; but is the Government to pay every individual who picks up a handful of it ? However, to confine myself to my immediate object, I deny again that either gold was first found in alluvia in this colony in 1851, or that Mr. Hargraves is the first person who indicated its existence from geological principles.
12th May 1851:
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - In reply to the letter which appeared in your paper, of the 5th ultimo. headed ‘the gold discovery,’ I have to remark it appears to me to show about as much wisdom as that established by those judges of the great discoverer Columbus, who though they could not doubt the truth of his discoveries, found it impossible to make an egg stand on one end. No sooner however was the thing accomplished, than they had the mortification to find it was ridiculously simple. Mr. Hargraves never doubted that others had discovered gold, but could they profit by their discoveries ? no, not one of them. Who has done this ?Who was the first to show the hidden riches of this vast country ? Mr. Hargraves. Let the poor jealous spirit which dictated the letter in question now step forward and convince the world of his ability to do that which has now been accomplished, and then he shall have awarded to him some originality of thought. I question if the writer ever discovered anything. Has Mr. Hargraves injured his reputation that he thus publicly cries out ? If he has, let him inform us, that he may receive the just merit of his doings. A great mind is never disposed to detract from the merit of another. Little minds, on the contrary, are ever disposed to display their own insignificance, by a comparison with those whose deeds they envy. Like the bloated frog in the fable who envied the noble ox, the writer of the letter in question has only displayed the fact that his attempts at detraction and his desire to have it inferred he had in some way been injured by Mr. hargraves’ announcement must burst, and in so doing reduce him to that mere nothingness which has induced him to act with so much ill taste as to attempt wantonly to detract from the meritorious act of a fellow-colonist. What indeed does the writer state ? I quote his words ‘speculating on the probability of auriferous alluvia being abundant.’ Who has thus speculated ? Has the writer ? I presume he will say, no. Who then has been thus speculating and made the discoveries ? I answer, Mr. Hargraves; and therefore he is as fully entitled to the merit which must be given to him as much as to Columbus. The latter showed the way to make the egg tand, and our fellow-colonist how to get the gold, and where to find it.
I am Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
“P.S. - If the writer of the letter referred to will not feel unduly excited and make me the subject of his envious retorts, I can assure him I have handled some of the gold of Ophir, and seen a specimen of platina found with it - nay more, I am about to dig for it.”
14th May 1851:
“THE GOLD FIELD. - Bathurst is quite in a ferment respecting the late golden discoveries to the westward. hardly anything else is talked of; at any rate it is the principal topic of conversation. Nine persons started from Bathurst for the Summerhill Creek, on Friday night, six on Saturday, and many more propose going immediately. I firmly believe that if a few punds of gold dust made its appearance here, full one-third of our town would be deserted in a short space of time. It is reported also that samll parties are making up towards the golden locality from other parts, consequently we may expect there will shortly be a very considerable number of gold-hunters at work. In connexion with this discovery, there are many serious considerations, which it behoves the lovers of good order to study attentively. If gold is found to abound in the localities which have been pointed out, and there is no reason to doubt the fact, all the idle, disorderly, and worthless characters from the various towns of the colony, as well as from Van Diemen’s Land [sic], and Victoria, will be immediately attracted to the spot; and unless a strong force is located on this side of the Blue Mountains, neither life nor property will be secure; under present circumstance a very considerable increase of crime may be anticipated in these districts during the winter. Breaches of the Masters and Servants Act, arising from shepherds and hutkeepers leaving their hired service for the gold field, may also be very reasonably expected to occur frequently.”
15th May 1851, In the Editorial or ‘Leader’ section of the paper:
“MANY months ago, we published various articles upon the subject og gold mining and exploration, promising to return to it upon a future occasion. Such an occasion seems pointed out by the present excitement respecting the existence of gold, as alleged at a late meeting in Bathurst, of the particulars we give an account in another part of the paper. As, however, from correspondence a few days since, to which we have given place, a question has arisen as to the claim of discovery, we think it may serve the ends of justice in a matter which seems to have been taken up with some exactness, to state here what are the results of our enquiries upon that head. And as it may serve another purpose, that of exhibiting the value of scientific investigations into the composition and geological structure of this country, we the more readily enter upon it.
“It seems then, from all accounts, that the following is a correct history of the progress, made from time to time in the investigation of the auriferous rocks of the colony.
“The first published statement we find in an enclosure of a despatch of Sir GEORGE GIPPS to the SECRETARY OF STATE, bearing date 28th September, 1840. The enclosure alluded to is a Report by Count STRZELECKI of his explorations in New South Wales, and in that report we find mention, under the head of ‘Gold,’ of ‘an auriferous sulphuret of iron, partly decomposed, yielding a very small quantity or proportion of gold, sufficient to attest its presence, insufficient to repay its extraction,’ and quotes ‘the Vale of Clwydd’ as the locality. But this is not an ore gold, but an ore of iron, and therefore it may be that STRZELECKI does not mention gold itself; for it is well known that ‘auriferous sulphuret of iron’ is merely a variety of iron pyrites. In the beginning of the year 1841, the first actual discovery of ‘native gold,’ of which there are no other ores, was made by a geologist now amongst us, who has long been engaged, without fee or reward, in the laborious work of elucidating the structure an phenomena of Australia; we mean the Rev. W.B. CLARKE, who found the metal in the Dividing Ranges separating the eastern and western waters of the Macquarie. This fact, as well as the existence of particles of gold derived from these ranges, in the alluvia bed of Winburndale rivulet, was then announced by him to many persons now in the colony, who can bear testimony to this statement. As a matter of geological interest, the subject was, notwithstanding, communicated to his scientific friends in England, and finding that it was made known by them, he then published the fact, as well as his further discovery, that the gold was in small quantities, in various portions of the schistose formations, whose strike is parallel with the meridian, as well as in the district of Argyle, where he had also detected it. We find the fact announced by him in communications to the Geological Society, and again in the Tasmanian Journal, as well as in the pages of the Annals of Natural History, at various times from 1842 to 1847. During this period Mr. ICELY’S explorations led to the finding of gold in the quartz rocks traversing the schistose formations of the Belubula, thus confirming Mr. CLARKE’S allegations that gold is extensively developed. A similar confirmation was made by the presence of gold in similar strata near Gundagai. Classifying these facts, the geologist above mentioned, after careful study of large collections of rocks from an enormous area in the colony, announced unhesitatingly to scientific persons in Europe and America, that the same ‘constants’ which mark the presence of gold in Russia and California, as well as in Europe, are found in Australia; and that the localities where it may be expected to occur are just those in which he had found it where meridian-directed strata of schist highly inclined, and traversed by quartz dykes, or met by diagonal intrusions of trap or porphyritic rocks, and that at such points only the metal would be abundant. As evidence of this, we may here quote a passage from the Quarterly Review, published in London in September, 1850.
“The important point for Englishmen now to consider is, the extent to which our own great Australian colonies are likely to become gold-bearing regions. The works of Count Strezlecki, and others, having made known the facts that the chief or eastern ridge of that continent consists of palaeozoic rocks, cut through by syneites, granites, and porphyries, and that quartzose rocks occasionally prevail in this long meridian chain. Sir Roderick Murchison announced first to the Geographical Society, and afterwards to the Geological Society of Cornwall, his belief that wherever such constants occurred, gold might be expected to be found. Colonel Helmersen suggested the same idea at St. Petersburg. Very shortly afterwards, not only were several specimens of gold in fragments of quartz veins found in the Blue Mountains north [sic] of Sydney, but one of the British Chaplains, himself a good geologist, in writing home recently, thus expresses himself : ‘This colony is becoming a mining country, as well as South Australia, Copper, lead, and gold are in considerable abundance in the schists and quartzites of the Cordillera (Blue Mountains, &c.) Vast numbers of the population are going to California, but some day I think we shall have to recall them.’
“Nothing can be clearer than this testimony to the claim which the gentleman we have alluded to has a right to prefer to the discovery and announcement of the existence of gold in this colony, and in the basin of the Macquarie River. And now we have announced to us the confirmation of this discovery by Mr. HARGRAVES, who has found the predictions of geological inductions verified to the letter, he himself having taken a lesson in California. Whatever value, then, may be attached to the abundance of gold alleged to exist in the valleys of that river basin, of which we shall know more when the field has been surveyed, and whatever praise may be awarded Mr. HARGRAVES for his diligence and perseverance and public spirit, we ought not to pass over the consideration of the fact, that his announcement is only the confirmation of a discovery made long before in another part of the same field, by one who had no object but the verification of scientific principles, the investigation of the structure of the colony for the benefit of others, and who, we have reason to believe, is rejoiced upon those grounds only, that his predictions have been found true.
“We intend to return to the question of auriferous indications, and the comparisons of this country with other gold-bearing regions. But we deemed it merely an act of justice to one, who is still engaged in maturing a geological account of Australia, to state what we believe to be part of his share in the development of its mineral wealth.
“In conclusion, we remark that the gold-field announced in the Bathurst paper, occurs in the vicinity of rocks indicated in the other portion of the Macquarie basin, and it was to be expected, that in the valleys falling from the dividing ranges between the southern heads of the Macquarie and the Belubula, on which gold has been detected, the auriferous alluvia would abound. It is really a very interesting testimony in favour of modern geology.”
“DISCOVERY OF AN EXTENSIVE GOLD FIELD.
(From the Bathurst Free Press.)
“THE existence of gold in the Wellington district has for a long time been an ascertained fact, but the public attention has never until now been seriously drawn to the circumstance. A little temporary curiosity would occasionally be excited whenever news spread abroad, that old M’Gregor, the gold-finder from that district, had passed per mail to the metropolis, as was always believed, laden with auriferous treasure. This subsided, nothing more would be heard of the matter for a long interval, than an occasional rumour that he had rejected some tempting offer, held out by a Sydney jeweller, or Wellington settler, as an inducement to disclose the secret of the locale, whence his treasure was derived. It is sufficient for the present purpose to state, that the progress he made in life, with no other ostensible means of earning money than shepherding and gold-finding, has always been regarded as presumptive evidence of the success of the latter vocation.
“The arrival of mr. Hargraves in Bathurst on Tuesday evening last, who, it was generally known had been in communication with government respecting discoveries made by him of extensive gold deposits in our cismontane region, has now brought the subject more prominently before our Bathurst public. On Thursday evening he invited a few gentlemen to meet him at Mr. M’Arthur’s Inn, with the object of communicating such information as he had obtained upon this interesting subject, in his recent explorations, and the readiness and intelligence which he displayed in answering the numerous questions addressed to him, showed satisfactorily that he not only possessed an intimate knowledge of gold-mining in all its branches, but was desirous of giving every possible information upon the matter connected with his visit. From the running conversation which was kept up for several hours, we gleaned the following particulars.
“Mr. Hargraves, who has spent nearly ten years at the California diggins [sic], returned to the colony in January last, having, as he states, whilst there, derived considerable information from the Mexican miners, whom he represents as by far the best and most successful diggers. Struck by the similarity of the geological formation and external physical characteristics of certain portions of the colony and the California gold fields, he was induced, at his own expense, and on his own responsibility, to visit this and the neighbouring districts to institute a personal examination. His researches have been crowned with success. After riding about 300 miles, so as to intersect the country at numerous points, and spending from two to three months in the prosecution of his object, Mr. Hargraves states as the as the result of his observations, that from the foot of the Big Hill to a considerable distance below Wellington, on the Macquarie [River], is one vast gold field, that he has actually discovered the precious metal in numberless places, and that indications of its existence are to be seen in every direction. Indeed, so satisfied is he on this point, he has established a company of nine working miners, who are now actively employed digging at a point of the Summer Hill Creek near its junction with the Macquarie, about fifty miles from Bathurst, and thirty from Guyong. Ophir is the name given to these diggins.
“Several samples of fine gold were shown to the company by Mr. Hargraves, weighing in all about four ounces - the produce, he stated, of three days’ digging. The amount thus earned by each man he represented to be L2 4s. 8d. per day, but he observed that, from want of practical knowledge, and proper implements he was convinced that nearly one-half of the gold actually dug up had been lost, owing to the labour being performed in his absence. One of the samples produced was a solid piece, weighing about two ounces, and was found at tghe diggins attached to the root of a tree, by Mr. John Lyster [Lister], who is one of the company. Another sample consisted of small pieces, weighing from several grains to a pennyweight, all elongated, and of various shapes; and a third of small flat particles, principally oval. The large piece, which appears as if it had been in a state of fusion, is intended by Mr. Hargraves as a present to his Excellency the Governor. The only process through which the above samples had passed was the washing, which had been performed by Mr. Hargraves himself.
“The principal localities mentioned by Mr. Hargraves, where he had discovered gold, were Summer Hill, Guyong, and Lewis’ Ponds Creeks. He also found gold at Dubbo, below Wellington, which he stated to be in powder, fine as the finest flour, but so far as he could judge from the opportunities he had, it did not exist in sufficient quantity to pay for the necessary labour. From the nature of some of the country explored by him, he is of opinion that gold will be found in mass, and would not be surprised if pieces of 30 or 40 lbs. should be discovered. He had seen no country in California which promised metal in such heavy masses. This description of country he represents as not being desirable as a field of speculation. One or two occupied thereon might be lucky enough to find a lump, but their companions would expend much toil and probably obtain nothing, whilst the ground which yielded the ‘dust’ or larger particles could be calculated upon as returning a certain remuneration for a given quantity of labour.
“We are assured by Mr. Hargraves that there exists an opening for an unlimited supply of labour in the vicinity of the diggins already opened by him, but he holds out no florid hopes. He makes no unreasonable or exaggerated statements. His arguments and representations simply amount to this, that there exists in the neighbouring districts an extensive gold field, but whether arich or remunerative field of labour he does not undertake to say. The question remians to be solved by actual trial.
“We have now given the principal items of information connected with this most important and interesting subject. In the statements made we do not intend to incur any responsibility. We tell the story as ‘twas told to us. The suddenness with which the announcement of a discovery of such magnitude has come upon us - a discovery which must, if true, be productive of such gigantic results not only to the inhabitants of these districts, but to the whole colony, affects the mind with astonishment and wonder in such a manner as almost to unfit it for the deductions of plain truth, sober reason, and common sense. Mr. Hargraves is an intelligent, an educated, and we believe a respectable man. His manner is quiet and unobtrusive. He does not seek to thrust his information upon the people, but when questioned, answers modestly and intelligibly any questions put to him. The attention paid to him by Government is some guarantee of his respectability and acquaintance with the subject, and there really does appear such an absence of any reasonable motive to mislead the public, that if we do not comprehend all we heard from him, we are not prepared to disbelieve him. He started yesterday for Cooming, to join Mr. Stutchbury, the Government geologist, who, we are informed, will accompany him to the diggins. The matter will therefore be quickly placed beyond the reach of suspicion or incredulity.”
“THE ALLEGED GOLD DISCOVERY.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - i have but little to say to the extremely vulgar letter of your correspondent ‘Fair Play,’ who, like many who assume that title, seems to be an adept in ‘foul insinuations.’ If, as he admits, others discovered gold in this country before Mr. Hargraves, why should he object to let those discoverers claim such merit as he assumes himself, if there be any merit at all in the matter ? In addressing you before, I had no object whatever but to remind such as take an interest in the alleged discovery by geological observation, which was paraded in the announcement, that Mr. Hargraves was not the first person who had arrived at this conclusion, and that instead of 1851, the date of the discovery of gold does exist, in this country, was many years before. In short, it was 1840.
“Whatever may be the value of Mr. Hargraves’ alleged ‘find,’ it is to me perfectly indifferent. I neither envy his luck nor covet his gains. And if there is the abundance pretended, I may honestly confess, that I am sorry for it, because though a few persons may succeed in scraping out of the earth a bag of gold dust, the mischief which would accrue to the colonists by a mania for gold hunting is so fearful to contemplate (with the example of California before our eyes), that no person well disposed to the quiet progress of our social and moral state, can desire the dreams of a Midas or an Aladdin to be realised.
“As confirming, by additional proof, the truth of scientific principles, I am so far from envying Mr. Hargraves, that I am simply obliged to him; and though I do not know that individual even by sight, I feel confident that, as an honest man, he has no desire to contradict, in the face of published documents, the statements I have made in my former letter. If, howver, Fair Play nneds a further illustration, he may find it in an article in the Quarterly Review, for September, 1850, which was published nearly six months before the alleged discovery of February, 1851.
“I think it possible ‘Fair Play’ may have overlooked a very important point. At present, the public know nothing about the amount or extent of the gold field, and therefore nothing of the value of Mr. Hargrave’s alleged ‘find.’ The Columbus egg of that gentleman may, perhaps, be discovered an ‘addled one,’ i. e., though there is gold, it may not be as abundant as it is in California. Perhaps, I shall expose myself to fresh abusiveness, (if I venture to say, that though the parallel is complete so far as the geological formations are concerned, there is not any sound reason to conclude it is complete in the respective quantities of the metal). But be there little or much, Mr. Hargraves has his suitable reward in gathering what he looks for, and the original discoverer has his reward in finding his deductions confirmed, and, i hope ‘Fair Play,’ will have his reward also, in being allowed to write hereafter what he please without obtaining any further notice from [Mark]
16th May 1851, again an editorial piece:
FROM the intelligence received from Bathurst yesterday, it appears that this colony is to be cursed with a gold-digging mania. Whether the gold fields will ultimately turn out productive is still problematical, but the success that has attended the exertions of some of the pioneers is sufficiently exciting to cause thousands of persons to proceed to the diggings. Mr. AUSTEN, of Bathurst, arrived in Sydney yesterday with a lump of gold, with small pieces of quartz attached which weighed nine ounces, and is supposed to contain eight ounces of pure gold. This was shown to great numbers of persons, and, we need hardly say, has caused a great sensation. Several small parcels of dust and scale gold, resembling that brought down from California, were also received by different persons yesterday. As it appears to be impossible to avoid the trial which the colony has to go through, it must be met boldly, although we fear it will be attended with the ruin of thousands. It behoves the Government to loses no time in promulgating a strict code of licensing laws for those who proceed to dig on Crown lands. The digging cannot be prevented, but it may be regulated, provided no time is lost in framing the regulations.”
“THE BEGINNING. - In consequence of the great numbers of persons anxious to go to Bathurst yesterday, the fares by the mail were doubled.”
“GOLD, GOLD, GOLD. - If anyone is incredulous as to the fact of gold having been found in these districts, they need not be incredulous any longer. I have myself seen it, and I am perfectly satisfied there is no deception in the matter. Three persons started from Bathurst on Saturday last, one of them an experienced hand from California. On Monday two of them returned, bringing with them one piece of gold which just weighed down thirty-five (35) sovereigns; another piece which weighed bout half-an-ounce, and several small pieces, which might weigh half-an-ounce altogether. The largest piece appears to be solid gold, and good judges inform me its is. It is about three inches long, the breadth and thickness varying. In shape it appears like a piece of lead which has undergone the action of fire, and when in a liquid state carelessly among ashes or rubbish. In the thickest portion a small piece of quartz, about half an inch in diameter is embedded, but whether it adds much to the weight I cannot decidedly say. My opinion however is, that it does not. The smallest piece, or lump, appears perfectly pure, and the smallest pieces look like spangles, only that instead of being smooth they are rough, and uneven on the edges, inclining more to an oblong than an oval shape. The large piece has since been sold to Mr. Austin for L30. On Tuesday, about two pounds and a half of gold in lumps was brought into the town, besides a quantity of dust. Parties for the diggings are forming in every direction, and machines are being constructed for washing the soil, sand, &c. I hope that the Government will see the necessity of immediately strengthening the hands of the local authorities by adding to the number of the constabulary, or by forming a separate corps to preserve peace and order in these districts, for I assure you I much fear that crime and outrage of every description will soon be the order of the day. I hear there are upwards of two hundred persons on the gold ground, and the number is daily increasing.”
“THE GOLD COUNTRY.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - The existence of a gold country can no longer be treated as a geological question. The facts which have been submitted to the public to-day, prove that the Government should not disregard the bearing of the discovery on the public safety. There is reason to fear that a childish estimate of gold may draw many from profitable pursuits to follow what to them may prove a shadow. Gold may be bought too dearly. It may cost the individual his health and life, and the public long years of difficulty and commercial derangement. The Government, however, have, perhaps, nothing to do with the question in its merely commercial form; still the Government is bound to take precautions which may prevent social disorganization and crime, - just as it is bound to enforce a quarantine. It is stated, that already armed parties, in great numbers, are on the gold ground; and within six days sail of them scattered over the colonies, there are more than 50,000 persons who have been transported for various crimes, and a very large number of them within a few hours distance. Should the reports of gold prove true, the excitement, speculation, and license, will attract thousands of the very worst characters. This no one can doubt, and the consequences to the security of life and property, without any needless exaggeration, are sufficiently obvious and appalling.
“It appears to me that the Government should immediately adopt measures of a precautionary kind. The precious metals are the property of the Crown, but it would be absurd to prevent a search for them. The Crown right in them, however, may be the protection of the public, if it is exercised with discretion. In order to draw out some expression of opinion on the subject, I beg to offer the following suggestions, which, at least, may lend to some practical measures to avert the evils which it is impossible not to forsee : -
“First : The Government should call the Legislative Council together, and propose an Act to give the necessary powers, which Act should expire at the close of the first session of the new Council, so as to give the people an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion on the subject.
“Second : The Government should have the power to proclaim any district visited by the miners, as being under the operation of the Act.
“Third : All persons coming into that district should be compelled to register their names, within one fortnight, with their last residence; stating whether they are married, and the numbers and residence of their families, in order that some security may be taken against desertions, which there is much reason to dread. Provision should be made for enforcing the claims of such deserted families.
“Fourth : The Government should issue licenses to responsible persons in the proclaimed gold districts, in the same way that publican’s licenses are issued; and those parties should be permitted to issue sub-licenses to the miners, upon which, in addition to the license fee, a charge should be imposed, the amount to be determined monthly, according to the expense of an ample police for the district, so that every miner might be interested in its peace and good order.
“Fifth : Some restriction will be necessary in the wandering of the miners from one district to another, which should be made to be attended with some little trouble and expense.
“The object of the Government ought not, in the present instance, to be that of revenue; but to obtain some control over a population which will soon become very unmanageable. The only form in which this can be done, is by giving parties on the spot an interest in the restrictions imposed for the common good. And I would add, that, for a time at least, the Government ought to be invested with summary powers to regulate the districts; and when crimes are committed, punish the guilty without much delay.
“In a few weeks every measure may be unavailing.
“I am, yours truly,
Sydney, May 15th.”
17th May 1851 and again the leading article was concerned with gold:
“THE GOLDEN PROSPECTS OF AUSTRALIA.
“The excellent letter which appeared in our columns of yesterday, under the signature of Viator, has anticipated several of the observations we had intended to lay before our readers on this exciting subject. A more exciting one it has never fallen to our lot, as journalists, to discuss. The mania for emigrating to the gold-fields of California, which at one time threatened to decimate our population, and which naturally filled sober-minded colonists with an anxiety bordering on alarm, has often occupied our most serious consideration; but that mania, compared with the one with which we are now menaced by the discovery of gold within our own territory, was as nothing. Emigration to California was necessarily a work of time, requiring forethought and preparation, and in most cases needing the courage and enthusiasm which can sacrifice present comforts, and risk imminent dangers, for the sake of a remote and at best a doubtful good. The scene of adventure lay in a land of strangers, a land swarming with ferocious barbarians, and frequently ravaged by deadly pestilence. Ere it could be reached, the ocean had to be crossed, a round sum of money to be raised, property sold, establishments to be broken up, domestic ties rent asunder, and the whole habits of life suddenly and violently wrenched. These considerations served as a wholesome check upon the rage for gold, and induced multitudes to stay at home who would otherwise have rushed headlong into the glittering snare.
“But the Eldorado which has sprung up within the last few days, and which is every where and with every body the all-absorbing topic of discourse, is attended with none of these difficulties. It is the bosom of our own country. It is on the very skirts of our settled districts. It is within a week’s ride of our metropolis. And should its charms prove to be half so seductive as the sanguine imaginations of many amongst us are at this moment picturing them, Australia will have reason to rue the day when her Eldorado was brought to light. Already, we are told by our Bathurst correspondent, there are said to be two hundred persons on the gold ground, and the number daily increasing. ‘And within six days’ sail of them, scattered over the colonies,’ says Viator, ‘there are more than 50,000 persons who have been transported for various crimes, and a large number of them within a few hours’ distance. Should the reports of gold prove true, the excitement, speculation, and license, will attract thousands of the worst characters. This,’ he adds, ‘no one can doubt, and the consequences to security of life and property, without any needless exaggeration, are sufficiently obvious and appalling.’
“Exaggeration would be as cruel as it is unnecessary. But it becomes the duty of ever sober-minded man in the community to look the danger calmly yet fully in the face. That there is gold on the surface of our western interior, is a fact which cannot now be doubted. But let us cling to the hope, until driven from it by irresistible evidence, that the treasure does not exist in large quantities; that the cost of finding, collecting, and conveying it to market, will prevent the speculation from being more than moderately remunerative; and that experience will soon convince the masses of the people that, after all, the ordinary pursuits of industry are the safest and the best. Should this hope be realised, all will be well. The rage for emigration from these colonies to California will be quelled; whilst New South Wales will in her turn become an object of general attention and of powerful attraction. If the precious metal be no more than an auxiliary to our general resources, augmenting and not superseding our ordinary sources of wealth, then shall we have reason to rejoice in its discovery, for then will a new impulse be given to every branch of our industry, and a new character imparted to our country in the eyes of the world. Then shall we become a rich and a prosperous people in the true sense of the words, for our wealth and prosperity will be solid and enduring, and attracted by a correspondent advancement in those moral and social virtues without which riches are not a blessing, but a curse.
“But should these hopes be disappointed - should our gold prove to be abundant in quantity, rich in quality, and easy of access - let the inhabitants of New South Wales and the neighbouring colonies stand prepared for calamities far more terrible than earthquakes or pestilence. On the fearful pictures which the bare thought of such a consummation calls up in the mind, we will not, dare not dwell. Nor would it be right to allude to them, even in these vague and general terms, for the mere purpose of agitation. But the mere possibility of their being realised imposes upon the Government, and upon all the intelligent classes of the community, a solemn and an urgent duty. It is the duty of the colonists not only to take every possible precaution, in good time, against the disasters which may befall them; but to employ all the influences of reason and good sense in counteracting and subduing the spirit of excitement in its earliest stages. Let every man reflect that upon the prevalence of those influences his own safety, the safety of his person and property, the safety of all that is nearest and dearest to him, may ere long depend.
“The duty of the Government is obvious. The interests of the Crown - which is only another word for the interests of the commonwealth - and the safety of society, are both at stake. Our rulers are bound to take instant action in order that these interests and this safety may receive all possible protection. And we rejoice to learn, from undoubted authority, that they are doing so. The Law Officers of the Crown have been caled upon to advise the Executive, without a moment’s unnecessary delay, as to the precise powers with which the Crown is armed by the existing law, for the enforcement of its rights with regard to precious metals found upon lands owned by private persons, upon lands held under depasturing leases, and upon lands in the possession of the Crown. If these powers are found sufficient, they will be carried out with all the promptitude and vigour which the Government can exert. But if it is found that the emergency requires that they should be strengthened by special legislative enactment, in that case the Legislative Council (which, fortunately, has not been dissolved) will doubtless be summoned for that purpose without delay.
“What steps the executive are contemplating, with a view to the conservation of the public peace, in the event of its being exposed to extraordinary danger, has not transpired; but that such steps are necessary is beyond all question, and that the Government will do its duty, as the guardians of society, we unhesitatingly believe.”
“THE BATHURST MAIL. - The report that the fares by the Bathurst Mail had been doubled, was incorrect. We believe it arose from a person who had given a party who had secured a seat, double fare to allow him to go in his place.”
“THE advices from the Bathurst district respecting the newly discovered Gold Field being very flattering, have caused considerable excitement. Flour, Sugar, Tea, and other consumable Goods have in consequence been much enquired for. The market being very unsettled, we refrain from giving quotations, as having a tendency to mislead - prices are advancing. Coffee has been sold in quantity at full rates. The cargo of the Regis has been placed at the highest quotations we have known for years.
R. HARNETT, Broker.”
“THE intense excitement caused throughout the city by the intelligence received from Bathurst on Thursday morning, confirmatory of the auriferous discoveries in that district, so unsettled our mercantile community, that from the dread of a want of freight, and other less defined apprehensions, biddings were hardly as spirited at the auction sales, and the produce was obtained at rather easier rates. We are not disposed to speculate on the possible results in this colony of an event as important, even with the experiences of California before us; the respective social positions of the two countries being so radically different at the time of the discovery of the gold. It is, however, certain that whether the yield of the Australian diggings proves large or small, the attention of a mass of our population will in all probability be diverted to them, and that our pastoral interests may be temporarily be injured. It therefore behoves our settlers and squatter to be prepared for a scarcity of labour, and to bear the want of it cheerfully, with the prospect that an immense accession to our population will, as at the other side of the Pacific, soon give a value to live stock hitherto unknown”
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - Whilst reading this afternoon the leading article headed ‘gold,’ in your number of to-day, I felt convinced that Count Strzelecki must be entitled to more credit as a discoverer of gold ore in this colony than had therein been accorded to him; for the belief was strong in my mind that previously to 1840 he had himself informed me of its existence in the country west of the Blue Mountains.
“Searching this evening amongst my old letters, I have luckily met with one addressed to me by the Count in 1839, which I think proves, at all events, that its existence was then fully believed in by him, and had been at least scientifically discovered by and known to him. And this, so far as his fame as a geologist is concerned, is, I conceive, the gist of the matter, and of more consideration than if by accident or otherwise he had actually picked up a specimen of the precious metal.
“In justice to a highly accomplished and much esteemed gentleman and man of science, to whom the colonists are much indebted for his arduous and gratuitous researches and labours in the field of Australian geology, I shall be glad if you will publish the extract from his letter to me, which I now send to you.
I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
Fort-street, May 15, 1851.
“ ‘Wellington, 16th October, 1839.
“ ‘My dear Sir, - I write you this from Wellington, and on my knee, as it happens that in the place the epistolary fit has taken hold of me there is no table, but in compensation plenty of petrified bones, which I excavate here with my own hands; bones, may be, of hippopotamus or some other species which once was in this part of the world and is no more. I find the Wellington caves far superior to the Boree ones, and most interesting, but frightfully absorbing my time. I say frightfully, because thinking of what little I have seen of the colony, and what still remains to be explored, I shudder.
“ ‘The distance too, extend themselves most provokingly under my pursuits; for instance, the distance between Wellington and Sydney is 180 miles. I accomplished it, in true zig-zag, rambling, scrambling, and occasionally starving. But seeing much and surveying barometrically a great track, and securing for mineralogy and geognosy a pretty considerable number of notes; this I accomplished every inch on foot, carrying a weight of forty pounds.
“ ‘You may take it for granted that between Sydney and the ‘Dividing Range,’ in the direction of Bathurst, and in the width of sixty miles, there are no metals except iron; no minerals of any consequence but alum in its native state; carburet of iron, (blacklead) and plenty of coal. Not far from Mount Hay there is a thermal spring of chalybeate water strongly impregnated with carbonic-acid - most beneficial to health impaired by dyspepsia or nervous affection, but as fate would have it, threatening to kill by the exhausting fatigue of the journey whomsoever should attempt to get at it.
“ ‘On this side, the Dividing Range the variety of rocks and imbedded minerals augment; indications most positive of the existing silver and gold veins are met with. The want of means, however, that is, time and men, did not allow me to trace them to their proper sources. Why has the Government not sent heretofore a man of science, and mineralogical and mining acquirements, to lay open those sources of wealth still hidden beneath, and which may prove as beneficial to the State and individuals as the rest of the branches of colonial industry.
“ ‘ Believe me yours, most truly,
“ ‘ P. E. De STRZELECKI.
“ ‘Thomas Walker, Esq.’ “
19th May 1851, we start again with a leading article:
“THE GOLD COUNTRY.
THE intelligence from Bathurst on Saturday rather checked the mania for gold mining. It gradually oozed out that of the five or six hundred men at work at the diggings but very few were earning more than they could at their respective trades, whole numbers have left the place in despair, after labouring for some few days without any success, In the meantime, however, the speculators are taking advantage of the ferment that has been created, and the prices of all consumable articles are rapidly rising, and will probably fall as rapidly as they have risen. At an Executive Council on Saturday, the GOVERNOR was advised to issue a proclomation setting forth that by the law of England all gold in natural deposits belongs to the QUEEN, and that any person removing any from Crown lands will be prosecuted. Regulations as to the issue of licenses to dig will be published in the course of the week.”
“THE ADVENT OF GOLD IN
NEW SOUTH WALES.
“Mute are all tongues, and pale all cheeks,
All eye, all ear - ‘tis Gold that speaks !
Mammon his glittering standard waves,
Hail’d by the shouts of willing slaves !
“The homesteads wail their absent men,
Never to hear their voice again,
And flocks deserted, roam at will -
Where’er they roam a prey to ill.
“The Squatter, speechless with despair,
Weeps o’er his hopes dissolved in air;
Bewilder’d looks for help around -
For help, which cannot now be found.
“Desertion, Want, and Woe appear
Where’s miles of Home could once endear;
E’en Nature’s voice cannot be heard
‘Mid the base strife by Avarice stirr’d.
“Force and Fraud the victors will be,
Murder and Rapine rampant, free;
And every Vice that bears a name
Flourish in spite of Law or Shame.
“THE GOLD DISTRICT. - Every account from the gold field agrees as to one fact, namely, that the diggers are daily and hourly increasing in number. People are coming in by droves, many of the being persons of very bad character, and a large proportion carrying fire-arms. I much fear we will shortly hear that a most lawless state of society prevails up there, and that crimes of every description will abound. The Government will no doubt be placed in a difficult position, for there is at present no organized force in the colony sufficiently strong to preserve peace and good order amongst them, and the difficulty will, I am apprehensive, be found to increase daily. Under these circumstances, it is necessary that the most respectable and influential persons on the ground, should take steps to maintain order. and to afford protection to life and property, and with a view to further this object, a few suggestions might not at the present moment prove altogether unacceptable. I would propose that a camp be formed by every five or six parties for mutual protection, in which they should all resort at night, and which they should guard by turns during the day. That one or more respectable men from each party at the diggings, should form themselves into an association, and bind themselves to use their utmost endeavours to maintain order and good conduct on the ground. That in pursuance of this, they should in every case assist the local authorities in detecting crime and bringing the perpetrators to justice, so much so that if a single constable came in the execution of his duty, he might, under their protection, and with their assistance, be able to fulfill the duty on which he was sent. That should prevent by such means as the urgency of the case might render necessary, the illegal sale of intoxicating liquors, and should, both by precept and example, discourage intoxication on the spot. I feel satisfied that more is to feared from the distribution of ardent spirits amongst a body of men - many of them lawless characters - than from any other cause whatever.
“PROVISIONS. - At the present moment Bathurst is in a state of great excitement in fact, the gold fever has fairly set in; consequently, provisions of every description realizes a price that astonishes sober-minded people. In the course of a few hours, flour rose from 25s. per 100 lbs. to 32s., 36s., and 40s., at each of which prices sales have been effected this day. Rations sugar has risen one halfpenny per pound, tea 16s. a chest; tobacco has also risen, and even meat is on the advance. I fear that at the gold field parties living in the neighbourhood ar slaughtering their sheep, and retailing the mutton at 3d. per pound.
“LATEST PARTICULARS. - I rode out above five miles this evening, and saw nineteen men coming back from the diggings. They complained of hard work, starvation, and other ills. I give no opinion upon the subject, because I know well gold is on the spot; but energy, perseverance, &c., are necessary ingredients towards obtaining it.”
20th May 1851; examples of Advertisements:
“WANTED. Twenty Horse Teams, to load for Bathust immediately. A liberal price will be given. Enquire at 421 George-street.”
“GOLD DIGGINS. - Wanted, two or three respectable persons to join the undersigned, proceeding to the mines with articles for speculation. For further particulars apply to LUCAS AND BAILEY, Harrington-street.”
20th May 1851:
“THE GOLD FEVER.
(From the Bathurst Free Press of Saturday.)
“THE Discovery of the fact by Mr. Hargraves that the country, from the Mountain Ranges to an indefinite extent into the interior, is one immense gold field, has produced a tremendous excitement in the town of Bathurst and the surrounding districts. For several days after our last publication, the business of the town was utterly paralysed. A complete mental madness appears to have seized almost every member of the community, and, as a natural consequence, there has been a universal rush to the diggings. Any attempt to describe the numberless scenes - grave, gay, and ludicrous - which have arisen out of this state of things, would require the graphic pen of a Dickens, and would exceed any limit which could be assigned to it in a newspaper. Groups of people were to be seen early on Monday morning at every corner of the streets, assembled in solemn conclave, debating both possibilities and impossibilities, and eager to punce upon any human being who was likely to give any information about the diggings. People of all trades, callings, and pursuits, were quickly transformed into miners, and many a hand which had been trained to kid gloves, or accustomed to wield nothing heavier than the grey goose-quill, became nervous to clutch the pick and crow-bar, or ‘rock the cradle,’ at our infant mines. The blacksmiths of the town could not turn off the picks fast enough, and the manufacture of cradles was the second briskest business of the place. A few left town on Monday, equipped for the diggings; but on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the roads to Summer Hill Creek became literally alive with new-made miners from every quarter, some armed with picks, others shouldering crowbars, or shovels, and not a few strung round with wash-hand basins, tin pots, and cullinders [sic], garden and agricultural implements of every variety, either hung from the sadlle-bow, or dangled about the persons of the pilgrims to Ophir. Now and then a respectable tradesman, who had just left his bench or counter, would heave into sight, with a huge something in front of his horse, which he called a cradle, and with which he was about to rock himself into fortune. Scores have rushed from their homes, provided with a blanket, a ‘damper,’ and a pick or grubbing hoe, full of hope that a day or two’s labour would fill their pockets with the precious metal; and we have heard of a great number who have started without any provisions, but a blanket and some rude implement to dig with. Such is the intensity of the excitement, that people appear almost regardless of their present comfort, and think of nothing but gold. Of course all this must end in disappointment. The wet weather of the last two nights, with the damp ground for a bed, and the teeming clouds for a canopy, will do much towards damping the enthusiasm of numbers. We have the authority of an experienced man in stating that from the imperfect and unsuitable implements used by all who have left for the diggings, coupled with their miserable provision in other respects, success is impossible; that the labour necessary to success is extremely severe, and he ventures, as his opinion, that no more than three per cent. will become permanent miners. One of the consequences has been the rapid rise in the price of provisions. Flour which ranged from 26s. to 28s. per 100 lbs, has been sold for 45s.; tea, sugar, and almost every other eatable commodity have advanced in equal proportions. A large amount of the wheat of the district is in the hands of a few speculators, who will maintain their hold in the hope of a golden harvest. But for the very extensive supplies now on their way from Sydney, flour would soon be at famine price, and should a rush take place from below, as may be reasonably expected, it is to be hoped that there are capitalists enough to adveture in one of the safest speculations of the times - the purchase of flour for the supply of the district.
“What assisted very materially to fan the excitement into a flame, was the arrival of a son of Mr. Neal, the brewer, with a piece of pure metal, weighing eleven ounces, which was purchased by Mr. Austin for L30, who started to Sydney by the following day’s mail, with the gold and the news. Since that an old man arrived in town with several pieces in mass, weighing in all from two to three pounds. He also started for Sydney with his prize. Mr. Kennedy, the manager of the Bathurst Branch of the Union Bank of Australia, visited the diggings on Saturday last in company with Messrs. Hawkins and Green, each of these gentlemen picked up a small piece of the pure metal, and a few handfuls of the loose earth from the bed of the creek, which were brought home by Mr. Kennedy from motives of curiosity, have been since assayed by Mr. Korff, from Sydney, and a piece of gold extracted therefrom of the size of a small pea. Besides these we have not heard of any particular instances of success.
“On Wednesday morning last , Mr. Hargraves accompanied Mr. Stutchbury, the Government geologist, went to the diggings, and with his own hands washed a pan of earth in his presence, from which twenty-one grains of fine gold were produced. He afterwards washed several baskets of earth, and produced gold therefrom. Mr. Stutchbury hereupon expressed his satisfaction, and immediately furnished him with credentials, which have since been forwarded to the Government. The fact of the existence of gold is therefore clearly established, and whatever credit or emolument may arise therefrom, Mr. Hargraves is certainly the individual to whom it properly belongs. Should Government deem it necessary, as it most probably will, to appoint an inspector, superintendent, or commissioner, over the gold regions, in addition to the fact of Mr. Hargraves being the discoverer, his practical acquaintance with mining points him out as the most suitable and worthy person for the appointment.
“We have very much more to say, but have not space to say it in.
“A Mr. Rudder, an experienced California gold digger, is now at work at the diggings. - There are also several magistrates plying their picks and cradles most laboriously, but we have not heard with what success. In fact there appears every probability of a complete social revolution in the course of time. Those who are not already departed, are making preparations. Servants of every description, are leaving their various employments, and the employers are, per necessitatem, preparing to follow. But notwithstanding all this, we feel that a reaction will speedily take place. The approach of winter and wet weather will do something towards cooling the ardour of the excited multitude.”
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - Mr. Walker, of Fort-street, thinks Count Strzelecki entitled to more credit than you accorded to him in your leader headed ‘Gold,’ in the Herald of Thursday, as a discoverer of that metal. As an admirer of the Count’s scientific character, and as grateful to him for his labours and discoveries, I am not disposed to assign to them less value than they deserve. But I really think that you accorded to him on that occasion all that was required. The leader mentioned that ‘the first published statement’ was in Stezelecki’s despatch, the words of which were quoted. Was it possible for you to mention that Mr. Walker tells us he had only found two days ago amongst his old letters ? Or will the geological world be satisfied with the publication on 15th May, 1851, of what was discovered in 1839, as being the first publication of a fact as now declared not known to Strzelecki ? He speaks, in the extract given by Mr. Walker, of ‘indications of existing silver and gold veins;’ but all he has published, so far as I can find, and from curiosity I have made search, is what was quoted by you. In his Physical Description, in which he gives an account of all his mineralogical and geological discoveries, there is not a syllable about gold; and if Mr. Walker will turn to p. 12, of that work, he will see, that the only metals named as belonging to Australia or Tasmania, are iron, titanium, and lead. Even copper is excluded. Then, as to silver, all that he says of it in the Report is, that it occurs in ‘minute and rare spangles,’ deserving further tracing. If the Count’s knowledge of the existence of gold and silver was such as Mr. Walker supposes, why should he be silent respecting them in his book published in 1845 ? Surely, there is a great difference between mentioning ‘indications of gold vein’ and of only declaring that gold exists in considerable abundance, such as to enable a prediction now fulfilling to be realized.
“I admit, with Mr. Walker, that picking up a piece of gold by accident or otherwise is of less importance to his friend’s fame than what he had scientifically discovered and was known to him. But who would think of proclaiming an important fact on such data ? If that were all, then the poor convict who found a piece of gold in the Big Hill twenty-eight years ago, and was flogged for having it in his possession, would be elevated to the character of scientific discoverer. It is not in that way scientific discoveries of vale are made, though mere accidents may lead to them. The maturing of facts by study is just as necessary as the evidence of senses. And if a concealed letter brought to light in May, 1851, is to rob all scientific announcements of their value, though made during nine previous years, upon the same principle must Strzelecki be robbed of his discovery of Gipps’ Land, for when he entered it, he found it known to Mr. Macalister, and actually in his possession. Yet, who dreams of depriving Strzelecki of his laurels, gained in that exploit, assumed as his own in all his publication ? - Nor is it fair, under one pretence or another, to deny to another person what is his due, on account of an old letter, that never saw the light till now, or the explorations of ground, of the contents of which the knowledge has been ascertained long before the present year.
“The claim to the scientific discovery, i. e. the announcement of the fact in question, upon scientific principles, is perhaps, a matter of ridicule to those who will profit by it. But as the scientific world denies the right of discovery to him who finds out a thing, unless he first proclaims it, this apparently ridiculous calim is made of importance. And be so made by common consent, I think you did right to give the answer as you did. ‘Palmam qui meruit ferat.’
“Strzelecki has too many claims to my respect to allow me to deprive him of his deserts; but it is very plain he could not attach much importance to indications, which after six years’ consideration, he deemed unworthy of explaining, or even of simple record.
I remain, Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
A FRIEND TO STRZELECKI.
“P.S. - If there be any desire to know the value assigned by scientific men to the question, perhaps Strzelecki’s friend Captain King, would be good enough to assign the claims of discovery of auriferous character of this country to their rightful owners. I am quite sure all parties concerned, especially Strzelecki, would be satisfied with such a decision.”
21st May 1851:
“THE excitement respecting the gold field is still very great, but I should strongly recommend parties living at any distance to wait for a little time before they venture from their houses to seek that which will, in all probability, to remunerate but very few out of the mass of diggers with which we shall most likely be overrun. All the accounts show that plenty of hard work will fall to the lot of those that come, and no rich diggings appear to have been as yet struck upon. The most flattering report for the last two or three days is that one party managed to realize about thirty shillings a day - and was only one party out of very many. In connexion with this is the fact that provisions, and indeed almost everything, are rising rapidly in price, so much so that unless some change speedily takes place, it will be found an intolerable hardship. I hardly know what those parties who have but limited means, with the addition of large families, will do. At any rate, they will have good reason to wish that our gold field was in California instead of in these districts. Flour has risen to forty and forty-five shillings per 100 lbs., with every prospect of a further rise. The two-pound loaf is nine pence, and they are talking of raising the price of meat on Monday. I really much fear that the unnatural excitement which at present exists, will far out-balance any good which can possibly result from it. A rumour prevails that the piece of gold which found its way to Sydney, as reported in the Herald of the 16th instant, is in reality a piece of California gold. I dare say by the next post something more decided will be known about it. If such should turn out to be the case, I can only regret that so cruel a hoax should have been so extensively circulated. But I cannot at present believe that it is, and merely mention it in order that parties may pause before they start for this locality, for there is no doubt that if gold is to be found in any considerable quantities, the fact cannot be many days hid. - May 18.”
“THE GOLD MINES.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
GENTLEMEN, Having made a hurried visit to the gold fields of this district, for the purpose of satisfying myself as to the reality of the reports which were daily arriving in Bathurst during the last week, causing the greatest excitement amongst all classes; I have forwarded a slight account of the ‘diggings,’ thinking it would not be unacceptable to many of your readers. The locality is about 35 miles hence, 8 miles from Cornish Town [Byng], and 12 from Orange. There is a tolerable bridle road, and even loaded drays are brought down to the spot, by taking the road through Blackmans’ Swamp [Orange]. It is at the junction of the Summer Hill and Lewis’ Ponds Creeks, where the diggers are now at work. There is nothing peculiar in the appearance of the country, broken ridges and continuous hills of quartz being the principal features. On arriving at the ‘diggings’ which lie in the narrow bed of the creek, where there is not level standing room for fifty people, a singular and exciting scene presented itself. About two hundred individuals were congregated (though large parties were hourly arriving) forming as motley a group as could possibly be brought together, and attired in every conceivable style of costume, the fierce and brigandish seeming to be the most in vogue. From the magistrate down to the shirtless vagabond, the features of every one bore an expression of bewildered anxiety. It was evident that by far the greater portion of the people went there with the expectation of picking up lumps of gold among the rocks and stones of the creek, many arriving with nothing but a pick or a spade, and not provision even for a single meal, or a covering for night. The ridges all around were covered with hundreds of horses, though there is not sufficient grass to feed a dozen. I did not see more than three camps erected, the majority of the diggers seeming to imagine that a covering overhead is totally unnecessary in this auriferous region, and bitterly must they have repented for their want of forethought, as towards evening a pelting shower came down, continuing at intervals during the whole night and next day, no doubt considerably cooling the ardour of the gold seekers. . With respect to the quantity of gold to be found, no one with the slightest knowledge of geology, can doubt that it exists in great abundance somewhere near the spot. A spadeful of earth taken from any part of the banks of the creek and carefully washed, will produce gold more or less. But nothing can be done without proper machines for separating the gold from the earth, sand, and particles of iron which are found with it. I did not see more than three of these rockers or cradles at work, the greater part of the diggers contenting themselves with whirling the earth and water round a tin basin, the lid of a saucepan, or even their hats, and letting it gradually wash over the sides, leaving the grains of gold at the bottom, and most amusing was it to observe their anxious features while peering most intently into the dish for the coveted metal; the bystanders, who had perhaps only just arrived, appearing equally as anxious, doubtless judging what their own chance of success would be. I heard many say they had found considerable pieces that morning, but I did not see them. One gentleman with a cradle, showed me his produce of three or four hours’ labour out of seven buckets of earth; as nearly as I could judge, I imagine it would fill a good sized thimble, the largest piece being the size and shape of a flattened pea. The greatest good humour, bandinage, and a disposition to oblige seemed to prevail, but whether this will last when the worthless characters arrive from all parts of the colony, it is difficult to say. It is expected that thousands will soon be on the road from Sydney, many of whom will most certainly be egregiously disappointed, and rue the day they gave up their ordinary avocations for gold hunting. Let no one come who cannot stand up to his knees in the cold water for hours, who cannot lie down in wet clothes, and sleep under the greenwood tree - who does not know how to make a damper or a fire when every bit of timber round is soaking wet. The only possible chance of doing any good is for six or eight to form a company, provide themselves with a tent, plenty of provisions, necessary machines and tools, and by incessant labour and co-operation it is not impossible a profit may be realized. The good folks of Bathurst, however, seem to be determined to keep people from coming into the district, by raising their prices to a most unjust and extravagant pitch. Flour is L40 per ton; 8s. is asked for shoeing a horse, 10s. for a small pick; &c., &c. This absurd overreacting will compel many industrious men (determined to stick to their work, notwithstanding the temptation to go gold-hunting) to find employment elsewhere. The flockmasters are in great consternation; alraedy have flocks of sheep been deserted by their shepherds, and left in the bush. I was greatly amused on returning from the bustling scene, when meeting a magistrate, a sheep-holder, attired in his mining frock, who, accompanied by his brothers, and two heavily laden carts, for the diggings, deplored the consequences that fall upon those who were seized with the gold mania. Stores have already been opened, hundreds have gone without any provisions; but whether they will find a sufficiency of the precious metal to pay for them remains to be seen. They have returned home disgusted, each declaring that he only went to see what sort of country it is where the gold is found, and is confident he knows where he can find it within a mile or two of his own door. As it is my intention to return to the diggings, I will, with your permission, forward a further account of their progress at a future period. Yours, &c.,
May 18. G. LACY.”
23rd May 1851, again a leader:
“THE GOLD FIELD.
“THE intelligence which was received in Sydney yesterday must have convinced the most sceptical that gold does exist in considerable quantities in the vicinity of Summer Hill Creek, about one hundred and fifty miles from Sydney, and although hundreds of persons were not obtaining more than ordinary wages, many were getting above an ounce a day, which is worth about L3.
“A letter from Mr. STUTCHBURY, the Government Geologist, was received yesterday; it is merely a preliminary report, but it is fully confirmatory of Mr. HARGRAVE’S statements as to the presence of gold in the soil, and its being obtainable by those who are able to bear fatigue and hardship, and can use picks and shovels. On the receipt of this the Government issued the proclamation which appears in another column, and we understand regulations of a practicable character are being prepared, and will probably be issued in the course of the week. We believe it not the intention of the Government to do more than raise by license fees a moderate income, the greater portion of which will probably be expended in organising a police, providing for the safety of life and property in the gold country and on the roads, where, without a very active and extended police force, great outrages may be expected. It is stated that large quantities of gold are now in Bathurst, waiting for safe conveyance to Sydney. An extra mial from Bathurst to Orange (the nearest post town to the diggings) has been ordered, and we hope the Government will endeavour to have a mail to Bathurst every day, instead of alternate days, as at present.
“we need hardly say that the greatest excitement prevails among all classes in Sydney, and many persons are going to dig for gold who are wholly unfit for such work; men who would hesitate to walk the length of George-street in a shower of rain are going, at the beginning of winter, to a district where the climate is almost English, and where they will not be able to get shelter in even the humblest hut. What can be the result of such reckless conduct but that which has happened in California - ruin, misery, disease, death.
“Rumours of the most extravagant character are circulated in Sydney with an activity which shows that their originators are most anxious to add to the already prevailing excitement; and we would advise our readers to receive with caution any reports that they do not see confirmed in the public press. The news from the mining districts is too important, is too anxiously looked after, to permit the suppression of any authenticated facts, even if there existed a desire on the part of the conductors of the press to do so. On the other hand, it must be remembered during the last few days there has been the most intense speculation going on in Sydney; every article of ordinary consumption is advancing in price, and is being greedily sought after, with the hope that exorbitant rates may be obtained before further supplies can be procured, and every man who has purchased a ton of flour, or a bag of sugar, with the intention of holding on for a further increase of prices, has a direct, obvious, and stimulating interest in giving currency to any reports, however absurd, which may add to the present mania, and cause an influx of population from without.”
(From a Supplement to Tuesday’s Government Gazette.)
“BY His Excellency Sir CHARLES AUGUSTUS FITZ ROY, Knight Companion of the Royal Hanoverian Gualphic Order, Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the Territory of New South Wales and its Dependancies, and Vice-Admiral of the same, &c., &c.,
“WHEREAS by Law all mines of gold and all gold in its natural place of deposit, within the territory of New South Wales, whether on the lands of the Queen or any of her Majesty’s subjects, belongs to the Crown. And whereas information has been received by the Government that gold exists upon and in the soil of the county of Bathurst and elsewhere within the said territory, and that many persons have commenced, or are about to commence, searching and digging for the same, for their own use, without leave or other authority from her Majesty. Now I, Sir Charles Augustus Fitz Roy, the Governor aforesaid, on behalf of her Majesty, do hereby publicly notify and declare, that all persons who shall take from any lands within the said territory, any gold, metal, or ore containing gold, or who within any of the waste lands which have not yet been alienated by the Crown shall dig for and disturb the soil in search for such gold metal or ore, without having been duly authorised in that behalf by her Majesty’s colonial Government, will be prosecuted, both criminally and civilly, as the law allows. And I further notify and declare that such Regulations as, upon further information, may be found expedient, will be speedily prepared and published, setting forth the terms on which Licenses will be issued for this purpose, on the payment of a reasonable fee.
“Given under my hand and seal, at Government House, Sydney, this twenty-second day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, and in the fourteenth year of Her majesty’s Reign.
CHARLES A. FITZ ROY.
By his Excellency’s command,
E. DEAS THOMSON.”
“MEMS. ABOUT THE GOLD. - Mr. Alderman Fisher, who went to the gold district with an eye to their mercantile aspect, a few days ago, returned yesterday, bringing with him a piece of gold weighing nearly two ounces, which he had the good luck to find while doing a little amateur digging. Three young men are said to have been out from Bathurst only three days, when they returned with seventeen ounces of gold, which they sold to Mr. Machatti for L55. It is said that there is a large quantity of gold at the diggings, which the holders are afraid to send to Sydney for fear of robberies. It is understood that the Government will be prepared with proper escorts in the course of next week. Several of the Sydney jewellers received small quantities of gold by post yesterday; they pronounce it to be good gold and very pure. The number of persons actually digging on Tuesday last is variously reported at from four to seven hundred; probably about midway between these numbers would be correct. They are said to be remarkably orderly. There are all at work within the space of a couple of miles. Both the magistrates residing at the nearest place where sessions can be held are said to be gone to the diggings. Our correspondents from Bathurst, Orange, and Carcoar, all tell us something about the gold, and all agree as to the extravagant prices at which provisions are charged. We believe that many shepherds in the neighbourhood employ themselves in searching for gold while their stocks are feeding. Various reports about gold having been found in the immediate neighbourhood of Sydney are, so far as we can ascertain, unfounded. About thirty persons, who were proceeding to California in the Johnstone, have forfeited their passage money and come on shore, preferring the Bathurst to the California diggings.”
“NEWS FROM THE DIGGINGS. - The following letter from a person well known to many in Sydney has been handed to us for publication, and is worthy of a careful perusal : - ‘Bookanan, 19th May. Dear Sir, I have yours of 16th instant. It is a bad job that flour especially is not to be bought; but it is folly too on the part of the holders, for we cannot have more people on account of the gold than are in the Australian colonies already for some time to come, and if people came from South Australia, or Van Diemen’s Land, or elsewhere, there will be more flour to spare at those places. Prices will be awful at the diggings, and I doubt not that many will come from Sydney to be sadly disappointed, if not starved to boot. I dare say we keep a sharp look-out hereabouts for some whom you can well afford to spare from Sydney. If anybody should be considerate enough to spare a trifle of flour, be pleased to send me half a ton and a bag of good rice at any rate. We shall soon run short. You may make it as public as you can in Sydney, that none but robust hard-working men can do any good at the gold field. The exposure to wet in the day, with winter approaching, and no huts or comforts of any sort, will break the constitution of all but iron frames; besides which the work requires skill. Many have tried and left the diggings sick enough. The weather is rather wet - beautiful for vegetation, but not for camping out at night with a hungry stomach. I have sent two loads of ore only since last Monday, and am daily looking for the coming of more drays. My miners are at present at the gold. One of them told me today that 10s. per day each was what he thought they earned. It will cost nearly half of that .......
“THE GOLD MANIA. - One consequence of the gold discoveries in the Bathurst district has been to set people to find gold elsewhere. On Monday, a small packet of material was brought to Mr. Currey, watchmaker, of this town, the bearer supposing it to be gold, and being very mysterious as to the locality where it was found. The treasure turned out to be mica, lodged in scales and dust among gravelly-looking stones, and associated with a black shiny sand or dust, supposed to be emery. It is guessed that this lot came from the neighbourhood of the Sugarloaf. - Yesterday, we heard of two other alleged discoveries; one being that a gentleman from the Manning district had brought over from there a lump of gold ore; and the other, that gold had been found in Lamb’s Valley. The Manning specimen is said by a Californian digger to be really gold ore; but if it is so, and was really found in this country, we shall probably hear further particulars. - Maitland Mercury.”
“THE DIGGINGS. -Various parties have come from the gold field yesterday and to-day (Monday and Tuesday,) with parcels of gold, varying in weight from four ounces to seventeen and a half ounces. Still it must be remembered that there have been from three to six persons in each of these parties, consequently the individual gain cannot be considerable. I hear that many persons have already suffered much from cold and hunger, having taken with them only two or three days’ rations, and not being provided with any shelter from the inclemency of the weather. The Inspector of Police and the Commissioner of Crown Lands, accompanied by the Chief Constable, and constable M’Clure, proceeded to the spot on Tuesday, with the intention, I understand, of ordering the parties on the ground to leave off digging until licenses are obtained by them. The pay of the constabulary has been raised from two shillings and sixpence per diem [day] to four shillings and sixpence; this step was absolutely necessary, considering the high price to which provisions, &c., have been raised; in fact they would have starved on the former stipend. At a quarter to seven, the time of posting this letter, the mail had not arrived, owing, I presume, to the great number of passengers from Sydney; it was late also on Saturday last. I have made strict enquiry as to the lump of gold taken down by Mr. Austin, and I find it really was obtained at our diggings; I could procure affidavits to the fact.”
“MAY 19. - The excitement prevailing in Bathurst since the discovery of the gold field at Summerhill, has reached this generally quiet township, and a perfect mania has seized upon all classes of the community. The blacksmiths’ shops have been resounding with the noise consequent in the manufacture of picks, the price of which has increased daily during the last week as news arrived by the Bathurst mail of the doings at the ‘diggings.’ Everybody,, and everything are out of their usual order. In the early part of the week two of our respectable tradesmen started for Bathurst, and, on their return, after an absence of twenty-four hours, the prices of every description of goods took a rise of one hundred per cent. Flout cannot be had at less than fifty to sixty shillings per 100 lbs., tea 2s. 6d., sugar 6d., and every other article (meat excepted) in proportion. The weather, being unusually wet, prevented many from leaving the town, but on Saturday and Sunday numbers started for the diggings, some well provided with cradles, implements, and provisions for a week; others without either the one or the other - some with the intention of trying their fortune at digging and washing, others to see what was going on, with a view to return and take back blacksmiths’ tools, &c. The few who are left in the town are making preparations to visit the Australian El Dorado; in fact, there appears to be now no other source .........
“The proceedings of a public dinner lately given to an official, or rather a late one, were blazoned forth, and everything had settled down into its usual state of complacency and level - in fact, our district seemed as deserted and disregarded as if it had never flourished in the annals of Australian topography. When lo, a shout is heard of gold in abundance; and many of the incredulous are are satisfied with a peep at the ‘real thing itself.’ The whereabouts was no sooner hinted at, than the contagion was caught, and hundreds are now both busily employed at the diggings, or preparing for a trip.
“The locality is the bed of the Summerhill Creek, about fourteen or fifteen miles from the township, in a wild outlandish part of country, and in many places of difficult access.
“I cannot from personal observation speak of the place, but will give particulars in a few days, after an intended visit; - however, I will give this advice to intending diggers, not to be too sanguine in their expectations, and as the winter may may be said to have fairly set in, to provide themselves with all necessaries in the way of provisions and comforts, or they regret their neglect when too late. What the effect of this excitement, this bursting of a great gun in our neighbourhood, is at present to conjecture; and the varied opinions of good and evil make the matter still more uncertain, so that there is no saying what may be the consequences of letting off so great a discovery at once. Next week, it is expected, we shall have a deserted village; there will be no wandering over hill and dale in search of the pigeon and duck; no rolling in easy chairs, or luxuriating in a post prandium siesta, with three or four numbers of the Herald to enjoy time with; all will be in the midst of the diggings, preferring the auri sacra fames, and the hazardous and uncertain toil connected in pursuit of it, to the hitherto quiet and social pursuits of their usual daily life.
“I trust, however, it may turn out lucrative to those engaged and about engaging in it; but the multitude must not be disappointed, if, coming from distant places, they find it a mere lottery or delusion. As yet, the quantity of gold found has been very trifling, principally granular; but as I have not been to the spot, I cannot speak with any certainty, and will endeavour to supply the deficiency in my next. Yesterday and last night, the 15th, we had most tempestuous weather, with heavy rain, and rattling thunder, at times; peal after peal in quick succession, making my ‘bark hut’ and every thing in it tremble again. This has been a day of much the same character, minus the thunder. A gentleman who left ‘the diggings’ late yesterday evening, told me there could not have been less than 200 persons on the ground, without the slightest shelter; if people are so incautious, misguided, and neglectful, we may in a short time find that, as in California, they have come to leave their bones here, and many a slightly raised mound or hillock, near the borders of the lonely and rugged creek, be the sad record of their folly.
“In this township and immediate neighbourhood parties of various numbers, say from four to a dozen, have been formed, with regular codes of law or agreements for their mutual benefit and guidance, many of whom are now at work with all necessary appliances, and the others nearly ready for a start.
“It will be no use for single men to chance their luck there, for I believe there exists a determination not to hire any; all the work will be done in companies, and a mutual support given to each other in case of any disturbance, robbery, or other outbreak. This is as it should be, and if determinedly persevered in, , we will not hear of or have to record acts of violence like those which have disgraced California. One thing I was glad to hear from a magistrate to-day, and that is, if any persons bring rum, or any other spirits to the grounds for sale. he will be the first to stave the head of the keg with his axe; and from the various respectable and influential men from this quarter, I know he will be firmly supported by them. Besides, there is a penalty attached to it, and no doubt the police will get every information of the suspected sellers.
“SATURDAY, MAY 17. - The excitement about the diggings increases with astonishing rapidity, and speculation is rife in every consumable article of produce. Flour has risen to L3 per cwt., and some holders say they will not take less than L5 per cwt. People of every grade and class are preparing as the accounts of the quantity of gold procured daily increases. One gentleman in three hours this morning obtained L2 worth of gold, and many others have been equally successful. I ought to mention, for the sake and advantage of intending diggers, that their best route, and indeed only practicable one, lies by Bathurst, Guyong, and Orange. That horsemen can travel well by another way I cannot deny, but for carts, drays, and other vehicles, the road I have pointed out is the safest and best. Near the diggings, which are, I believe, better known by the name of ‘Lewis’ Ponds,’ the road is in many places very bad, and, I believe, cannot be approached by any vehicle; carts and horses have to be unloaded, and the necessary supplies placed on trucks or slides to arrive at their destination.
“Among the speculations which would be found exceedingly profitable are wooden houses, frames, or tents, washing cradles, picks, all articles of heavy clothing; flour and maize meal will especially bring good prices; tobacco and many of the luxuries of this life.
“SUNDAY, 19th. - This day brings no news from the diggings, but having occasion to make a journey through the district, I was enabled to ascertain a good deal of the feeling that existed. At the Cornish settlement, nearly all the men have left and joined parties of eight or ten, whether with the sanction of their employers or not, I have not ascertained. I found six drays have been waiting for the last six days for loading with copper ore, and no one to assist. At Frederick’s Valley, every one is in excitement about the gold, and various companies are in course of formation, and I doubt not before the end of this week, probably one hundred will leave that district.
“A letter has been received by the Magistrates to-day stating that an order was issued to the provincial Inspector of Police to visit the district immediately, and that an augmentation of police would be added to the district. This is highly necessary, and as Orange is the most contiguous township, the concentration should take place here. But then, what is the use of a body of police without the controlling and responsible .......
“SEVERAL years have elapsed since it was given out by geologists and other scientific men that gold and other valuable minerals existed in this district in considerable quantities. The recollection of such reports, however, were for a time allowed to slumber, until the actual existence of rock salt, &c., in extensive masses, has put all surmise on the subject beyond a doubt. For the discovery of this most valuable mineral we are indebted to Mr. John Delany, a respectable settler on the Fish River, distant about ten miles from here. We have no doubt whatever but Mr. D. will be happy to furnish the necessary information, and point out the locale, if applied to on the subject. We forward herewith a sample of the rock salt, which we consider to be a very rich specimen, and which has been sent us by the discoverer, Mr. D. The other mineral specimen has also been found in this neighbourhood. Some say it is largely impregnated with gold, but not being practical geologists, neither are we in possession of the necessary testing apparatus, we are more or less doubtful as to its auriferous properties, but send it to you in order to have them tested.
“(The rock salt sent down by our correspondent can be seen in the counting-house. The mineral specimen is a piece of coal with pyrites attached.)”
THE GOLD COUNTRY.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - As the discovery of the gold field in the neighbourhood of Bathurst is of course creating great sensation, some information on the subject may be interesting. I started from my house, near Bathurst, with a few friends on the 15th instant, and after a ride of about eight hours we got to the diggings. The day was beautiful until we arrived within six miles of our destination, when it began to rain in good earnest, and every one was standing dripping wet, nut all in good spirits, laughing, joking, and cheering the new comers. We immediately commenced our bivouac, and the weather shortly after clearing up, we had a more comfortable night than we at first expected. As far as the eye could reach down the Creek, both flanks were lined with watch-fires. As day began to dawn, all hands were in motion, and soon after pickaxes and tin dishes were the order of the day. I visited almost every party, and there is no doubt but gold exists to a considerable extent, as almost in every washing some particles were found, but as you will have observed from the Bathurst Free Press, from the reckless way in which the people of Bathurst rushed out, it was not to be expected that much good would be done, and numbers were about to go back, some to procure implements and rations and to return, but the greater number to find gold by attending to their farms and occupations. Three days and nights of rain and cold, without shelter and with little food, having considerably cooled their ardour. I am glad, however, to say there was no quarreling; every one worked without meddling with his neighbour, and, whilst I was on the ground, several small lumps of gold were picked up, and perhaps more than I am aware of. as persons finding lumps of gold will, of course, keep it quiet. Several working parties have now been formed, and have either got or are sending for the necessary articles, so that in a few weeks it will be ascertained what really can be done; and it would be well if the Sydney folks would wait the result, but as that can scarcely be expected, it is to be hoped they will take warning by the Bathurst people, and not come unprepared. If the greater part of the people who rushed out from Bathurst, who were only a day’s journey from home, have returned in a day or two, starved, half-drowned, and disgusted, how will it go with the Sydney people ? Let them, therefore, come prepared, if come they will. That is to say, let them form themselves into working parties of six or eoght, and either hire or purchase a light cart or dray, and bring with them two or three months provisions, viz., five cwt. of flour, two bags of sugar, half-chest of tea, a few light pickaxes, a couple of shovels, a crowbar, a few flat tin dishes to wash the gold in, and a cradle for the same purpose. as also a good tarpaulin, to form a tent. Those who come thus equipped will have a fair chance of success; and those who may tire of gold digging will be able to sell their outfit at a price that will probably defray the expenses of their journey. If any come unprepared, they know not the hardships that await them in the cold mountain districts in the middle of winter. There is a plain road from Sydney to within four miles of the diggings, and from there a track is being formed. The distance is thirty-five miles from Bathurst.
I am, &c.,
Bathurst, May 19.”
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN. - Having perused the leading article in your issue of the 19th instant, where it appears that the Government are about to grant licenses to persons of good character, to proceed in search of gold in the Bathurst country; and also observing some very good suggestions by a correspondent from Bathurst, recommending that persons so licensed should form themselves into an association for the mutual protection of all parties lawfully authorised; in addition to the above suggestions I beg leave to offer some further observations on the subject - namely that each and every person so licensed should should be sworn in as constables for the term of such license; and further, that certificates for licenses should be granted by different Benches where the applicants reside. This mode of procedure would prevent any improper characters from obtaining licenses. Another great benefit will accrue from licenses being granted from the local Benches, by preventing hired servants from breaking their contracts and absconding to the diggings; and the association, when formed, will have power to apprehend all unauthorised persons.
“No doubt the persons licensed will strengthen the hands of the Government, and materially benefit themselves, by keeping a vigilant eye over the parties duly authorised.
I am, Gentlemen,
A WELL WISHER TO THE COMMUNITY.
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - It would be useless to express surprise at the gullibility of any people, when a cry of gold to be picked up is raised, but I must say that I am astonished that yourselves and others who I have considered sensible men in the community could be carried out of all reasonable bounds by the wild and mischievous cry, till more fully substantiated. You have lately conferred a crown of immortality on the President of the Australasian League; I trust you have a spare one for the Inspector-General of Police, or the Attorney-General, or some other person having authority, who will bring to justice the authors of the present wild excitement, if produced by the false productions of California gold.
“Almost every Botany Bay holder of a bag of sugar, a chest of tea, a ton of flour, a cask of ale, or a gallon of spirits, has now joined in fostering this unsubstantiated clamour. The demon of Insatiate Greed rides the colony, and in a few days will be joined by rampant Robbery and grim Murder.
“You walk the streets and every body asks you, ‘are you going to the Diggings ?’ at every corner of every street you hear a lie, and at every corner of every street this lie is contradicted; still fully reigns triumphant, and every schemer’s face, and they and their satellites are numerous, shines with a demoniac grin of accomplished trickery.
“A few days and truth will out. We are a civilized community - law and order are established - we can count our dead and buried - we are not like the Californian gulf stream, where those carried down were to each other unknown. I trust you will keep a careful register of casualties, that when the time comes the list may be full and complete, that the reckoning may be certain.
I am, Gentlemen,
Your very obedient servant,
“P.S. I write warmly because I have seen and I have had opportunities of observation that most of those who have returned from California have had their habits of industry completely destroyed; few of them can return to the routine of daily occupations, and many have gone again to California because they could not again settle to labour. Conceive the habits of industry of hundreds of thousands destroyed in this community, added to those already idle and worthless !”
“THE GOLD MANIA.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN. - Among the many exciting events of the last few days, certainly not the least exciting is the recent gold discovery. Contemplated in any way, it possesses a character of the deepest importance. As a means of unbounded wealth, as a certain producer of the most stable prosperity, it is calculated upon by the mercenary and the unthinking; but the voice of reason repudiates such a judgment, and the mind of wisdom and experience not easily led astray by doubtful or ill weighed conclusions, is inclined to look with much suspicion upon this very discovery, and invest it with attributes of a great moral and social evil.
“If an individual craving wealth, be productive of mischief in the individual, how much more lamentable must the consequences be, when a whole community yields itself to the unhappy influence. Towards this undesirable condition surely we needed no impetus. Money loving to a proverb, as we had been, we had nearly forgotten even to dream of sudden wealth. This realization of splendid fortunes unsought and unsolicited, had ceased to be a thing of the present, and we were almost content to labour on in the legitimate concerns of life, with industry as our incitement, and competency as our ultimate object. The good old times, (as many erroneously call them) had passed away. - Men had discovered the philosopher’s stone to be only in the hands of patient application. The phantom of speculation was fast disappearing, before the substantial certainties of well-regulated business, and just as all those happy results are approaching consummation, up starts this fatal news to unsettle men’s minds to distract the peaceful pursuits of industry with the heart burnings of avarice, and the tranquility of uniform contentment with the cravings of a restless cupidity.
“The history of California has taught us an awful lesson - a lesson deeply impressed upon the heart of every thinking man. How many thousands have rushed there in a feverish haste to become the wretched companions of misery and want and disease, till death has kindly interposed and put an end to their sufferings. How many are now there with crushed hopes, and half-broken hearts, cursing their folly, and lamenting opportunities lost forever. How few of these will ever leave it ? What a miserable unit of the countless thousands who flocked there has succeeded in getting together even a few hundreds, in the midst of offended proprieties and moral contamination of every grade and species. Compare the successful with the unsuccessful, and let the result speak for itself. Let the tongue of intelligent experience but restate what the eye hath seen, and what the ear hath heard there, and avarice itself must shrink at the mere relation of such gross abominations. We speak warmly, but who can be otherwise than warm when these examples convey no lesson. We must raise a loud warning voice, when the rocks upon which so many thousands have already made shipwreck are are elevating their insidious heads, to gain thousands more of these heedless infatuated gold-seekers.
“And now the evils which have made California wretched beyond description, seem to threaten us. Already has the baleful influence aroused men with its unnatural excitements, industry no longer goes to its legitimate avocations with satisfaction - prudence is disturbed by golden visions, and feverish hopes and fancies posses the bosom of contentment. Where will all this end ? The eye of Omniscience only can see. But it requires no very great sagacity to tell where to tell where it may end, in the full consummation of moral delinquency, and the suppression of all those qualities which almost tend to make men and nations respectable. Let the Legislature be up and doing. This is perhaps the commencement of a fearful time, that will stamp an undying character upon the nationality of the colony. The adventurer and the desperado will very probably soon cast their gloating eyes in the direction of Australia, and take up their abode among us. Vice and disorder follow in their footsteps, and their infallible companion is crime. Shall we sit down and calmly look on, while the stream of unmitigated vagabondism is inundating without having done something to check the course of unbridled license, and awe the vicious and abandoned, from at least the perpetration of legal crime. We have all along expressed our deep horror of a recurrence to convictism, but pollution of a more sickening taint now threatens to overwhelm us as a consequence of this gold discovery. It behoves every friend of Australia, and every lover of humanity, to give his most serious thoughts, and his most anxious endeavours, to avert as much as possible the awful impending evil.
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - In a crisis like this, it behoves us all to consider well what possible consequences may result from this auri sacra faines which seizes us all. The direct necessary consequences may be predicted, but it is impossible to estimate with any degree of certainty, the incidental effects of our great discovery. Certain it is, that this community, constantly swelling with the outpourings of every nation, must quickly resolve itself into a mass more heterogeneous than ever. If California, with all its varied terrors, beset with difficulties and danger, and backed by an inhospitable clime, has proved insufficient in deterring the gold hunter from its shores, what must the converse of such evils produce here ? Who can calculate upon the effect of that talisman, Gold, the exchange for all earthly conveniences, found in a land of plenty, blessed with a salubrious climate ? Imagination can scarcely compass the grand results. But amid these bright and glorious prospects, the dark shadow of futurity is yet to be unveiled, and what untold crime is destined to stalk through the length and breadth of the land fate must determine, - and yet foresight may palliate. The climax of convictism, when crime was most rife, will be nothing in comparison to the magnitude of evil yet to come. And however painful the reflection, we can scarcely close our eyes against such ominous impressions. We cannot forget the fact that gold is too often the mainspring of human action, as the acknowledged means of procuring all artificial happiness. Nor must we forget that in its procurement self-interest predominates, and that the natural vices of each individual then most powerfully and most painfully appear. We can wonder at the effects when gold - that greatest tempter next to Satan - has sometimes perverted the judgment seat, and even the doctrines of religious ministers, and too often secretly influences the acts of men who, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion. We cannot wonder at its effects upon the poor and ignorant. If therefore we cannot avert the coming storm we may at least prepare for it; and, however unfitted for the task, I humbly offer my ideas, and will be well content if others more able will follow the example.
“It must be conceded by all that a powerful protective force is absolutely essential for our actual peace and safety. It will also be granted that the Government must necessarily incur great expense to ensure this protection. Then comes the question, under the present state of affairs, how can this be the most effectually and most economically accomplished ? Let Government grant, free of expense a license to dig for a limited time to all lovers of peace willing for such consideration to be sworn in and enrolled as special constables, upon executing a penal bond in say L50, upon the following conditions. To keep and preserve the peace, or assist in apprehending all offenders. In furtherance of this design a police office should, with a reasonable police force, should be established as a nucleus of power in a place convenient to the gold field. here all offences could be be at once determined without the chances of escape. Should a rescue ever be feared, it should be incumbent upon an adequate number of special constables, by turns, as occasion required, to accompany the common constables to the nearest gaol.
“This liberal policy on the part of the Government will prevent future bloodshed, arm it with cast power, because concentrated, regulated, and ever on the alert; and will enlist in the cause of order a vast number of respectable and determined men, actuated by two most powerful auxiliaries, the sense of duty and their love of gold.
“This contemplated remission of license fees to the friends of order would be a gain to the public by saving a vast expenditure which must otherwise be incurred in supporting a large and well-paid protective force, and in the prosecution of offenders. For it must not be forgotten that the prosecution of a single often causes a public expense of L30 or L40; which must of course be increased when the scene of action and witnesses are far distant.
“Again, the existence of so large a corps will have a moral effect in effectually deterring from the commission of crime the ingrained offender, who can only be influenced by the fear of injury to his own sacred person. He can never contemplate an open violence without fancying a detective eye upon him; and even in the midst of his own comrades, the uncertainty of how many officers surround him, will powerfully operate on curbing his vice, compelling him to be honest through fear, if not from inclination. The very mystery of such a power, unseen and unknown, till called into requisition, will give an additional force in its undefined extent and ubiquity.
Your obedient servant,
“THE AUSTRALIAN GOLD MINES.
“PARTIES off to the Diggings, should call on W. JENNINGS, who engages to supply them with every implement necessary to the digger, consisting of Cradle, of the make found by experience to be better than any other; Spades of light but durable construction, made expressly for the purpose; Knives in sheath; crow bars, fire arms. and in fact, all the implements required by Gold Diggers. He also will give information of the locality, derived from seven years’ residence in the Gold District; this will be found by the inexperienced of the greatest importance, and will save them a world of trouble and disappointment in first visiting the locality.
Manufacturer of Tools, George-street,
“W. J. requests an early call, and informs his friends that he intends leaving for the Gold-Fields at the end of the month; there is a vacancy for two in the party, on the mutual co-operating principle. None need apply who are not disposed to make the venture one of permanent exertion.”
24th May 1851, the Leading article:
“THE GOLD DELUSION.
“AMONGST the many delusions which, in the present unsettled state of the public mind, under the influence of the gold mania, are likely to prevail throughout our community, the most natural and the most dangerous is the supposition that the profits of the diggings will be confined to the diggers, or at any rate most largely shared by them; and that, consequently, if a man expects to reap any good portion of the golden harvest, he must leave his home, and start for the mines, and buckle to in good earnest. This supposition is natural, because, under the excitement caused by a discovery so sudden, so unlooked for, and so astonishing, and heightened by the wonderful stories which are evry day getting into circulation, men, unfitted for calm reflection, become the children of impulse, being to go where gold is to be had at once, and for the trouble of picking it up. But that supposition is a dangerous one, and ought therefore to be discountenanced as much as possible by all reasonable men, a moment’s consideration will show. If all were to go a-gold-hunting, the colony would be ruined outright, and that in a very short time. Our flocks and herds would be abandoned; our agricultural operations and our manufactures would be brought to a stand; our warehouses and shops would be closed; our very ships would be deserted, and left to rot in the harbour. What could gold do for us then ? We should have neither food to eat nor raiment to wear. We should be consumed by famine and stricken by pestilence. We should perish amid our glittering heaps of useless treasure.
“But the delusion, though so natural and so full of peril to the whole population, is nothing but a delusion, and a great one. To share , and to share largely, in the golden spoil, it is not necessary that a man should go to the mines. He may stay quietly at home. and pursue the ordinary avocations of his life, and yet be enriched by the produce which costs his more hardy and adventurous neighbours so much of toil, privation, and suffering. And there can be no doubt that more fortunes will be made by those who stay than those who go - always supposing that the numbers who stay are sufficient to provide for the necessities of those who go; in other words, that the delusion we speak of does not spread so widely as to entail the calamities we have described. The gold-seekers must have meat and drink, clothing and implements; and in proportion as they are successful in the search, they will of course be the better able to purchase largely and to pay dearly. The money they will thus be compelled to lay out, will circulate through the colony, and benefit all those classes of the inhabitants, especially those classes which are most directly employed in the production of necessaries. Whilst the diggers are extracting treasure from the earth, the farmer who grows wheat for them, the grazier who supplies them with beef and mutton, the grocer who sends them tea and sugar, the tailor who makes their clothes, the blacksmith who hammers their picks - in short, all who are employed in producing, manufacturing, importing, or exchanging the commodities with which the diggers cannot dispense, or the comforts and luxuries in which success will induce them to indulge - will reap in the shape of large profits the benefits which the others reap in the shape of hard-earned gold.
“Farmers particularly, on whose industry we depend for the staff of life. will do well to reflect on the immense profits they can hardly fail to realise by resolutely sticking to their farms. The demand for bread will not only go on amid all the excitement and confusion of the times, but will assuredly be greatly increased. Besides the ordinary increase of our existing population, it is quite certain that we shall soon be visited by thousands from without - from the neighbouring colonies, and from the mother-country. Let the farmer take a comprehensive view of the effect which this rapid increase in the number of mouths must have upon his own interests. Let him compare the number of bushels of wheat he can grow, and the price he is sure of obtaining for it, and the clear profit which every bushel will add to his income, with the number of ounces of gold which he could reasonably calculate on procuring at the diggings, and the net surplus that would remain after his heavy expenditure in necessaries, and as the reward of his toils and miseries, and perhaps of a constitution ruined for life - and there can be no doubt as to the side on which the balance will lie. He will find that, taking all things into consideration, chance against chance, probability against probability, wheat is more profitable than gold - the cultivation of his farm a better speculation than slavery at the diggings.”
W.B. Clarke’s letter on Gold.
“LICENSES TO DIG AND SEARCH FOR GOLD.
(From a Supplement to Yesterday’s Government Gazette.)
“COLONIAL Secretary’s Office, Sydney, 23rd May, 1851. - With reference to the Proclamation issued on the 22nd May, instant, declaring the rights of the Crown in respect to gold found in its natural place of deposit within the territory of New South Wales, His Excellency the Governor, with the advice of his Executive Council, has been pleased to establish the following provisional regulation, under which licenses may be obtained to dig, search for, and remove the same : -
“1. From and after the first day of June next, no person will be permitted to dig, search for, or remove gold from any land, whether public or private, without first taking out and paying for a license in the form annexed.
“2. For the present, and pending further proof of the extent of the gold field, the license fee has been fixed at one pound ten shillings per month, to be paid in advance; but it is to be understood that the rate is subject to future adjustment, as circumstances may render expedient.
“3. The licenses can be obtained on the spot, from the Commissioner, who has been appointed by His Excellency the Governor to carry these regulations into effect, and who is authorised to receive the fee payable thereon.
“4. No person will be eligible to obtain a license, or renewal of a license, unless he shall produce a certificate of discharge from his last service, or prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that he is not a person improperly absent from hired service.
“5. Rules adjusting the extent and position of land to be covered by each license and for the prevention of confusion, and the interference of one license with another, will be the subject of early regulations.
“6. With reference to the lands alienated by the Crown in fee simple, the Commissioner will not be authorised for the present to issue licenses under these regulations to any person but the proprietors, or persons authorised by them in writing to apply for the same.
FORM REFERRED TO, - THE GOLD LICENSE.
“The bearer having paid to me the sum of one pound ten shillings on account of the territorial
revenue, I hereby license him to dig, search for, and remove gold, on and from any Crown land within the
county of Bathurst, as I shall assign to him for that purpose, during the month of 185_
“This license must be produced whenever demanded by me, or any other person acting under the authority
Of the Government.
(Signed) A.B., Commissioner.”
“The cursed gold excitement has even made its way into this isolated locality; many persons talk of going off immediately to the mines; even heads of families comfortably settled in business, are bent upon abandoning their own firesides for the chances of obtaining a lump of gold. What an infatuated people ! to give up certain comforts, and risk the happiness and welfare of their families for remote uncertainties. We emphatically caution the industrious classes of Illawarra to remain where they are, and cultivate the farms. If gold be discovered and worked to any extent, they will surely get a due portion of it for their produce; and if it should turn out a failure, they will then be in an infinitely better position than those infatuated fools who recklessly rush into the jaws of destruction in their eager thirst for gold.”
26th May 1851, Leading article:
“THE News from Bathurst on Saturday was fully confirmatory of what had previously been received. Every day fresh discoveries are being made. Mr. WENTWORTH’s Bathurst property is said to be a rich gold field. As usual the accounts are most conflicting and contradictory; one set of men are unable to procure gold, and write most discouraging accounts; another set are fortunate, and make their L 3 or L4 a day. and they naturally write letters to their friends which add to the excitement; but amidst all these accounts there is one fact which cannot be denied, that large quantities of gold are daily arriving at Bathurst, and are waiting a safe escort to Sydney, which will, we are informed, be provided within a few days. One party of four is said to have taken out thirty ounces in one day, and a piece of one pound weight has been found. A letter from a gentleman of unquestionable veracity states that one man with whom he is acquainted has within three weeks accumulated gold worth L16000.
“FLOUR AND GOLD.
“IF any one had predicted a fortnight ago that flour in two weeks would rise in value from L20 to L30 per ton in Sydney, and at that price be procured with difficulty, he would have been looked upon as a madman and a fit subject for Tarban Creek. It was known then that the crops of wheat were inadequate to supply prospective demands; but though the supposed existence of gold was talked of in the Bathurst district, the rumour was disregarded. but what has been the result of perseverance ? Gold has been found in sufficient quantities to make the locality of Lewis’ Ponds an attraction, and seeking for gold a speculation in which many are already engaged, and though only a fraction of those employed in gold washing will find the occupation profitable, the anticipated rush to a district in which flour is scarce, and the almost immediate expectation of large additions to our local population from the neighbouring colonies, has had the effect of causing extensive speculations in flour in Sydney, such as have not been witnessed for years; and the question which is now in everybody’s mouth is, where is the flour ro come from to meet the demand which will be required when the tide of emigration sets in from the neighbouring colonies ? That wheat will pay the exporter from any of the Australian colonies to Port Jackson is established by the fact that for quantities that arrived last week from Launceston 10s. a bushel, cash, was offered and refused; and from enquiries we have made, several purchasers could have been found to have closed for the whole at this outrageously high price. The holder of wheat in Van Diemen’s Land can therefore find a ready and profitable market here for his surplus wheat, and at an advanced profit upon what he could obtain for it there. Neither need he fear the competition of the South Australian market, for notwithstanding the increased emigration to Adelaide, and the consequent increased consumption of flour, almost all the surplus wheat which could be spared has been shipped to the Cape, where the crop has failed, and where wheat is extensively in demand. Can New Zealand spare us any ? We fear not - or if any an inappreciable quantity as compared with what will be required. But let New Zealand speak for itself.
“In a leading article in the Southern Cross of the 25th of February (after the wheat crop was got in and housed), the editor lets us into the secret of the state of the New Zealand wheat market : -
“New Zealand, which in the first exuberance of delighted occupancy was loudly proclaimed ‘the granary of the Southern Ocean,’ has alas never hitherto been able to supply her colonists with bread ! The avowal is as painful as it is humiliating; and were in not in the anxious, but almost despairing hope of drawing Parliamentary attention to the impolicy of the monstrous land restrictions which are at this particular juncture brought to bear most touchingly upon every man’s pocket, we might have declined the re-urging of an oft urged suit - reduction in the price and larger facility in the abquistion of the soil.
“At the present moment, as if to enhance the preposterous and utterly unnecessary original outlay of the Canterbury settlers, as if to aggravate the necessities of the surrounding colonies, flour, in consequence of a partial failure in the principal wheat districts of Australia and Tasmania, and because of an inadequate amount of cultivation here, flour has risen to the famine price of twenty and twenty-five shillings per cwt., retail, and bread to six-pence the two-pounds loaf.
“Those are prices almost as high as these in Sydney. Under these circumstances we cannot reasonably expect any supply from New Zealand. although the native population are producers. All the surplus wheat in the north will find its way to the south to meet the demands of the Canterbury Pilgrims. The supplies therefore from Tasmania, New Zealand, and South Australia, will be limited, whilst the gold-field of New South Wales will prove a powerful magnet in attracting emigrants in large numbers. The remedy, however, is in the hands of our own farmers. The present season is most favourable for sowing wheat. The price of flour will probably advance, and even if the greatest possible breadth be sown in every available district, the next crop of wheat must prove scarcely adequate to the demand, and highly remunerative to the producer. Our population is increasing, and must now increase, and wheat must pay the farmer well. At the diggings the farmer may be fortunate in finding gold, but then he will have the reward of his labour seriously entrenched upon by license fees, the exorbitant price of provisions, and other charges. It is just as likely he may be unfortunate - lose his time for wheat sowing, and return with an impoverished exchequer. A Sydney merchant has, we are informed, an order to deliver one ton of flour at the diggings, for which he is to be paid the extraordinary high price of L70, This is only one, though we admit an ordinary article of necessary consumption, but it surely ought to be sufficient to convince the farmer that if gold is to be obtained it is only at an immense cost, whilst in attending to agricultural pursuits his profits will be large and certain, without the exposure to wintry weather, the famine price of provisions, and the subjection to robbery and plunder, which will undoubtedly be the object of many who make an excursion to the diggings.
“It will be remembered that, from extracts which we have published from the Californian papers, a large portion of the crime which has been committed in California has been committed by emancipated criminals from these colonies. The diggings there have offered them great inducements to emigrate, and the terrors of Lynch-law have been in many instances disregarded; but here, where Judge Lynch is unknown, and where from the constitution of the elements of the colony, crime must prevail when temptations are so great, crime will be perpetrated in proportion to the value of the object sought to be obtained, and the difficulty in bringing parties to justice. As wheat, then, must rise to a very high price, the farmer should pause before he turns his ploughshare into a pick, and relinquishes husbandry, which for a year or two to come must prove remunerative, for the precarious and uncertain existence obtained in seeking for gold. The time for sowing will soon pass by, and a trip to the diggings, which may prove unprofitable, may prevent him reaping the benefit of a ‘golden harvest’ at Christmas. To wheat, then, the farmer should stick, and each wheat paddock will be found to turn out a little Ophir itself.
“OUR readers will be glad to hear that a gentleman of great intelligence left Sydney for Bathurst on Tuesday last, for the purpose of writing, for the Herald, a series of communications on the actual state and prospects of the gold-seekers and gold-fields. We hope to receive the first of his letters either to-morrow or Thursday, and as they will appear about twice a week until completed, we would advise our readers to preserve them, as the set will comprise the first authentic and connected description of the gold-field that will appear.”
“THE DIGGINGS. - ‘Bathurst, 22nd May, 1851. It is no longer matter of speculation as to whether there is gold in this district. We have seen quite enough to convince us that not only is there gold, but that it exists in great abundance and of the purest quality. This town is literally deserted; servants, tradesmen, and all having gone to the mines, save only those who cannot afford to leave their homes and their property. But the evils attendant on this state of things have been greatly exaggerated in Sydney, for as yet none of the flockmasters in this quarter have suffered from the shepherds leaving for the mines. We heard on the way up that there were three distinct cases of men having left their flocks and gone to the diggings, but we find no such thing has happened. On the contrary, Mr. Reid, the innkeeper here tells us that he could have hired ten shepherds yesterday in Bathurst at the usual rate of wages. We are off this moment for the mines, and purpose being back here on Saturday, and will start on Monday for Sydney.’ - Extract from a letter by a Sydney merchant.”
27th May 1851, Leading article:
“THERE has been no later intelligence from the gold field since our last, but several persons have returned to Sydney who give accounts much less glowing than some that had previously been received. It is confidently asserted that three-fourth of the men now digging are not procuring enough gold to purchase sufficient supply of food at the exorbitant rates charged on the ground. A great number of persons left Sydney, for Bathurst, yesterday, most of them in parties of six or seven, and wages of every description are rising. A party of twelve mounted constables (most of whom were formerly in the Mounted Police) left town yesterday to be under the orders of Mr. HARDY, the Commissioner for the gold districts, who will proceed to his station this morning. It has been suggested to us that the statement in yesterday’s Herald, that a ‘person’ had procured L1600 in three weeks should have been a ‘party.’ We were not able last night to refer to the gentleman who has the letter mentioning the fact, but it is we think probable that this mistake may have occurred.”
THE PRESENT JUNCTURE.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It is now almost a matter of certainty that a new branch of industry is added to those which previously afforded employment to the population of these colonies. I call the digging for gold a branch of industry, because I see no insurmountable difficultynin divesting it of the worst features of its gambling character. There seems to me to exist no reason why an honest man should not engage in this as well as any other of the occupations usually acknowledged lawful. Abstractly considered, and apart from existing and conflicting conditions, there is nothing in gold digging except the prudential question. The Crown, to which the gold mines belong (whether on private or public lands), has given leave to dig on being paid a reasonable consideration, namely, one shilling a day. If a man, therefore, is clear of all contracts, social and domestic, it is perfectly right for him, if he believes it to be judicious, having weighed the question properly in his mind, to betake himself to this new business. Gold is indispensable in commerce, and the useful and fine arts. It is therefore as legitimate a production as fine wool, which is a luxury compared with coarse, or wheat, which is an improvement on oats, rye, or acorns.
“The design, and (if the police are properly supported by the diggers themselves, whose interests are unquestionably involved in the preservation of order) the effect of the regulations of Government, cannot fail to convert the business of gold digging, which would otherwise, be both a gamble and a scramble, as in California, into a settled and regular, a peaceful and permanent branch of industry. As soon as it assumes this form, it will attract innumerable strangers, and yet, I verily believe it will not be found so excessively profitable in comparison with every other branch of industry, as to injure these. On the contrary, I have no doubt that after a short interval, during which a scarcity of labour on the sheep stations (particularly those where single men only are employed) will be experienced; the other occupations of the colony, whether mechanical or agricultural, will not only not suffer, but will be immensely encouraged. The production of grain will become more remunerative and be more congenial to persons with incumbrances than it has hitherto been, and the healthy arable valleys of the gold districts will be made to resound with ‘the sports of children and the strokes of all.’ The formation of villages, and the construction of dwellings and public works, will follow, ensuring employment to numerous handicraftsmen who will probably flock to the colony from the mother country. And eventually it may be expected that manufactures of the metals and wool, as well as of minor articles, for our own consumption at least, will be established.
“The immediate evils arising from the excitement which the name and sight of gold in inconsiderable bosoms, as it is in a great measure of artificial origin, and arises in the absence of correct information and just reflection, may be expected speedily to subside. The restrictions imposed by the royal owner of the mines, the aggravated physical difficulties of the winter season, the scarcity and dearness of provisions in the auriferous regions - perhaps also the experience of disappointment by insufficiently provided adventurers, will ere long operate to deter from embarking in the enterprise of gold seeking every person who cannot form or get attached to a party properly equipped and appointed. The equipments and appointments, means and appliance necessary, cannot be procured without an expense indicative of personal trustworthiness in those who enjoy them, and ensuring their orderly disposition.
“While you have been equally unable and indisposed to conceal the fact that great riches may be disembowelled form the ravines and mountain sides of our western districts, you have done everything which was in your power by true representations of the facts and probabilities to moderate the violence of the present mania as you did in the case of the Californian. Another portion of the press has acted very differently. Enjoying with a foolish and devilish glee the anticipated of the sheep-farmers, some of your contemporaries have not ceased, by every species of exaggeration, to urge on ignorant and unthinking men to what could not prove otherwise than a course of suffering and disappointment immediately, and a sacrifice of reputation, of balances of wages, and of comfortable places in the long-run.
“The rise in prices which has taken place in Sydney, as well as in the gold country, is almost wholly the effect of speculation, and, I imagine, will prove self-corrective. There are three classes of persons who have contributed to raise prices at the present juncture. First, there are the clever men who have purchased and transmitted commodities to the Bathurst market - of these speculators it is the interest that as many consumers as possible should precede or follow their consignments, and they carry about little bits of gold wrapped up in little bits of paper in their waistcoat pockets, which they exhibit in order to the delusion. Next, there are the parties in progress of formation of going - these lay in two or three months’ supply of flour, and other necessaries, in order that they may be independent of the other speculators first mentioned. Thirdly, there are the over-prescient good managers, who have providently laid in a ton or two of flour, a chest of tea, certain bags of sugar, bunkers full of coals, and back-yards encumbered with firewood, in order that they may not be ruined by the higher prices they will foresee will ensue. All these demands tend the same way. But it is obvious that in proportion as goods are sent to Bathurst, the competition of the speculators themselves will tend to reduce prices there; and in proportion as digging parties provide themselves there will be less necessity for the mercantile speculation; and in proportion as the worthy householders hereabouts exercise their gifts of prudence in laying in stocks, the demand will slacken here. By and by the baker and the miller, the grocer and the tobacconist, and the other dealers, when many inhabitants of Sydney have left it, and many of those who remain are supplied for the season, will wonder what has become of all their customers. Afterwards more people will come in, but so, it is to be hoped, will more commodities likewise.
“All however that I mean to deduce from these observations is that the present very exorbitant prices for articles of prime consumption are unwarranted. I do not deny, but look for as probable, a general continuation of prices considerably advanced above those of the last and several previous years. Such an advance would be the natural consequence of an increased abundance of money in the colony, arising from the favorable state of the wool market for two years, and from this important discovery of metallic wealth. Of course prices will be still more sustained by a disproportionate importation of people in comparison to goods. As a corollary all persons of fixed incomes will suffer - and all wages and salaries ought somewhat to rise to alleviate this partial evil. My persuasion, as one who regards every event to be under the direction of overruling Providence, is that the discovery of gold in this colony has been deferred till now, and has now occurred in order to the effecting of some great step in the emelioration of the human race, or at least of those countries with which we are connected by blood and language. The heads of families, who must continue at their present duties, with means which they find less adequate to their necessities than formerly, may derive some consolation from the consideration here presented to them. The temptation daily offered by accounts of sudden enrichment is one of the trials to which such persons are exposed - along with a number of the poorest class of men - one who must incur the expenses of a gentleman with the wages of a mechanic.
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - If your space allows, you may perhaps deem the following remarks relative to the Gold Diggings worthy of insertion. I have not yet heard the exact locality of the Diggings described, but imagine, if not in the Border district of Wellington, they must be close upon it. I have been over every part of those districts while resident at Wellington from 1840 to 1843, and during that time more than once visited every station in that part of the country. On one or more occasions I have been shown a lump of quartz or something of the kind, with a shining substance attached, which had been picked up by one or other of the policemen who then used to accompany me on my rounds, and which, if my memory serves me, was found somewhere in the country between Boree and Summer Hill. I never paid much attention to those pieces of quartz or rock, having then a good deal of work of another kind to attend to, as perhaps some of the Wellington squatters will yet remember.
“My object, however, in troubling you with this letter is not to talk about gold, as to whether it exists in large or small quantities; I leave that part of the subject to others better qualified than I am to write and give their opinion. But if the rumours and reports which we of the Hunter hear every day are not exaggerated, the question of how far order and law can be carried out amongst the mobs congregating at the gold region, may well command very serious attention.
“I think most of the Bathurst and Wellington residents will agree in the opinion that a foot constabulary, or police force, would not be found very efficient amongst the rather varied material of which the gold-seeking multitude is likely to be composed. In all probability by this time there is an assemblage of immigrants and expirees, pass holders and ticket men, shepherds and watchmen, sawyers and splitters, congregated in the neighbourhood. To keep up nay observances of the laws, or control these people within bounds, will, I take it, be no easy matter, unless there is some vigorous and extended system of local police organized. The mounted forces now spoken of as employed on the roads will have enough to do to keep them safe and free. It would, I should conceive, be essentially requisite that at least twelve (or twenty perhaps) good and active mounted men should be stationed at the diggings, or as near to them as permanent water and the means of fencing in a horse-paddock can be found. I am not aware how far the Court House at ‘Orange’ is from the diggings, but if more than two or three miles, I would suggest that ‘Petty Sessions’ ought to be authorised to be holden on the site of the police station, in order to the summarily disposing of cases brought forward. Ardent spirits will be introduced from Bathurst, Molong, Neuren, and other places, and cause extensive police work. Every man at the diggings will have his horse and tether rope, his blanket and quart pot, and if an assault is committed, a head broken, or a murder perpetrated, it will not take the offending party or parties long to reach the Boree ranges on Connobola Mountains, from whence it will take good horses and good men to bring them back. A full dry ration of maize only in addition to their bush feed will, at first, be sufficient for the horses. A temporary barrack and open shed of slabs and stringy bark, costing not more than L30, would do for men and horses for a year to come. The officer in command to be invested with the power of a Police Magistrate. Even now I am satisfied that twenty good men, including some of the regular disbanded Mounted Police, could be raised in Bathurst and the neighbourhood at from 3s. 6d. to 4s. a day. There is plenty of most efficient aid and co-operation to be found almost on the spot, in the persons of several gentlemen settlers and squatters, who are practically acquainted with their duties as Justices of the Peace, and the detail of such police matters. I will mention the names of Mr. J. A. Templar, Messrs. Barton, Hood, G. Lord, &c., &c. Unless some such active work is set forward, I am afraid that the Bathurst gaol will soon have more inmates than it can find room for.
I am, gentlemen,
Your very obedient servant,
Hunter River, May 23. A.”
“GOLD ! GOLD ! GOLD ! GOLD !
“Bright and yellow, hard and cold,
Molten, graven hammered, and rolled;
Heavy to get and light to hold,
Hoarded, bartered, bought and sold,
Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled;
Spurned by the young, but, hugged by the old
To the very verge of the churchyard mould;
Price of many a crime untold;
Gold ! Gold ! Gold ! Gold !
Good or bad a thousand-fold !
How widely its agencies vary -
To save - to ruin - to curse - to bless -
As even its minted coins express,
Now stamped with the image of Good Queen Bess,
And now of a bloody Mary.
28th May 1851, leading article:
“GOLD AND SPECULATION.
“THREE weeks ago, the colony of New South Wales was in a sounder state of prosperity than it had ever been in before. It was a prosperity unalloyed by speculation or excitement of any kind. Every man was at his post, industriously discharging the duties of the station to which the Providence of GOD had called him. Fruitful showers had refreshed and beautified the earth. The hopes of the agriculturalist were cheered by the signs which told him that good seasons were returning - seasons blessed with the early and latter rain, and crowned with abundant harvests. The sheep-farmer was gladdened with good tidings from the great wool markets of Europe, where his produce not only commanded remunerative prices, but was everywhere in increasing demand, with clear indications that the demand would for some years to come gain upon the supply. The merchant and the shopkeeper were doing a safe and profitable business. The master tradesman was full of orders, and the mechanics full of work. The Banks were flourishing, their coffers teeming with coin, their discounts representing the genuine transactions of trade, and their dividends highly satisfactory to the shareholders. The enormous debt of the Bank of Australia, which for years had pressed like an incubus upon a large portion of our community, had been fully and honourably discharged. Confidence had become perfectly restored. Credit was untrammelled by mistrust or suspicion, for very one knew that the spirit of rash speculation had been laid. The marks of thriving industry met the eye in all directions. Calm satisfaction with the present, and hopeful reliance for the future, were the pervading characteristics of all classes of the community.
“Compared with 1840, when the colony was at the giddiest height of its fictitious prosperity, the early months of 1851 were as the glow of health compared with the flush of fever, or as the cheerfulness of a sound mind with the ecstacies of intoxication. Compared with 1843, when the colony was at the lowest depth of its prostration, the early months of 1851 were as the light of noon compared with the blackness of mid-night, or as the serenity of an Australian spring with the horrors of an arctic winter. But if we attempt to compare the first four months of the present year, when Australian gold was a thing unthought of, with the last two weeks of the current month of May, when Australian gold is the only thing thought of, we shall be at a loss for any metaphor that can adequately illustrate the stupendous change. If we were to say that the colony has been panic-stricken, that the whole population has gone mad, we should use a bold figure of speech, but not too bold to indicate the fact. It is as if the Genius of Australia had suddenly rushed from the skies, and proclaimed through a trumpet whose strains reverberate from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley, from town to town, from house to house, piercing every ear and thrilling every breast - ‘THE DESTINIES OF THE LAND ARE CHANGED !’
“It is difficult and almost impossible, to settle down to a calm and philosophical contemplation of the wonderful Present, and of the still more wonderful Future. The mind is so unsettled, the usual habits of calculation are so deranged, that even our Commercial Reports read less like the ordinary details of matters of fact, than like the fantastic fables of ancient romance. refer to these reports in the Herald of last Saturday, and it will be seen that our very brokers, of all men the least addicted as a class to poetry and eloquence, seem for once to have dipped their pens in the colours of the rainbow, and to have depicted the dazzling dreams of imagination, when they ought to have been writing about the dull actualities of trade.
“But these dealers in figures and facts, though caught by the epidemic enthusiasm, do not forget the duties of their vocation. The most wonderful of their relations are nothing more than the relations of passing events. They write about gold as it stands connected with more every day things - the things we eat, and drink, and wear, and use. And they tell us - or rather, as we were already too deeply in the secret - they tell the surrounding colonies, and the British islands, and every country to which the wings of the Australian Press convey intelligence - that this discovery of gold has caused all the necessaries of life to run up to the most extravagant prices, and that if merchants wish to find the best market in the world for their commodities, they must send their ships to Port Jackson as fast as wind, waves, and steam, can carry them.
“And they will do so, and that right early. In our Commercial Intelligence of Saturday, it is stated that many articles have gone up fifty per cent. and that prices keep advancing still, each arrival from the mining district giving a fresh impetus to speculation. And are the speculators so infatuated as to imagine that will last ? Are they so blind as not to see, that they are provoking a reaction which will tell most disastrously against themselves ? Can they assign a valid reason why they should have done as they have been doing, and as they are doing yet ? Can they show that these enormous advances in prices are at all necessary ? The gold has neither increased our population, nor diminished our stocks. We have the same number of mouths to feed, the same number of backs to clothe, and the same means of doing both, in the month of May as we had in the month of April. And although we shall forthwith have a large immigration from the adjacent colonies, that immigration will be accompanied, perhaps preceded, by a proportionate importation of goods. Every hundred persons who leave a neighbouring colony will to that extent diminish the drain on that colony’s supplies, and enable it, to that extent at least, to become an exporter to our shores; whilst the extravagant prices we are paying will induce it to drain itself of articles which under other circumstances might have been deemed indispensable to its own wants. We may rest assured that whatever can be spared, and more than what in ordinary times could be spared, will beshipped off for Sydney, without a moment’s avoidable delay, from every port in which the extremity of our case shall be made known. And we venture to predict, as man far better qualified than ourselves to judge on the subject also predict, that prices will come down as rapidly as they have gone up. Ere many weeks, the Sydney market - generally speaking, not even now deficient - will be glutted.
“As for the effects which may be expected to follow from the arrival of the news in England, we shall make that the subject of a future paper. All we need now say is, that whilst it is certain we shall have plenty of emigrants, it is equally certain we shall have plenty of merchandise too.
“In this trying emergency, our Banks have an important part to play; and the bitter experience of by-gone years ought to be a guarantee that they will play it well. The rampant spirit of speculation must necessarily revive the old trick of kite-flying. Let the Banks be careful not to encourage its players by lending them string. If all paper on which there is the slightest smell of speculation be firmly rejected, the Banks will have done a substantial service to their country in its hour of need.
“THE NEWS FROM THE GOLD FIELD.
“THE excitement which has prevailed in Sydney during the last few days was materially increased yesterday by the arrival from Bathurst of several respectable colonists, who left town about ten days since for the purpose of ascertaining the exact nature of the recent gold discoveries. Mr. HINDSON and Mr. A. C. BROWN (of the firm MORT AND BROWN,) who arrived by the mail, brought down with them gold which they had purchased, valued at L1000. This included two lumps, one of which weighed forty-six ounces, and the other about twenty; it is nearly pure gold, but a very small portion of quartz attached. The large specimen and the smaller one, together with several pieces of about an ounce each, were found in one hole by a person named HENDERSON, residing in Bathurst. On Saturday, a Bathurst blacksmith found eleven pounds weight of gold in one hole. In short, there is no doubt that the creek in which the principal body of the miners is now employed is richer than nay place that has been worked in California.
“It appears that these large pieces are found in a bed of slate, which forms a sort of dam across the Summerhill Creek at the place where it is joined by the Lewis Pond Creek. On this bar there is a thin bed of boulder stones and pebbles, and on removing them a bed of mud a few inches thick is seen, which is cleared away and discovers the slate which is in vertical layers; and in the interstices between the layers of slate the gold is found lying in lumps. The earth on the banks of the creek is found to contain scale gold, which is obtained in the usual manner by washing the soil in cradles, which allow the gold to fall to the bottom as the soil is washed out. This, although there is not such striking individual instances of success, is considered more profitable on an average, than seeking for lumps in the slate bed.
“A great amount of information on the subject will be found in the papers given below, and we would draw particular attention to the fact that three writers, without any communication with each other, dwell on the distress which must befal [sic] hundreds of the miserable dupes who have proceeded, and are proceeding, to the mines without adequate means. A gentleman who arrived in Sydney yesterday, counted eight hundred persons on the road between Bathurst and Parramatta, the greater portion of whom were without common necessaries, and some of them were so destitute that they were actually begging for bread, and craving permission to sleep in outhouses of stables. The result of this infatuation must be disastrous, and is wholly inexcusable, as many of these persons have given up comfortable, and what might have permanent employment, each thinking that he is to be the lucky man whose lot it is to find a large lump of gold.
“There is no reason to doubt that gold will be found in many other districts, their geological features being the same. Indeed, we believe that already gold has been discovered at Lamb’s Valley, near Maitland.
“What will be the result of these discoveries ? That is the question that we must wait for a short time before we attempt to solve; but one thing is certain, the country will be populated; from the neighbouring colonies we may expect an immediate access of thousands; and before twelve months have expired people will be pouring in from all parts of the world. We think at a very moderate estimate that before the end of 1852 we shall have an addition of a hundred thousand souls to our population.
“Mr. HARGRAVES, who brought the subject prominently before the public, returned to Sydney last night to make his report to Government.”
“INFORMATION FROM THE GOLD DISTRICTS.
(From our Special Correspondent.)
“I REACHED Bathurst on Saturday, and found the gold mania still more violent than in Sydney, and much increased by the arrival of a man with a piece of gold, three and-a-half pounds weight, which he turned up, as he says, like a root of potatoes. it had such an effect on him, that he commenced filling his pockets with stones, thinking it all gold, and to-day even has not recovered, so far as to be able to eat. It is scaled up, and as his partners have made him swear not to open the parcel until they are all present, I have not seen it, but there is no doubt of its being there. I need not mention all the lots of gold to be seen here, you will find a list, and an excellent account of the state of Bathurst and the mines in an article in to-day’s Free Press. There is not a doubt of their being gold in large quantities upon the three or four miles of frontage, now forming the gold field; and in unlimited quantities, if such gold fields are scattered over such an extent of country as is reported; but, for there is a but, the Yankees remark upon the Californian mines applies with equal force here, there is gold, plenty, but it takes a tarnation lot of silver to get it. Everything here is exorbitant, flour 42s. a hundred, sugar 6d. per lb. by the bag, and a cradle which a fortnight ago any carpenter would have made for 10s. is now L3. To commence with any chance of success, requires an outlay of at least L10; my own outfit as one of a party, including share of a tent, tools, &c., besides blankets, a month’s rations, without counting my horse, or any expense before starting from Bathurst, will be at least L11. Many men rushed there from Bathurst and the neighbourhood, but now see their folly. A gentleman here tells me, that four men had been at him for employment as shepherds, at little more than the old rate of wages, and one man asked me for employment, producing his character and discharge as formerly. A man who had the wherewithal to go and dig would not engage at any wage till he had tried his hand, but as I said before at least L10 of capital is requisite, and they they go without it must starve or hire at the mines, which is becoming very common I believe. A party in town from the diggings, to-day, engaged a man to take his place at ten shillings a day, finding himself, at the most exorbitant rates, working hard, sleeping cold, and leading the life of a dog. I do not state this by way of discouragement to those who are in circumstances to come, and are ready to work hard, live hard, and encounter at Bathurst winter for the chance of a lump of gold; but to induce people to provide themselves properly, instead of coming like fools to ruin their health without a chance of reward. The stupidity of many in this respect is almost beyond belief; numbers I passed on the road without provision of any kind, either food, or bedding; one, an Irishman evidently, had nothing whatever but a pick without a handle, which he carried over his shoulder by the point, with the air of a second Cortez, marching upon Mexico. Many are totally unfitted for such a life, but the generality of those passed are strong, healthy men, in parties of five and six, with a fair outfit, many of them with a pack-horse or cart among them. Even they, however, seemed to suffer severely from laying on the damp ground in such cold frosty nights as we have. After commencing to rise the mountains from the coast on the first day’s journey they were all alive, and on the grin whenever the mines were mentioned; but next morning they were miserable, and on the third day all I passed were fagged and footsore, with barely spirit to return ‘good day’ to a passer by; and yet they had encountered neither wet nor hunger. What will it be when winter fairly sets in. We must go through all stages of the fever, and the sooner all would-be miners are here and either settle to digging as a business, or return to their old employments, the sooner will it be over; but let them do it like sensible men. The reports about shepherds bolting are most grossly exaggerated; many have done so, no doubt, and are now at the mines; but many have also returned, and are getting in crops of wheat, and some for want of means to work properly. Mr. Suttor’s shepherds are staying as contentedly as if there was no gold in existence. Nearly all the small settlers have returned, and are putting in crops of wheat, as being the safest gold mine for them. Everything along the road is quiet; on the first day I heard of robberies and murders near Bathurst, and here I was asked if it was safe to travel, as there were said to be so many outrages near Sydney. Mr. Suttor’s dray was stopped and robbed in daylight on Bathurst Plains; and there is every reason to expect many similar outrages; so, as the constables were all on the wing for the diggings, there was a meeting of the magistrates on Thursday to devise means for the protection of the district, and they proposed to double the force (independent of the forces at the mines) and to give them 7s. 6d. a day.
Bathurst, Saturday, 24th May.
“P.S. - 11 o’clock P.M., L1000 sterling in gold has, I hear on good authority, been brought in and sold to night; one piece, five pounds weight; but how much per week the 700 diggers have averaged I cannot say.”
“Bathurst, Saturday night, 24th May.
“MY DEAR MORT, - We have just returned from the diggings. All reports as to their yield of gold are true, but the extent of the gold field is problematical. We start in the morning for Sydney, and will be in on Tuesday evening or Wednesday, till when I shall defer further particulars. Strachan and Perrier go down per mail, which carries this letter.
“We have bought (Campbell, Hindson, Ferris, and myself) about L800 of gold at sixty-four shillings, but there is little quartz in it - one piece costs L150.
“Enclosed is a report for the Herald, which I promised to send.
Yours, very truly,
A. C. BROWN.
Thos. S. Mort, Esq., Sydney.”
“Ophir Gold Mines,
23rd May, 1851.
“We started from Sydney on the morning of Saturday, the 17th instant, with the view of obtaining ocular demonstration of the rumoured auriferous wealth of ‘diggings’ near Bathurst; or of reporting the same to be exaggerated, or wholly fictitious. we were joined by another party of mercantile men on the same errand; but as the punt of the Nepean was not working, owing to a slight fresh in the river, our companions returned to Sydney. we were enabled to resume our journey on Monday morning, but with little expectation of seeing the promised land of Ophir, as all parties on the road, whether employers or employees, exhibited great listlessness and apathy on a subject which had set the citizens of the metropolis in such ferment, and this indifference only increased as we more nearly approached the enchanted ground.
“Near Hartley, we were joined by a carriage load of deputies from Parramatta, sent forth to report progress, and with them we proceeded to breakfast at Solitary Creek; the solitude of which was soon disturbed by the arrival of the mail from Bathurst, and the full-toned voice of a worthy citizen, high in municipal honours, who had seen the Elephant, and was most commendably hastening to lay the valuable information he had gained before the Colonial Secretary, with the view of insuring the protection of Her Majesty’s liege subjects in these parts.
“Hastening onwards, we reached Bathurst on Wednesday evening, and found that considerable quantities of gold were daily arriving, and that a large number of artizans, small tradesmen, and domestics had left and were leaving for the gold washings - no much excitement, however, was visible in comparison to what we had seen in Sydney.
“We took a ramble round the town in the evening, and found that nearly all the storekeeprs were in possession of the precious metal - Mr. Austin having two or three hundred pounds worth of superior quality. On Thursday morning, having, with some difficulty, hired horses, we started for Ophir via Rock Forest, formerly the estate of Mr. David Perrier, and now the property of Mr. Green; we were speedily joined by troops of horsemen on the same mission, and passed numbers of pedestrians and drays all eagerly wending their way to the dominions of Prester John; some well enough provided with such rude implements for digging and washing as could steadily be procured at the settlement at any price, there being no limit to the demands made by the fortunate holders of old trays, tin-pots, deal boxes, sheet iron, zinc, riddles, cullenders, and every other article that could by possibility be constructed into a cradle, or the rudest imaginable substitute for one - whilst some unfortunates were journeying wholly unprovided for a dig, under the expectation, like the educated Whittington, of finding Ophir paved with the ‘one thing needful.’
“From the few parties we met returning from the diggings, we made eager enquiries, and found their general responses to be that they had done exceedingly well, but that they were going to the settlement either for supplies or better machinery.
“After staying the night at a shepherd’s hut about twelve miles from the scene of the action, we arrived here early on Saturday morning. The road, until a mile or two of the diggings is exceedingly good, it then assumes a very rugged, mountainous character, with some difficulty passable by vehicles. The creek which they are working is approached by a steep descent, and is bounded on the one side by rocks of quartz and schist, in some places almost perpendicular, rendering many parts of the gully nearly obscured from the rays of the sun, and giving to a sombre and romantic character.
“Arrived at last at the debateable land, we gave our horses in charge to our attendant, and our ‘swag’ to a good-natured occupant of a wigwam, who kindly offered the charge thereof. We then proceeded up the ravine, through which flows usually the Summer Hill Creek - sometimes a mountain torrent, but which now consists of a chain of deep waterholes, with there and there a trifling rivulet. A few hundred yards brought us to the mines, and here a scene presented itself which almost defies description. Within a small compass of about a mile were nearly six hundred man at work digging and washing with an untiring industry at once indicative of success, whilst the steep banks were lined with every species of gunya, tent, &c., as a protection against the inclemency of the climate; the frosty nights of which we can abundantly vouch for.
“As our subject was to collect facts, we at once set about it, and gathering information from the captains of the various parties, we soon arrived at the conclusion that so far as these diggings were concerned, there had been no exaggeration. Many parties we found were earning two to four pounds and upwards; some one pound to two pounds; and a few one pound downwards to utter disappointment; whilst nearly L20 per day was the reported result of one or two of the most fortunate. The greatest success appeared to be at and in the vicinity of the holes of two or three parties formed of settlers and squatters. One man, a labourer, had, near this spot procured about three hundred pounds’ value the day previous to our arrival, the largest piece in which weighed nearly four pounds troy. This result must be considered of the highest importance, especially when we bear in mind the primitive construction of the cradles and other implements employed, indeed, in our observations down the creek, we did not see a single cradle washed out (generally the result of about thirty buckets of earth and stones) without some gold in it, though in many cases the quantity was certainly very small. Many parties washing with tin dishes only, on the margin of the water, obtained a fair esult in fine gold.
“The greatest quietness and cordiality appeared to prevail amongst all the adventurers; and our enquiries were readily and good naturedly responded to. although it might occasion a temporary stoppage to their gold hunting; however, a natural indisposition to disclose the extent of their winnings, prevented us from ascertaining anything beyond an explanation as given above, to their average yield. How long the cordiality which now prevails may continue is very problematical, as the pursuit of gold has ever been an apple of discord, and even thus early we have heard of the assertion of might as the title to a ‘hole.’ There is now plenty of room for some thousands in those portions of the creek now partially occupied, but sooner or latter new arrivals must come in contact with the early diggers, so that the quicker the boundaries and tenure of the allotment of each party are decided, the better. It would be absurd to prevent digging under any proclamations of the rights of Royalty; but if prompt measures are speedily taken for licensing diggers with the concomitant regulations, the discovery of gold may be made a fresh source of great wealth without the destruction of any present enterprise or prejudice to the morality of the colony.
“As to what may be the extent of the gold field we do not pretend to estimate, but the various creeks adjoining that now worked show similar indications, and we have heard of parties operating with success many miles from the present head-quarters.
“Though the reult of the labours of the diggers has been so generally satisfactory, and in several instances so remarkably successful, there does not appear much desire on the part of the pastoral population to abandon their easy life for the laborious and uncertain speculation of gold finding; - from our enquiries we are enabled to state that the accounts which have reached Sydney, as to numbers of shepherds having left their flocks, are almost wholly unfounded.
“Since our return to Bathurst, the town has been greatly excited by the appearance of three of the fortunate parties, of whom we have made mention, with gold to the amount of about L1000. About 100 people are now daily proceeding to the diggings, but every day the numbers are augmenting.
Bathurst, May 24.
“P.S. - we have only to add, in conclusion of the foregoing report, that of about five hundred individuals whom we have met with en route for the diggings, between Bathurst and this, not one tithe of them are equipped for prosecuting their intended pursuits, and many of them must inevitably perish from want and exposure, unless relieved by the generosity of others; on this point, Mr. Hargraves, whose ability and experience has caused the development of the Australian gold mines, will, we understand, speedily give his report, as he is expected in Sydney to-day.
Sydney, 27th May, 1851.”
“To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
“GENTLEMEN, - Having passed on my road from Bathurst from 800 to 1000 people who are off to the diggings, to say nothing of the inability of a great portion of these people to endure the necessary labour to obtain gold, not ten per cent. of the whole have any tools to work with, or a single pound to support themselves during their journey to the mines. Gold digging is very hard work; the season of the year is against carrying on operations in mining; a few hours’ rain would put an entire stop to digging, as the creek rises many feet in a single hour; consequently those parties who go there without the means of supporting themselves until the waters subside, will most bitterly repent the steps they are so unadvisedly taking.
“I regret exceedingly to hear many poor people have left their employment for the purpose of seeking their fortune in the precarious occupation of gold digging. I venture to predict a very small per-centage will do good, and a very great amount of human misery must be the result of this reckless digging mania. I admit most unusual success has been the result of the pioneer miners, but there is no guarantee of its continuance. Indeed I very much question it; therefore, I beg of you to warn those who have employment in the more useful occupations of life, not to leave it, as they will be better off then the gold seekers in the end - independent of the immense risk, exposure, and privation, the latter are subject to.
“I may take this opportunity of saying, with reference to remarks said to have emanated from the Rev. W, B. Clarke, as to prior claims to the discovery of gold, that I never had the slightest idea of any such discovery, if it ever took place; and that I know nothing of any articles on the subject. On this point I may on a future occasion solicit some space in your columns.
“You will exercise your influence as public journalists to check the present excitement which will, I trust, be the means of preventing much suffering amongst the people. Provisions are very high at the diggings, and I see no chance of the unfortunate people getting employment, and do verily believe the people of the County of Bathurst and Wellington, will, in less than thirty days refuse men for their rations only. Time will prove the correctness of the statements of
EDWARD HAMMOND HAGRAVES,
Steamer Comet, May 27.”
(From the Bathurst Free Press.)
“IF it were possible that a human being could be elevated to some given point in the atmosphere, from which he could command a bird’s eye view of the Ophir diggings, from all we can learn, they would bear no inept resemblance to an ant’s nest, to and from which by numerous tracks and avenues the busy stir of animal life was constantly thronging. Or rather, the diggings may be regarded as a vast reservoir of human industry towards which the surrounding country is daily pouring its contributions of labour by tributary streams. Daily arrivals of all ranks and classes from the metropolis are taking place. Nothing is talked of, thought of, dreamt of, but gold. There are few single men left in Bathurst, and the great majority of the married ones remain behind from sheer necessity. In a few weeks, perhaps days, we expect Bathurst, like San Francisco at the outbreak of the California gold-fever, will become a community of women. In short we may hope everything, fear many things, but calculate upon nothing with safety, but gold.
“For good or evil, for weal or for woe, the truth must be told. Notwithstanding the numberless cautions and warnings, which are poured upon us at the corners of streets, not to ruin the district by inflaming men’s minds, we are constrained to follow one of two courses - either to remain silent, or write what we know. As we cannot afford to adopt the former course, we must e’en chose the latter, and leave the consequences to righteous Providence. So far from doing an injury by speaking of things as they are, we shall be conferring a public benefit by correcting the thousand-and-one tales of absurdity and exaggeration which are everywhere afloat. From the variety and respectability of our sources of information, we can vouch for the correctness, as nearly as correctness can be arrived at, of the following details.
“At the present time there are about 1000 people at the mines, and the number is daily increasing. A friend of ours, who returned thence a few days ago, informed us that he met 72 on the road from Bathurst, and when it is considered that Ophir is the centre of an immense circle, from which many new trodden roads radiate in all directions, and that a steady stream of human beings is daily flowing from each, some idea may be formed of the rapid increase of the digging population. About three miles of a frontage are occupied with this busy throng. Every village of the surrounding country is emptying itself, or sending forth its quota to the great gathering. From a letter received from Carcoar by the last mail, we learn that it is nearly deserted. Fresh faces are to be daily seen in our streets which by the following day have disappeared, their places being supplied by others; and if our readers are anxious to know what has become of them, we simply tell them that they are off to the diggings. A few days ago, a band of about a dozen women left Bathurst for the diggings, and since that time several small knots of females have started for that locality, where we are informed they drive a profitable trade by the washing-tub. Tents and gunyas are rearing their heads in every quarter, but hundreds receive no other protection from the weather than a few boughs thrown together after the fashion of a black-fellow’s mansion. In fact the whole settlement has the appearance of a vast aboriginal camp. The precipitous ridges on each side of the creek are studded with horses by the hundred, which after a few days’ naturalization to their new homes, begin to look as rugged and haggard as their masters. The diggings commence at the junction of the Summerhill and Lewis’ Ponds Creek, and extend downwards towards the Macquarie. Several stores have been opened, and it is said are doing a roaring trade, taking gold in payment for their goods. The neighbouring flocks supply the miners with mutton, and we hear that it is in contemplation to erect stock-yards to slaughter cattle in. Meat readily fetches 4d. per lb., and we have heard several instances in which enormous prices have been given for bread. From the miserable shelter and generally inadequate outfit of scores, whom the mania has allured thither, there can be little doubt that many are paving their way to the grave. And whilst on this part of our subject, we will tender a little advice to intending miners. Before going to Ophir, you must recollect that it is a miserably cold place, and that you require not only plenty of warm bedding, but a tarpauling [sic] or some such convenience for shelter - that as there is abundance of hard work before you, in the performance of which you are sure to get wet, and during a portion of the time must stand in the water, plenty of food is an indispensable requisite. Again, a regular set of tools, comprising shovels, pick-axes, a crowbar, tin-dishes for ladling the water, a cradle, &c., is absolutely necessary. If you have means to obtain all these you may stand your chance of finding more or less of the auriferous wealth of Ophir; if not, stop at home and mind your ordinary business, if you have any to mind, and we will hazard a guess that in the end you will be as rich as the gold-digger, with perhaps a much sounder constitution. Even at the present time there are much hunger and suffering which do not meet the eye.
“On Tuesday last, C. H. Green, Esq., Commissioner for Crown Lands for this district, started for the diggings, accompanied by the District Inspector of Police, Major Wentworth, and the Chief Constable, with the object of serving notices to the miners that they were trespassing. As there appears to have been no sincere intention of interfering with the men, the real purpose of the visit most probably was to assert the rights of the Crown in a formal manner. Whilst there, Mr. Green observed two men at work, who in a short space of time took out several lumps of gold weighing about a pound. On Thursday, we inspected ten parcels of the precious metal, which had been purchased by Mr. Austin from as many individuals, all of whom appear to have been unusually successful. For most of these samples Mr. Austin at the rate of L3 4s. per ounce. One was marked Charles Collins - one of two men who had been absent from home 50 hours, including the journey to and from the mines. Opposite his name the sum L10 12s. 1d. was marked as the amount paid for the parcel, which consisted of seven or eight lumps all flat, the largest of the weighing something under 2 ounces. These pieces were found in the crevices of rocks. Another parcel, consisting principally of small pieces and dust, had been brought in by a butcher who goes by the name of Lanky. It was marked 14 1/2 ounces, and was the produce of five men’s labour for two and a half days. For this parcel the respectable sum of L44 10s. had been paid. Another marked Edward Bunnan, 7 ozs. 3 dwts. 2 grs. had L21 marked opposite. Whilst in Mr. Austin’s store Mr. Neil Stewart, a nephew of Major-General Stewart, came with the produce of what he informed us was a day’s severe toil. It was weighed on the counter and valued at L2 2s. A man named Smith is said to have found a piece of about four ounces in weight. Mr. Thomas Piper, son of Captain Piper, has a piece worth about L5. Mr. Horan, publican, who has been at work in company with others about eight hours, returned to town on Monday last with 5 1/2 ounces, a great portion of which had been procured from the very top of the ridge, the sods and earth having been conveyed to the creek in buckets to be washed. Dr. M’Hattie dug and washed most vigourously for about two hours on Monday last, and brought home 12s. worth of the precious metal. As Mr. Austin is at present the only buyer in town to any extent, we may safely conclude that the great bulk of whatever gold may have been dug still remains at the mines. Altogether we have not seen more than 5 lbs. in the town.
“Having stated a few facts, it is our duty to warn the public against leaping at hasty conclusions. The success of ten or a dozen men is not to be understood as the gauge by which the luck of all is to be measured, and although the general impression of respectable people seems to be that most of the diggers are procuring more or less gold in return for their labour, it must be recollected that that there are hundreds of whose success or failure we are unable to speak. That there are many cases of failure we have been repeatedly informed, and know of instances in which shepherds have been hired at the diggings, who have been starved and worked into intense disgust against gold finding, and left the place much poorer than they arrived at it. Indeed it would almost appear probable that the future progress of this district is to be purchased at the expense of the prosperity of the neighbouring district - a consummation which we should deplore equally with our neighbours.
“One effect of the discovery is a general rise of wages, and in some cases men are demanding rates which are not only monstrously unreasonable, but absolutely ruinous to the employers. Storekeepers are very careless about selling at all, but when they do sell the prices are exorbitantly high. The labour market is in chaotic confusion, and if wages are to be regulated by the supposed profits of gold-digging there is an end to every other pursuit. We must in such case all pack up and start for the land of Ophir. Blacksmiths,carpenters, shoemakers, wheelwrights, and in some cases storekeepers, are left to the management of their own businesses.
“From the foregoing relation of facts, some idea may be formed of the state of our town and district. In sober seriousness ‘the time are out of joint.’ The wisest men are mere children in the matter, and are as little aware how it will end. At the present time many of the poor people of the town are suffering for want of bread, yet the accursed thirst for gold is impelling with headlong madness, hundreds away from their comfortable homes or hired service, where their bodily wants were safely provided for. Most certainly must we conclude that whatever of good comes out of the discovery, it belongs to the future.
“LATEST FROM THE DIGGINGS.
“The following laconic epistle came to hand yesterday from a friend : - ‘Dear Sir, People are coming here by hundreds. If no other mines be discovered it will soon be a case with us. All the good ground is taken up. and will soon be worked out. Even now we are treading on each other’s toes. It is a dreadfully hard life even for the strongest. I am well myself and doing well, Yours, truly ___.’ ”
“ANOTHER MINE SPRUNG. - A rumour prevails about town that another mine has been discovered on the property of Mr. Andrew Gardener, Antonio’s Creek, old Sydney road, distant about 34 miles from Bathurst. It is said that some of the gold found there has been taken to Sydney for sale. In these times, however, we pledge ourselves to the correctness of nothing, unless very respectably substantiated. There are many more unlikely things, nevertheless, than such a discovery.”
“REPORTED DISCOVERY. - Information has just reached us that Mr. W. F. Jones, formerly of the Commissariat Department, and Mr. Murray, of Springfield, who have been latterly engaged in an exploratory expedition about the creeks and ranges of the Canoblas, have succeeded in discovering gold in the Oakey Creek, which rises just below ‘the old man,’ and empties itself into the Belabula Rivulet. This is far from impossible as the Summer Hill Creek, in which the Ophir diggings are situated, takes its rise from the same source. The ground on Oakey Creek is Government land, and forms part of the pre-emptive right of W. Lawson, Esq., of Prospect.”
“FURTHER INTELLIGENCE. - We yesterday conversed with two respectable individuals just returned from the mines, who had just left with a little bit of gold, and a belly-full of hard work and starvation. Both agreed that gold was to be had, but at a sacrifice of anything like comfort, , and stated that unless to men who had been accustomed to hard work and exposure, gold digging and its accompaniments were the very extreme of misery.”