The Australian Goldrushes: A Historical Report

Stages and Phases

Title The Australian Goldrushes

General statement

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Time

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The Australian goldrushes are significant in Australian nineteenth-century history. The first verified discovery of gold was around Bathurst, New South Wales, in 1851. Goldfields were then established in areas around the nation. People came from all over the world with the intention of striking it rich. Between 1845 and 1896 Australia’s population more than doubled, going from 400 000 to 1 000 000 people.

Description

Environment

Accommodation

At first, goldfields were established in rough environments longside rivers. As the claims of success and wealth grew, the sites became busy. The surrounding ridges became huge campsites housing prospectors and their families as well as tradespeople attracted by other work prospects. People lived in tents at first; later, huts made from wood, canvas, and bark were common. Over time the goldfields became towns and cities. At the start of a goldrush site, there were very few roads, meaning that everything had to be carried in from the surrounding townships. As the site developed, people travelled on horseback or wheeled their possessions in barrows.

Transport

Employment opportunities

Nutrition and health

While it was the opportunity of striking it rich that attracted many, other people stayed for the other job opportunities. Mostly, the people who flourished at teh goldfields were the tradespeople selling food and equipment and the landowners, selling land to people for homes. The diigings also provided employment in services such as laundry, inns, and boarding houses, and even hospitals.

Health and hygiene became an issue on the diggings. People lived on a basic diet of damper, tea, and mutton, which didn’t provide the necessary nutrition and variety. Sewage was not correctly disposed of and, as a result, clean drinking and washing water became contaminated. In addition to this, diseases and epidemics were brought to the diggings by the people arriving from overseas by ship. While there were doctors and nurses, they could not deal with the numbers so many people died from illnesses such as dysentry and typhoid.

Historical significance of the goldrushes The goldrushes played an important role in building the Australian nation. They were responsible for diversifying an economy formerly based on wheat and sheep. The influx of immigrants contributed to a multicultural society. The heritage of the goldrush era is still apparent in many of the public buildings in cities such as Bathurst and Ballarat.

Teaching Language in Context, Beverly Derewianka and Pauline Jones, Oxford, 2013

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