Australian gold rush timeline
The first major mineral discovery - gold - was a turning point or landmark for
Australian society. The initial stages of the gold rush were responsible for
tremendous changes in the community, bringing Australia's first great waves of
immigration from countries other than England and Ireland.
Ambitious prospectors from Asia, Europe and America made the trek to the
goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria, and Bathurst in New South Wales,
in the hope of striking it rich. This influx of people brought many social changes,
including an increase in racial tensions with the persecution of some groups,
notably the Chinese.
1823" Government Surveyor James McBrien discovers traces of gold in the Fish
River, east of Bathurst.
1839" Explorer and geologist Paul de Strzelecki discovers small amounts of gold
in silicate near Hartley in the Blue Mountains. On hearing of the find, New
South Wales Governor George Gipps officially requests that no mentions are
made of it in de Strzelecki's reports.
Early gold discoveries were greeted with fear. Members of the governing class
were afraid that the news of gold discoveries would encourage convicts and free
settlers to abandon the cities and newly established townships in their search
1840" William Campbell finds gold on his sheep run in Strathlodden, Victoria, in
1844" Clergyman and amateur geologist William Branwhite Clarke discovers
traces of gold at Hassan's Wells, near Lithgow. When presented with these new
discoveries, Governor George Gipps responds, 'Put it away, Mr Clarke, or we
shall all have our throats cut.'
" Governor George Gipps moves to suppress all reports of gold discoveries
in New South Wales.
The 1850s saw the beginnings of the great Australian 'gold rush'. Large gold
deposits were discovered in various parts of Australia, particularly in the
eastern States. A significant development at this time was the establishment of
the Sydney Mint. This was the first Royal Mint to be established outside of
England. Between 1851 and 1861, Australia produced one third of the world's
1851" First payable gold discovered at Ophir in NSW - beginning of the great
Australian gold rush
1854" Gold miners rebel at Eureka in Victoria, in protest at the conditions
imposed by the 'Miner's Licence'. The rebellion led to the abolition of the
1855 " British Secretary of State gives permission for the establishment
of the Sydney Mint. This was the first Royal Mint to be established outside of
One memorable find during this decade was the Welcome Stranger nugget, by
Richard Oates and John Deason in Moliagul, Victoria.
1866" Gold discovered in Queensland, at Rockhampton.
1869" 'Welcome Stranger' nugget discovered by John Deason and Richard
Oates in Moliagul, Victoria. It is the world's largest nugget found to date.
The 1870s saw the discoveries of gold in South Australia and Queensland.
Interest in these colonies intensified as people started moving to the scenes of
gold discoveries in the hopes of striking it rich.
1870" Rich gold deposits found in North Queensland. " First gold discovered
in SA at Birdwood.
1872" World's largest piece of gold-bearing material, the Holtermann Nugget (a
mixture of slate and gold weighing 235 kg) found by William Holtermann at Hill
The 1880s were a boom time for Western Australia. In 1862 the Western
Australian Government had offered £5000 to anyone who could find payable
gold deposits. As a result, gold was found in large deposits in several parts of
the State. These discoveries led to greater prosperity for many and brought
economic stability to the State.
1885" First WA gold discoveries at Halls Creek. Triggers gold rush in WA.
1887" Large amounts of gold found at the Murchison goldfield, WA.
With the discovery of major gold deposits in WA, moves were made towards
combining the colonies into one nation. Prior to the discoveries, the government
of WA had been reluctant to join the other colonies as they felt they would
have little influence on any decisions made by a Federal Government. With the
new found wealth that the gold brought, they decided to become part of the
1892" Bayley and Ford discover large gold deposits at Coolgardie in WA.
1893" Hannan's discovery at Kalgoorlie, the last and most important early
1899" The Perth Mint established to profit from Australia's richest goldfield at