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The Geelong Advertiser describes conditions in the Gold Fields at Buninyong


 


Dear Grandpa Pencil looks at early Australian development through journals, official reports and newspaper excerpts of the day. Readers should remember that these accounts are based on personal observations at the time and some have, since, been shown to be flawed.

An eyewitness account of the labour and returns on the buninyong Gold Fields published in the Geelong Advertiser, 10th September, 1851.

Monday morning: I write in the flush of great expectations realised, and with firm founded hope of still greater ones to be developed into facts, perhaps in a few hours, for every day is pregnant with important discovery, and good news comes on so fast, that it bids fair to trip up it's antecedent.

I think I may claim for this missive the character of being one of the most important ever transmitted to Geelong - one fraught with the greatest importance to society of every grade, and which will be the herald of a new order of things in this colony in general, and to the Geelong district in particular.

The difficulty is to sober down my statements, so as to give them as much as possible the hue of every day occurrences and to limit the truth within it's narrowest bourne, so as to prevent excitement overflowing it's legitimate channel.

Let me then say, that success has exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine, and that Geelong may proudly boast, without fear of contradiction, that she possesses a gold field as rich as any ever yet discovered, and tenanted by denizens of her own, whose labours in the busy scene are repaid by a golden harvest - a proper recompense for hard toil and enterprise expended.

Here is no grumbling, no quarrelling, but happy faces from break of day to night fall - one continued scene of unceasing industry and unbroken application to the attainment of the object in view.

Out of a hundred and twenty on the ground, there is not one idle hand.

I never witnessed such a cheerful, untiring scene of industry in my life, carried on in silence, broken only by the rocking of the cradle, or the exclamations elicited by an extraordinary yield, or the upturning of a 'nugget'.

I begin to look with veneration on a cradle, and regard a tin dish with awe, and a colander as a sacred utensil, debased when applied to culinary purposes, ever since I saw twenty three pieces of gold, too large to be riddled through it's perforations, taken as a portion of one cradle yield; three of the pieces were as peas and the remainder the size of swan drops.

I have seen half an ounce turned out from one tin dish full taken from the cradle! and on Saturday evening three quarters of an ounce was netted by similar operation.

Three ounces are dispatched by this mail by Mr. Veitch to Mr. Drummond, of Geelong, which I refer to as fair specimens of our yield. Mr. Veitch purchased 20 ounces this week. Mr. Aitkens made one purchase of 7 ounces, from two parties, and twelve pounds worth since, the proceeds of the weeks work; and about five ounces from a party just arrived from the Pyrenees.

As statistics are regarded with a favourable eye, I subjoin the following as a foreshadowing of our auspicious future:-

Fish and his mate, ten ounces a fortnight; Browne's party, two ounces and a half a day; Hayden, a quarter of an ounce yesterday; Holmes; a quarter of an ounce yesterday; Connor and party, two and a half ounces a day; Mills and party, half an ounce a day; Messrs. Day, Garlick, and party, two and a half to three ounces a day; McDonald and party, one ounce a day; Howe and Patterson's party, an ounce a day; Oddie and party, two ounces a day; Anderson's party, an ounce a day; Marshall and Mill, two ounces a day; Grant's party, an ounce a day; Gundry's party, an ounce a day; Marshall and Mill, two ounces a day; Furby and Richards, an ounce and three quarters a day; Greenwood and party, three quarters of an ounce a day; Dunlop and Regan, four ounces and a hundred and four grains in three days; Donovan and Cauming, an ounce per day, very fine gold and a splendid specimen in quartz weighing about a quarter of an ounce; Haley and Settington, two and a half ounces in four days, with tin dishes; Marshall and Mill, two and a half ounces a week, with tin dishes and another party, half an ounce a day; One party who had just begun operations obtained half an ounce from three cradles full; One party of four, I saw, weigh four ounces as the proceeds of one day's labour; and Mr. Greenwood informs me that late on Saturday evening, after I left the ground, two parties agreed to toss for choice of ground, and the winner beginning operation at once, dug out of the ground, from one spot, about two pounds and a half weight of gold, a statement which Mr. Harper verifies.

 


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