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fact was certain, that a large quantity of gold was lying in the bank at Bathurst, waiting a safe conveyance to Sydney, and that the whole of Mr. Wentworth's property near Bathurst (Fitzgerald's Valley) was found to be one large gold-field.
colony to the locality of Bathurst to dig for gold, many of the parties only provided with a pocket knife, and a tin mug, and many even without these rude implements, fancying, perhaps, that lumps, large as eggs, were lying about ready to be picked up and pocketed. When the news reached the colony of Victoria, an equal degree of excitement was produced there also, and every vessel that could be spared was instantly laid on to convey the population from Melbourne and Geelong to Sydney. All existing interests in New South Wales appeared to be in danger of disorganization, while the sister colonies were threatened with depopulation and absolute ruin. In order to prevent, if possible, these results, the corporate bodies connected with the various principal towns and districts offered considerable rewards for the discovery of gold in their own immediate localities; and as the knowledge gradually spread that one part of the great Australian Cordillera was as likely to yield gold as another, a large number of exploring parties was soon eagerly engaged in the search. The result was beyond the most sanguine expectation. One locality after another was tested and found not wanting, and the richness of the latter discoveries outshone that of the former.
But the discoveries in the Colony of Victoria were the most astounding. When the inhabitants of that colony were in the full tide of emigration from Melbourne to Sydney with the intention of rushing to the Bathurst diggings, the news was suddenly promulgated, not only that the reward offered by the corporation had met with a claimant, but that the Buninyong range, the gold locality there, was actually far richer in its yield than the Blue Mountains. The emigration was at once stopped, and the numerous vessels which for weeks had been employed in emptying Victoria of its inhabitants, were immediately engaged in conveying the number back again with interest. The Ballarat diggings were the first which attracted attention there, but they were speedily eclipsed by the richer produce of Mount Alexander, and in a comparatively short period, upwards of 25,000 pairs of hands were engaged in digging, washing, rocking, crushing, buying and selling gold. A letter from a gentleman at Geelong thus describes the gold-field of the Buninyong range, and the richness of its produce of the precious metal:
“ Boninyong is an inland town, about fifty miles from Geelong, and it takes its name from a high volcanic mount, called by the aboriginal term Boninyong. The gold field of which I am now writing is a spur of this mount, which stretches out for many miles. The first Boninyong gold did not yield satisfactorily, and a proclamation of his Excellency C. J. Latrobe, promising the enforcement of thirty shillings a-month licence, disturbed the diggers, who spread over the neighbouring ranges, and by sheer accident hit upon the finest gold field ever known, within six miles of the one they had deserted, and in a continuation of the same range, on a sheep station held by Alexander Tuille, Esq. The yield of this field from the commencement was good. Individuals procured from a quarter of an ounce to an ounce per day. The yield then rose to three and four ounces per man, and the public were electrified by the news that three individuals had found twenty-seven ounces in two hours. It is true; I know the men, and helped to weigh the gold. Within a fortnight there were 8,000 men at Ballarat. Ballarat is the name of this gold field; it is the Ararat on which the ark of Victoria rested, and saved the colony. Within a week of this period the diggers turned out gold in pounds weight daily. I have seen 51. refused for a lump of earth no bigger than a man's fist; I have seen two shovels-full of earth yield 601. worth of gold: 7,000 ounces have been sent down to Geelong and Melbourne in one week. Nuggets are being turned up hourly; I have seen them from a quarter of an ounce to seven pounds and a half weight. In one word, gold is an ordinary article of merchandise; and men, clad in a blue shirt and fustian trowsers, are bringing into Geelong hourly gold dust and nuggets, wrapped up in rags, old stockings, pieces of handkerchiefs, and such like, to the amount of thousands. Men are realizing from 3001. to 4001. in three or four weeks, and many of my own acquaintance, who had hardly a pound to bless themselves with three months ago, are now possessed of 7001. and 8001. a-piece. One man returned to Geelong with fifty pounds weight to his own share, the result of one month's work. From carefully drawn statistics, it is predicted, that, if the present rate of yield continue, we shall be able to export gold to the amount of five millions at least, during the ensuing twelvemonth.
“ Independent of Ballarat, new diggings have been discovered at Mount Alexander, equidistant between Geelong and Melbourne, * and the yield at this latter place beggars description.
* This statement of position is ambiguous; Mount Alexander is certainly nearly equidistant from Geelong and Melbourne, being about 80 or 90 miles from either, but it is not between them, as it is at a point forming the apex of an irregular acute triangle, on a base line drawn between the two towns, the base line being the shortest.