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me to creep in blanket, I rollen had in
collection of tents were, in hopes of finding some place for rest, and some grass for our horses ... A friend with whom I happened to fall in, allowed me to creep into his tent, and having obtained the loan of a blanket, I rolled myself up in it, munched a biscuit which I had in my pocket, and then lay down on the floor and soon fell asleep, thinking how many, with feather beds and pillows, would sleep less soundly.
“ After an early breakfast, I rode slowly up the valley, visiting several gold-washers on my way, and buying a little gold. These diggings are of a very different character to those at Ballarat, being much more widely distributed; consequently, the tents of the diggers are scattered up and down the various valleys over a considerable distance, more or less thickly, according to the richness of the locality. After looking about us and making some inquiry, we decided upon pitching a tent (if we could get one) close to the Commissioner's, where I could carry on the business of gold-buying. Meanwhile we made a few purchases, and at night got accommodation in the tent of an acquaintance. No tent was to be bought or borrowed, and therefore as there was no time to lose, we set about making one. We got the loan of a tarpauling, and then set to work, dug holes,
cut down trees, stripped some bark off others, in which, by-the-bye, a black fellow helped us, and by night had our tent pretty well secured. You would have laughed, or perhaps stared with astonishment, if you had seen me one minute chopping away a tree, or carrying it on my shoulder, and the next sitting on a log, weighing gold, and counting out the bank notes, for we did not lose any opportunity of buying when it occurred.
" The next day was Saturday (the 15th).We were again early at work. Did more to our tent, and bought more gold ... My furniture consists of a piece of bark stripped from a gum-tree, and nailed to four bits of rough wood in the form of a table (on which, moreover, I am now writing), on which I weigh my gold; my wardrobe, what I brought on horseback, and a pair of blankets. On Sunday, when I was as glad of a day of rest as any of the diggers, I read the Church service to myself, and only went out a little in the afternoon, when the weather cleared up.
“Monday, 17th.—I was busy all day long buying gold, writing letters for the post, and in the evening making up my bags of gold for the Government escort, which was to leave Melbourne the following morning. I found I had purchased altogether just 600 ounces, for which
I paid on an average about fifty-seven shillings per ounce.
“ The following morning presented a bustling and picturesque scene, when the escort was preparing to start. Previously to this week only two lots had been sent down from here by Government, and each time on horseback; but the success of the diggers had so increased, that there was now gold to the amount of 25,0001., and a chaise-cart was necessary. The cavalcade consisted of two mounted troopers ahead, then the chaise-cart, driven by an officer with an armed guard beside him, and six more troopers on horseback behind, four of them, I think, of the native black police. The pretty scene alluded to was when all this was preparing.
The hilly open forest land is in itself park-like, and on a rising ground the Commissioner's establishment is placed, consisting of several tents and two or three gungas, or bark-huts, made by the native police, after their own fashion. The troopers' horses were standing about ready saddled, and the men themselves, both black and white, and in various costumes, gave life to the picture, while of course some interest was added by the knowledge of the valuable load contained in the cart, and the rugged forest country through which it had to travel. I lost sight of the train as it wound
among the trees, and in due time heard that it had safely reached its destination. ... My occupation during the remainder of the week was very uniform, but I occasionally took a ride or walk among the gold-finders, but did not like to leave my tent for long at a time, as my companion had now left me. About this part there are two kinds of diggings; surfacedigging, which is simply skimming off a thin layer of gravel from the surface of some of the hills, to the depth of a few inches, when a bed of gravel is reached, and hole-digging, which is digging down in hollow places in the streams, and between hills, and searching the fissures which exist between the slate-rock there found. Both kinds have proved very profitable to many. As an extreme case, three men, last week, got above 30 lbs. weight of gold in less than two days, out of a little patch of gravel of a few feet square, and not more than six inches deep. And, as an extreme case of hole-digging, I heard to-day of four men who took seven pint pots of gold out of a hole, or fissure, on Tuesday last. What a pint pannikin of gold weighs, I do not know, but, at a rough guess, I should think this prize would be worth not less than 3,0001. Of course these are but two extraordinary cases among some thousands of diggers; but, nevertheless, the great number of persons who are
getting rich in this district is almost incredible. It is really most absurd to see rough, illiterate labourers come with their ounces and pounds of gold tied up in a bit of dirty rag, and sometimes to see them turn out of their dirty pockets, among bits of tobacco, bread, &c. twenty or thirty shillings' worth of the loose grains that have escaped the fragile package. Most of them bring it in the little round wooden matchboxes.
“ The main valley of the diggers, which extends to where I am located, for about four miles, has an extraordinary aspect by day, from the number of tents and diggers scattered throughout it; and still more so by night, when the multitude of fires would lead a person to suppose that he was looking down upon a large town, till, on near approach, he perceives that each fire has its own little group of men clustered round it in front of their tent, some of them cooking their supper, some smoking their pipes, and not a few singing songs; each group presenting him, as he rides along, with a series of tableaux worthy of the pencil of a Teniers.
“ The following Sunday was a finer day than the last. In the morning I took my nag, which had fared but badly on his tether lately, about a mile away, where there was some good feed; and while he enjoyed a couple of hours of sweet grass,