Blog: Gold Rush in 1850s Ballarat and Bendigo

Blog: Gold Rush in 1850s Ballarat and Bendigo


By Evan Papamichael



Edited by: BRUCE Moore, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Australia, 2000


Definition of: digger hunt…   “A raid made by police on a Goldfield for the purpose of hunting down DIGGERS lacking a LICENCE” (Moore: p.32, 2000)

In Ballarat in (1855), one such hunt was made prior to the Eureka Stockade and resulted in conflict.

The Ballarat and Bendigo Gold Diggers faced harsh and unfair conditions. They were dictated by the legal authorities and government officials; to purchase a licence fee; in order to have permission, to mine for gold.

Not all had the financial resources, to make the payment. It was difficult for them to search for little or any precious metal; to support themselves monetarily or to “make it rich”; with an “easy strike of fortune”; which was the primary reason why; most of them headed to the Gold Fields in the first place.


Definition of: digger’s bride…   “The bride of a DIGGER, often described in terms of nouveau riche ostentation. She was “a magnificently dressed female “[who had] “the blessings of musk and lavender – water on all around her.”   (Moore: p. 33, 2000)


By personifying these women as “nouveau riche” suggests that they were as upper class and affluent as the middle class Europeans in Western Europe; who were so wealthy that they purchased a “nobility title”; and, resided in the court of King Louis XIV, in 17th Century France.


Definition of: digger’s costume    “The characteristic attire of a DIGGER, consisting of a BLUE [or red] SHIRT, MOLESKIN TROUSERS, bush boots [and he was] a “good – looking man” [dressed in] “a blue or scarlet woollen jumper, mostly worn as a shirt, a pair of moleskin or corduroy trousers, well stained with yellow clay; hats, often huge water-proof ones; and broad-brimmed cabbage – tree hats, or drab or green wide-awakes.” (Moore: p.33, 2000)

These men were considered “good looking” and “gentlemen like” because they were in some cases; able to arrive at the Gold Fields penniless; and, return to their mother country; or move to the rich city of Melbourne; as Bloated Capitalists. They were dressed as European Nobility; and, they were considered as: Suitors, Capitalists, Professionals; and, classy Men of Australian Society.

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