The State Library of Victoria has acquired a diary of a digger in Ballarat in 1855. It is incredible. The author is believed to be a Scotsman and records daily life in meticulous detail. Sovereign Hill’s Barry Kay has recorded some excerpts. Reproduced with kind permission of the State Library of Victoria.
Click on the date to play an mp3 file.
11 July - Dispute and walk
Our diarist chooses a claim only to have it disputed by “a Dundee man”. He walks out to Slaty Creek and stays with friends, two men sleeping in a stretcher 2 feet (60 cm) wide!
14 July - A Great Lark
A newly married woman tries to trick an older man.
24 July - A Long Day
Our man works in a wet drive only 2 feet high and ends up with sore kness and neck. He tells us of other parties finds.
30 July Dr. Doyle
Our diarist is ill and seeks the help of Dr. Doyle whos “sounds his bones” before prescribing. We hear of his evening duties.
10 August The Bengal Tiger
The Bengal Tiger owned by the Montezuma Hotel escapes and causes havoc in Main Road.
11 August Poulticed Hand
Our Miner helps a friend with a very swollen and sore hand and arm.
14 August Concert at The Star Hotel
After a long day our miner attends a concert at the Star Hotel.
10 Sept Rain and Lost Gold
The weather is terrible today, pouring in torrents. A friend drops and loses his gold.
11 September Dreadful Weather
A big storm washes away precoius wahdirt containing gold..
17 September Photographed in Clay
Our miner is working in a very wet shaft. He comes up covered in clay and decides to go to the photographers to get his “likeness’ taken
23 September Death in a Mine
We hear of the tragic death of two men in one mine from foul air.
25 October Huge Thunderstorm
Our miners get caught in a storm while camping in the bush to cut slabs for their mine.
14 November Of crows, mint, flowers and possums
Spring is in the air.
1 December Fire in Main Road
Our diarist records the scene the day after a tragic fire in Main Road that claimed 11 people.
2 December Dunnekin and Dinner
The diggers build a “dunnekin” and enjoy Sunday dinner
12 December Flood
A storm floods the flat
16 December More Storms
This storm is so bad our miner is nearly swept away
20 December Cut to the Bone
Talk turns to mines and shares and the diarist cuts his finger to the bone