Go to the Mobile Site

Goldfields Quotes Page 2

  Survey of Bendigo - James Bonwick

” We live in canvas homes, or huts of bark and logs…Our furniture is of simple character. A box, a block of wood, or a bit of paling across a pail, serves as a table … We have those who indulge in plates, knives and forks but … the washing of plates and cleaning of knives and forks require an application of cleanliness most foreign to the … diggings. Besides, chops can be picked out of the frying pan, placed on a lump of bread, and cut with a clasp knife that has done good service in fossicking during the day”

… “And yet, in spite of the weather, exposure, dust, mud, filth, flies and fleas, the diggings have such attractions that even the unlucky must come back for another trial. The wild, free and independent life appears the great charm. They have no masters. They go where they please and work when they will.”

(James Bonwick, Notes of a Gold Digger and Gold Digger’s Guide, E. Connebee, Melbourne, 1852 as quoted in Nancy Keesing (ed) History of the Australian Gold Rushes by those who were there. Angus and Robertson, Melbourne 1981 edition. P 157 &159)


  Never shall I forget that scene - Ellen Clacy

Never shall I forget that scene, it well repaid a journey even of sixteen thousand miles. The trees had been all cut down; it looked like a sandy plain, or one vast unbroken succession of countless gravel pits.”

(Ellen Clacy, A Lady’s Visit to the Gold-Diggings of Australia in 1852-3, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1963 (first published 1853)


  Night at the diggings - Ellen Clacy

Night at the diggings is the characteristic time; murder here - murder there - revolvers cracking - blunderbusses (big firearms) bombing - rifles going off - balls whistling - one man groaning with a broken leg - another shouting because he couldn’t find his way to his hole, and a third equally vociferous (loud) because he has tumbled into one - this man swearing - another praying - a party of bacchanals (drunks) chanting various ditties to different time and tune, or rather minus both.”

(Ellen Clacy, A Lady’s Visit to the Gold-Diggings of Australia in 1852- 3, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1963 (first published 1853))


  The Commissioner’s Report - John Richard Hardy, first Gold Commissioner in New South Wales Camp, June 1851

…I am happy to say that I have not experienced the slightest trouble or annoyance from any person here; they refer all their disputes to me without attempting to settle them by violence, and submit to my decision without murmur. I have not sworn in any special constables; it is perfectly unnecessary, for everything goes on in as orderly and quiet a manner as in the quietest English town. There is no drinking or rioting going on.”

(John Richard Harding, Further Papers Rel;ative to The Discovery of Gold in Australia, Parliamentary Papers, Great Britain and Ireland, H.M. Stationery Office, 1852 as quoted in Nancy Keesing (ed) History of the Australian Gold Rushes by those who were there. Angus and Robertson, Melbourne 1981 edition. P 26 & 27)


  What Men! - William Howitt

What men! and what costumes! Huge burly fellows with broad, battered straw or cabbage-tree hats, huge beards, loose blue shirts, and trowsers (sic) yellow with clay and earth, many of them showing that they had already been digging in Sydney, where there is so much gold, but according to fame, not so abundant or so pure as in this colony; almost every man had a gun, or pistols in his belt, and a huge dog, half hound half mastiff, led by a chain. Each had his bundle, containing his sacking to sleep upon, his blanket and such slight change of linen as these diggers carry. They had, besides, their spades and picks tied together; and thus they marched up the country, bearing with them all they want, and lying out under the trees.”

(William Howitt, Land, Labour, and Gold: or Two Years in Victoria With Visits to Sydney and Van Diemon’s Land, Longmans, London,1855)


 A crisis has arrived - William Howitt

Hermsprong …was appointed to the post of Inspector of Police on one of the chief diggings…Nothing was so frequent in the newspapers and police reports as the exploits of Hermsprong, in discovering, fining and burning down the tents of sly grogsellers. …

A poor Irishwoman was left a widow with several children, the youngest of which was only a few days old. Hermsprong had discovered that this poor woman sold grog. He appeared before her tent … and, ill as she was, summoned her out. When he charged her with the sale of grog, she did not deny it, but said that her husband being killed in an accident, her countrymen had advised her, as her only means of support for herself and her little children, to sell grog, promising to give her their custom; and the poor woman said, piteously, “What, your honour, was I to do?”

Without replying to her remark, Hermsprong turned to the police with him, and said, “Fire that tent!”

The poor woman shrieked out, “For God’s sake, sir, spare my tent! Spare my children!” The children were all at that moment in the tent; the infant of a few days old fast asleep. The police … refused to a man to execute this diabolical order. Swearing at them … Hermsprong leapt from his horse, stalked up to a fire burning before the tent, seized a burning brand, and fired the tent with his own hand.

The poor woman, uttering a frantic cry, rushed into the tent, snatched up her baby, and, followed by her other children, came out and stood shrieking and tearing her hair like a maniac, while her tent, and all she had in the world, consumed before her eyes. …

For two years [Hermsprong] was permitted to continue his savage and corrupt career … He was dismissed; and he retired with these memorable words - his official salary be it remembered was 400 per year -“I don’t mind being turned out; for in these two years I have cleared 15,000!”“

(William Howitt Land, Labour and Gold; or Two Years in Victoria Longmans, London, 1855 quoted in Nancy Keesing (ed) History of the Australian Gold Rushes by those who were there. Angus and Robertson, Melbourne 1981 edition. P209)