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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - JUNE 4, 2017


"Gold is money. Everything else is credit."
 (J P Morgan - financier - 1837-1913)

On of the greatest lies we were ever told in primary school was that Edward Hargraves was the man who discovered gold in Australia and should be regarded as a hero because this wonderful discovery was responsible for a giant leap forward in the history of civilisation - as we know it in Australia.

It simply isn't true.

Gold is again soaring in value world-wide.

Gold has played a HUGE role in out history and our literature - developing the nation quickly in 19th century. All states had 'gold rushes'.

Australia is world's 2nd largest producer of gold, behind China. We produce about 16% of world's gold.

Roughly 250 tonnes of gold is produced a year to make us  2nd in the world? (2014 270 tonnes)

•GOLD was the third phase of our EXPORT history. The first two?  were sealing/whaling   then wool
•  the gold rushes in WA in 1890s had an effect  on us becoming a nation when miners from east voted YES to federation.
• Edward Hargrave, the man CREDITED with finding payable gold in Australia, made a prediction about Western Australia. - That gold would never be found there!

ORIGIN of the TERM "DIGGER" - common belief of that it comes from war - it's actually quite racist. WHITE miners DUG shafts   Chinese 'puddled and went over the earth removed from shafts. So a 'digger' was a white man, a 'MATE'. The Chinese were 'outsiders', foreign, lower class, not 'mates' and not wanted.


• It was well KNOWN there was gold in NSW before 1850 - but various governors kept it secret.
• Hargrave was a fraud - the Tom Bros and John Lister discovered the gold he used at Ophir.
• Victoria 'took off' after the gold rush. Melbourne was the greatest city in Australia for many decades.
• Gold discoveries led to development - NSW central west - Victoria Ballarat and Bendigo - WA and Kalgoorlie - Queensland Gympie, Charters Towers, Palmer , Cooktown.
• WA produces 70% of our gold today.

Previous to 1850 the colonial administration had suppressed any news of gold discovery for fear of convict riots, uncontrollable population movements and civil unrest.

Transportation had ended in 1840, however, and there was a recession in the colony in the 1840s. And now thousands of men were leaving the colony for the California Rush, which began in 1848. Perhaps it was time for a change of policy. In 1849 the colonial government asked the Colonial Office in England to allow exploration to begin with the purpose of exploiting any mineral resources that could be found in New South Wales and requested a geologist be sent supervise the process.

The Colonial Office agreed and a reward was then offered for the first person to find 'payable gold' in New South Wales.

Samuel Stutchbury, who had been in the colony previously as naturalist to the Pacific Pearl Fishery commercial expedition to New South Wales and the Pacific islands, was appointed and arrived in the colony in November 1850.

As soon as he heard the news, Edward Hargraves knew where his fortune lay - and it wasn't in California. He had a plan and he took the first available ship home, which happened to be the Emma. He left on the 23 November and arrived in Sydney in January 1951, just two months after the arrival of Samuel Stutchbury.

Edward Hargraves had no intention, after leaving California, of making his fortune by finding and mining gold. He only ever intended to make his fortune by claiming to be the first person to discover the precious mineral.  He later wrote:

It was never my intention ... to work for gold, my only desire was to make the discovery, and rely on the Government and the country for my reward.
In the process of achieving this ambition he lied, exaggerated, twisted the truth and ruthlessly befriended, manipulated and used people whom he later betrayed and cast aside. In the end the part he played in 'discovering' gold was insignificant but he managed to claim the reward and the fame - it was actually a clever con-job.

You see, it was a well-known fact that there was 'gold in them thar hills' west of Sydney and the Great Dividing Range. It had been a very poorly kept secret since the 1820s.

Let's take a look at the evidence.

There are accounts of convicts finding traces of gold along the roads they were building across the Blue Mountains as early as 1814 and later in the 1820s, but these are unsubstantiated.

A Russian naturalist name Stein, part of the Bellinghausen scientific expedition which visited New South Wales in 1820, made a 12-day trip to the Blue Mountains and claimed to have found gold-bearing ore.

• James McBrien , the colony's Assistant Surveyor, made notes in his journal in February 1823, stating that he had found alluvial gold while exploring and surveying along the Fish River to the east of Bathurst.

• In 1837, newspapers reported that a Russian stockman had found gold and silver ore 30 miles from Segenhoe in the Hunter Valley.

• In 1839, the Polish count, explorer and geologist Paul Strzelecki, reached Sydney via New Zealand and spent four years making a geological survey zig-zagging back and forth across the colony as far as the Southern Alps, where he climbed what he took to be highest peak and named it after the Polish democratic leader, Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

•In 1845 Strzelecki became a British subject, and published in London his Physical Description of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, for which he received the founder's medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

Strzelecki reported later that when he told the Governor, Sir George Gipps, of his discovery of alluvial gold near Hartley in the Blue Mountains, and at Wellington in the central west, Gipps 'frightened' him into 'saying nothing about it.'

Strzelecki took mineral samples to show English geologist, Sir Roderick Murchison, who examined them and concluded  that gold 'would be found in the Eastern Cordillera of Australia'. When he was made president of the Royal Geographical Society, 1844, Murchison, in his first presidential address, predicted the existence of gold in Australia's Great Dividing Range. His ideas were published in a feature in The Sydney Morning Herald on 28 September 1847, paraphrased as, 'gold will be found on the western flanks of the dividing ranges'.

• Another geologist and friend of Murchison's, Reverend William Clark, also arrived in the colony in 1839. Two years, prospecting between Hartley and Bathurst, he found numerous samples of gold-laden quartz and reported his finds to some members of the New South Wales Legislative Council. When he showed the samples of gold to the governor, Gipps evidently responded by saying, 'Put it away, Mr Clarke, or we shall all have our throats cut'.

• After a government enquiry was held in 1853 into the management of the Australian goldfields and the legitimacy of Hargraves' and others claims, Clarke was awarded £1000, followed by another £3000 in 1861, and credited as the 'Scientific discoverer of gold in New South Wales'.

More than 70% of the nation’s overall gold production coming from WA. If WA was a country, it would be the 5th largest gold producer in the world.

The discovery of gold in WA carved the way for an industry that has significantly contributed to the growth and development of the state. WA’s long history of gold mining dates back to the 1880s, with the first gold rush sparked by the discovery of the ‘Golden Mile’ at Kalgoorlie in the 1890s, believed to be the richest square mile of gold reserves in the world. 

One Saturday morning in 1892 prospector Arthur Bayley carried a staggering 540 ounces (over 15kg!) of gold from Coolgardie straight to the bank in Southern Cross. Bayley and his partner William Ford’s gold strike was one of the first noteworthy gold finds in the State, and a frenzy of gold miners were on their way to Coolgardie within hours of the news getting out.  

That was just the beginning. Nine months later WA’s biggest gold rush was set off with Paddy Hannan’s discovery of a new gold district 40 kilometres east of Coolgardie, known as the “Golden Mile”. In 1894 alone, some 25,000 men from many parts of the world came to WA to try their luck as ‘diggers’. 

Perth is a city built on gold and the gold rush secured the economic future of Western Australia. No longer was Perth a struggling British colony - its population, economy, transportation network and foreign trade flourished - and one of the state’s most successful industries was born.

The discovery of gold changed the physical nature of Perth city dramatically with economic prosperity and the increase of population as a result of gold rush immigration. In one decade the population of the city tripled, from 8,447 in 1891 to 27,553 in 1901.  

The state produced more than two million ounces of gold in the year of 1903 alone – around 56,699kg! Gold’s value skyrocketed and 88 percent of WA’s export income between 1886 and 1900 was attributed to gold.

The gold industry in WA survived the challenges of the First World War, which saw mining activity and investment decline. However, the Great Depression in the 1930s brought revitalisation to the gold industry with a rise in the gold price and an increase in foreign investment. 

It was the discovery of the largest gold nugget, the ‘Golden Eagle’, in a hole in the road in Coolgardie in 1931 that created a national sensation and saw many prospectors return to WA.


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