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Peach’s Gold – Eureka (1983)

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'Victoria the golden' education content clip 1, 2

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

When gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851, the rush to those goldfields eclipsed the rush to California for the gold rush in 1849. With so many people from all over the world, the diggings became an equaliser of men who longed for the freedom and independence to be their own master.

Curator’s notes

The program cleverly exploits maps of the area, stories and images of the ships bringing in the men and families smitten with gold fever, and even a descendent of one of the early squatter families, to build a picture of the complete revolution that gold brought to these antipodean colonies that were ruled at the time by squatters and their representatives and governed by the British Colonial Office.

Bill Peach, who wrote and presented the series, was well known to Australians at that time as the original anchorman of the ABC’s nightly current affairs program This Day Tonight. He’d left after nearly a decade to make the 10-part half-hour series Peach’s Australia, and would make another 10-part series, Peach’s Explorers, after this series.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows the Victorian gold rushes of 1851 depicted in drawings and prints as the narrator, Bill Peach, describes the events of that astonishing year. The clip opens with images of people travelling to the diggings, while prints and a superimposed map show the gold fields. Gold hysteria is then described through images and dramatised readings from the local newspapers. The final scenes depict some mining techniques as Peach describes the optimism of the time and the need for hard work and good luck. Rollicking music reinforces the narration.

Educational value points

  • The discovery of gold in 1851, first in New South Wales and then in Vic, caused profound demographic and social changes as tens of thousands of people 'rushed’ to the gold fields to try their luck. One-third of Melbourne’s adult male population was said to have left for the diggings in the 1850s and 60s. Once the news reached the rest of the world, huge numbers took ship to Australia. Vic’s population increased from 97,489 people in 1851 to 168,321 a year later.
  • Victoria was transformed from a struggling pastoral colony into a new El Dorado by a series of spectacular finds announced with fanfare in the newspapers. The first gold discoveries occurred at Clunes and Warrandyte in July 1851. Buninyong and Ballarat were next, in August. Huge Mount Alexander (Castlemaine) and Bendigo finds occurred before the end of the year. By that time an estimated 7.78 tonnes of gold worth £9 million had been taken from central Vic.
  • As shown in the contemporary drawings, just getting to the gold fields was a major challenge. Most gold seekers walked, carrying supplies and equipment on their backs, on packhorses or in wheelbarrows. Others travelled in carts or coaches. There were no direct roads from Melbourne to the diggings and intending miners went one of three ways – west to Geelong by steamer and then by road, by road via Seymour in the east or by bush tracks north of Melbourne.
  • Miners often had little capital and could only afford to prospect for alluvial gold, so they used the kinds of pans, buckets, California cradles and puddling tubs seen in the clip to look for loose gold in soil and gravel. Alluvial gold is washed out from reefs and deposited over the years on the beds of waterways. Once the miners had collected all the gold from the streams, they would look for gold trapped in the banks or dig shallow shafts into former creek beds.
  • Gold turned the established social order on its head. Education, property and position in society counted for little in the search for gold, with solicitors becoming miners’ cooks and ministers of religion working as diggers. Gold transformed lives, offering freedom and independence regardless of social class. Successful miners returning to Melbourne with unimagined wealth in their pockets considered themselves the equal of anyone in the colony.
  • Gold in Vic was sensational news worldwide and many artists who had unsuccessfully sought their fortunes through mining found they could make a living from their sketches of scenes on the gold fields. Artists such as Samuel Thomas Gill (1818–80) either published or contributed to best-selling books in Europe. Most of the visuals in the clip have been sourced from such artists and they provide rich and detailed views of the life of a gold seeker in the early 1850s.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer 'Victoria the golden' from the television program Peach's Gold – Eureka as a high quality video download.

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This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

Terms & Conditions

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. ALL rights are reserved.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading this clip:

When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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