Gold was first discovered in Australia in 1851 – first in New South Wales and then in Victoria. The lure of gold was huge. It represented the opportunity of a lifetime to escape the relentless cycle of hard work and low pay that was the lot of most people. As stories circulated of fabulous finds literally picked up from the ground, gold fever gripped the imagination of thousands on both sides of the globe.
In the early years of the gold rush Melbourne was a city in chaos. Miners worked long and hard in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions, with no certainty of success. Disappointment fuelled resentment. Chinese miners were targeted by European diggers resentful of their patient success and dogged perseverance.
There is a rich lode of stories of gold-rush Victoria to be discovered and the objects chosen for this exhibition show just how varied they can be. From tiny manuscript dairies kept by men and women on the goldfields, to a replica of the largest nugget found in the world at the time, this exhibition has stories for everyone.
'Gold Rush: 20 Objects, 20 Stories' is presented by Old Treasury Building in partnership with Public Record Office Victoria.