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A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53 by Mrs Charles (Ellen) Clacy

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A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53
by Mrs Charles (Ellen) Clacy



Chapter I.


It may be deemed presumptuous that one of my age and sex should venture
to give to the public an account of personal adventures in a land which
has so often been descanted upon by other and abler pens; but when I
reflect on the many mothers, wives, and sisters in England, whose
hearts are ever longing for information respecting the dangers and
privations to which their relatives at the antipodes are exposed,
I cannot but hope that the presumption of my undertaking may be
pardoned in consideration of the pleasure which an accurate description
of some of the Australian Gold Fields may perhaps afford to many; and
although the time of my residence in the colonies was short, I had the
advantage (not only in Melbourne, but whilst in the bush) of constant
intercourse with many experienced diggers and old colonists--thus
having every facility for acquiring information respecting Victoria and
the other colonies.

It was in the beginning of April, 185-, that the excitement
occasioned by the published accounts of the Victoria "Diggings,"
induced my brother to fling aside his Homer and Euclid for the various
"Guides" printed for the benefit of the intending gold-seeker, or to
ponder over the shipping columns of the daily papers. The love of
adventure must be contagious, for three weeks after (so rapid were our
preparations) found myself accompanying him to those auriferous
regions. The following pages will give an accurate detail of my
adventures there--in a lack of the marvellous will consist their
principal faults but not even to please would I venture to turn
uninteresting truth into agreeable fiction. Of the few statistics which
occur, I may safely say, as of the more personal portions, that they
are strictly true.

Chapter II.


Everything was ready--boxes packed, tinned, and corded; farewells
taken, and ourselves whirling down by rail to Gravesend--too much
excited--too full of the future to experience that sickening of the
heart, that desolation of the feelings, which usually accompanies an
expatriation, however voluntary, from the dearly loved shores of one's
native land. Although in the cloudy month of April, the sun shone
brightly on the masts of our bonny bark, which lay in full sight of the
windows of the "Old Falcon," where we had taken up our temporary
quarters. The sea was very rough, but as we were anxious to get
on board without farther delay, we entrusted our valuable lives in a
four-oared boat, despite the dismal prognostications of our worthy
host. A pleasant row that was, at one moment covered over with
salt-water--the next riding on the top of a wave, ten times the size
of our frail conveyance--then came a sudden concussion--in veering
our rudder smashed into a smaller boat, which immediately filled and
sank, and our rowers disheartened at this mishap would go no farther.
The return was still rougher--my face smarted dreadfully from the
cutting splashes of the salt-water; they contrived, however, to land us
safely at the "Old Falcon," though in a most pitiable plight; charging
only a sovereign for this delightful trip--very moderate, considering
the number of salt-water baths they had given us gratis. In the evening
a second trial proved more successful, and we reached our vessel

A first night on board ship has in it something very strange, and the
first awakening in the morning is still more so. To find oneself in a
space of some six feet by eight, instead of a good-sized room, and
lying in a cot, scarce wide enough to turn round in, as a
substitute for a four-post bedstead, reminds you in no very agreeable
manner that you have exchanged the comforts of Old England for the
"roughing it" of a sea life. The first sound that awoke me was the
"cheerily" song of the sailors, as the anchor was heaved--not again,
we trusted, to be lowered till our eyes should rest on the waters of
Port Philip. And then the cry of "raise tacks and sheets" (which I, in
nautical ignorance, interpreted "hay-stacks and sheep") sent many a
sluggard from their berths to bid a last farewell to the banks of the

In the afternoon we parted company with our steam-tug, and next
morning, whilst off the Isle of Wight, our pilot also took his
departure. Sea-sickness now became the fashion, but, as I cannot speak
from experience of its sensations, I shall altogether decline the
subject. On Friday, the 30th, we sighted Stark Point; and as the last
speck of English land faded away in the distance, an intense feeling of
misery crept over me, as I reflected that perchance I had left those
most dear to return to them no more. But I forget; a description of
private feelings is, to uninterested readers, only so much
twaddle, besides being more egotistical than even an account of
personal adventures could extenuate; so, with the exception of a few
extracts from my "log," I shall jump at once from the English Channel
to the more exciting shores of Victoria.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, lat. 45 degrees 57 minutes N., long. 11 degrees 45
minutes W.--Whilst off the Bay of Biscay, for the first time I had the
pleasure of seeing the phosphoric light in the water, and the effect was
indeed too beautiful to describe. I gazed again and again, and, as the
darkness above became more dense, the silence of evening more profound,
and the moving lights beneath more brilliant, I could have believed them
the eyes of the Undines, who had quitted their cool grottos beneath the
sea to gaze on the daring ones who were sailing above them. At times one
of these stars of the ocean would seem to linger around our vessel, as
though loth to leave the admiring eyes that watched its glittering
progress.* * * * *

SUNDAY, 9, lat. 37 degrees 53 minutes N., long. 15 degrees 32 minutes W.--
Great excitement throughout the ship. Early in the morning a
homeward-bound sail hove in sight, and as the sea was very calm, our
captain kindly promised to lower a boat and send letters by her. What a
scene then commenced; nothing but scribes and writing-desks met the view,
and nought was heard but the scratching of pens, and energetic demands for
foreign letter-paper, vestas, or sealing-wax; then came a rush on deck, to
witness the important packet delivered to the care of the first mate,
and watch the progress of the little bark that was to bear among so
many homes the glad tidings of our safety. On she came--her stunsails
set--her white sails glittering in the sun--skimming like a sea-bird
over the waters. She proved to be the Maltese schooner 'Felix,' bound
for Bremen. Her captain treated the visitors from our ship with the
greatest politeness, promised to consign our letters to the first pilot
he should encounter off the English coast, and sent his very last
oranges as a present to the ladies, for which we sincerely thanked him;
the increasing heat of the weather made them acceptable indeed.

WEDNESDAY, 12, lat. 33 degrees 19 minutes N., long. 17 degrees 30
minutes W.--At about noon we sighted Madeira. At first it appeared little
more than a dark cloud above the horizon; gradually the sides of the rocks
became clearly discernible, then the wind bore us onward, and soon all
traces of the sunny isle were gone.

FRIDAY, 28, lat. 4 degrees 2 minutes N., long. 21 degrees 30 minutes W.--
Another opportunity of sending letters, but as this was the second time of
so doing, the excitement was proportionately diminished. This vessel was
bound for the port of Liverpool, from the coast of Africa; her cargo (so
said those of our fellow-travellers who boarded her), consisted of ebony
and gold-dust, her only passengers being monkeys and parrots.

SUNDAY, JUNE 6, long. 24 degrees 38 minutes W.--Crossed the Line, to the
great satisfaction of all on board, as we had been becalmed more than a
week, and were weary of gazing upon the unruffled waters around us, or
watching the sails as they idly flapped to and fro. Chess, backgammon,
books and cards, had ceased to beguile the hours away, and the only
amusement left was lowering a boat and rowing about within a short
distance of the ship, but this (even by those not pulling at the oars)
was considered too fatiguing work, for a tropical sun was above us, and
the heat was most intense. Our only resource was to give ourselves up
to a sort of DOLCE FAR NIENTE existence, and lounge upon the
deck, sipping lemonade or lime-juice, beneath a large awning which
extended from the fore to the mizen masts.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, lat. 39 degrees 28 minutes S., long. 136 degrees 31
minutes E.--Early this morning one of the sailors died, and before noon
the last services of the Church of England were read over his body; this
was the first and only death that occurred during our long passage, and
the solemnity of committing his last remains to their watery grave cast a
saddening influence over the most thoughtless. I shall never forget the
moment when the sewn-up hammock, with a gaily coloured flag wrapped round
it, was launched into the deep; those who can witness with indifference a
funeral on land, would, I think, find it impossible to resist the
thrilling awe inspired by such an event at sea.

FRIDAY, 20, lat. 38 degrees 57 minutes S., long. 140 degrees 5 minutes
E.--Sighted Moonlight Head, the next day Cape Otway; and in the afternoon
of Sunday, the 22nd, we entered the Heads, and our pilot came on board. He
was a smart, active fellow, and immediately anchored us within the bay
(a heavy gale brewing); and then, after having done colonial justice to a
substantial dinner, he edified us with the last Melbourne news. "Not a
spare room or bed to be had--no living at all under a pound a-day--
every one with ten fingers making ten to twenty pounds a-week." "Then
of course no one goes to the diggings?" "Oh, that pays better still--
the gold obliged to be quarried--a pound weight of no value." The
excitement that evening can scarcely be imagined, but it somewhat
abated next morning on his telling us to diminish his accounts some 200
per cent.

MONDAY, 23.--The wind high, and blowing right against us. Compelled to
remain at anchor, only too thankful to be in such safe quarters.

TUESDAY, 24.--Got under weigh at half-past seven in the morning, and
passed the wrecks of two vessels, whose captains had attempted to come
in without a pilot, rather than wait for one--the increased number of
vessels arriving, causing the pilots to be frequently all engaged. The
bay, which is truly splendid, was crowded with shipping. In a few hours
our anchor was lowered for the last time--boats were put off
towards our ship from Liardet's Beach--we were lowered into the first
that came alongside--a twenty minutes' pull to the landing-place--
another minute, and we trod the golden shores of Victoria.

Chapter III.


At last we are in Australia. Our feet feel strange as they tread upon
TERRA FIRMA, and our SEA-LEGS (to use a sailor's phrase) are not so
ready to leave us after a four months' service, as we should have
anticipated; but it matters little, for we are in the colonies, walking
with undignified, awkward gait, not on a fashionable promenade, but
upon a little wooden pier.

The first sounds that greet our ears are the noisy tones of some
watermen, who are loitering on the building of wooden logs and boards,
which we, as do the good people of Victoria, dignify with the
undeserved title of PIER. There they stand in their waterproof caps and
skins--tolerably idle and exceedingly independent--with one eye on
the look out for a fare, and the other cast longingly towards the open
doors of Liardet's public-house, which is built a few yards from the
landing-place, and alongside the main road to Melbourne.

"Ah, skipper! times isn't as they used to was," shouted one, addressing
the captain of one of the vessels then lying in the bay, who was rowing
himself to shore, with no other assistant or companion than a
sailor-boy. The captain, a well-built, fine-looking specimen of an
English seaman, merely laughed at this impromptu salutation.

"I say, skipper, I don't quite like that d----d stroke of yours."

No answer; but, as if completely deaf to these remarks, as well as the
insulting tone in which they were delivered, the "skipper" continued
giving his orders to his boy, and then leisurely ascended the steps. He
walked straight up to the waterman, who was lounging against the

"So, my fine fellow, you didn't quite admire that stroke of
mine. Now, I've another stroke that I think you'll admire still less,"
and with one blow he sent him reeling against the railing on the
opposite side.

The waterman slowly recovered his equilibrium, muttering, "that was a
safe dodge, as the gentleman knew he was the heaviest man of the two."

"Then never let your tongue say what your fist can't defend," was the
cool retort, as another blow sent him staggering to his original place,
amidst the unrestrained laughter of his companions, whilst the captain
unconcernedly walked into Liardet's, whither we also betook ourselves,
not a little surprised and amused by this our first introduction to
colonial customs and manners.

The fact is, the watermen regard the masters of the ships in the bay as
sworn enemies to their business; many are runaway sailors, and
therefore, I suppose, have a natural antipathy that way; added to
which, besides being no customers themselves, the "skippers," by the
loan of their boats, often save their friends from the exorbitant
charges these watermen levy.

Exorbitant they truly are. Not a boat would they put off for the
nearest ship in the bay for less than a pound, and before I quitted
those regions, two and three times that sum was often demanded for only
one passenger. We had just paid at the rate of only three shillings and
sixpence each, but this trifling charge was in consideration of the
large party--more than a dozen--who had left our ship in the same
boat together.

Meanwhile we have entered Liardet's EN ATTENDANT the Melbourne omnibus,
some of our number, too impatient to wait longer, had already started
on foot. We were shown into a clean, well-furnished sitting-room, with
mahogany dining-table and chairs, and a showy glass over the
mantelpicce. An English-looking barmaid entered. "Would the company
like some wine or spirits?" Some one ordered sherry, of which I only
remember that it was vile trash at eight shillings a bottle.

And now the cry of "Here's the bus," brought us quickly outside again,
where we found several new arrivals also waiting for it. I had hoped,
from the name, or rather misname, of the conveyance, to gladden my eyes
with the sight of something civilized. Alas, for my disappointment!
There stood a long, tumble-to-pieces-looking waggon, not covered
in, with a plank down each side to sit upon, and a miserable narrow
plank it was. Into this vehicle were crammed a dozen people and an
innumerable host of portmanteaus, large and small, carpet-bags,
baskets, brown-paper parcels, bird-cage and inmate, &c., all of which,
as is generally the case, were packed in a manner the most calculated
to contribute the largest amount of inconvenience to the live portion
of the cargo. And to drag this grand affair into Melbourne were
harnessed thereto the most wretched-looking objects in the shape of
horses that I had ever beheld.

A slight roll tells us we are off.

"And is THIS the beautiful scenery of Australia?" was my first
melancholy reflection. Mud and swamp--swamp and mud--relieved here
and there by some few trees which looked as starved and miserable as
ourselves. The cattle we passed appeared in a wretched condition, and
the human beings on the road seemed all to belong to one family, so
truly Vandemonian was the cast of their countenances.

"The rainy season's not over," observed the driver, in an
apologetic tone. Our eyes and uneasy limbs most FEELINGLY corroborated
his statement, for as we moved along at a foot-pace, the rolling of the
omnibus, owing to the deep ruts and heavy soil, brought us into most
unpleasant contact with the various packages before-mentioned. On we
went towards Melbourne--now stopping for the unhappy horses to take
breath--then passing our pedestrian messmates, and now arriving at a
small specimen of a swamp; and whilst they (with trowsers tucked high
above the knee and boots well saturated) step, slide and tumble
manfully through it, we give a fearful roll to the left, ditto, ditto
to the right, then a regular stand-still, or perhaps, by way of
variety, are all but jolted over the animals' heads, till at length all
minor considerations of bumps and bruises are merged in the anxiety to
escape without broken bones.

"The Yarra," said the conductor. I looked straight ahead, and
innocently asked "Where?" for I could only discover a tract of marsh or
swamp, which I fancy must have resembled the fens of Lincolnshire, as
they were some years ago, before draining was introduced into
that county. Over Princes Bridge we now passed, up Swanston Street,
then into Great Bourke Street, and now we stand opposite the
Post-office--the appointed rendezvous with the walkers, who are there
awaiting us. Splashed, wet and tired, and also, I must confess, very
cross, right thankful was I to be carried over the dirty road and be
safely deposited beneath the wooden portico outside the Post-office.
Our ride to Melbourne cost us only half-a-crown a piece, and a shilling
for every parcel. The distance we had come was between two and three

The non-arrival of the mail-steamer left us now no other care save the
all-important one of procuring food and shelter. Scouts were
accordingly despatched to the best hotels; they returned with long
faces--"full." The second-rate, and in fact every respectable inn and
boarding or lodging-house were tried but with no better success. Here
and there a solitary bed could be obtained, but for our digging party
entire, which consisted of my brother, four shipmates, and myself, no
accommodation could be procured, and we wished, if possible, to
keep together. "It's a case," ejaculated one, casting his eyes to the
slight roof above us as if calculating what sort of night shelter it
would afford. At this moment the two last searchers approached, their
countenances not quite so woe-begone as before. "Well?" exclaimed we
all in chorus, as we surrounded them, too impatient to interrogate at
greater length. Thank Heavens! they had been successful! The
house-keeper of a surgeon, who with his wife had just gone up to Forest
Creek, would receive us to board and lodge for thirty shillings a week
each; but as the accommodation was of the indifferent order, it was not
as yet UNE AFFAIRE ARRANGEE. On farther inquiry, we found the
indifferent accommodation consisted in their being but one small
sleeping-room for the gentlemen, and myself to share the bed and
apartment of the temporary mistress. This was vastly superior to
gipsying in the dirty streets, so we lost no time in securing our new
berths, and ere very long, with appetites undiminished by these petty
anxieties, we did ample justice to the dinner which our really kind
hostess quickly placed before us.

The first night on shore after so long a voyage could scarcely
seem otherwise than strange, one missed the eternal rocking at which so
many grumble on board ship. Dogs (Melbourne is full of them) kept up an
incessant barking; revolvers were cracking in all directions until
daybreak, giving one a pleasant idea of the state of society; and last,
not least, of these annoyances was one unmentionable to ears polite,
which would alone have sufficed to drive sleep away from poor wearied
me. How I envied my companion, as accustomed to these disagreeables,
she slept soundly by my side; but morning at length dawned, and I fell
into a refreshing slumber.

The next few days were busy ones for all, though rather dismal to me,
as I was confined almost entirely within doors, owing to the awful
state of the streets; for in the colonies, at this season of the year,
one may go out prepared for fine weather, with blue sky above, and dry
under foot, and in less than an hour, should a COLONIAL shower come on,
be unable to cross some of the streets without a plank being placed
from the middle of the road to the pathway, or the alternative of
walking in water up to the knees.

This may seem a doleful and overdrawn picture of my first
colonial experience, but we had arrived at a time when the colony
presented its worst aspect to a stranger. The rainy season had been
unusually protracted this year, in fact it was not yet considered
entirely over, and the gold mines had completely upset everything and
everybody, and put a stop to all improvements about the town or

Our party, on returning to the ship the day after our arrival,
witnessed the French-leave-taking of all her crew, who during the
absence of the captain, jumped overboard, and were quickly picked up
and landed by the various boats about. This desertion of the ships by
the sailors is an every-day occurrence; the diggings themselves, or the
large amount they could obtain for the run home from another master,
offer too many temptations. Consequently, our passengers had the
amusement of hauling up from the hold their different goods and
chattels; and so great was the confusion, that fully a week elapsed
before they were all got to shore. Meanwhile we were getting initiated
into colonial prices--money did indeed take to itself wings and fly
away. Fire-arms were at a premium; one instance will suffice--my
brother sold a six-barrelled revolver for which he had given
sixty shillings at Baker's, in Fleet Street, for sixteen pounds, and
the parting with it at that price was looked upon as a great favour.
Imagine boots, and they very second-rate ones, at four pounds a pair.
One of our between-deck passengers who had speculated with a small
capital of forty pounds in boots and cutlery, told me afterwards that
he had disposed of them the same evening he had landed, at a net profit
of ninety pounds--no trifling addition to a poor man's purse. Labour
was at a very high price, carpenters, boot and shoemakers, tailors,
wheelwrights, joiners, smiths, glaziers, and, in fact, all useful
trades, were earning from twenty to thirty shillings a day--the very
men working on the roads could get eleven shillings PER DIEM, and, many
a gentleman in this disarranged state of affairs, was glad to fling old
habits aside and turn his hand to whatever came readiest. I knew one in
particular, whose brother is at this moment serving as colonel in the
army in India, a man more fitted for a gay London life than a residence
in the colonies. The diggings were too dirty and uncivilized for his
taste, his capital was quickly dwindling away beneath the
expenses of the comfortable life he led at one of the best hotels in
town, so he turned to what as a boy he had learnt for amusement, and
obtained an addition to his income of more than four hundred pounds a
year as house carpenter. In the morning you might see him trudging off
to his work, and before night might meet him at some ball or soiree
among the elite of Melbourne.

I shall not attempt an elaborate description of the town of Melbourne,
or its neighbouring villages. A subject so often and well discussed
might almost be omitted altogether. The town is very well laid out; the
streets (which are all straight, running parallel with and across one
another) are very wide, but are incomplete, not lighted, and many are
unpaved. Owing to the want of lamps, few, except when full moon, dare
stir out after dark. Some of the shops are very fair; but the goods all
partake too largely of the flash order, for the purpose of suiting the
tastes of successful diggers, their wives and families; it is ludicrous
to see them in the shops--men who, before the gold-mines were
discovered, toiled hard for their daily bread, taking off half-a-dozen
thick gold rings from their fingers, and trying to pull on to
their rough, well-hardened hands the best white kids, to be worn at
some wedding party; whilst the wife, proud of the novel ornament,
descants on the folly of hiding them beneath such useless articles as

The two principal streets are Collins Street and Elizabeth Street. The
former runs east and west, the latter crossing it in the centre.
Melbourne is built on two hills, and the view from the top of Collins
Street East, is very striking on a fine day when well filled with
passengers and vehicles. Down the eye passes till it reaches Elizabeth
Street at the foot; then up again, and the moving mass seems like so
many tiny black specks in the distance, and the country beyond looks
but a little piece of green. A great deal of confusion arises from the
want of their names being painted on the corners of the streets: to a
stranger, this is particularly inconvenient, the more so, as being
straight, they appear all alike on first acquaintance. The confusion is
also increased by the same title, with slight variation, being applied
to so many, as, for instance, Collins Street East; Collins Street West;
Little Collins Street East; Little Collins Street West, &c. &c.
Churches and chapels for all sects and denominations meet the eye; but
the Established Church has, of all, the worst provision for its
members, only two small churches being as yet completed; and Sunday
after Sunday do numbers return from St. Peter's, unable to obtain even
standing room beneath the porch. For the gay, there are two circuses
and one theatre, where the "ladies" who frequent it smoke short
tobacco-pipes in the boxes and dress-circle.

The country round is very pretty, particularly Richmond and
Collingwood; the latter will, I expect, soon become part of Melbourne
itself. It is situated at the fashionable--that is, EAST--end of
Melbourne, and the buildings of the city and this suburban village are
making rapid strides towards each other. Of Richmond, I may remark that
it does possess a "Star and Garter," though a very different affair to
its namesake at the antipodes, being only a small public-house. On the
shores of the bay, at nice driving distances, are Brighton and St.
Kilda. Two or three fall-to-pieces bathing-machines are at present the
only stock in trade of these watering-places; still, should some
would-be fashionables among my readers desire to emigrate, it may
gratify them to learn that they need not forego the pleasure of
visiting Brighton in the season.

When I first arrived, as the weather was still very cold and wet, my
greatest source of discomfort arose from the want of coal-fires, and
the draughts, which are innumerable, owing to the slight manner in
which the houses are run up; in some the front entrance opens direct
into the sitting-rooms, very unpleasant, and entirely precluding the
"not at home" to an unwelcome visitor. Wood fires have at best but a
cheerless look, and I often longed for the bright blaze and merry
fireside of an English home. Firewood is sold at the rate of fifty
shillings for a good-sized barrow-full.

The colonists (I here speak of the old-established ones) are naturally
very hospitable, and disposed to receive strangers with great kindness;
but the present ferment has made them forget everything in the glitter
of their own mines, and all comfort is laid aside; money is the idol,
and making it is the one mania which absorbs every other thought.

The walking inhabitants are of themselves a study: glance into
the streets--all nations, classes, and costumes are represented there.
Chinamen, with pigtails and loose trowsers; Aborigines, with a solitary
blanket flung over them; Vandemonian pickpockets, with cunning eyes and
light fingers--all, in truth, from the successful digger in his blue
serge shirt, and with green veil still hanging round his wide-awake, to
the fashionably-attired, newly-arrived "gent" from London, who stares
around him in amazement and disgust. You may see, and hear too, some
thoroughly colonial scenes in the streets. Once, in the middle of the
day, when passing up Elizabeth Street, I heard the unmistakeable sound
of a mob behind, and as it was gaining upon me, I turned into the
enclosed ground in front of the Roman Catholic cathedral, to keep out
of the way of the crowd. A man had been taken up for horse-stealing and
a rare ruffianly set of both sexes were following the prisoner and the
two policemen who had him in charge. "If but six of ye were of my
mind," shouted one, "it's this moment you'd release him." The crowd
took the hint, and to it they set with right good will, yelling,
swearing, and pushing, with awful violence. The owner of the
stolen horse got up a counter demonstration, and every few yards, the
procession was delayed by a trial of strength between the two parties.
Ultimately the police conquered; but this is not always the case, and
often lives are lost and limbs broken in the struggle, so weak is the
force maintained by the colonial government for the preservation of

Another day, when passing the Post-office, a regular tropical shower of
rain came on rather suddenly, and I hastened up to the platform for
shelter. As I stood there, looking out into Great Bourke Street, a man
and, I suppose, his wife passed by. He had a letter in his hand for the
post; but as the pathway to the receiving-box looked very muddy, he
made his companion take it to the box, whilst he himself, from beneath
his umbrella, complacently watched her getting wet through. "Colonial
politeness," thought I, as the happy couple walked on.

Sometimes a jovial wedding-party comes dashing through the streets;
there they go, the bridegroom with one arm round his lady's waist, the
other raising a champagne-bottle to his lips; the gay vehicles
that follow contain company even more unrestrained, and from them
noisier demonstrations of merriment may be heard. These diggers'
weddings are all the rage, and bridal veils, white kid gloves, and,
above all, orange blossoms are generally most difficult to procure at
any price.

At times, you may see men, half-mad, throwing sovereigns, like
halfpence, out of their pockets into the streets; and I once saw a
digger, who was looking over a large quantity of bank-notes,
deliberately tear to pieces and trample in the mud under his feet every
soiled or ragged one he came to, swearing all the time at the
gold-brokers for "giving him dirty paper money for pure Alexander gold;
he wouldn't carry dirt in his pocket; not he; thank God! he'd plenty to
tear up and spend too."

Melbourne is very full of Jews; on a Saturday, some of the streets are
half closed. There are only two pawnbrokers in the town.

The most thriving trade there, is keeping an hotel or public-house,
which always have a lamp before their doors. These at night serve as a
beacon to the stranger to keep as far from them as possible,
they being, with few exceptions, the resort, after dark, of the most
ruffianly characters.

* * * * *

On the 2nd of September, the long-expected mail steamer arrived, and
two days after we procured our letters from the Post-office. I may here
remark, that the want of proper management in this department is the
greatest cause of inconvenience to fresh arrivals, and to the
inhabitants of Melbourne generally. There is but ONE SMALL WINDOW,
whence letters directed to lie at the office are given out; and as the
ships from England daily discharged their living cargoes into
Melbourne, the crowd round this inefficient delivering-place rendered
getting one's letters the work, not of hours, but days. Newspapers,
particularly pictorial ones, have, it would appear, a remarkable
facility for being lost EN ROUTE. Several numbers of the "Illustrated
London News" had been sent me, and, although the letters posted with
them arrived in safety, the papers themselves never made their
appearance. I did hear that, when addressed to an uncolonial name, and
with no grander direction than the Post-office itself, the
clerks are apt to apropriate them--this is, perhaps, only a wee bit of
Melbourne scandal.

The arrival of our letters from England left nothing now to detain us,
and made us all anxious to commence our trip to the diggings, although
the roads were in an awful condition. Still we would delay no longer,
and the bustle of preparation began. Stores of flour, tea, and sugar,
tents and canvas, camp-ovens, cooking utensils, tin plates and
pannikins, opossum rugs and blankets, drays, carts and horses, cradles,
&c. &c., had to be looked at, bought and paid for.

On board ship, my brother had joined himself to a party of four young
men, who had decided to give the diggings a trial. Four other of our
shipmates had also joined themselves into a digging-party, and when
they heard of our intended departure, proposed travelling up together
and separating on our arrival. This was settled, and a proposal made
that between the two sets they should raise funds to purchase a dray
and horses, and make a speculation in flour, tea, &c., on which an
immense profit was being made at the diggings. It would also
afford the convenience of taking up tents, cradles, and other articles
impossible to carry up without. The dray cost one hundred pounds, and
the two strong cart-horses ninety and one hundred pounds respectively.
This, with the goods themselves, and a few sundries in the shape of
harness and cords, made only a venture of about fifty pounds a-piece.
While these arrangements were rapidly progressing, a few other parties
wished to join ours for safety on the road, which was agreed to, and
the day fixed upon for the departure was the 7th of September. Every
one, except myself, was to walk, and we furthermore determined to "camp
out" as much as possible, and thus avoid the vicinity of the inns and
halting-places on the way, which are frequently the lurking-places of
thieves and bushrangers.

* * * * *

On the Sunday previous to the day on which our journey was to commence,
I had a little adventure, which pleased me at the time, though, but for
the sequel, not worth mentioning here. I had walked with my brother and
a friend to St. Peter's Church; but we were a few minutes behind
time, and therefore could find no unoccupied seat. Thus disappointed,
we strolled over Princes Bridge on to the other side of the Yarra.
Between the bridge and the beach, on the south side of the river, is a
little city of tents, called Little Adelaide. They were inhabited by a
number of families, that the rumour of the Victoria gold-mines had
induced to leave South Australia, and whose finances were unequal to
the high prices in Melbourne.

Government levies a tax of five shillings a week on each tent, built
upon land as wild and barren as the bleakest common in England. We did
not wander this morning towards Little Adelaide; but followed the Yarra
in its winding course inland, in the direction of the Botanical

Upon a gentle rise beside the river, not far enough away from Melbourne
to be inconvenient, but yet sufficiently removed from its mud and
noise, were pitched two tents, evidently new, with crimson paint still
gay upon the round nobs of the centre posts, and looking altogether
more in trim for a gala day in Merry England than a trip to the
diggings. The sun was high above our heads, and the day
intensely hot; so much so, that I could not resist the temptation of
tapping at the canvas door to ask for a draught of water. A gentleman
obeyed the summons, and on learning the occasion of this unceremonious
visit, politely accommodated me with a camp-stool and some delicious
fresh milk--in Melbourne almost a luxury. Whilst I was imbibing this
with no little relish, my friends were entering into conversation with
our new acquaintance. The tents belonged to a party just arrived by the
steamer from England, with everything complete for the diggings, to
which they meant to proceed in another week, and where I had the
pleasure of meeting them again, though under different and very
peculiar circumstances. The tent which I had invaded was inhabited by
two, the elder of whom, a powerfully-built man of thirty, formed a
strong contrast to his companion, a delicate-looking youth, whose
apparent age could not have exceeded sixteen years.

After a short rest, we returned to Melbourne, well pleased with our
little adventure.

The next day was hardly long enough for our numerous preparations, and
it was late before we retired to rest. Six was the hour
appointed for the next morning's breakfast. Excited with anticipating
the adventures to commence on the morrow, no wonder that my dreams
should all be GOLDEN ones.

Chapter IV.


The anxiously-expected morning at length commenced, and a
dismal-looking morning it was--hazy and damp, with a small drizzling
rain, which, from the gloomy aspect above, seemed likely to last. It
was not, however, sufficient to damp our spirits, and the appointed
hour found us all assembled to attack the last meal that we anticipated
to make for some time to come beneath the shelter of a ceiling. At
eight o'clock our united party was to start from the "Duke of York"
hotel, and as that hour drew nigh, the unmistakeable signs of
"something up," attracted a few idlers to witness our departure. In
truth, we were a goodly party, and created no little sensation among
the loungers--but I must regularly introduce our troop to my readers.

First then, I must mention two large drays, each drawn by a pair of
stout horses--one the property of two Germans, who were bound for
Forest Creek, the other belonged to ourselves and shipmates. There were
three pack-horses--one (laden with a speculation in bran) belonged to
a queer-looking sailor, who went by the name of Joe, the other two were
under the care of a man named Gregory, who was going to rejoin his
mates at Eagle Hawk Gully. As his destination was the farthest, and he
was well acquainted with the roads, he ought to have been elected
leader, but from some mis-management that dignity was conferred upon a
stout old gentleman, who had taken a pleasure-trip to Mount Alexander,
the previous summer.

Starting is almost always a tedious affair, nor was this particular
case an exception. First one had forgotten something--another broke a
strap, and a new one had to be procured--then the dray was not
properly packed, and must be righted--some one else wanted an
extra "nobbler"--then a fresh, and still a fresh delay, so that
although eight was the appointed hour, it was noon ere we bade farewell
to mine host of the "Duke of York."

At length the word of command was spoken. Foremost came the gallant
captain (as we had dubbed him), and with him two ship doctors, in
partnership together, who carried the signs of their profession along
with them in the shape of a most surgeon-like mahogany box. Then came
the two Germans, complacently smoking their meerschaums, and attending
to their dray and horses, which latter, unlike their masters, were of a
very restless turn of mind. After these came a party of six, among whom
was Gregory and two lively Frenchmen, who kept up an incessant
chattering. Joe walked by himself, leading his pack-horse, then came
our four shipmates, two by two, and last, our own particular five.

Most carried on their backs their individual property--blankets,
provisions for the road, &c., rolled in a skin, and fastened over the
shoulders by leathern straps. This bundle goes by the name of "swag,"
and is the digger's usual accompaniment--it being too great a
luxury to place upon a dray or pack-horse anything not absolutely
necessary. This will be easily understood when it is known that
carriers, during the winter, obtained 120 pounds and sometimes 150 pounds
a ton for conveying goods to Bendigo (about one hundred miles from
Melbourne). Nor was the sum exorbitant, as besides the chance of a few
weeks' stick in the mud, they run great risk of injuring their horses or
bullocks; many a valuable beast has been obliged to be shot where it
stood, it being found impossible to extricate it from the mud and swamp.
At the time we started, the sum generally demanded was about 70 pounds per
ton. On the price of carriage up, depended of course the price of
provisions at the diggings.

The weight of one of these "swags" is far from light; the provender for
the road is itself by no means trifling, though that of course
diminishes by the way, and lightens the load a little. Still there are
the blankets, fire-arms, drinking and eating apparatus, clothing,
chamois-leather for the gold that has yet to be dug, and numberless
other cumbersome articles necessary for the digger. In every
belt was stuck either a large knife or a tomahawk; two shouldered their
guns (by the bye, rather imprudent, as the sight of fire-arms often
brings down an attack); some had thick sticks, fit to fell a bullock;
altogether, we seemed well prepared to encounter an entire army of
bushrangers. I felt tolerably comfortable perched upon our dray, amid a
mass of other soft lumber; a bag of flour formed an easy support to
lean against; on either side I was well walled in by the canvas and
poles of our tent; a large cheese made a convenient footstool. My
attire, although well suited for the business on hand, would hardly
have passed muster in any other situation. A dress of common dark blue
serge, a felt wide-awake, and a waterproof coat wrapped round me, made
a ludicrous assortment.

Going along at a foot-pace we descended Great Bourke Street, and made
our first halt opposite the Post-office, where one of our party made a
last effort to obtain a letter from his lady-love, which was, alas!
unsuccessful. But we move on again--pass the Horse Bazaar--turn into
Queen Street--up we go towards Flemington, leaving the
Melbourne cemetery on our right, and the flag-staff a little to the
left; and now our journey may be considered fairly begun.

Just out of Melbourne, passing to the east of the Benevolent Asylum, we
went over a little rise called Mount Pleasant, which, on a damp sort of
a day, with the rain beating around one, seemed certainly a misnomer.
After about two miles, we came to a branch-road leading to Pentridge,
where the Government convict establishment is situated. This we left on
our right, and through a line of country thickly wooded (consisting of
red and white gum, stringy bark, cherry and other trees), we arrived at
Flemington, which is about three miles and a half from town.

Flemington is a neat little village or town-ship, consisting of about
forty houses, a blacksmith's shop, several stores, and a good inn,
built of brick and stone, with very fair accommodation for travellers,
and a large stable and stock-yards.

After leaving Flemington, we passed several nice-looking homesteads;
some are on a very large scale, and belong to gentlemen connected
with Melbourne, who prefer "living out of town." On reaching the
top of the hill beyond Flemington there is a fine view of Melbourne,
the bay, William's Town, and the surrounding country, but the miserable
weather prevented us at this time from properly enjoying it. Sunshine
was all we needed to have made this portion of our travels truly

The road was nicely level, fine trees sheltered it on either side,
whilst ever and anon some rustic farm-house was passed, or coffee-shop,
temporarily erected of canvas or blankets, offered refreshment (such as
it was), and the latest news of the diggings to those who had no
objection to pay well for what they had. This Flemington road (which is
considered the most Pleasant in Victoria, or at least anywhere near
Melbourne) is very good as far as Tulip Wright's, which we now

Wright's public-house is kept by the man whose name it bears; it is a
rambling ill-built, but withal pleasing-looking edifice, built chiefly
of weather-board and shingle, with a verandah all round. The whole is
painted white, and whilst at some distance from it a passing ray
of sunshine gave it a most peculiar effect. In front of the principal
entrance is a thundering large lamp, a most conspicuous looking object.
Wright himself was formerly in the police, and being a sharp fellow,
obtained the cognomen of "Tulip," by which both he and his house have
always been known; and so inseparable have the names become, that,
whilst "Tulip Wright's" is renowned well-nigh all over the colonies,
the simple name of the owner would create some inquiries. The state of
accommodation here may be gathered from the success of some of the
party who had a PENCHANT for "nobblers" of brandy. "Nothing but bottled
beer in the house." "What could we have for dinner?" inquired one,
rather amused at this Hobson's choice state of affairs. "The eatables
was only cold meat; and they couldn't cook nothink fresh," was the curt
reply. "Can we sleep here?" "Yes--under your drays." As we literally
determined to "camp out" on the journey, we passed on, without
partaking of their "cold eatables," or availing ourselves of their
permission to sleep under our own drays, and, leaving the road
to Sydney on our right, and the one to Keilor straight before us, we
turned short off to the left towards the Deep Creek.

Of the two rejected routes I will give a very brief account.

The right-hand road leads to Sydney, VIA Kilmore, and many going to the
diggings prefer using this road as far as that township. The country
about here is very flat, stony and destitute of timber; occasionally
the journey is varied by a water-hole or surface-spring. After several
miles, a public-house called the "Lady of the Lake" is reached, which
is reckoned by many the best country inn on this or any other road in
the colonies. The accommodation is excellent, and the rooms well
arranged, and independent of the house. There are ten or twelve rooms
which, on a push, could accommodate fifty or sixty people; six are
arranged in pairs for the convenience of married persons, and the
fashionable trip during the honey-moon (particularly for diggers'
weddings) is to the "Lady of the Lake." Whether Sir Walter's poem be
the origin of the sign, or whether the swamps in the rear, I cannot
say, but decidedly there is no lake and no lady, though I have
heard of a buxom lass, the landlord's daughter, who acts as barmaid,
and is a great favourite. This spot was the scene last May of a
horrible murder, which has added no little to the notoriety of the

After several miles you at length arrive at Kilmore, which is a large
and thriving township, containing two places of worship, several stores
and inns. There is a resident magistrate with his staff of officials,
and a station for a detachment of mounted police. Kilmore is on the
main overland road from Melbourne to Sydney, and, although not on the
confines of the two colonies, is rather an important place, from being
the last main township until you reach the interior of New South Wales.
The Government buildings are commodious and well arranged. There are
several farms and stations in the neighbourhood, but the country round
is flat and swampy.

The middle road leads you direct to Keilor, and you must cross the Deep
Creek in a dangerous part, as the banks thereabouts are very steep, the
stream (though narrow) very rapid, and the bottom stony. In 1851, the
bridge (an ordinary log one) was washed down by the floods, and
for two months all communication was cut off. Government have now put a
punt, which is worked backwards and forwards every half-hour from six
in the morning till six at night, at certain fares, which are doubled
after these hours. These fares are: for a passenger, 6d.; a horse or
bullock, 1s.; a two-wheeled vehicle, ls. 6d.; a loaded dray, 2s. The
punt is tolerably well managed, except when the man gets intoxicated--
not an unfrequent occurrence. When there was neither bridge nor punt,
those who wished to cross were obliged to ford it; and so strong has
been the current, that horses have been carried down one or two hundred
yards before they could effect a landing. Keilor is a pretty little
village with a good inn, several nice cottages, and a store or two. The
country round is hilly and barren--scarcely any herbage and that
little is rank and coarse; the timber is very scarce. This road to the
diggings is not much used.

But to return to ourselves. The rain and bad roads made travelling so
very wearisome, that before we had proceeded far it was unanimously
agreed that we should halt and pitch our first encampment.
"Pitch our first encampment! how charming!" exclaims some romantic
reader, as though it were an easily accomplished undertaking. Fixing a
gipsy-tent at a FETE CHAMPETRE, with a smiling sky above, and all
requisites ready to hand, is one thing, and attempting to sink poles
and erect tents out of blankets and rugs in a high wind and pelting
rain, is (if I may be allowed the colonialism) "a horse of quite
another colour." Some sort of sheltering-places were at length
completed; the horses were taken from the dray and tethered to some
trees within sight, and then we made preparations for satisfying the
unromantic cravings of hunger--symptoms of which we all, more or less,
began to feel. With some difficulty a fire was kindled and kept alight
in the hollow trunk of an old gum tree. A damper was speedily made,
which, with a plentiful supply of steaks and boiled and roasted eggs,
was a supper by no means to be despised. The eggs had been procured at
four shillings a dozen from a farm-house we had passed.

It was certainly the most curious tea-table at which I had ever
assisted. Chairs, of course, there were none, we sat or lounged
upon the ground as best suited our tired limbs; tin pannicans (holding
about a pint) served as tea-cups, and plates of the same metal in lieu
of china; a teapot was dispensed with; but a portly substitute was
there in the shape of an immense iron kettle, just taken from the fire
and placed in the centre of our grand tea-service, which being new, a
lively imagination might mistake for silver. Hot spirits, for those
desirous of imbibing them, followed our substantial repast; but fatigue
and the dreary weather had so completely damped all disposition to
conviviality, that a very short space of time found all fast asleep
except the three unfortunates on the watch, which was relieved every
two hours.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8.--I awoke rather early this morning, not
feeling over-comfortable from having slept in my clothes all night,
which it is necessary to do on the journey, so as never to be
unprepared for any emergency. A small corner of my brother's tent had
been partitioned off for my BED-ROOM; it was quite dark, so my first
act on waking was to push aside one of the blankets, still wet,
which had been my roof during the night, and thus admit air and light
into my apartments. Having made my toilette--after a fashion--I
joined my companions on the watch, who were deep in the mysteries of
preparing something eatable for breakfast. I discovered that their
efforts were concentrated on the formation of a damper, which seemed to
give them no little difficulty. A damper is the legitimate, and, in
fact, only bread of the bush, and should be made solely of flour and
water, well mixed and kneaded into a cake, as large as you like, but
not more than two inches in thickness, and then placed among the hot
ashes to bake. If well-made, it is very sweet and a good substitute for
bread. The rain had, however, spoiled our ashes, the dough would
neither rise nor brown, so in despair we mixed a fresh batch of flour
and water, and having fried some rashers of fat bacon till they were
nearly melted, we poured the batter into the pan and let it fry till
done. This impromptu dish gave general satisfaction and was pronounced
a cross between a pancake and a heavy suet pudding.

Breakfast over, our temporary residences were pulled down, the
drays loaded, and our journey recommenced.

We soon reached the Deep Creek, and crossed by means of a punt, the
charges being the same as the one at Keilor. Near here is a station
belonging to Mr. Ryleigh, which is a happy specimen of a squatter's
home--everything being managed in a superior manner. The house itself
is erected on a rise and surrounded by an extensive garden, vinery and
orchard, all well stocked and kept; some beautifully enclosed paddocks
reach to the Creek, and give an English park-like appearance to the
whole. The view from here over the bay and Brighton is splendid; you
can almost distinguish Geelong. About a quarter of a mile off is a
little hamlet with a neat Swiss-looking church, built over a
school-room on a rise of ground; it has a most peculiar effect, and is
the more singular as the economizing the ground could not be a
consideration in the colony; on the left of the church is a pretty
little parsonage, whitewashed, with slate roof and green-painted

I still fancy, though our redoubtable captain most strenuously
denied it, that we had in some manner gone out of our way; however that
may be, the roads seemed worse and worse as we proceeded, and our pace
became more tedious as here and there it was up-hill work till at
length we reached the Keilor plains. It was almost disheartening to
look upon that vast expanse of flat and dreary land except where the
eye lingered on the purple sides of Mount Macedon, which rose far
distant in front of us. On entering the plains we passed two or three
little farm-houses, coffee-shops, &c., and encountered several parties
coming home for a trip to Melbourne. For ten miles we travelled on
dismally enough, for it rained a great deal, and we were constantly
obliged to halt to get the horses rested a little. We now passed a
coffee-shop, which although only consisting of a canvas tent and little
wooden shed, has been known to accommodate above forty people of a
night. As there are always plenty of bad characters lounging in the
neighbourhood of such places, we kept at a respectful distance, and did
not make our final halt till full two miles farther on our road. Tents
were again pitched, but owing to their not being fastened over
securely, many of us got an unwished-for shower-bath during the
night; but this is nothing--at the antipodes one soon learns to laugh
at such trifles.

THURSDAY, 9.--This morning we were up betimes, some of our party being
so sanguine as to anticipate making the "Bush Inn" before evening. As
we proceeded, this hope quickly faded away. The Keilor plains seemed
almost impassable, and what with pieces of rock here, and a water-hole
there, crossing them was more dangerous than agreeable. Now one passed
a broken-down dray; then one's ears were horrified at the oaths an
unhappy wight was venting at a mud-hole into which he had stumbled. A
comical object he looked, as, half-seas-over, he attempted to pull on a
mud-covered boot, which he had just extricated from the hole where it
and his leg had parted company. A piece of wood, which his imagination
transformed into a shoe-horn, was in his hand. "Put it into the
larboard side," (suiting the action to the word), "there it goes--damn
her, she won't come on! Put it into the starboard side there it goes--
well done, old girl," and he triumphantly rose from the ground, and
reeled away.

With a hearty laugh, we proceeded on our road, and after passing
two or three coffee-tents, we arrived at Gregory's Inn. The landlord is
considered the best on the road, and is a practical example of what
honesty and industry may achieve. He commenced some nine months before
without a shilling--his tarpaulin tent and small stock of tea, sugar,
coffee, &c., being a loan. He has now a large weather-board house,
capable of making up one hundred beds, and even then unable to
accommodate all his visitors, so numerous are they, from the good name
he bears. Here we got a capital cold dinner of meat, bread, cheese,
coffee, tea, &c., for three shillings a-piece, and, somewhat refreshed,
went forwards in better spirits, though the accounts we heard there of
the bad roads in the Black Forest would have disheartened many.

Mount Macedon now formed quite a beautiful object on our right: a
little below that mountain appeared a smaller one, called the Bald
Hill, from its peak being quite barren, and the soil of a white
limestone and quartzy nature, which gives it a most peculiar and
splendid appearance when the sun's rays are shining upon it. As
we advanced, the thickly-wooded sides of Mount Macedon became more
distinct, and our proximity to a part of the country which we knew to
be auriferous, exercised an unaccountable yet pleasureable influence
over our spirits, which was perhaps increased by the loveliness of the
spot where we now pitched our tents for the evening. It was at the foot
of the Gap. The stately gum-tree, the shea-oak, with its gracefully
drooping foliage, the perfumed yellow blossom of the mimosa, the
richly-wooded mountain in the background, united to form a picture too
magnificent to describe. The ground was carpeted with wild flowers; the
sarsaparilla blossoms creeping everywhere; before us slowly rippled a
clear streamlet, reflecting a thousand times the deepening tints which
the last rays of the setting sun flung over the surrounding scenery;
the air rang with the cawing of the numerous cockatoos and parrots of
all hues and colours who made the woods resound with their tones,
whilst their restless movements and gay plumage gave life and piquancy
to the scene.

This night our beds were composed of the mimosa, which has a perfume
like the hawthorn. The softest-looking branches were selected,
cut down, and flung upon the ground beneath the tents, and formed a bed
which, to my wearied limbs, appeared the softest and most luxuriant
upon which I had slept since my arrival in the colonies.

FRIDAY, 10.--With some reluctance I aroused myself from a very heavy
slumber produced by the over fatigue of the preceding day. I found
every one preparing to start; kindly considerate, my companions thought
a good sleep more refreshing for me than breakfast, and had deferred
awakening me till quite obliged, so taking a few sailors' biscuits in
my pocket to munch on the way, I bade farewell to a spot whose natural
beauties I have never seen surpassed.

Proceeding onwards, we skirted the Bald Hill, and entering rather a
scrubby tract, crossed a creek more awkward for our drays than
dangerous to ourselves; we then passed two or three little
coffee-shops, which being tents are always shifting their quarters,
crossed another plain, very stony and in places swampy, which
terminated in a thickly-wooded tract of gum and wattle trees. Into this
wood we now entered. After about five miles uncomfortable
travelling we reached the "Bush Inn."

I must here observe that no DISTINCT road is ever cut out, but the
whole country is cut up into innumerable tracks by the carts and drays,
and which are awfully bewildering to the new-comer as they run here and
there, now crossing a swamp, now a rocky place, here a creek, there a
hillock, and yet, in many cases, all leading BONA FIDE to the same

The "Bush Inn" (the genuine one, for there are two) consists of a
large, well-built, brick and weather-board house, with bed-rooms for
private families. There is a detached weather-board, and stone kitchen,
and tap-room, with sleeping-lofts above, a large yard with sheds and
good stabling. A portion of the house and stables is always engaged for
the use of the escort. About two hundred yards off is the "New Bush
Inn," somewhat similar to the other, not quite so large, with an
attempt at a garden. The charges at these houses are enormous. Five and
six shillings per meal, seven-and-sixpence for a bottle of ale, and one
shilling for half a glass or "nobbler" of brandy. About half a
mile distant is a large station belonging to Mr. Watson; the houses,
huts and yards are very prettily laid out, and, in a few years he will
have the finest vineyard in the neighbourhood. Two miles to the east is
the residence of Mr. Poullett, Commissioner of Crown Lands, which is
very pleasantly situated on the banks of an ever-running stream. The
paddock, which is a large one (10 square miles, or 6400 acres), is well
wooded. Some new police barracks and stabling yards are in the course
of erection.

We did not linger in the "Bush Inn," but pursued our way over a marshy
flat, crossed a dangerous creek, and having ascended a steep and
thickly wooded hill on the skirts of the Black Forest, we halted and
pitched our tents. It was little more than mid-day, but the road had
been fearful--as bad as wading through a mire; men and beasts were
worn out, and it was thought advisable to recruit well before entering
the dreaded precincts of the Black Forest. Fires were lit, supper was
cooked, spirits and pipes made their appearance, songs were sung, and a
few of the awful exploits of Black Douglas and his followers were
related. Later in the evening, an opossum was shot by one of us.
Its skin was very soft, with rich, brown hair.

SATURDAY, 11--A dismal wet day--we remained stationary, as many of
our party were still foot-sore, and all were glad of a rest. Some went
out shooting, but returned with only a few parrots and cockatoos, which
they roasted, and pronounced nice eating. Towards evening, a party of
four, returning from the diggings, encamped at a little distance from
us. Some of our loiterers made their acquaintance. They had passed the
previous night in the Black Forest, having wandered out of their way.
To add to their misfortunes, they had been attacked by three well-armed
bushrangers, whom they had compelled to desist from their attempt, not,
however, before two of the poor men had been wounded, one rather
severely. Hardly had they recovered this shock, than they were
horrified by the sudden discovery in a sequestered spot of some human
bones, strewn upon the ground beside a broken-down cart. Whether
accident or design had brought these unfortunates to an untimely end,
none know; but this ominous appearance seemed to have terrified
them even more than the bushrangers themselves. These accounts sobered
our party not a little, and it was deemed advisable to double the watch
that night.

Chapter V.


SUNDAY, 12.--A lovely summer morning, which raised our spirits to
something like their usual tone, with the exception of our gallant(?)
captain, who resigned his post, declaring it his intention to return to
Melbourne with the four returning diggers. Poor fellow! their awful
account of the Black Forest had been too much for his courage. Gregory
was elected in his place, and wishing him a pleasant trip home, our
journey was resumed as usual, and we entered the forest. Here the trees
grow very closely together; in some places they are so thickly
set that the rear-guard of the escort cannot see the advance-guard in
the march. There is a slight undergrowth of scrub. We saw some of the
choicest of the ERICA tribe in full bloom, like a beautiful crimson
waxen bell-blossom, and once whilst walking (which I frequently did to
relieve the monotony of being perched on the dray by myself) I saw a
fine specimen of the ORELUDIAE at the foot of a tree growing from the
wood; it was something like a yellow sweet-pea, but really too
beautiful to describe. The barks of the trees, and also the ground,
have a black, charred appearance (hence the name of the forest); this
is said to have been caused by its having once been on fire. Many of
the ambuscades of the noted Douglas were passed, and the scenes of some
most fearful murders pointed out. We only halted once--so anxious were
we to leave behind us this dreaded spot--and at sunset reached the
borders of the Five Mile Creek.

MONDAY, 13.--Another fine day. Crossed the Five Mile Creek by means of
a rickety sort of bridge. There are two inns here, with plenty of
accommodation for man and beast. We patronized neither, but made the
best of our way towards Kyneton. Our road lay through a densely
wooded country till we arrived at Jacomb's Station; this we left, and
turning to the right, soon reached Kyneton, which lies on the river

Carlshrue lies to the right, about three miles distant, on rather low
land; this is the chief station of the Government escort; the barrack
accommodation is first-rate, with stabling and paddocks for the horses,

Kyneton is about sixty-one miles from Melbourne. There are two large
inns, with ample accommodation for four hundred people between them,
several stores, with almost every needful article. A neat little
church, capable of holding nearly three hundred persons, with a school
and parsonage. There is a resident magistrate and constabulary, with a
police-court and gaol in progress of erection. The township is rather
straggling, but what houses there are have a very picturesque
appearance. The only draw-back to this little town is the badness of
the streets. Although it is rather on an elevated spot, the streets and
roads, from the loamy nature of the sod, are a perfect quagmire, even
abominable in summer time. The charges here are high, but not
extortionate, as, besides the two inns alluded to, there are several
coffee-shops and lodging-houses; so competition has its effect even in
the bush.

The Campaspe is a large river, and is crossed by a substantial timber

We still adhered to our original plan of camping out; a few necessaries
were purchased in the town, and after continuing our journey to a
little distance from it, we halted for the night.

TUESDAY 14.--This morning commenced with a colonial shower, which gave
us all a good drenching. Started about eight o'clock; returned to
Kyneton; crossed the bridge, and passed several farm-houses. The
country here is very changeable, sometimes flat and boggy, at others,
very hilly and stony. We were obliged to ford several small creeks,
evidently tributaries to the Campaspe, and at about ten miles from
Kyneton, entered the Coliban range, which is thickly wooded. The river
itself is about fourteen miles from Kyneton. Here we camped, in the
pouring rain. Some of our party walked to the town of Malmsbury, about
a mile and a half from our camping place. The town consisted of
about three tents, and an inn dignified by the appellation of the
"Malmsbury Hotel". It is a two-storied, weather-board, and pale house,
painted blue, with a lamp before it of many colours, large enough for
half-a-dozen people to dine in. It (the inn, not the lamp,) is capable
of accommodating two hundred people, independent of which there is a
large tent, similar to the booths at a fair, about 100 feet long by 30
wide, for the convenience of those who prefer sleeping under cover when
the house is full. Being hungry with their walk, our comrades dined
here, for which they paid 3s. 6d. a-piece; ale was 1s. 6d. a glass;
brandy 2s. per half glass, or "nobbler;" cheese, 4s. 6d. a pound;
bread, 5s. the four-pound loaf; wine, 25s. a bottle. By the time they
returned, we had struck our tents, intending to cross a muddy-banked
creek that lay in our road that evening, as we were told that the
waters might be too swollen to do it next day. The water reached above
their waists, and as my usual post was very insecure, I was obliged to
be carried over on their shoulders, which did not prevent my feet from
being thoroughly soaked before reaching the other side, where we
remained all night.

WEDNESDAY, 15.--Rainy day again, so much so, that we thought it
advisable not to shift our quarters. In the afternoon, three returning
diggers pitched their tents not far from ours. They were rather
sociable, and gave us a good account of the diggings. They had
themselves been very fortunate. On the same day that we had been idly
resting on the borders of the Black Forest, they had succeeded in
taking twenty-three pounds weight out of their claim, and two days
after, two hundred and six ounces more, making, in all, gold to the
value (in England) of about eighteen hundred pounds. They were
returning to Melbourne for a spree, (which means to fling their gains
away as quickly as possible,) and then as soon as the dry season was
regularly set in, they meant to return to Bendigo for another spell at
work. On representing to them the folly of not making better use of
their hard-earned wages, the answer invariably was, "Plenty more to be
got where this came from," an apt illustration of the proverb, "light
come, light go." Two of these diggers had with them their licences for
the current month, which they offered to sell for ten shillings each;
two of our company purchased them. This, although a common
proceeding, was quite illegal, and, of course, the two purchasers had
to assume for the rest of the month the names of the parties to whom
the licences had been issued. As evening approached, our new
acquaintances became very sociable, and amused us with their account of
the diggings; and the subject of licensing being naturally discussed,
led to our being initiated into the various means of evading it, and
the penalties incurred thereby. One story they related amused us at the
time, and as it is true I will repeat it here, though I fancy the lack
of oral communication will subtract from it what little interest it did

Before I commence, I must give my readers some little insight into the
nature of the licence tax itself. The licence, (for which thirty
shillings, or half an ounce of gold, is paid per month) is in the
following form:

No. 1710, Sept. 3, 1852.

The Bearer, Henry Clements, having paid to me the Sum of One Pound, Ten
Shillings, on account of the Territorial Revenue, I hereby
Licence him to dig, search for, and remove Gold on and from any such
Crown Land within the Upper Lodden District, as I shall assign to him
for that purpose during the month of September, 1852, not within
half-a-mile of any Head station.

This Licence is not transferable, and to be produced whenever demanded
by me or any other person acting under the Authority of the Government,
and to be returned when another Licence is issued.

(SIGNED) B. BAXTER, Commissioner.

At the back of the Licence are the following rules:


1. Every Licensed Person must always have his Licence with him, ready
to be produced whenever demanded by a Commissioner, or Person acting
under his instructions, otherwise he is liable to be proceeded against
as an Unlicensed person.

2. Every Person digging for Gold, or occupying Land, without a
Licence, is liable by Law to be fined, for the first offence, not
exceeding 5 pounds; for a second offence, not exceeding 15 pounds; and for
a subsequent offence, not exceeding 30 pounds.

3. Digging for Gold is not allowed within Ten feet of any Public Road,
nor are the Roads to be undermined.

4. Tents or buildings are not to be erected within Twenty feet of each
other, or within Twenty feet of any Creek.

5. It is enjoined that all Persons at the Gold Fields maintain and
assist in maintaining a due and proper observance of Sundays.

* * * * *

So great is the crowd around the Commissioner's tent at the beginning
of the month, that it is a matter of difficulty to procure it, and
consequently the inspectors rarely begin their rounds before the 10th,
when (as they generally vary the fine according to the date at which
the delinquency is discovered), a non-licensed digger would have the
pleasure of accompanying a crowd of similar offenders to the
Commissioners, sometimes four or five miles from his working-place, pay
a fine of about 3 pounds, and take out a licence. After the 20th of the
month, the fine inflicted is generally from 5 pounds to 10 pounds and a
licence, which is rather a dear price to pay for a few days' permission to
dig, as a licence, although granted on the 30th of one month, would be
unavailable for the next. The inspectors are generally strong-built,
rough-looking customers, they dress like the generality of the diggers,
and are only known by their carrying a gun in lieu of a pick or shovel.
Delinquents unable to pay the fine, have the pleasure of working it out
on the roads.

Now for my story--such as it is.

Mike and Robert were two as good mates as any at the Mount Alexander
diggings. They had had a good spell of hard work, and, as is usually
the way, returned to Melbourne for a holiday at Christmas-time; and
then it was that the bright eyes of Susan Hinton first sowed discord
between them. Mike was the successful wooer, and the old man gave his
consent; for Mike, with one exception, had contrived to make himself a
favourite with both father and daughter. The exception was this. Old
Hinton was a strict disciplinarian--one of what is called the
"good old school"--he hated radicals, revolutionists, and reformers,
or any opposition to Church or State. Mike, on the contrary, loved
nothing better than to hold forth against the powers that be; and it
was his greatest boast that Government had never pocketed a farthing
from him in the way of a licence. This, in the old man's eyes, was his
solitary fault, and when Mike declared his intention of taking another
trip to the "lottery fields" before taking a ticket in the even greater
lottery of marriage, he solemnly declared that no daughter of his
should ever marry a man who had been openly convicted of in any way
evading the licence fee.

This declaration from any other man, who had already promised his
daughter in marriage, would not have had much weight; but Mike knew the
stern, strict character of Hinton, and respected this determination
accordingly. The day of their departure arrived, and with a tearful
injunction to bear in mind her father's wishes, Susan bade her lover
farewell, and Robert and he proceeded on their journey. Full of his own
happiness, Mike had never suspected his comrade's love for
Susan, and little dreamt he of the hatred against himself to which it
had given birth--hatred the more to be dreaded since it was concealed
under a most friendly exterior.

For the first month Mike behaved to the very letter of the law, and
having for the sum of one pound ten shillings purchased his legal right to
dig for gold, felt himself a most exemplary character. Success again
crowned their efforts, and a speedy return to Melbourne was contemplated.
In the ardour of this exciting work another month commenced, and Mike at
first forgot and then neglected to renew his licence. "The inspector
rarely came his rounds before the 14th; the neighbourhood was
considered deserted--fairly 'worked out;' he'd never come round
there." Thus argued Mike, and his friend cordially agreed with him.
"Lose a day's work standing outside the Commissioner's tent broiling in
a crowd, when two days would finish the job? Not he, indeed! Mike might
please himself, but HE shouldn't get a licence;" and this determination
on the part of his "mate" settled the matter.

In one respect Mike's self-security was not unfounded; the gully
in which their tent was now pitched was nearly deserted. Some while
previous there had been a great rush to the place, so great that it was
almost excavated; then the rush took a different direction, and few now
cared to work on the two or three spots that had been left untouched.
Like many other localities considered "worked out," as much remained in
the ground as had been taken from it, and as each day added to their
store, Mike's hilarity increased.

It was now the 10th of the month; their hole had been fairly
"bottomed," a nice little nest of nuggets discovered, their gains
divided, and the gold sent down to the escort-office for transit to
Melbourne. A few buckets-full of good washing-stuff was all that was
left undone.

"To-day will finish that," thought Mike, and to it he set with hearty
good-will, to the intense satisfaction of his comrade, who sat watching
him at a little distance. Suddenly Mike felt a heavy hand upon his
shoulder: he looked up, and saw before him--the inspector. He had
already with him a large body of defaulters, and Mike little doubted
but that he must be added to their number. Old Hinton's determined
speech, Susan's parting words and tears, flashed across his

"You've lost your bonnie bride," muttered Robert, loud enough to reach
his rival's ears.

Mike glanced at him, and the look of triumph he saw there roused every
spark of energy within him, and it was in a tone of wellf-assumed
composure that he replied to the inspector, "My licence is in my
pocket, and my coat is below there;" and without a moment's hesitation
sprang into his hole to fetch it. Some minutes elapsed. The inspector
waxed impatient. A suspicion of the truth flashed across Robert's mind,
and he too descended the hole. THERE was the coat and the licence of
the past month in the pocket; but the owner had gone, vanished, and an
excavation on one side which led into the next hole and thence into a
complete labyrinth underground, plainly pointed out the method of
escape. Seeing no use in ferreting the delinquent out of so dangerous a
place, the inspector sulkily withdrew, though not without venting some
of his ill-humour upon Robert, at whose representations, made to him
the day previous, he had come so far out of his road.

But let us return to Mike. By a happy thought, he had suddenly
remembered that whilst working some days before in the hole, his pick
had let in daylight on one side, and the desperate hope presented
itself to his mind that he might make a passage into the next pit,
which he knew led into others, and thus escape. His success was beyond
his expectation; and he regained the open air at a sufficient distance
from his late quarters to escape observation. Once able to reflect
calmly upon the event of the morning, it required little discrimination
to fix upon Robert his real share in it. And now there was no time to
lose in returning to Melbourne, and prevent by a speedy marriage any
further attempt to set his intended father-in-law against him. The
roads were dry, for it was the sultry month of February; and two days
saw him beside his lady-love.

Although railroads are as yet unknown in Australia, everything goes on
at railroad speed; and a marriage concocted one day is frequently
solemnized the next. His eagerness, therefore, was no way remarkable.
No time was lost; and when, three days after Mike's return, Robert
(with his head full of plots and machinations) presented himself
at old Hinton's door, he found them all at a well-spread wedding
breakfast, round which were gathered a merry party, listening with a
digger's interest to the way in which the happy bridegroom had evaded
the inspector. Mike had wisely kept the story till Susan was his wife.

THURSDAY 16.--With great delight we hailed the prognostications of a
fine day, and, after having eaten a hearty breakfast on the strength of
it, we recommenced our travels, and crossed the Coliban Bridge. The
Coliban is a fine river running through a beautiful valley bounded with
green trees; the bridge is a timber one, out of repair, and dangerous.
A township called Malmsbury has been laid out here in small allotments
with the expectation of a future city; but as yet not a house has been
erected, with the exception of the "hotel" before mentioned, putting
one in mind of the American Eden in "Martin Chuzzlewit." A mile beyond
the Coliban are the washing huts of John Orr's Station, and about three
miles to the left is his residence; the house is stone, with verandahs,
the garden and vineyards are prettily laid out.

After passing the bridge, we took the right-hand road, which led
us through a low country, and across two or three tributary creeks; we
then reached the neighbourhood of Saw-pit Gully, so called from the
number of saw-pits there, which formerly gave employment to numerous
sawyers, whose occupation--it is almost needless to state--is now
deserted. It is surrounded with fine large timber; there are several
coffee-shops, a blacksmith's and wheelright's, and a neat little
weather-board inn.

At this part, our German friends bade us farewell, to follow out their
original plan of going to Forest Creek; they had persuaded four others
to accompany them, so our number was reduced to fifteen, myself
included. The scenery now became very beautiful, diversified with hill
and dale, well wooded, with here and there a small creek, more
agreeable to look at than to cross, as there were either no bridges or
broken-down ones. The loveliness of the weather seemed to impart energy
even to our horses; and we did not pitch our tents till we had
travelled full sixteen miles. We were now close beside Mount Alexander,
which is nearly covered with timber, chiefly white gum, wattle
and stringy bark.

FRIDAY, 17.--A lovely morning; we proceeded in excellent spirits,
passing some beautiful scenery, though rather monotonous. During the
first few miles, we went across many little creeks, in the
neighbourhood of which were indications that the diggers had been at
work. These symptoms we hailed with intense delight. Gregory told us
the history of a hole in this neighbourhood, out of which five people
cleared 13,000 pounds worth of gold each in about a few hours. In lieu of
sinking a shaft, they commenced in a gully (colonial for valley), and
drove a hole on an inclined plane up the side of the hill or rise.
However wet the season, they could never be inconvenienced, as the very
inclination would naturally drain the hole. Such a precaution was not
needed, as the whole party were perfectly satisfied with the success
they had had without toiling for more. The country between here and the
"Porcupine Inn" is exceedingly beautiful--not unlike many parts in the
lowlands of Wales. About eight miles on the road we pass Barker's
Creek, which runs through a beautiful vale.

We camped this evening about four or five miles from Bendigo,
and some miles from the "Porcupine Inn," which we left behind us. The
"Porcupine" is a newly built inn on an old spot, for I believe there
was an inn in existence there before the diggings were ever heard or
thought of. The accommodation appears on rather a small scale. Near it
is a portion of the station of the Messrs. Gibson, through which the
public road runs; some parts are fine, others wooded and swampy.

SATURDAY, 18.--Fine day; we now approached Bendigo. The timber here is
very large. Here we first beheld the majestic iron bark, EUCALYPTI, the
trunks of which are fluted with the exquisite regularity of a Doric
column; they are in truth the noblest ornaments of these mighty
forests. A few miles further, and the diggings themselves burst upon
our view. 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--the earth was everywhere turned up--men's heads
in every direction were popping up and down from their holes. Well
might an Australian writer, in speaking of Bendigo, term it "The
Carthage of the Tyre of Forest Creek." The rattle of the cradle, as it
swayed to and fro, the sounds of the pick and shovel, the busy hum of
so many thousands, the innumerable tents, the stores with large flags
hoisted above them, flags of every shape, colour, and nation, from the
lion and unicorn of England to the Russian eagle, the strange yet
picturesque costume of the diggers themselves, all contributed to
render the scene novel in the extreme.

We hurried through this exciting locality as quickly as possible; and,
after five miles travelling, reached the Eagle Hawk Gully, where we
pitched our tents, supped, and retired to rest--though, for myself at
least, not to sleep. The excitement of the day was sufficient cure for
drowsiness. Before proceeding with an account of our doings at the
Eagle Hawk, I will give a slight sketch of the character and
peculiarities of the diggings themselves, which are of course not
confined to one spot, but are the characteristics that usually
exist in any auriferous regions, where the diggers are at work. I will
leave myself, therefore, safely ensconced beneath a tent at the Eagle
Hawk, and take a slight and rapid survey of the principal diggings in
the neighbourhood from Saw-pit Gully to Sydney Flat.

Chapter VI.


Of the history of the discovery of gold in Australia I believe few are
ignorant; it is therefore necessary that my recapitulation of it should
be as brief as possible. The first supposed discovery took place some
sixty years ago, at Port Jackson. A convict made known to Governor
Phillip the existence of an auriferous region near Sydney, and on the
locality being examined, particles of real gold-dust were found. Every
one was astonished, and several other spots were tried without success.
Suspicion was now excited, and the affair underwent a thorough
examination, which elicited the following facts. The convict, in
the hope of obtaining his pardon as a reward, had filed a guinea and
some brass buttons, which, judiciously mixed, made a tolerable pile of
gold-dust, and this he carefully distributed over a small tract of
sandy land. In lieu of the expected freedom, his ingenuity was rewarded
with close confinement and other punishments. Thus ended the first idea
of a gold-field in those colonies.

In 1841 the Rev. W. B. Clarke expressed his belief in the existence of
gold in the valley of the Macquarie, and this opinion was greatly
confirmed by the observations of European geologists on the Uralian
Mountains. In 1849 an indisputable testimony was added to these
opinions by a Mr. Smith, who was then engaged in some iron works, near
Berrima, and who brought a splendid specimen of gold in quartz to the
Colonial Secretary. Sir C. A. Fitzroy evinced little sympathy with the
discovery, and in a despatch to Lord Grey upon the subject, expressed
his opinion that "any investigation that the Government might institute
with the view of ascertaining whether gold did in reality exist to any
extent or value in that part of the colony where it was supposed
from its geological formation that metal would be found, would only
tend to agitate the public mind, &c."

Suddenly, in 1851, at the time that the approaching opening of the
Crystal Palace was the principal subject of attention in England, the
colonies of Australia were in a state of far greater excitement, as the
news spread like wild-fire, far and wide, that gold was really there.
To Edward Hammond Hargreaves be given the honour of this discovery.
This gentleman was an old Australian settler, just returned from a trip
to California, where he had been struck by the similarity of the
geological formation of the mountain ranges in his adopted country to
that of the Sacramento district. On his return, he immediately searched
for the precious metal; Ophir, the Turon, and Bathurst well repaid his
labour. Thus commenced the gold diggings of New South Wales.

The good people of Victoria were rather jealous of the importance given
by these events to the other colony. Committees were formed, and
rewards were offered for the discovery of a gold-field in Victoria. The
announcement of the Clunes Diggings in July, 1851, was the
result; they were situated on a tributary of the Loddon. On September 8,
those of Ballarat, and on the 10th those of Mount Alexander
completely satisfied the most sceptical as to the vast mineral wealth
of the colony. Bendigo soon was heard of; and gully after gully
successively attracted the attention of the public by the display of
their golden treasures.

The names given to these gullies open a curious field of speculation.
Many have a sort of digger's tradition respecting their first
discovery. The riches of Peg Leg Gully were brought to light through
the surfacing of three men with wooden legs, who were unable to sink a
hole in the regular way. Golden Gully was discovered by a man who,
whilst lounging on the ground and idly pulling up the roots of grass
within his reach, found beneath one a nest of golden nuggets. Eagle
Hawk derives its name from the number of eagle-hawks seen in the gully
before the sounds of the pick and shovel drove them away. Murderer's
Flat and Choke'em Gully tell their own tale. The Irish clan together in
Tipperary Gully. A party of South Australians gave the name of their
chief town to Adelaide Gully. The Iron Bark is so called from
the magnificent trees which abound there. Long, Piccaninny, and Dusty
Gully need no explanation. The Jim Crow ranges are appropriately so
called, for it is only by keeping up a sort of Jim Crow dancing
movement that one can travel about there; it is the roughest piece of
country at the diggings. White Horse Gully obtained its name from a
white horse whose hoofs, whilst the animal in a rage was plunging here
and there, flung up the surface ground and disclosed the treasures
beneath. In this gully was found the famous "John Bull Nugget," lately
exhibited in London. The party to whom it belonged consisted of three
poor sailors; the one who actually discovered it had only been a
fortnight at the diggings. The nugget weighed forty-five pounds, and
was only a few inches beneath the surface. It was sold for 5,000 pounds; a
good morning's work that!

Let us take a stroll round Forest Creek--what a novel scene!--
thousands of human beings engaged in digging, wheeling, carrying, and
washing, intermingled with no little grumbling, scolding and swearing.
We approach first the old Post-office Square; next our eye
glances down Adelaide Gully, and over the Montgomery and White Hills,
all pretty well dug up; now we pass the Private Escort Station, and
Little Bendigo. At the junction of Forest, Barker, and Campbell Creeks
we find the Commissioners' quarters--this is nearly five miles from
our starting point. We must now return to Adelaide Gully, and keep
alongside Adelaide Creek, till we come to a high range of rocks, which
we cross, and then find ourselves near the head-waters of Fryer's
Creek. Following that stream towards the Loddon, we pass the
interesting neighbourhood of Golden Gully, Moonlight Flat, Windlass and
Red Hill; this latter which covers about two acres of ground is so
called from the colour of the soil, it was the first found, and is
still considered as the richest auriferous spot near Mount Alexander.
In the wet season, it was reckoned that on Moonlight Flat one man was
daily buried alive from the earth falling into his hole. Proceeding
north-east in the direction of Campbell's Creek, we again reach the
Commissioners' tent.

The principal gullies about Bendigo are Sailors's, Napoleon,
Pennyweight, Peg Leg, Growler's, White Horse, Eagle Hawk, Californian,
American, Derwent, Long, Picaninny, Iron Bark, Black Man's, Poor Man's,
Dusty, Jim Crow, Spring, and Golden--also Sydney Flat, and Specimen
Hill--Haverton Gully, and the Sheep-wash. Most of these places are
well-ransacked and tunnelled, but thorough good wages may always be
procured by tin dish washing in deserted holes, or surface washing.

It is not only the diggers, however, who make money at the Gold Fields.
Carters, carpenters, storemen, wheelwrights, butchers, shoemakers, &c.,
usually in the long run make a fortune quicker than the diggers
themselves, and certainly with less hard work or risk of life. They can
always get from one to two pounds a day without rations, whereas they may
dig for weeks and get nothing. Living is not more expensive than in
Melbourne: meat is generally from 4d. to 6d. a pound, flour about 1s. 6d
a pound, (this is the most expensive article in house-keeping
there,) butter must be dispensed with, as that is seldom less than
4s. a pound, and only successful diggers can indulge in such articles as
cheese, pickles, ham, sardines, pickled salmon, or spirits, as
all these things, though easily procured if you have gold to throw
away, are expensive, the last-named article (diluted with water or
something less innoxious) is only to be obtained for 30s. a bottle.

The stores, which are distinguished by a flag, are numerous and well
stocked. A new style of lodging and boarding house is in great vogue.
It is a tent fitted up with stringy bark couches, ranged down each side
the tent, leaving a narrow passage up the middle. The lodgers are
supplied with mutton, damper, and tea, three times a day, for the
charge of 5s. a meal, and 5s. for the bed; this is by the week, a
casual guest must pay double, and as 18 inches is on an average
considered ample width to sleep in, a tent 24 feet long will bring in a
good return to the owner.

The stores at the diggings are large tents, generally square or oblong,
and everything required by a digger can be obtained for money, from
sugar-candy to potted anchovies; from East India pickles to Bass's pale
ale; from ankle jack boots to a pair of stays; from a baby's cap to a
cradle; and every apparatus for mining, from a pick to a needle. But
the confusion--the din--the medley--what a scene for a shop
walker! Here lies a pair of herrings dripping into a bag of sugar, or a
box of raisins; there a gay-looking bundle of ribbons beneath two
tumblers, and a half-finished bottle of ale. Cheese and butter, bread
and yellow soap, pork and currants, saddles and frocks, wide-awakes and
blue serge shirts, green veils and shovels, baby linen and tallow
candles, are all heaped indiscriminately together; added to which,
there are children bawling, men swearing, store-keeper sulky, and last,
not LEAST, women's tongues going nineteen to the dozen.

Most of the store-keepers are purchasers of gold either for cash or in
exchange for goods, and many are the tricks from which unsuspecting
diggers suffer. One great and outrageous trick is to weigh the parcels
separately, or divide the whole, on the excuse that the weight would be
too much for the scales; and then, on adding up the grains and
pennyweights, the sellers often lose at least half an ounce. On one
occasion, out of seven pounds weight, a party once lost an ounce and
three quarters in this manner. There is also the old method of false
beams--one in favour of the purchaser--and here, unless the
seller weighs in both pans, he loses considerably. Another mode of
cheating is to have glass pans resting on a piece of green baize; under
this baize, and beneath the pan which holds the weights, is a wetted
sponge, which causes that pan to adhere to the baize, and consequently
it requires more gold to make it level; this, coupled with the false
reckoning, is ruinous to the digger. In town, the Jews have a system of
robbing a great deal from sellers before they purchase the gold-dust
(for in these instances it must be DUST): it is thrown into a zinc pan
with slightly raised sides, which are well rubbed over with grease; and
under the plea of a careful examination, the purchaser shakes and rubs
the dust, and a considerable quantity adheres to the sides. A commoner
practice still is for examiners of gold-dust to cultivate long
finger-nails, and, in drawing the fingers about it, gather some up.

Sly grog selling is the bane of the diggings. Many--perhaps
nine-tenths--of the diggers are honest industrious men, desirous of
getting a little there as a stepping-stone to independence elsewhere;
but the other tenth is composed of outcasts and transports--the refuse
of Van Diemen's Land--men of the most depraved and abandoned
characters, who have sought and gained the lowest abyss of crime, and
who would a short time ago have expiated their crimes on a scaffold.
They generally work or rob for a space, and when well stocked with
gold, retire to Melbourne for a month or so, living in drunkenness and
debauchery. If, however, their holiday is spent at the diggings, the
sly grog-shop is the last scene of their boisterous career. Spirit
selling is strictly prohibited; and although Government will license a
respectable public-house on the ROAD, it is resolutely refused ON the
diggings. The result has been the opposite of that which it was
intended to produce. There is more drinking and rioting at the diggings
than elsewhere, the privacy and risk gives the obtaining it an
excitement which the diggers enjoy as much as the spirit itself; and
wherever grog is sold on the sly, it will sooner or later be the scene
of a riot, or perhaps murder. Intemperance is succeeded by quarrelling
and fighting, the neighbouring tents report to the police, and the
offenders are lodged in the lock-up; whilst the grog-tent, spirits,
wine, &c., are seized and taken to the Commissioners. Some of
the stores, however, manage to evade the law rather cleverly--as
spirits are not SOLD, "my friend" pays a shilling more for his fig of
tobacco, and his wife an extra sixpence for her suet; and they smile at
the store-man, who in return smiles knowingly at them, and then glasses
are brought out, and a bottle produced, which sends forth NOT a
fragrant perfume on the sultry air.

It is no joke to get ill at the diggings; doctors make you pay for it.
Their fees are--for a consultation, at their own tent, ten shillings;
for a visit out, from one to ten pounds, according to time and
distance. Many are regular quacks, and these seem to flourish best. The
principal illnesses are weakness of sight, from the hot winds and sandy
soil, and dysentery, which is often caused by the badly-cooked food,
bad water, and want of vegetables.

The interior of the canvas habitation of the digger is desolate enough;
a box on a block of wood forms a table, and this is the only furniture;
many dispense with that. The bedding, which is laid on the ground,
serves to sit upon. Diogenes in his tub would not have looked more
comfortless than any one else. Tin plates and pannicans, the
same as are used for camping up, compose the breakfast, dinner, and tea
service, which meals usually consist of the same dishes--mutton,
damper, and tea.

In some tents the soft influence of our sex is pleasingly apparent: the
tins are as bright as silver, there are sheets as well as blankets on
the beds, and perhaps a clean counterpane, with the addition of a dry
sack or piece of carpet on the ground; whilst a pet cockatoo, chained
to a perch, makes noise enough to keep the "missus" from feeling lonely
when the good man is at work. Sometimes a wife is at first rather a
nuisance; women get scared and frightened, then cross, and commence a
"blow up" with their husbands; but all their railing generally ends in
their quietly settling down to this rough and primitive style of
living, if not without a murmur, at least to all appearance with the
determination to laugh and bear it. And although rough in their
manners, and not over select in their address, the digger seldom
wilfully injures a woman; in fact, a regular Vandemonian will, in his
way, play the gallant with as great a zest as a fashionable about town
--at any rate, with more sincerity of heart.

Sunday is kept at the diggings in a very orderly manner; and
among the actual diggers themselves, the day of rest is taken in a
VERBATIM sense. It is not unusual to have an established clergyman
holding forth near the Commissioners' tent and almost within hearing
will be a tub orator expounding the origin of evil, whilst a "mill" (a
fight with fisticuffs) or a dog fight fills up the background.

But night at the diggings is the characteristic time: murder here--
murder there--revolvers cracking--blunderbusses bombing--rifles
going off--balls whistling--one man groaning with a broken leg--
another shouting because he couldn't find the way to his hole, and a
third equally vociferous because he has tumbled into one--this man
swearing--an other praying--a party of bacchanals chanting various
ditties to different time and tune, or rather minus both. Here is one
man grumbling because he has brought his wife with him, another ditto
because he has left his behind, or sold her for an ounce of gold or a
bottle of rum. Donnybrook Fair is not to be compared to an evening at

Success at the diggings is like drawing lottery tickets--the
blanks far outnumber the prizes; still, with good health, strength, and
above all perseverance, it is strange if a digger does not in the end
reap a reward for his labour. Meanwhile, he must endure almost
incredible hardships. In the rainy season, he must not murmur if
compelled to work up to his knees in water, and sleep on the wet
ground, without a fire, in the pouring rain, and perhaps no shelter
above him more waterproof than a blanket or a gum tree; and this not
for once only, but day after day, night after night. In the summer, he
must work hard under a burning sun, tortured by the mosquito and the
little stinging March flies, or feel his eyes smart and his throat grow
dry and parched, as the hot winds, laden with dust, pass over him. How
grateful now would be a draught from some cold sparkling streamlet;
but, instead, with what sort of water must he quench his thirst? Much
the same, gentle reader, as that which runs down the sides of a dirty
road on a rainy day, and for this a shilling a bucket must be paid.
Hardships such as these are often the daily routine of a digger's life;
yet, strange to say, far from depressing the spirits or weakening the
frame, they appear in most cases to give strength and energy to
both. This is principally owing to the climate, which even in the wet
season is mild and salubrious.

Perhaps nothing will speak better for the general order that prevails
at the diggings, than the small amount of physical force maintained
there by Government to keep some thousands of persons of all ages,
classes, characters, religions and countries in good humour with the
laws and with one another. The military force numbers 130, officers and
men; the police about 300.

The Government escort is under the control of Mr. Wright, Chief
Commissioner; it consists of about forty foot and sixty mounted police,
with the usual complement of inspectors and sergeants; their uniform is
blue--with white facings, their head-quarters are by the
Commissioners' tent, Forest Creek.

The private escort uniform is a plain blue frock coat and trowsers. It
is under the superintendence of Mr. Wilkinson; the head-quarters are at
Montgomery Hill, Forest Creek. Both these escorts charge one per cent
for conveying gold.

For the Victoria diggings, there is a Chief Commissioner, one
Acting Resident Commissioner; one Assistant Commissioner at Ballarat,
one at Fryer's Creek, five at Forest Creek, and six at Bendigo.

Provision is made by Government for the support, at the mines, of two
clergymen of each of the four State paid churches of England, Scotland,
Rome, and Wesleyan, at a salary of 300 pounds a year.

Chapter VII.


Before commencing an account of our operations at the Eagle Hawk, it
will be necessary to write a few words in description of our
gold-digging party there; their Christian names will be sufficient
distinction, and will leave their incognito undisturbed.

This party, as I have said before, consisted of five gentlemen,
including my brother. Of the latter I shall only say that he was young
and energetic, more accustomed to use his brains than his fingers, yet
with a robust frame, and muscles well strengthened by the various
exercises of boating, cricketing, &c., with which our embryo
collegians attempt to prepare themselves for keeping their "terms."

Frank ------ (who, from being a married man, was looked up to as the head
of our rather juvenile party) was of a quiet and sedate disposition,
rather given to melancholy, for which in truth he had cause. His
marriage had taken place without the sanction--or rather in defiance of
the wishes--of his parents, for his wife was portionless, and in a
station a few grades, as they considered, below his own; moreover,
Frank himself was not of age. Private income, independent of his
parents, he had none. A situation as clerk in a merchant's office was
his only resource, and during three years he had eked out his salary to
support a delicate wife--whose ill health was a neverfailing source of
anxiety and expense--two infants, and himself. An unexpected legacy of
500 pounds from a distant relative at last seemed to open a brighter
prospect before them; and leaving his wife and children with their
relatives, he quitted England to seek in a distant land a better home than
all his exertions could procure for them in their own country. I never
felt surprised or offended at his silent and preoccupied manner,
accompanied at times by great depression of spirits, for it was an
awful responsibility for one so young, brought up as he had been in the
greatest luxury, as the eldest son of a wealthy merchant, to have not
only himself but others nearest and dearest to maintain by his own

William -----, a tall, slight, and rather delicate looking man, is the
next of our party whom I shall mention. His youth had been passed at
Christ's Hospital. This he quitted with the firm conviction (in which
all his friends of course participated) that he had been greatly
wronged by not having been elected a Grecian; and a rich uncle, incited
by the beforementioned piece of injustice, took him under his care, and
promised to settle him in the world as soon as a short apprenticeship
to business had been gone through. A sudden illness put a stop to all
these schemes. The physicians recommended change of air, a warmer
climate, a trip to Australia. William had relatives residing in
Melbourne, so the journey was quickly decided upon, a cabin taken; and
the invalid rapidly recovering beneath the exhilarating effects of the
sea-breezes. How refreshing are they to the sick! how caressingly does
the soft sea-air fan the wan cheeks of those exhausted with a life
passed amidst the brick walls and crowded, noisy streets of a city;
and William, who at first would have laughed at so ridiculous a
supposition, ere the four months' voyage was terminated, had gained
strength and spirits sufficient to make him determine to undertake a
trip to the diggings.

He was a merry light-hearted fellow, fonder of a joke than hard work,
yet ever keeping a sharp eye to the "main chance," as the following
anecdote will prove.

One day during our stay in Melbourne he came to me, and said, laughing:

"Well! I've got rid of one of the bad HABITS I had on board the ----."

"Which?" was my reply.

"That old frock-coat I used to wear in the cold weather whilst we
rounded the Cape. A fellow down at Liardet's admired the cut, asked me
to sell it. I charged him four guineas, and walked into town in my
shirt-sleeves; soon colonized, eh?"

Richard ------ was a gay young fellow of twenty, the only son of a rich
member of the stock Exchange. In a fit of spleen, because the
parental regulations required him always to be at home by midnight, he
shipped himself off to Australia, trusting that so energetic a step
"would bring the govenor to his senses." He was music-mad, and appeared
to know every opera by heart, and wearied us out of all patience with
his everlasting humming of "Ciascun lo dice" "Non piu mesta," &c.

Octavius ------ was the eighth son of a poor professional man, who, after
giving him a good general education, sent him with a small capital to
try his fortune in the colonies. For this he was in every way well
fitted, being possessed of a strong constitution, good common sense,
and simple inexpensive habits; he was only nineteen, and the youngest
of the male portion of our party.

The day after our arrival at the diggings, being Sunday, we passed in
making ourselves comfortable, and devising our future plans. We
determined to move from our present quarters, and pitch our tents
higher up the gully, near Montgomery's store. This we accomplished the
first thing on Monday morning and at about a hundred yards from us our
four shipmates also fixed themselves, which added both to our
comfort and security.

A few words for their introduction.

One of them was a Scotchman, who wished to make enough capital at the
mines to invest in a sheep-run; and as his countrymen are proverbially
fortunate in the colonies, I think it possible he may some time hence
be an Australian MILLIONAIRE. Another of these was an architect, who
was driven, as it were, to the diggings, because his profession, from
the scarcity of labour, was at the time almost useless in Melbourne.
The third was, or rather had been, a house-painter and decorator, who
unfortunately possessed a tolerably fine voice, which led him gradually
to abandon a good business to perform at concerts. Too late he found
that he had dropped the substance for the shadow; emigration seemed his
only resource; so leaving a wife and large family behind, he brought
his mortified vanity and ruined fortunes to begin the world anew with
in Australia. He was the only one whose means prevented him from taking
a share in our venture; but to avoid confusion, the Scotchman
subscribed twice the usual sum, thus securing double Profits.
The fourth was a gentleman farmer, whose sole enemy, by his account,
was Free Trade, and who held the names Cobden and Bright in utter

As soon as the tents were pitched, all set to work to unpack the dray:
and after taking out sufficient flour, sugar, tea, &c., for use, the
remainder of the goods were taken to the nearest store, where they were
sold at an average of five times their original costs: the most
profitable portion of the cargo consisted of some gunpowder and
percusion-caps. The day after, by good fortune, we disposed of the dray
and horses for 250 pounds, being only 40 pounds less than we paid for
them. As the cost of keeping horses at the diggings is very great
(sometimes two or three pounds a day per head), besides the constant risk
of their being lost or stolen, we were well satisfied with the bargain;
and never did mind young speculators, who five months previous had been
utter strangers, accomplish their undertaking to themselves, or less
disagreement one with another.

This business settled, the next was to procure licences, which
was a walk of nearly five miles to the Commissioners' tent, Bendigo,
and wasted the best part of Wednesday.

Meanwhile we were Seriously debating about again changing our quarters.
We found it almost impossible to sleep. Never before could I have
imagined that a woman's voice could utter sounds sufficiently
discordant to drive repose far from us, yet so it was.

The gentlemen christened her "the amiable female."

The tent of this "amiable" personage was situated at right angles with
ours and our shipmates, so that the annoyance was equally felt. Whilst
her husband was at work farther down the gully, she kept a sort of sly
grog-shop, and passed the day in selling and drinking spirits,
swearing, and smoking a short tobacco-pipe at the door of her tent. She
was a most repulsive looking object. A dirty gaudy-coloured dress hung
unfastened about her shoulders, coarse black hair unbrushed, uncombed,
dangled about her face, over which her evil habits had spread a
genuine bacchanalian glow, whilst in a loud masculine voice she uttered
the most awful words that ever disgraced the mouth of man ten
thousand times more awful when proceeding from a woman's lips.

But night was the dreadful time; then, if her husband had been unlucky,
or herself made fewer profits during the day, it was misery to be
within earshot; so much so, that we decided to leave so uncomfortable a
neighbourhood without loss of time, and carrying our tents, &c., higher
up the gully we finally pitched them not far from the Portland Stores.

This was done on Thursday, and the same evening two different claims
were marked out ready to commence working the next day. These claims
were the usual size, eight feet square.

FRIDAY, 24.--Early this morning our late travelling companion, Joe, made
his appearance with a sack (full of bran, he said,) on his shoulders.
After a little confidential talk with William, he left the sack in our
tent, as he had no other safe place to stow it away in till the bran
was sold. This gave rise to no suspicion, and in the excitement of

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