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Would you have what it takes back in the Victorian Gold Rush?

Posted 20/02/2023 in Gold

Ever wonder if you'd have what it takes to try your luck on the goldfields back in the 19th century? 

This entertaining, but honest advice, was published by the Geelong Advertiser in September of 1851 - in the very early days of the Victorian gold rush.

It outlines the constitution required by prospective diggers, along with the many hardships and discomforts you'd expect to endure on the job.

So have a read of this page, or watch the video below on YouTube,  and ask yourself - would you be able to cut it?

The Ballarat Diggins - Geelong Advertiser - 1851

As there are many intending gold diggers, it may be advisable to state the requisites imperatively demanded to prosecute such business successfully. 

First of all, they must be made of gutta percha, impervious to wet, and have the stomach of an ostrich to digest any aliment, or be content with none for an indefinite time.

Alluvial Mining Model, Carl Nordstrom, 1858. Museums Victoria.

They must have an elastic constitution, adaptive to all circumstances, except comfortable ones - those may be left out of the category for the present. 

A gold digger must be a Jack-of-all-trades. He must be able to strip bark, fall a tree and saw it, dig sods, make embankments, put up a hut, mend your clothes, draw firewood after chopping it, bake, boil, and roast.

Use a pick and spade, delve, dig, and quarry, load, and unload, draw a sledge, and drive a barrow, cut paths, make roadways, puddle in mud, and splash ankle deep in water, with occasional slushings from head to foot!

Alluvial Mining Model, Carl Nordstrom, 1858. Museums Victoria.

Bear sleet and rain without flinching during the day, and sleep in damp blankets during the night, thankful that they are not entirely saturated!

If ye can do all this, and have spirit enough to attempt it, and endurance enough to carry it on for three months, why, there is gold and rheumatism in store for you!

If you have a strong constitution, it will make you hardy, but many will be spoiled in the experiment. 
Such are the scenes that I have witnessed, and endured, and call on others to prepare themselves for the like.

Alluvial Mining Model, Carl Nordstrom, 1858. Museums Victoria.

What do you think, could you handle it? 

Considering the unfathomable riches which were drawn from the earth by these diggers in Ballarat, I'd say it was certainly worth a shot!



Established in 1980, the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria is a voluntary body created to protect the rights and opportunities of those who wish to prospect, fossick or mine in the State of Victoria, Australia.

You can support the PMAV in their fight to uphold these rights by becoming a member. You'll also gain access to exclusive publications, field days, prospecting tips, discounts and competitions.

Check out the PMAV website for more information.




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