Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, Goldfields, Victoria, Australia
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Gold rush history

The discovery of gold in the 1850s and 60s is the most significant event in the evolution of the state of Victoria.

Gold fever hits
Fuelled by extravagant stories of wealth gained at the 1849 Californian gold rush, gold fever hit Victoria following the early gold discoveries in and around Clunes, Warrandyte and Ballarat. But the real rush began with the discovery of the Mount Alexander goldfield 60 kilometres north-east of Ballarat.

Mt Alexander (taking in the goldfields of Castlemaine and Bendigo) was one of the world's richest shallow alluvial goldfields, yielding around four million ounces of gold, most of which was found in the first two years of the rush and within five metres of the surface. When eight tonnes of Victorian gold arrived at London's port in April 1852, the Times of London declared: '.. this is California all over again, but, it would appear, California on a larger scale…'

Nuggets of the stuff
Mt Alexander goldfield's largest nugget was found in 1855 at Golden Gully by some inexperienced miners who had been sent to a 'duffer' or empty claim. On just their second day digging they discovered the 1008 ounce, 'damper-shaped' nugget and named it in honour of the area's popular gold commissioner, Mr Heron.

The small town of Moliagul became famous when a 69-kilogram gold nugget was found in 1869 at Bulldog Gully. Dubbed 'Welcome Stranger', the nugget was the largest in the world, though it was soon broken into pieces as the district lacked scales big enough to weigh the 60 by 30 centimetre nugget. Today the nugget would be worth over one million dollars.

Population boom
By the end of 1852, 90,000 newcomers had flocked to Victoria in search of gold. Provincial cities like Ballarat and Bendigo grew, bringing railways, roads, libraries, theatres, art galleries, and stock exchanges.

In the 1850s the heaviest traffic in Australia was on the road from Melbourne to Bendigo, and by the 1880s, Melbourne was christened 'Marvellous Melbourne' – one of the world's biggest, booming, and cosmopolitan cities of the era.

Bendigo Town Hall

Bendigo Discovery Tour

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours takes you on a journey to the gold rush city of Bendigo. Bendigo in the 1880's, was deemed the richest city in the...

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Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre

Ararat & Western Ranges Discovery Tour

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours conducts small group Ecotourism tours of western and central Victoria. Journey to the Western Goldfields of Victoria....

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Victorian Goldfields Railway

Victorian Goldfields Railway

The unmistakable nostalgic sound of a steam locomotive's whistle can be heard in the distance on any Wednesday or Sunday as you stroll along the main...

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Nine Levels of Darkness Tour

Central Deborah Gold Mine

Gear up in overalls, a miner's hat and lamp and head into underground tunnels in search of gold in a key mine from Bendigo's 19th century gold rush.

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OKA 4 wheel drive

Gold Prospecting 2 Day Tour, Victoria

Gold and Relics Gold Prospecting Adventure Tours

Gold Prospecting 2 Day Tour in Victoria with Gold and Relics Gold Prospecting Adventure Tours includes expert tuition by an experienced gold tour...

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Sovereign Hill

380 - Sovereign Hill

Gray Line Melbourne

Join Gray Line and get a taste for Victoria's rich Gold-rush history. In 1850 the world focused on Ballarat as the cry "Gold" echoed around the...

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Ballarat Town Hall

90 Minute Ballarat Town Tour

Go2000 Sightseeing

Go2000 Sightseeing welcome you to Ballarat. It is a beautiful city that is rich in history and heritage. Join Go2000 Sightseeing on a 90 Minute...

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Ballarat Mining Exchange & Post Office.

Ballarat Heritage Tours

Ballarat Heritage Tours

Ballarat Heritage Tours invites you to 'Discover the City Build by Gold', on this fully guided walking tour, exploring historic downtown Ballarat....

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Art Gallery - Lydiard Street

Ballarat Discovery Tours

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours conducts small group Sightseeing Eco tours of Ballarat and the Goldfields. Discover the legacy of the Ballarat gold...

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Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill

Strike it rich with a day out in 1850s Ballarat and pan for gold, ride in a horse-drawn carriage and relive the Eureka Rebellion with sound and light.

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Blood on the Southern Cross

Blood on the Southern Cross

Blood on the Southern Cross tells the dramatic story of the Eureka Uprising by Ballarat's miners against unjust and corrupt colonial rulers. The...

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Gold Prospecting Adventure Tour

Gold Prospecting One Day Tour, Victoria

Gold and Relics Gold Prospecting Adventure Tours

Gold and Relics Gold Prospecting Adventure Tours has been gold prospecting since 1980 and has found hundreds of ounces of gold during that time. They...

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Clunes Town Hall

Half and Full Day Goldfield Towns Tour

Go2000 Sightseeing

Go2000 Sightseeing tour to the Old Gold Towns for half a day or a full day tour. For the half day tour highlights include Creswick, the Creswick Wool...

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Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

Private Sovereign Hill Tour

Private Tours Victoria

The Private Sovereign Hill Tour with Private Tours Victoria takes you to an old gold mining town located in Ballarat, Victoria. Set in the Australian...

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Gold Museum

Gold Museum

The Gold Museum extends Sovereign Hill's story of Ballarat - a majestic provincial city built on the wealth derived from the great Australian...

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Art & culture