Ballarat and the Industrial Revolution
Many townships sprang up during the Gold Rush era of Colonial Victoria, but many of these towns withered and died as soon as their gold ran out, to the point that many are now ghost towns. However there are several exceptions to that. Many prosperous Central Victorian towns can trace their beginnings back to the discovery of gold. Towns such as Stawell, Ararat, Maryborough, Castlemaine and St Arnaud were larger at the time gold was being mined, but they still survive decades, even a century after the gold ran out. Ballarat and Bendigo are today major regional centres, and although there are still gold mines in or near both, they do not rely on gold to continue to grow. So what are the things that decided whether a town would grow, survive or die after the gold ran out? We think the answer involves the Industrial Revolution in Australia.
In our previous post on the Industrial revolution in Australia, we discussed how the people coming to the goldfields brought the knowledge and skills of the Industrial Revolution, and very soon were putting this knowledge to practical use in the search for gold. Here at Sovereign Hill we have many examples of these technological advances, and the benefits and/or downfalls of the use of machinery in gold mining. More importantly we also have some examples of steam technology being used for purposes not directly linked to finding gold. It is these other industries that give us the clue as to why Ballarat thrived, but towns nearby (Clunes, Smythesdale, Creswick etc) struggled after the gold mining phase of our history dwindled.