Days of my Youth
By Charles Napier Hemy Ra, ARA, RWS, 1841 – 1917
Edited by Peter McGann
Published by Viglione Press, Black Rock, Victoria 2009
This fantastic little book is a great way to personalise students experiences of our History, and provides an opportunity to debate the classification of a source as primary or secondary. Charles Napier Hemy was a renowned maritime artist of the late 19th century. At the age of 10 he accompanied his father on a trip around the world, culminating in a visit to the Goldfields of Victoria in 1851-2. In 1904 Charles sat down on board his yacht Van Der Meer in Falmouth harbour and wrote a journal of his recollections of his travels under sail, and adventures on the Goldfields. Continue reading
Was the Government too slow to react? Did they have the time?
Gill, S.T. – High Degree- Ballarat Gold Museum Collection
Many People believe that the problems with Government and licence fees began after all the easy gold was taken, and diggers were forced to take longer to find gold. This makes sense, why would anyone be upset with paying a licence fee if they are pretty sure of getting rich quick? The National Library of Australia has set up TROVE, a free digitised search service, so you can research their extensive archive of old newspapers and magazines. A quick read through some of the newspapers around in the first year of the Victorian Gold rushes, shows that many people were already angry about paying a fee, why?
Header from the Melbourne Argus-August 14th 1851
TROVE can be a lot of fun too. I already mentioned the Newspapers, but there are also digital copies of old magazines, maps, photos and much more. You can even edit articles that the computer didn’t read properly.
Early Problems with the licence system
Do you like paying out good money and receiving nothing in return? Well neither did the people of Victoria in the 1850s, and they made their feelings known through the newspapers. Continue reading
With the new popular TV program ‘Wild Boys’ gracing our screens it seems timely to discuss the presence of Bushrangers during the gold rushes. While the TV show glosses over a few historical details, drawing on popular culture such as this can be used as a powerful hook to engage students in history. They can even become historians who investigate the historical accuracy of such programs, from people and attitudes to building construction and details of daily life – an interesting and empowering activity no doubt.
Bushrangers certainly existed in colonial Australia and some thrived during the gold rush. Unidentifiable gold was an alluring target, as were the many naive new chums arriving in the colony. A large part of the British Redcoats‘ role in the colonies was to act as a gold escort between the diggings and Melbourne. The situation was further affected by the presence of numerous ex-convicts harbouring resentment towards authority figures and the limited number of police; including some untrained and allegedly corrupt officers. It was a potent mix and a complex social scenario.