Life at the Diggings – Letters from McIvor Diggings, Victoria, 1 July 1853 and Bendigo, 25 July 1853

A FEW WORDS FROM AUSTRALIA. 

BY WILLIAM HOWITT. 

Mclvor Diggings, Victoria, July 1, 1853. 

This winter we have travelled up to the new diggings. Great was their fame when we were in Melbourne. Wonderful were the accounts of large nuggets, and large fortunes being found. We have arrived, and again find it all moonshine. A rush of diggers from Bendigo, of upwards of a thousand per day, was the consequence of these grand rumours; three miles of ground have been turned up to find next to nothing. The Bendigo men have hastened back again, and troops of others are from day to day following them. This is the constant experience; such are the diggings. But to give some idea of what getting to these diggings is, it is only necessary to state, that this distance of seventy-five miles has cost us six weeks to accomplish! or about two miles a day on the average, bringing up a load of little more than a ton. The roads we found still more frightful than those to the Ovens. They are such, that the iron axle of our cart has been broken four times, and has cost us £13 in repairing it. Nor have we been singular in this respect. All along the road has been the spectacle of carts and bullock- drays, bogged or broken down by the way-side. These bullock-drays are drawn by twelve, sixteen, and twenty bullocks each, yet they are constantly sticking fast or breaking down, and occasion delays of a week and a fortnight at a time. The whole road was again strewn with dead horses and oxen. In fact, no one who has not seen it can conceive anything of the enormous labour and waste of animal life and property in getting up to the diggings. In coming down from the Ovens last autumn, we counted between thirty and forty bullocks and horses lying by the way. 

Then as to the weather, we are told by all the accounts that I have seen, of the paradoxical nature of this climate, of the winter without ice and snow. My brother Richard, in his account of the colony, (“Impressions of Australia Felix,” by Richard Howitt. — Bohn: London) by far the most faithful account of it that I have ever seen, was vehemently accused by the colonial papers with having stated that there was such a thing as ice there in the winter, and he so far qualified his statement as to say that there was none on pools or creeks (brooks). Now on this journey I have seen more snow than I have seen in England for the last three years. One day, near Kilmore, it snowed as heavily as I ever remember it to have snowed in England, from eight o’clock in the morning till three o’clock in the afternoon. It was then three inches deep, and the settlers said; that in the gullies of the neighbouring. mountains it was in many places three feet deep. The snow lay so heavily on the trees, which are all evergreens, that it broke them down like carrots. As for ice, we have had severe frosts for a week together, the ice in the morning being upwards of a quarter of an inch thick on the pools and the still places of the creeks. In our buckets it was often half an inch thick, in our washhand-basin the ice was frequently a solid mass of more than an inch thick from one night’s frost. It is true that the sun in this latitude has so much power that the frost has never, in our experience, lasted through the day; on the contrary, the days are warm and fine, often for a week together. To-day, as I write, the thermometer stands at 70° in our tent. Indeed, we like the winter season much the best. Though there is often very severe cold at night, that we can keep out by a good tent, and plenty of blankets and rugs. And though we have a rapid alternation frequently of roaring winds, fogs, and drenching rains, yet we are at this season free from the fierce heats and the myriads of tormenting insects of summer.

As to heat, I have not yet seen a single thermometrical table of this country which has not been most grossly inaccurate. Refer to the work of Mr. Westgarth, one of the most careful statitians (sic) of the colony, and you find the highest degree of summer heat, as quoted from the government observations at Melbourne, at 73-48, in January, about the hottest month of the year, corresponding with our July. That is quoted as the hottest day of the year, the observation being taken at 2-30, p.m. While in June, the mid-winter here, the lowest degree was 46-96. The intermediate months range, according to that table, at about from 55 to 68 degrees.

Now from this you would conclude that Port Phillip was one of the mildest climates in the world. It could not even be so hot as in England, where I have known the thermometer stand at 110° in summer; and it could never possibly freeze, for the thermometer, according to this table, never descends to 42°. Nay, Mr. Westgarth, speaking of the hot winds which visit this country in summer, actually shrivelling up the corn into tinder, says, “At Melbourne they commonly last for two or three days at a time, with a temperature of from 80° to 90° in the shade, ascending sometimes, though rarely, as high as 100°. In the Sydney district they blow with greater severity, and are more apt to injure or destroy the crop” — p. 37. Mr. Westgarth again gives a table of the government observations taken at Adelaide, which states the highest degree of heat occurring on a summer day, at noon, as 106½°; the lowest, in June, as 47½°. So that nobody in Adelaide, if the government can be relied on, need suffer any excess of heat in summer, nor fear such a thing as frost in winter. But here, as at home, the weather is neither regulated by act of government, nor act of parliament, but by the act of God; and people are therefore much surprised, in this country, to find themselves in summer broiling under a sun shedding a heat of 139° and more in the sun, and freezing them in winter at about 26° or 28°. Last summer, amongst the hills in the Ovens district, not far from the Snowy Mountains — therefore notoriously a much cooler region than the plains and lower country — we had the heat very commonly in our tent 120° at noon. On one occasion it stood at 139° in the sun, and 120° in the shade, and the following night sank to 40°; having thus varied nearly 100° in the twenty-four hours. This summer, the inhabitants tell us, is the coolest summer they have experienced for many years. If you refer to the works of Count Strzelecke and Montgomery Martin, they give you the same statements as Mr. Westgarth, and drawn, probably, from the same sources. As I have said, in winter the thermometer has frequently sunk considerably below the freezing point. On Wednesday last it stood at 31° at sunrise. Perhaps the inaccuracy of the government observations may, in a great measure, be explained by their being taken in close-built rooms, and not, as they should be, in the open air. They ought also in the morning to have been taken at sunrise; between that and eight o’clock the rise of the mercury is wonderful. 

Now these accounts are as unwise as they are false. If the writers in this colony would not try to give us “better bread than can be made of wheat,” if they would leave the country as God and nature have made it, those who come hither would find it a good and pleasant country, instead of feeling, as they almost to a man do, imposed upon, and therefore indignant and full of denunciation. The drawbacks and the climate ought to be stated fully and fairly, as well as the attractions, e.g., the hot, suffocating dust-winds of summer ; the countless swarms of insects and reptiles, mosquitoes, flies, ants — many of them an inch long and stinging as badly as wasps — by millions ; scorpions, centipedes, poisonous spiders, and venomous serpents. The latter of these vermin, however, are of small consideration in comparison with the “Little Black Devil of Australia” — the small black fly, which is legion. This most pestilent insect is as numerous as it was in Egypt during the plagues there. It gives you no rest for about five months of the year, and is, in truth, the greatest curse of the country. Mosquitoes, however bad, do not deserve a mention beside them. You are obliged to envelop your head and face in a veil, or you would be driven almost mad, and be in danger of being blinded by the envenomed opthalmia which they occasion. 

Those who describe the climate should tell us, too, of the rains, the frosts, the violent winds of winter; and then poor wretches would not attempt to walk up to the diggings with only a single blanket or rug to wrap themselves in on the ground at night, and to walk as in noonday for two or three days at a time. Still, as I have said, we like the winter best. The air is then, at considerable intervals, mild and temperate; there are fresh breezes blowing about you. The feeling is more that of the climate of England. You have plenty of good water running in the creeks, and are exempt from the intolerable plague of flies, and the broiling oppression of a perfectly tropical heat. 

Let me now say something of the modes of getting up to the diggings. These are chiefly three. The first is to engage a bullock-dray for a whole party, to carry up your tent and effects. Bullock-drays are the most certain, and in many cases the only vehicles that can make their way through the bogs and deep miry roads. With twelve or sixteen bullocks, they seem to stick at nothing, but go on steadily but surely through places that are impassable to horses. Yet even these are not proof against the difficulties of the journey. They are seen, ever and anon, sticking fast up to the axles; their wheels and poles, though massy, smashed to atoms; their ponderous iron axles snapped like glass; and their cattle with their necks broken, or drowned in the creeks. For these wagons the rate of carriage to the diggings is enormous. Last year it was £150 a ton to the Ovens; at present it is £80 a ton hither, or more than £1 per mile. The disadvantages of going by these drays are, that you not only walk the whole way, but have to sleep under them, or in the open air, whatever be the weather. The tents are most commonly packed so that you cannot have them on the road. You are, of course, liable to be delayed by the accidents I have mentioned. The expense is severe if you have much baggage, especially stores for the season. It cost a friend of ours £50 to go thus to the Ovens, though he had but a moderate quantity of effects. Next, on arriving at the diggings, you are set down at the first place that the drivers can get rid of you, and as it is a matter of no small difficulty to decide where it is best to locate yourself, so as to combine all the requisites of being on the best part of the diggings, of wood and water, you have probably to hire another cart or dray to remove your effects to the spot fixed on as a digging, and that at a most extravagant price. At every bush you find yourself pinned, as it were, to the ground, having no conveyance of your own, and are in danger of coming in too late. At every move, whether to different parts of the diggings or to different diggings, you must still hire, hire, hire, at a heavy rate. You must also pay for the carting of your washing-stuff to the nearest creek or water-hole, at an average, about £1 per load. Therefore, the second plan is the most independent. 

This is to purchase a cart of your own, with two or three horses, and convey your own effects. These will cost you, in Melbourne — that is, a cart with two good horses, capable of carrying the tent, tools, and some stores for a party of four, with harness and oats — about £200. With these you can make the journey at your pleasure, as far as the roads will let you; have your tent every night, if you will, and on the diggings be able to move and remove as you please; provided — that your horses are not stolen! This, however, is a most common occurrence, and horses are, therefore, a perpetual care and anxiety. Every day there is an immense inquiry after stolen or strayed horses. For one of the things that people coming to this country should most carefully bear in mind is, that it is notoriously a land of thieves. Though not a convict colony itself, the gold diggings have drawn into it swarms of transported felons, housebreakers, pickpockets, and the like vermin from Sydney and Van Diemen’s Land; and not the less so, adroit scoundrels, in my opinion the worst of all, direct from the lowest purlieus of London. From the moment you put your goods into the lighter from the ship you are in the midst of these gentry. They are about the lighters as porters, on the wharves as the same; and if you do not miss a good quantity of your most valuable effects before getting into Melbourne itself, you may deem yourself lucky. Again, these fellows swarm on the roads to the diggings as bush-rangers, arid at the diggings as thieves. There have been hundreds of them collected on these new diggings; people have been plundered on the way, their tents ransacked; on the diggings, their horses carried off— nine, ten, or a dozen in a single night; and one man was actually fobbed the other day at noon in the very midst of the diggings. As I write, the police are carting down a dozen thieves to the prison at Melbourne. You may chance, therefore, on the road to find your horses missing some morning, and may stay there till you can walk down to Melbourne to purchase others. We have known various cases of this kind. The same thing may any day occur at the diggings. Otherwise, this is by far the most independent plan. 

Gold miners are shown at work on the diggings and there are tents labelled 'COFFEE & GINGER BEER', 'BAKER', 'CHEMIST & DRUGIST', etc.
A New Rush 185-, Samuel Thomas Gill

The third plan is, to walk up merely with what is called your swag — that is, a rug or blanket rolled up, containing a change of linen, some tea, sugar, and flour. This, with a quart tin pot to boil your tea in, and a pint tin panikin to drink it out of, is all your baggage. You live on tea and damper, a heavy cake baked in the ashes of your fire; and at night cut down a quantity of leaves for a bed, and roll yourselves in your blanket. The advantage of this plan is expedition. You can walk up to the diggings in a few days. You have no pulling, dragging, and struggling with bullocks or horses and heavy loads through the terrible roads of the country. But, on the other hand, you are exposed to the weather and great hardships, especially in winter and rainy weather. I have seen scores and hundreds — I may say thousands — of young men, new-chums, that is, fresh to the colony, thus wending their way up the country. A great number of these young men have been accustomed to all the comforts of life at home; most of them to comfortable homes, however, in many instances, humble. To see these young men thus wading along the deep miry roads, often up to their knees, picking their way, often in utter despair, drenched with whole days and nights of rain, foot-sore and jaded, having to live on the hardest fare, and always the same— tea and damper, morning, noon, and night, for they cannot carry meat and frying-pans with them — has often made my heart ache. 

Many of these adventurers, after coming from good beds, daily change of linen, and plentiful tables, often do not pull off their clothes or change their shirts for a month together. Their hair and beards become bushy, and wild as the wilderness they live in. On arriving at the diggings they have no tents, no|tools, no cooking apparatus, except such as they must buy at most fabulous prices. They often raise huts of boughs or bark to shelter them, lie on leaves, and fare hardly, only adding mutton-chops to their tea and damper. All the articles of food which they have to purchase are so costly, that it requires good success to be able to get them. Tea and meat are the cheapest. Tea is only about 3s. 6d. per pound, and meat 6d. Flour is here now £10 per bag of 200lbs., or 1s. per lb.; bread, 4s. the quartern loaf; sugar, 1s. 4d. per lb.; butter, 5s. per lb.; cheese, 2s. 6d. to 3s. per lb.; onions, 1s. 6d. per lb. Shovels are £1 6s. each; cradles, good for anything, from £3 to £6; picks, 12s.; second-hand, 8s.; tubs for puddling the washing-stuff in — indispensable articles— £2 each. These are the halves of beer casks, cut in two, which I suppose you would get in England, just as they are, for 2s. 6d. the whole cask. Tents, unless you can buy them of parties going away, five times the price that they are in London. This may give you some idea of what getting up to the diggings is, and the cost of it. The outfits, necessary tools, cart, horses, expenses of travelling and living, have not cost my party of four much less than £1,000. I have already said what is the amount of success generally achieved; but I must add, that the holes sunk for gold at the diggings, far from being only four or five feet deep, are often fifty, seventy, and a hundred feet deep, and through such hard strata, that one foot per day at Balaarat (sic) has often been considered good progress. 

The long and short of the story, therefore, is, that gold digging is not only one of the most arduous, anxious, and laborious undertakings on the face of the earth — an undertaking in which you must make up your mind to abandon all the amenities and most of the comforts of life, must live a rude, restless, unshaven, and, as is too commonly the case, unwashed life — in ragged and mud-stained garments, to hazard health and life, but it is by no means remunerative. It is, in fact, a life only fitted for hard, rough men, such as navvies, labourers, porters, carters, and the like. It is, indeed, rapidly resolving itself into this, and will continue to do so. It is becoming a regular employment for the hardiest and rudest of the working classes; men used to the pick and spade, miners, quarrymen, agricultural labourers, porters, gardeners, and the like. You find fewer and fewer gentlemen amongst these diggers; and these few soon draw out into more lucrative and congenial pursuits. 

The delusion in England arises from contemplating the gold produced here in the aggregate, and not calculating the numbers now engaged in obtaining it. The repeated arrivals of tons and tons of gold in London, and of occasional large nuggets, has a dazzling and overwhelming effect. But if it were taken into account that perhaps 200,000 people are now engaged in the gold fields, the individual gains would soon present themselves under no very encouraging aspect. From all the calculations that we have been able to make; we cannot estimate the average gain of each individual digger — were it the luck of all to get some, which is by no means the case- — at more than one ounce per week, that is, on the diggings, about £3 12s. I do not know precisely what is the total average weekly amount of gold sent down to Melbourne just now, because we have no very recent papers; but from this place the amount last week was 8,000 ounces, while there were last month 9,000 licenses issued: that itself would not give an ounce per man. But it is notorious that seldom more than two-thirds of the diggers take out licenses, which reduces this amount seriously. There are calculated, indeed, to be 20,000 people, men, women, and children, in these diggings. 

.At the Ovens, last summer, the highest amount sent down thence, for a fortnight, was 15,000 ounces, while the licenses were 10,000: that does not give half an ounce per man, per week, on an average. The most favourable accounts do not give much more than an ounce a week for each man. 

If we then take into account the expenses of outfit, voyage, means of getting up the country, and cost of living at the diggings, the prospect is not very cheering. If hardy, labouring men, by perseverance and care, can save a few hundred pounds in a few years, enduring all the inconveniences, attendant for that object, that may be to them something desirable; but a mere attainment of £150 or £200 per annum, with the living, travelling, and other costs deducted, cannot be any remuneration to gentlemen, or to such as leave any tolerable situations in England. Even such hardy workmen can do far better at other occupations in the colony. And here I come to the real inducements for people to emigrate to this colony. There are few active and careful people, excepting shopmen and clerks, of whom there is a glut — situations of course being limited — who may not do exceedingly well in Victoria. It is, in fact, the paradise of labour. The enormous and still continued influx of population has created an equivalent demand for houses, furniture, food, clothing, and everything necessary for civilised life. While this remains — and remain it will so long as gold flows down from the diggings — every species of labour is in the highest request. There is no mechanic or artizan; who has a trade in his fingers, who cannot make from his £1 to £1 10s. per day. Joiners, carpenters, bricklayers, slaters, brickmakers, quarrymen, woodmen, smiths, tailors, shoemakers, hatters, saddlers and harness-makers, wheel-wrights, gardeners, agricultural labourers, etc., with women for servants, find themselves exactly in the place where they are wanted. The commonest porters get their 10s. per day. The government pay for working on the roads is £3 per week, and they cannot procure half the men they want. I have seen gentlemen’s sons very contentedly working on the roads at these wages of 10s. a day, with a tent for each party and a cook. Even carters up in the bush get £2 per week, a hut, and their rations. Shepherds — and any sort of a man, men getting into years and fit for nothing else, do for shepherds — get their £70 a year and rations. Men who can get a cart and horse, and cart goods up from the wharf into the town, or water or wood into it, can make their £3 and £4 a day. In fact, the opportunities for most lucrative occupation are endless. I have seen parties of gentlemen of high family taking goods on bullock-drays up to the diggings — a most profitable occupation at per £60 to £100 a ton. Those men who have been getting as agricultural labourers in England their 6s. or 12s. a week, and mechanics who there get their £1 or £2 a week, find it here, even when the high price of everything is taken into account, a most advantageous change for them to £3, £6, and £9 a week. Bullock drivers get £1 per day with rations. 

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Trade is as lucrative as labour, and numerous and enormous fortunes have been made since the discovery of the gold, and are still making in Melbourne and other parts of Victoria, by trade, and by watching the land market. Let, then, our countrymen at home consider the contents of my communication well, and they will be at no loss to see where the true advantage lies in this colony. Let them come as fast as they will, they cannot do wrong. There is labour enough, trade enough, room enough, and profit enough, for all. Let them only come divested of the empty delusion of making fortunes by gold-digging; the digging, planting, and selling of cabbages at a shilling a-piece is far preferable. Let them only come disabused of the idea that this country is a perfect paradise, and its climate that of the seventh heaven, and they will find a good country and a fine climate. Let them expect swinging heat and a host of pestilent flies in summer; a good share of rain, snow, and ice, as well as warm sunshine, in winter; plenty of stinging ants and other insects in the bush; and knowing the drawbacks, they will in a while learn to think little of them. Let them remember that it is unavoidably a country of thieves, and they will be on their guard; that thousands are rushing hither with the sole object of making fortunes as rapidly as they can, and that consequently this colony is the very hot-bed of speculation and of exorbitant charges, and they will come properly prepared with money to meet the inevitable demands upon them. They will then not expect too much conscience or to little grasping in those with whom they will have to deal. Let them tread under their feet the fable, that this country is so free from diseases and disordered health, that doctors are unnecessary, and they will endure with more patience the attacks that they are pretty sure to pass through before they are acclimated. In Melbourne alone there are already about a hundred and fifty doctors, who seem well employed, and at the diggings especially the doctors flourish. Fever, dysentery, and influenza are the prevalent and fatal disorders. But perhaps the hard, monotonous diet in the bush and at the diggings — tea, mutton, and heavy damper — heavy damper, mutton, and tea — with the vile trash they sell for spirits, have more to do with these illnesses, in connexion with the exposures to rapidly alternative heat, cold, and wet, than simply the climate itself. But if people only weigh these things in the scale with the allurements held out to them by interested parties, who draw Arabian Nights’ pictures of Australian felicity for them, they have little to fear and much to hope here. 

It is true, that the continued influx of population will gradually reduce the price of labour, and divide and diminish the individual profits from trade; but, after all, there will be room enough and scope enough on this great island-continent. United Australia, such is its extent, the amount of its fertile as well as of its sterile land, its various advantages of sea-coast, of timber, of minerals, of climate for the growth of the products of the tropical or the more temperate latitudes, must assuredly become a mighty and magnificent empire. England is reproducing herself here on a larger scale; and the science, the industry, and the indomitable energies of her children will gradually diminish the drawbacks, while they increase the amenities, of the country and climate. “When towns and villages are sprinkled over the country; when the land is opened up by cultivation, and water is carefully reservoired where it so extensively may; when ants, flies, scorpions, and centipedes are rooted out by the axe, the spade, and the plough, and are succeeded by cattle, corn-fields, and cocks and hens, this country will wear a far more smiling and inviting aspect. Instead of millions on millions of square miles of wild forest encumbered with dead timber, swarming with almost every species of insect, there will be the cheerful homestead, the finest fields, the bright verdure of vineyards and of gardens of European fruit-trees, and all the animating sights and sounds of civilised life. Those who come now are the pioneers of this pleasant futurity, and they must be content to do the work of pioneers, sure at the same time to be well rewarded for their toils. 

I have thus written a brief statement, the result of my own experience, of what people ought and ought not to expect here. The details of our adventures up and down in these colonies, the scenes in the bush and at the diggings, which by-and-bye will appear, will, I think, form as curious, amusing, and I trust as important a narrative as has for a good while been produced.

Shows Langley, Hawkes and Foster's Stores, St. Louis Auction Mart, St. Louis Restaurant, Argus Office and St. Louis Store.
McIvor Diggings, 26 July 1853 (Langley, Hawkes & Foster’s Stores)

Bendigo, July 25th, 1853. 

Since I began these remarks, I have laid my hand upon the “Report of the Produce of the Gold Fields of Victoria, for 1852,” published by Mr. Khull, the bullion-broker, of Melbourne, which being drawn chiefly from official sources, may be considered substantially correct. By this report, it appears that the total amount of gold, during last year, produced from the diggings of Victoria, was 4,175,247 ounces. Now this, divided by 200,000, the number of diggers estimated to be now engaged on the gold fields of this colony, gives less than £21, per man for the whole year, or much less than half an ounce per week per man! This is a far less amount than I had calculated on above; and that 200,000 cannot be an over-estimate of the diggers, is shown by the same report, which makes, from government returns, the number of persons arriving in the colony in 1852, no less than 104,883; being, in the words of the report,  an increase of 100 per cent, over the census of 1851.” The amount, moreover, of arrivals this year has been far greater, as stated above. 

But if we were to estimate the diggers at only half the number I have stated, or 100,000— an estimate far under the fact, for there are calculated to be 40,000 on this field of Bendigo — that will not give an ounce per man weekly. If, again, it be asserted that all who come out hither do not dig, I ask why? It is notorious that nine-tenths of those who come hither come expressly with the intention of digging, and thus of reaping a share of that amazing harvest of gold which interested parties, amongst whom ship-owners and ship-brokers are not the least, have led them to expect. If they do not, then, dig on their arrival, it must proceed from substantial reasons. Either they are disabused on their arrival in Melbourne, by plain facts, of the delusive ideas with which they set out, or they go up the country, do dig, and are cured of the gold-digging mania by their own sharp experience. In any case, there are the facts before you, and every one not determined to shut his eyes to the simple truth, can form his own conclusions. 

This field of Bendigo covers an area of eight square miles. In one direction it extends about twenty miles in length, and the expanse of surface perforated and turned upside down is perfectly astonishing. I find many of the sinkings are from fifty to seventy feet deep — I have already been down such — and present all the aspect of a regular mining country. Whole hills are undermined, so that you may go all the way under them through the tunnels driven by the diggers. Yet even here, in the very metropolis of the diggings, and where the produce is confessedly more steady than anywhere else, I find the diggers complaining that they cannot, many of them, procure gold enough to purchase the necessary food and pay the monthly license. There is, therefore, a great and zealous agitation going on to compel government to reduce the monthly license from 30s. to 10s.; whether they will succeed remains to be seen. There is a general expectation that this coming month a large body of diggers will make a determined stand, refusing to take licenses. (This has been done successfully, the licence system being now abandoned by government. — Ed.) Meantime, the number of fellows taking to the roads as bush- rangers is rapidly on the increase. We had two visits from them on the road from the M’Ivor, and it was only by a determined show of resistance that we got rid of them. But on the very same spot where they a second time made their appearance, they committed a daring robbery on three ladies the very next day, and I saw one of the scoundrels soon after brought into the government camp. Since then, twelve of them have attacked and robbed the private escort, four of the escort being severely wounded, and six of the bush-rangers being already taken; or, rather, six men are taken on suspicion of being part of them. Two of the wounded escort-guards are not expected to live. Out of eight persons, the number of the escort, two only escaped unhurt, and one of these, the officer, had fourteen shots fired at him. The rogues carried off 2,200 ounces of gold. The officer galloped off, having fired his last round of ammunition, to the government camp at M’Ivor, and in forty-five minutes after he announced the robbery there was a strong force of commissioners and troopers on the ground at fourteen miles’ distance ; but the scoundrels were off with their booty, leaving the poor men wounded on the ground. I hear from the commissioners here, that three hundred diggers are scouring the country in pursuit of the bush-rangers, and vow that they will Lynch them if they catch them. 

Sources:

  1. “A Few Words from Australia”, The Illustrated Magazine of Art, 1854, Collection: JSTOR
  2. A New Rush, Samuel Thomas Gill, 185-, Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales
  3. McIvor Diggings, July 26, 1853 (Langley, Hawkes, & Foster’s Stores); artist Edward La Trobe Bateman 1816-1897; lithographer Julius Hamel 1822?-1894; J.S. Campbell & Co. lithographer; Courtesy State Library of Victoria

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