Victorian gold rush

Canvas town in South Melbourne, Victoria in the 1850's.
Canvas town in South Melbourne, Victoria in the 1850's

The gold rush in Victoria started in 1851.
A tent city, known as Canvas Town was established at South Melbourne. The area became a slum area home to thousands of migrants from around the world who came in hope of finding their fortune in the goldfields.
On 20 July 1851 Thomas Peters found specks of gold at what is now known as Specimen Gully. This led to a rush to the Forest Creek diggings, claimed as the richest shallow alluvial goldfield in the world.
This discovery was soon followed by larger finds at Ballarat and Bendigo. Later gold was found at Beechworth in 1852, Bright, Omeo, Chiltern and Walhalla.  At its peak two tonnes of gold per week went into the Melbourne Treasury.
The population of Melbourne and Victoria grew swiftly. In 1851 it was 75,000 people and ten years later over 500,000.
The population boom caused social tension due to the lack of available land for small farming.  These on-going tensions culminated in the Kelly Outbreak of 1878 according to John McQuilton in The geographical dimensions of social banditry: The Kelly outbreak, 1878-1880.

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