In the heart of one of the mining districts of Australia, within a stone’s throw of where the “Welcome” nugget, a lump of gold as big as a foot ball, was found, surrounded by the smokestacks of quartz mills, lies the gold of Australia.
There is no doubt about Australia’s production of enormous gold nuggets The greatest of them was found shortly after the discovery of gold, away back in the 1850’s. It had long been known that there was gold in Australia, but it was not until 1854 when Hargraves, an Australian, who had visited California, announced that there was gold here in paying quantities. The first of it was discovered in a water hole In New South Wales, and a month later it was shown that every creek for seventy miles had gold. Later on the placer mines were opened up at Ballarat and from them came some enormous nuggets.
One of the first nuggets weighed 101 pounds, another 98 pounds and the “Welcome” 184 pounds 9 ounces. The “Welcome” nugget measured twenty inches in length, twelve inches in breadth, and seven inches in thickness. It was sold in Melbourne for $50,000. Five months after it was discovered another nugget was dug up and sold for $20,000, and later on came the “Welcome Stranger,” which weighed 189 pounds. So far California has the record of producing the largest nugget. It weighed 195 pounds and was taken out of a mine in Calaveras county. The “Welcome” nugget was found at a depth of 150 feet, but most of others are nearer to the surface.
Altogether $350,000,000 worth of has been taken from the earth about Ballarat, and it is estimated that out of this the state of Victoria alone the production has been $1,250,000,000.
Bendigo has produced about 22 million ounces of gold. Miners worked an 8 hour shift and were paid $12.50 per week, and most mines ran both a day and night shift. A steady growth is going on in Australia’s gold production. Every state increasing its production and new mines are being discovered in all parts of the country. Some of largest mines are in Queensland and western Australia, in places where gold was not known to exist.
The gold extends over an area of than 600,000 square miles. You can take dirt from the road at any point along a thousand miles, wash it and find color. The main trouble is the lack of water. Large fanning mills are used to blow the sand away, and as the gold is heavier it drops to the bottom. There is no doubt that fine gold is lost with the blowing sand.
The Ballarat of today is not like that of a hundred years ago. Gone are the the rows upon rows of tents. The streets are wide and paved and has all the amenities of any modern city. Ballarat is surrounded by a rich pastoral and agricultural region. It is seventy five miles by rail to Melbourne and on the main road from Melbourne to Adelaide.