The Australian Gold Rush and Interior Exploration Illustrated by John Arrowsmith
Finely detailed map of the Southeastern part of Australia, illustrating the extent of recent discoveries and the recently discovered gold regions, by John Arrowsmith. This is the second of the two maps which would be utilized to illustrate the extraordinary growth of this part of Australia during the early period of the Australian Gold Rush.
First issued in 1838, Arrowsmith's South Eastern Portion of Australia, provides a fine template for the fast moving changes in this part of Australia. Using as its base the outlines added by the explorations through 1840, the periodic changes to the map capture a critical period in the growth of Australia's most populous regions. The earliest states of the map pre-date the discovery of gold and creation of Victoria. Between the 1842 state and this 1853 state, the number of counties shown grows from 19 to 68. As noted by Dorothy Prescott in her on-line essay on the map:
By 1839 John Arrowsmith had produced . . . "The South Eastern portion of Australia, compiled from the Colonial Surveys and from details furnished by Exploratory Expeditions." This map covers almost the same area as Arrowsmith's Discoveries in Australia, that is, from the Brisbane region south to Spencer Gulf in South Australia, but at the larger scale . . .
This new map had a life of 20 years from 1838 until 1858 and in this time it went through twelve states. The principal changes are the defining of the major river systems of the south-east region of Australia, and the development of settlement through the southern part of New South Wales which in 1851 became the colony of Victoria. The coastal areas of New South Wales proper are explored and settled but the hinterland remains undeveloped. The changes in the south-east area of South Australia are minimal and confined to the coastal areas of the Fleurieu Peninsula. This map also appeared in two different states in the Parliamentary Papers of 1852 and 1853 where the map was updated to show the location of Gold Fields in New South Wales (Further papers, 1852 and 1853). It remained one of Arrowsmith's most important depictions of south-east Australia. The various states of this map have been grouped by date into separate chapters, i.e. 1838, the 1840s and the 1850s.
The map is an explosion of Yellow, showing the newly discovered gold regions of 1852 and 1853.. The following gold fields are noted in New South Wales and Victoria Colony as of January 2, 1852.
- Ophir including Summerhill Creek
- Louisa Creek, including Meroo Creek
- Araluen including Major's & Bells Creeks
- Abercrombie River, including Teuena Creek.
- Mt. Alexander including the headwaters of the Loddon River
In addition, Arrowsmith has marked, but not named the additional gold regions as of 1853, likely because so much of the map is now illustrated in gold.
The lands of the Australian Agricultural Company are also shown in Red.
The map shows the progress of interior exploration, including several exploration routes. The map specificially highlights 14 exploration routes, reflecting routes taken by Travellers in the Interior of Australia between 1817 and 1840, including:
- 1817- Oxley route from Bathurst along the Lachlan River
- 1818- Oxley from Bathurst overland to Port Macquarie
- 1824-25 - Hume from Murrumbidgeee to Port Phillip
- 1825 - Cunnigham from Pandora Pass to Camden Valley
- 1827 Cunningham from the Liverpool Range to Darling Downs
- 1828-29 Cunningham from Brisbaine to Moreton Bay, Darling Downs and the source of the Brisbane River
- 1828 - Sturt from Wellington Valley to Maquarie and then the Darlihg River
- 1830 - Sturt from Yass Plains along the Murrumbidgee to the Depot, then by boat down River via the Murray to Encounter Bay.
- 1832 - Mitchell from Liverpool Range to the Darling
- 1835 - Mitchell from Bathurst along the Bogan River to Darling
- 1836 - Mitchell from Bathurst along theLachlan, Murrumbidgee, Murray and Darling Rivers and back, via Australia Felix.
- 1837 - Bourke from Port Phillip to Mt. Macedon
- 1840 - Tyers, from Melbourne to the mouth of the Glenlg
- 1840 - Streleski, from the Murrumbidgee, south through the Australian Alps & Gipps Land to Melbourne.
Australian Gold Rush
The first true gold rush in Australia began in May 1851, after prospector Edward Hargraves claimed to have discovered payable gold near Orange, at a site he called Ophir. Hargraves had been to the Californian goldfields and had learned new gold prospecting techniques such as panning and cradling. Hargraves was offered rewards by the Colony of New South Wales and the Colony of Victoria. Before the end of the year, the gold rush had spread to many other parts of the state where gold had been found, not just to the west, but also to the south and north of Sydney
In July 1851, Victoria's first gold rush began on the Clunes goldfield. In August, the gold rush had spread to include the goldfield at Buninyong (today a suburb of Ballarat)and, by early September 1851, to the nearby goldfield at Ballarat (then also known as Yuille's Diggings), followed in early September to the goldfield at Castlemaine (then known as Forest Creek and the Mount Alexander Goldfield) and the goldfield at Bendigo (then known as Bendigo Creek) in November 1851. Gold, just as in New South Wales, was also found in many other parts of the state. The Victorian Gold Discovery Committee wrote in 1854:
The discovery of the Victorian Goldfields has converted a remote dependency into a country of world wide fame; it has attracted a population, extraordinary in number, with unprecedented rapidity; it has enhanced the value of property to an enormous extent; it has made this the richest country in the world; and, in less than three years, it has done for this colony the work of an age, and made its impulses felt in the most distant regions of the earth.
When the rush began at Ballarat, diggers discovered it was a prosperous goldfield. Lieutenant-Governor, Charles La Trobe visited the site and watched five men uncover 136 ounces of gold in one day. Mount Alexander was even richer than Ballarat. With gold sitting just under the surface, the shallowness allowed diggers to easily unearth gold nuggets. In 7 months, 2.4 million pounds of gold was transported from Mount Alexander to nearby capital cities.
The gold rushes caused a huge influx of people from overseas. Australia's total population more than tripled from 430,000 in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871. Between 1852 and 1860, 290,000 people migrated to Victoria from the British Isles, 15,000 came from other European countries, and 18,000 emigrated from the United States. Non-European immigrants, however, were unwelcome, especially the Chinese.
In 1855, 11,493 Chinese arrived in Melbourne. Chinese travelling outside of New South Wales had to obtain special re-entry certificates. In 1855, Victoria enacted the Chinese Immigration Act 1855, severely limiting the number of Chinese passengers permitted on an arriving vessel. To evade the new law, many Chinese were landed in the south-east of South Australia and travelled more than 400 km across country to the Victorian goldfields, along tracks which are still evident today.
John (1790-1873) operated his own independent business after his uncle, Aaron Arrowsmith, died. After 1839, John moved into the Soho premises of his uncle and cousins. John enjoyed considerable recognition in the geography and exploration community. Like Aaron, John was a founder member of the RGS and would serve as its unofficial cartographer for 43 years. Several geographical features in Australia and Canada are named after him. He died in 1873 and the majority of his stock was eventually bought by Edward Stanford, who co-founded the Stanford’s map shop that is still open in Covent Garden, London today.