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Friday, January 23, 2009

Bendigo, a town built on dreams

Gold was discovered in Victoria in August 1851 at Buninyong, near Ballarat, two months later it was discovered in Bendigo. In 1853 60,000 diggers from all over the world were on the goldfields, 23,000 of these were at Bendigo.

There is some confusion about where the word 'digger' comes from, some say the name came about because the First World War Aussie soldiers were forever digging trenches and tunnels. The version I like is that the word comes from the goldfields and the heroic show of the miners' rebelliion at the ridiculous cost of thirty shillings a month for a licence to mine for gold, whether you found any or not.

The now famous Bendigo Petition in 1853 was drawn up with a list of the miners grievences but it all came to nothing and was denied. The diggers were furious and some time later this fury was played out at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, which is another interesting story about our rebellious past and our innate dislike of authority.