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    'Frescoes for the New Houses of Parliament No VIII: Melbourne Starts for the Diggings', 29 May 1856


Cartoons about the diggings appeared in numerous illustrated periodicals from the mid 1850s. Magazines, such as the Bulletin and Melbourne Punch, depicted popular issues and prominent people in a satirical or humorous manner. During this time, newspapers rarely contained illustrations (with the exception of some advertisements); text dominated their pages. With often a sentence or two accompanying the image, the leading cartoonists of the day – such as Nicholas Chevalier, Montague Scott, T.S. Cousins and Thomas Carrington – showed the folly of some issues or reflected prevailing opinions. Politicians and politics, together with immigrants (especially the Chinese) were often targets for the illustrators. Prior to arriving at Victoria’s gold fields, Samuel Thomas Gill was a practising cartoonist in Adelaide; his images of the diggings often depicted cartoonish qualities, especially in relation to humour. Printed weekly from 1855 to 1900, Melbourne Punch published many cartoons, as did its associated periodicals, the Adelaide Punch, the Sydney Punch and the Ballarat Punch. Established in 1857, Ballarat’s Punch ‘laughed at some of our follies and chided some of our sins.’ It folded in 1870 after one last attempt to revive the ailing publication.

Laura Donati

Melbourne Starts for the Diggings [Image]