The settlement of Southern Cross was raised ‘from the lowest depths of despondency … to the highest pitch of excitement’ when Arthur Bayley and his party discovered 554 ounces of gold at Coolgardie, in 1892. The Great Australian gold rushes had arrived in Western Australia in earnest, leading to an influx of people from all over the world to the remote and arid region. Prospectors, shopkeepers and merchants soon established a thriving tent city based on the wealth gained from the rich deposits of gold.
The Coolgardie discoveries, and other Western Australian finds, occurred in the latter stages of the Australian rushes. This explains the more advanced mining techniques and equipment used in the state, such as dry blowing (the winnowing of the alluvial ground) and steam-power (typically employed in large mines run by English syndicates). Another innovation was that of the ‘chum’ system, that is, small groups of men who sunk shafts with a view to selling their claim to mining financiers.