An agitated Governor La Trobe wrote to Earl Grey in October 1851, describing the enormous upheavals occasioned by the discovery of gold in Victoria.
Quaife, G.R. (ed.), Gold and colonial society, 1851-1870, Cassell Australia, 1975. Details
It is quite impossible for me to describe to your Lordship the effect these discoveries have had upon the whole community.
Within the last three weeks the towns of Melbourne and Geelong and their large suburbs have been in appearance almost emptied of many classes of their male inhabitants . . . Not only have the idlers, to be found in every community, and day labourers in town and the adjacent country shopmen, artisans, and mechanics of every description, thrown up their employments, and in most cases, leaving their employers and their wives and families to take care of themselves, run off to the workings, but responsible tradesmen, farmers, clerks of every grade and not a few of the superior classes have followed.
Your Lordship may conceive that, even if really held expedient, it would be quite impossible to withstand such a general popular movement...There is but one way, and that, to let the current spend itself, and meanwhile see that as far as possible it is kept within proper bounds.
Created: 17 February 2006, Last modified: 21 February 2007