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A curious incident on the Eureka diggings

The Geelong Advertiser, often rife with such stories, reported the many varied crimes that had occurred in the previous week. These ranged from ‘fossicking’ and robbery to murder.

10 September 1852
Published Source
Australian National Dictionary Centre, The Gold Rushes and Australian English: a resource for researchers, teachers and students, Australian National University, 2005, http://www.anu.edu.au/andc/res/aus_words/gold/index.php. Details
This material is provided by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, a joint project of the Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia.


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EUREKA. In the main[,] society is as good here, as could be anticipated from a promiscuous assemblage from everywhere. Crime is not frequent but occasional—"fossicking" is more prevalent than agreeable, and attended sometimes with unpleasant results, and if persevered in, may end one of these days fatally to the nocturnal despoilers of honest men’s property. A curious incident occurred on Friday night[:] two men happened on a rich hole, and resolved to "tiger it"—so they set-to with the intent of working all night. About half-past twelve o’clock, one of them was working at the windlass, and had just unhooked the bucket, from the rope, and was turning round to empty it, when he found a double-barrelled fowling piece presented at his head. "Good God!" said the digger. "If you open your mouth again, I’ll riddle you," politely intimated the ‘fossicker.’ "Don’t!" said the digger. "Get into the bucket," said the ‘fossicker,’ quietly, "we don’t want your hole—come, in yere go, and I’ll lower you down to your mate." "Well! but, how shall I get up again," naturally enquired the digger, as he found himself gently disappearing into the bowels of the earth. "All right!" said the ‘fossicker[.]’ "I’ll haul ye up, when we’ve done." And down went the digger bump to the bottom, and in about an hour, true to his word, the "fossicker" returned, and wound up the poor bewildered digger to the upper world, and then left him, with a caution not to open his mouth too wide until breakfast time. An affair of a more serious nature occurred last night. A store on the diggings belonging to Mr. Scott, was rushed at a late hour, by armed men. A scene of great confusion ensued during which a pistol loaded with ball was fired, the discharge from which grazed the face of one of the inmates of the store. The alarm frightened the depredators, who made off into the darkness, frustrated in their object. A rumour which I have not heard verified was current this week, that a German had been found in the ranges, with his throat cut[;] so many strange stories are told of Germans everywhere, that the very mention of them is enough to throw discredit on any statement. The story had reached the Commissioner; but true, or false, it remains as it began, a story spoken of, but not believed. The eraly [early] part of the week was very stormy and cold; fine weather has followed, and by present appearances likely to last awhile, if so, water will soon be very scarce in the ranges, and "stuff" must be carried to the Leigh; drays and carts will then be in requisition, and if numbers pour in, as certainly they will, there will be a scene at Eureka, that will require another communication to do justice to. A.C. N.B.—Paul Gooch’s Store was entered on Friday night. The depredators stole 42 ozs. of gold, several sides of pork, and took away other property to the amount of two hundred and fifty pounds. Geelong Advertiser, 10 September 1852