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A Lasting Legacy of Gold

The gold discoveries on the Mount Alexander diggings were not the first, the largest in volume, or the most enduring of the Victorian gold rushes but as mentioned earlier, they were the ones that promoted the idea that the individual could make a fortune and gain financial and social autonomy. It could be argued that nearly all of the gold seekers who came to Mount Alexander and other Victorian goldfields were part of an international group that embodied the cosmopolitanism of the mid-nineteenth century. This was a group that came to be known as the ‘gold generation’ and dominated Victorian social and political life until the 1890s.

Although diverse, historical representations of the impact of the Australian gold rushes on the nation’s commerce all acknowledge that the rudimentary techniques of extraction used in the early 1850s (a period when diggerdom reigned supreme and seemed to have turned the world upside down) were quickly replaced by a more capital-intensive company form of gold mining. These company-based practices have continued to prosper throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Bendigo (during George Lansell’s time renowned as having the deepest gold mines in the world) is poised for a new mining boom – with the Bendigo Mining Limited company extracting gold from more than a kilometre under the city – and Kalgoorlie, particularly the golden mile, continues to be a key location of the mineral resources boom in regional Australia.

Keir Reeves