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Australian Life, Arrival at Sydney

Date: 1853
Sheet: 174 × 236 mm
Medium: Lithograph on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Lithograph
Object No: 00032154
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This coloured lithograph depicts the arrival of the steamer CHUSAN in West Circular Quay and was published on 12 April 1853. The CHUSAN was the first passenger and mail steamer to sail from England to Australia in 1852. The discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851 led to an influx on immigrants who sailed to Australia.
    SignificanceThis lithograph provides an extremely rare view of Sydney, in particular West Circular Quay.
    HistoryIn many ways the discovery of gold in Australia echoed the California gold rush of 1849, bringing people and wealth to both countries and dramatically changing their societies and environments. Edward Hargraves discovered gold in New South Wales in 1851 after returning from California, and then the subsequent discovery of more deposits in Victoria increased the momentum of the gold rush. As a result the Australian population tripled in just 10 years with a diverse mix of miners coming from Britain, Europe, America and China. This mix of people instigated changes in Australian social values, politics, economics and technology.

    Living and working on the gold diggings was a harsh and dirty existence. The landscape was often stripped of trees that were used for firewood, huts and building mine shafts. The extremes in weather conditions and sanitation were a major issue for the large number of people living and working together. Washing for gold added to the pollution of streams and rivers. Holes in the ground held both sewage and refuse. Infections and diseases spread readily under these conditions with influenza and pneumonia being a common cause of death for miners of all ages and genders. Many children suffered from scarlet fever and diphtheria. If they did not die from the disease, they were often killed by the 'cures' - many of which were poisons.

    Only a small number of miners made a real fortune in the Californian Gold Rush. It was easier and more common to gain wealth by establishing businesses and trade related to the diggings. Many unsuccessful miners turning to razing cattle, fruit plots or running stores selling over-priced goods, supplies and services. Some of the miner’s camps developed into permanent settlements with the demand for food, housing and supplies fueling the Australian economy.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Australian Life, Arrival at Sydney

    Assigned title: Australian life, arrival at Sydney No. 9

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