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Australian Life, Mount Alexander

Date: 1853
Sight: 160 x 215 mm
Overall: 505 x 405 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Lithograph
Object No: 00032155
Place Manufactured:London
Related Place:Alexander, Mount,

User Terms

    This coloured lithograph titled 'Australian life, Mount Alexander' depicts a view of the Victorian goldfields at Mount Alexander. It was published by Read & Co in London on 15 February 1853.
    SignificanceThis lithograph print is significant in representing the diverse mix of miners and life on the goldfields of Victoria during the 1850s.
    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 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, Mount Alexander

    Primary title: Australian Life, Mount Alexander No. 2

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