Spring Hill from Road to Government Camp, Creswick’s Creek, engraving, J Tingle after S.T. Gill, Published by Sands & Kenny, Melbourne & Sydney, 1857.Contributors
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The gold rush of the 1850s devastated Victoria’s rivers and waterways and brought an influx of people into Aboriginal territory.
Gold was found by creek and river beds, those still flowing and those ancient and buried in the ground. Miners camped and congregated by the waterways and in the forests, digging them up and changing them forever. Creeks were churned up and dammed, and entire river beds diverted or washed away. Forests by the mining camps were denuded, chopped up to provide wood for fires and shelter. The basic resources Aboriginal people relied on were destroyed in the fever to find gold.
Victorian Aboriginal people adapted to the gold rush in many ways, selling possum skin cloaks to miners, cutting bark for shelter, guiding miners to the gold fields and in some instances finding and fossicking for gold themselves. Aboriginal labour also became valued on farms and in industry to fill in the gaps as huge numbers of workers left to find their fortune on the gold fields.