Oceana: Or, England and Her Colonies

By James Anthony Froude | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII.

Expedition into the interior of the Colony--Mr. Gillies--Special train- approaches to Ballarat--The rabbit plague--A squatter's station-- Ercildoun and its inhabitants--Ballarat--Gold--mining--Australian farms--A cottage gardon--Lake and park--Fish and flower culture --Municipal hospitality.

WHO has not heard of Ballamt, the Eldorado of forty years ago: the diggings where adventurers from all parts of the world flew upon the soil with their picks and shovels, some to light on nuggets which made them into millionaires, some to toil for months unrewarded, yet toiling on as if possessed by a demon! Ballarat was then an arid treeless hollow lying between low hills, with a scanty brook trickling down the middle of it. Valley and hillside were then dotted over with tiny tents. Each tent held its two mates, for they worked in pairs always; and altogether there were collected in that spot tens of thousands of human beings, flinging up soil and sand- heaps like the Bactrian ants of Herodotus, the bushrangers watching in the forest, to waylay the gold on its way down to the sea. There is not a yard of earth where Ballarat now stands which has not, within the memory of many of us, been dug over and passed through the sieve. It is now the second city in Victoria, a prosperous town with 40,000 inhabitants, created in the wilderness as if by Aladdin's lamp. Ballarat and the Ballarat district was our first destination. I disliked the notion of it, expecting to find merely an unlovely spectacle of insatiable hunger for gold. In this, as in many other things, I was to find myself mistaken.

-117-

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