Migration & the Gold Rush

So, today I sort of wanted to talk about immigration, but obviously I can’t cover all immigration in Australian history all in a single episode. So, I looked in to the early immigration in the 1800s and this tied in with the Gold Rush. So, we’re going to talk a bit about the Gold Rush as well.

‘A gold rush’ is when everyone rushes to a certain place when gold has just been found. So, this happened in Canada, it happened in America, and it’s also happened in Australia, and it happened in the 1800s. Okay? So, we had a gold rush here when gold was first discovered in 1851, and it was first discovered near Bathurst, which is in New South Wales. And then soon after that, it was discovered in places like Ballarat and Bendigo in the state of Victoria. So, these are towns which you may have heard of and you may have been to if you’ve come to Australia before. And they still have a lot of gold rush history that is used to attract tourists.

So, I live in Victoria. I’ve been to Ballarat and Bendigo before, and there is a lot going on there related to the Gold Rush even 160 years later. So, this gold rush occurred right after the major worldwide economic depression in the mid 1800s, and as a result there was extensive migration to Australia. Loads of Europeans came, there were North Americans who came, because they had obviously just finished with the gold rush there. So, they were sort of trained up for this. They knew what to do and they wanted to keep making money doing what they knew how to do. And we also had a lot of Chinese migrants who came to Australia in the 1850s. So, this might be the first wave of non-European migrants to have come to Australia. And to put it in perspective, when the Chinese migrants came they made up about 3% of Australia, of the Australian population, during this period.

Some more interesting facts about migrants. 2% of the population of the British Isles emigrated to New South Wales and Victoria. So, they left England, they left Britain, and they came all the way over here. 2% of their population. And the population of Australia in 1851 was around 440,000 people, of which 77,000 were Victorians. So, ten years later though, to put that in perspective, the Australian population had grown to more than 1,100,000 people, so it had more than doubled, and the Victorian population had increased from 77,000 to 540,000. So, an increase of seven-fold. Seven times the amount of people in 10 years. That’s insane. And it’s crazy to think that the population of Australia more than doubled in that period from immigration.

So, this growth was crazy, and it was mainly driven by migration due to these gold rushes. So, in this time, between about 1850 to the early 1900s, Australia wanted loads of skilled migrants, and we started getting other Europeans as well from places like Germany. And compared to today, it was actually a great deal more expensive to get here, because the only option, there were no planes, your only options were to come by boat. And so, you had to buy a ticket. It took weeks, it took months potentially, and so the Australian Government actually subsidised skilled migrants. How good is that, guys? Imagine that, getting paid to come here, or at least getting a bit of a discount if you decided to come to Australia.

So, they paid for skilled migrants to come to Australia in order to encourage them to make that long arduous journey all the way from Europe or China all the way to Australia. And the interesting thing is that these subsidies were kind of manipulated or changed. They varied based on the number of immigrants that when needed during these different stages in the economic cycle.

Anyway guys, that’s the Aussie English fact for today. (A) bit of history about migration and the Gold Rush in the 1800s. There’s a lot more to cover with regards to migration and with regard to the Gold Rush, and I’ll try and do that in future episodes.


A discount – a deduction from the usual cost of ST

A wave of ST – a sudden occurrence of or increase in a phenomenon, feeling, or emotion

Arduous – involving or requiring strenuous effort; difficult and tiring

Attract SO/ST – cause ST/SO to come closer

Driven by ST – motivated or determined by a specific factor or feeling

Emigrate to SW – leave one’s own country in order to settle permanently in another

Encourage ST/SO – persuade SO to do or continue to do ST by giving support and advice

Have heard of ST – have previous knowledge of ST

Loads of ST – heaps of; lots of

Mainly – primarily

Manipulate ST – control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly or unscrupulously –

Put ST in perspective – compare with ST similar to give a clearer, more accurate idea

Skilled – having or showing the knowledge, ability, or training to perform a certain activity or task well

Subsidise ST – pay part of the cost of ST to keep the price lower

That’s insanesaid as an exclamation showing surprise or shock – that’s ridiculous!

The Gold Rush – the Australian Gold Rush that went from 1851-1893

The first wave of ST – a sudden occurrence of or increase in a phenomenon, feeling, or emotion.

Train SO up for ST – be completely taught how to do ST, i.e. a skill or job

Vary ST – change from one condition, form, or state to another

With regard to ST – in relation to ST; in reference to ST