Ballarat and the Industrial Revolution
Pennyweight Gully, near Castlemaine. Photo taken by Marion Littlejohn
Many townships sprang up during the Gold Rush era of Colonial Victoria, but many of these towns withered and died as soon as their gold ran out, to the point that many are now ghost towns. However there are several exceptions to that. Many prosperous Central Victorian towns can trace their beginnings back to the discovery of gold. Towns such as Stawell, Ararat, Maryborough, Castlemaine and St Arnaud were larger at the time gold was being mined, but they still survive decades, even a century after the gold ran out. Ballarat and Bendigo are today major regional centres, and although there are still gold mines in or near both, they do not rely on gold to continue to grow. So what are the things that decided whether a town would grow, survive or die after the gold ran out? We think the answer involves the Industrial Revolution in Australia.
In our previous post on the Industrial revolution in Australia, we discussed how the people coming to the goldfields brought the knowledge and skills of the Industrial Revolution, and very soon were putting this knowledge to practical use in the search for gold. Here at Sovereign Hill we have many examples of these technological advances, and the benefits and/or downfalls of the use of machinery in gold mining. More importantly we also have some examples of steam technology being used for purposes not directly linked to finding gold. It is these other industries that give us the clue as to why Ballarat thrived, but towns nearby (Clunes, Smythesdale, Creswick etc) struggled after the gold mining phase of our history dwindled.
Days of my Youth
By Charles Napier Hemy Ra, ARA, RWS, 1841 – 1917
Edited by Peter McGann
Published by Viglione Press, Black Rock, Victoria 2009
This fantastic little book is a great way to personalise students experiences of our History, and provides an opportunity to debate the classification of a source as primary or secondary. Charles Napier Hemy was a renowned maritime artist of the late 19th century. At the age of 10 he accompanied his father on a trip around the world, culminating in a visit to the Goldfields of Victoria in 1851-2. In 1904 Charles sat down on board his yacht Van Der Meer in Falmouth harbour and wrote a journal of his recollections of his travels under sail, and adventures on the Goldfields. Continue reading
Burke and Wills Memorial Fountain
Yesterday, Sovereign Hill, together with our project partners: City of Ballarat, Heritage Victoria, DEECD and the Royal Society of Victoria received a commendation at the Victorian Community History Awards for our project around the Burke and Wills Memorial Fountain in Ballarat. We were thrilled to receive the recognition for this collaborative project and would like to encourage schools to use this as a model to get involved with their local history.
Value of Local History
Often Local History is forgotten within the broader context of national history, but this need not be the case. This project, which centred around the research, retrieval and reinternment of a time capsule, shows that there are often strong links in local history to the national story. The connection between Ballarat, gold and the Burke and Wills expedition is very strong. There are many other examples around Victoria of local stories, identities and monuments connecting to our national history.
Studying local history with students can lead to students identifying more strongly with the material. It can often be more immediately relevant and offer more opportunities for active involvement.