People We’ve Met: In Aussie Gold Country


Aussie Gold Mine Character, BallaratPhoto (c) Russell Johnson

Did you know that there was a Gold Rush in Australia at the same time there was one in California?

In 1851, just two years after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Northern California,  Edward Hargraves staked his claim near Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia.   Eight months later, gold was found in Ballarat at a place called Poverty Point. In the 1850s, Ballarat was called “The Golden City.”

We found this gentleman at a place near Ballarat called Sovereign Hill, which is an award-winning re-creation of life in Australia’s gold country. Not very gritty these days, I am afraid, but worth a visit. He didn’t get out of character for a minute. In fact he tried to bum a cigarette from me.

There is, in fact, a ghostly old mining town called  Ballarat in near Death Valley in California, named by Australian immigrant George Riggins.  Not much there anymore.