1850s

Half a million come for gold

Cartoon by Oslo Davis Cartoon by Oslo Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In 1851, Victoria is proclaimed a separate colony.

Gold is discovered, attracting almost half a million immigrants in a decade.

Accommodation shortages force people to live in tents at 'Canvastown', on the south bank of the Yarra River.

German immigrants establish villages outside Melbourne.

In 1852, the British government announces the abolition of convict transportation to the eastern colonies.

In 1854, the Eureka Stockade uprising in Ballarat results in the abolition of the detested miners’ licences.

A ten pound poll tax on Chinese immigrants is introduced in 1855 — the first anti-Chinese legislation.

The largest numbers of immigrants come from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, America, China and Germany.

Most arrivals are unassisted immigrants from Britain, selected and despatched by the colonial land and emigration commissioners.

Aus Pop (1855): 793,260
Vic Pop (1855): 347,305 Figures taken from Colonial and Commonwealth censuses and exclude Aborigines until 1971.

Click for visual overview

Related collection items

Explore items from our collection

  • Travel Bath - Metal, Green, circa 1852
  • Book - George Cruikshank, Comic Almanack Diary, David Brouge, 1851
  • Musket - Pattern 1842
  • Mining Model - Surfacing & Puddling, Shallow Alluvial Workings, Victoria, circa 1857
  • Naturalisation Certificate - Ernest Adolphus Lampe, 29 Sep 1856
 

Image Gallery