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Gold Rush Town

Immigrants leaving Britain in 1852 bought more tickets to Melbourne than to any other destination in the world.

The new arrivals chased a single dream gold. Thousands arrived daily. Lodging houses and hotels were packed to bursting point. Makeshift houses of iron, timber and canvas sprang up on the city's edge.

Gold brought both progress and problems. Sudden wealth transformed a small port town into a frantic world centre. The wharves were constantly jammed with shipping, cargo and migrants disembarking. Society seemed to be turned upside down as diggers drank champagne from buckets and Irish maids paraded in silks and diamonds.

The authorities feared disorder. New civic buildings the Customs House, Post Office, Treasury and Parliament publicly displayed state power.

By 1861, Melbourne was a city of 125 000 people. Gas street lighting, regular piped water and solid buildings gave the city a more permanent appearance. The instant city was maturing.


Queens Wharf, Melbourne
magnifyQueens Wharf, Melbourne

Pulley block
magnifyPulley block

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