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Gold Rush Streets

Making your way around the streets of gold rush Melbourne was no easy matter.

Rains turned dirt roads into knee-deep mud. Main streets became raging rivers. Pedestrians and animals actually drowned. During one storm, William Kelly watched from the Post Office steps as a hapless horse floated down Elizabeth Street.

In summer, hot winds whipped up dust storms. People tied veils around their heads to protect their eyes and nostrils. Water carts dampened the streets to keep down the dust.

Even in good weather there were dangers. Deep potholes claimed many victims. There was also the constant risk of being trampled by galloping horses.

Nevertheless there were improvements, such as gas street lighting, introduced in 1857. Many hoped the lighting would make the city safe after dark and prevent the congregation of 'bad characters'.


5 o'clock
magnify5 o'clock, 1857


Gold scales
magnifyGold scales, 1850s
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