Gold fever

Learning intention

Students examine the 'mania' surrounding the gold rush by looking at a range of sources from the time.

Students will:

  • Understand the impact of the gold rush as a significant event on the colony (ACHHK095) and some of the reasons people migrated to Australia from Europe and Asia (ACHHK096)

  • Locate information related to inquiry questions in a range of sources (ACHHS102)

  • Identify points of view in the past and present (ACHHS104)


The lure of the goldfields drew people from around the world to what had been a quiet British colony in the antipodes, changing Victoria forever.

You can find background information for students in the Golden Victoria section of Explore history and the Select resources section of Learn skills.


Primary sources from ergo:

Evaluating sources - student template [Word 8.52KB]


Brainstorm why people all over the world were dropping everything - their lives, jobs, even their families - for the chance to strike it rich on the Victorian goldfields.

Ask students to think about what life was like in England, China and other parts of Australia at the time and how that may have influenced people's actions.

Introduce primary sources from ergo. Each source provides contextual information, including transcripts where relevant, and a zoom function so students can investigate detail. Use the evaluating sources template [Word 8.52KB] as a basis for analysis.

As an extension, students could create a diary entry from the perspective of a person referred to their primary source (eg. someone pictured, the person who wrote their diary entry, the artist, someone who would have read the Government Gazette etc.).

They could write from any point in that person's life - before they left for Victoria, while on the goldfields, after they've found gold or even when they've gone home with nothing left but the shirt on their back.

Lithograph of the tent city on the south bank of the Yarra.
Drawing of overloaded coaches bound for the goldfields.
Photograph of a heavily loaded coach.
Diary excerpt describing life on the goldfields.