Lambing Flat Folk Museum (Young, NSW)

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History Blog

Report from Burrangong and Wombat Goldfields

Posted on October 13, 2015 at 4:05 AM

From the Empire, Wednesday 1 January 1862.

The place was almost deserted, everyone going to the Lachlan (Forbes); but a great change has come over Lambing Flat in the last week. The Lachlan lead cannot be traced and in consequence hundreds, if not thousands, are returning here, including the Victoria men. Our population was never so large and the town is alive and full of business.

After all, we have, however, lost the great interest we at Burrangong took in the Lachlan. This deep sinking is heavy work and trying to men of small means, and, therefore, unless shallow sinking be found, Burrangong will remain the gold field of the Colony.

The new rush down the creek is very good and a small town is being formed there. Four public houses are erected and innumerable shanties and stores doing a fair trade. There is another rush on the other side of town near Victoria Gully. 1000 men at work today and the general opinion most favourable as to the richness of the ground.

Wombat is going ahead and some very good ground being struck. At Little Wombat the Chinese are mustering in strong force, 8000 at least, and they have quite an Asiatic city,-- large eating houses, stores, of course, fine commodious gambling houses being plentiful. The gambling house is one of the necessities of Chinese life. There has been some little apprehension felt that a collision would soon take place between the Europeans and Chinese at Wombat, and some additional police have been asked for. This will not occur if the commissioners put sufficient police force on the ground to keep the Chinese from encroaching on European ground.

I have it from certain information that some of the Chinese are armed and are resolved to take a stand and fight it out if any “roll up’s” take place. Revolvers are plentiful with them, and they will stand at bay if a collision occurs. Judicious management and promptness at the present time and compelling the Chinese to keep to a clearly defined boundary, will do more to preserve the public peace than 1000 soldiers will do at a future time. It would be a wise thing if the Commissioner would publicly mark a boundary beyond the Chinese shall not pass, publish such boundary in the local paper, and immediately any one works beyond the ground set apart, make an example of him as far as the law will permit. Great watchfulness is required by the officials. Now is the time for Government officers to take such precautions that no affray shall occur. By such a course of proceeding all parties at once would see their positions, whereas many diggers seem to think that the Government want the Chinese to encroach, and the Chinese imagine the soldiers are here especially to protect them against any violence by the Europeans.

Our Christmas has passed off excellently. Trade very brisk; crowds of men about intent on enjoyment and fun, and less drunkenness and rowdyism than usual at this time of the year on any diggings. What will the readers say when we inform them that at Burrangong – that stronghold of rioters – that resort of thieves and scoundrels, as by some journalists it has been called, not one single police case came before the magistrates on this morning, the day after Christmas Day. With a population of quite 12,000 souls ,about one fifth of Sydney, not one individual was apprehended for drunkenness. Oh ! you good and virtuous citizens of Sydney, who sit at home glorying in your superior civilisation and refinement, before you condemn the gold digger, and speak of him as a dangerous character, compare your police-office records with those of this the largest gold field in the Colony, and then see which population will rank higher in morality, as judged by that standard.

I could tell you of our Christmas sports – greasy poles, foot racing, wrestling, &c., &c., but my communication must draw to a close.

Footnote; Our correspondent had just finished congratulating Burrangong on the peaceable way Christmas Day had passed off – mentioning that on Boxing day not one case of assault or drunkenness had come before the Bench. Scarcely had the letter been posted when an affray took place, which required all the energy of the police to check from becoming a very serious business.

We will relate this story next week.

Young Historical Society – Brian James.


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