Gold Fever – The Incredible Journey

These are the vaults built to store the gold dug out of the Victorian landscape during the gold rush, gold that made a few rich but broke the backs of many others who dug for it This is a place that was purpose-built to store up treasure. Gold has always been a treasure for humanity – since ancient times, but perhaps we should focus on a different kind of treasure, join me as we travel back to the 1850s gold rush days. Will we be able to resist gold fever? This is Bellarat Sovereign Hill Gold Field, where we can still find gold today using a flat metal pan as gold miners around the world have done for centuries. At first gold was used only by sacred priests in religious ceremonies and then by royalty to show power and prestige, then gold was used as money and turned into coins, Sovereign Hill gets its name because the gold found here was melted down into sovereigns; gold coins and thanks to coins the ownership and use of gold was no longer just for royals, it was now in the hands of the common people who could touch it, feel it, buy things with it and pay their debts with it. Gold coins became a treasure that anyone could aspire to have. In this episode we will travel back to the 1850s with the help of Sovereign Hill to learn just how gold fever turned Australia upside down and how gold fever still taunts us today We’ve always had a fascination with gold, the power of gold has inspired, seduced and manipulated us for at least 6,000 years. The Egyptians were casting gold bars as money as early as 4000 BC, all through history we have wanted gold to decorate religious objects, to decorate important buildings and to decorate our bodies and to use as money. The demand for gold has caused all kinds of social change and havoc throughout history as people took enormous risks to find this beautiful metal. Today in the great gold mines of South Africa the shafts reach down as far as 4000 meters and the temperature reaches 54 degrees Celsius We have massive open cut gold mines in Australia and South Africa. In countries such as Mongolia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Ghana, and Papua New Guinea people living in poverty on the fringes of mining areas spend every day standing in mud with a pan or climb down into unstable dark holes with a pick and homemade explosives, looking to find flecks of gold that will help their families survive, is this Gold Fever worth such sacrifice? Gold was discovered in Ballarat in August 1851, it was found here in a place ironically called Poverty Point, within days news of the find had spread to Melbourne and Geelong, within weeks eager prospectors were making their way here from all corners of Australia, within six months news had spread around the world and people rushed here from England, Europe and America Nobody wanted to miss a win – for 1852 was the year when there was nothing but gold

Finding this gold was easy, Panning simply involved washing dirt in a gold pan and as it tilted and swirled loose dirt and gravel washed out leaving the heavier gold behind. Larger quantities of dirt were rocked in a cradle to wash away clay and gravel – trapping the golden layer of blanket Over 600 tons of gold came from Ballarat Gold Fields Ballarat also became home to the second largest gold nugget ever found; the massive 69 kilogram welcome nugget, when this piece of gold was discovered no scales that were capable of weighing a nugget of this size were available so it was broken into three pieces on an anvil, the Nugget weighed about 72 kilos; at today’s gold price it would be worth about two and a half million dollars When gold was discovered it seemed that overnight the workers of Australia had gone AWOL; farms, building sites, ships, police barracks, government offices, shearing sheds all were deserted, schools closed and postal services were forced to work with a skeleton staff. News of Victoria’s supposedly infinite supply of gold was shared in newspapers and letters in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Warsaw, Munich, Washington, Toronto and Shanghai and people rushed to Victoria In 1851 Victoria had a population of 77,000 people, by 1861 just ten years later the population of Victoria was five hundred and forty thousand – an increase of over eight hundred percent which was half the population of Australia The gold fields became a melting pot of humanity; tradesmen and artisans set up shops and established businesses to meet the needs and demands of the miners; they were blacksmiths, candle makers, metal workers, grocers and printers and they came from all over the world Inspired by the lure of gold and the promise of a new life in a new land thousands of fortune hunters from around the world flooded into Victoria transforming the gold fields into some of the most cosmopolitan places on earth The population expanded as more people arrived and settled and established homes and businesses, the streets and camps built on gold grew into a prosperous bustling township soon to become a fine provincial city. There was only one way that all of these thousands of people from overseas could get to Victoria, the gold fields and beyond and that was by ship. The first year after gold was discovered in Ballarat the number of ships arriving in Port Phillip Bay more than doubled. 100 ships a day were sailing past Cape Otway lighthouse. After sailing over 20,000 kilometers from Europe to Australia the final obstacle for ship captains was the western entrance to Bass Strait, this narrow stretch of water between Cape Otway and King Island is just 90 kilometres wide known; as the eye of the needle it is considered the most dangerous stretch of water in the world and became an infamous graveyard for many sailing ships, over 500 sailing ships were wrecked along this coast In fact over 80 ships were lost between Cape Otway and Port Fairy alone, most of these ships sank at night or in a howling storm, each of these ships faced the same treacherous conditions along the shipwreck coast, the passengers and crew knew all about the tragic shipwrecks but with no other

option for travel and spurred on by the lure of gold they continued their journey, placing their faith in the captain and hoping that the weather would be mild so that they could make it through the dangerous waters safely, when the weather was rough every person on board would strain their eyes to see the light shining from the Cape Otway lighthouse, the Lady Bay lighthouse in Warrnambool and other lighthouses dotted along the shipwreck coast. For many the journey to Australia could take seven or eight months and on the cheapest fare conditions were tough, there were many epidemics of illness on the ships and those who survived the journey arrived at the goldfields weak and unfit for the hard life in the camps, fresh food was limited and clean water was in short supply, sewage was not properly taken care of and so the unsanitary conditions meant that disease was common, but no matter the cost people kept coming in droves – drawn by the promise of gold. The gold found in Ballarat in the 1850s was exported to Britain, it was enough gold to pay all Britain’s foreign debts and help lay the foundation of enormous British commercial expansion in the latter half of the century The development of Victoria as a state and the vibrancy of Melbourne is intricately connected to the sheer enormity of gold that was found in central Victoria Melbourne continues to grow exponentially for the next four decades and by 1880 it was the largest and richest city in the British Empire after London, at its peak some two tons of gold per week flowed into the Treasury building in Melbourne, between 1851 and 1861 Australia produced one-third of the world’s gold, by the end of the 19th century Australia was the largest producer of gold in the world Here in the Victorian Parliament house gold is used everywhere for decoration, in fact there’s so much gold here that it’s valued at many millions of dollars In a nearby passage there’s a replica of the Welcome Stranger gold nugget, today Melbourne is a busy city, voted the most liveable in the world No one talks of gold but it was the global desire for gold and the power of gold fever that shaped the city and also profoundly shaped Australia, the gold rush brought roads, rail and the first telegraph, much of the rest of the country including Western Australia and Queensland were mapped and settled in the name of gold exploration and prospecting. The huge amount of wealth that flowed from central Victoria and later southern Western Australia would pay for the industrialization and modernization of the entire country, the desire for gold still shapes our world today; a desire that promises so much but only delivers riches to a few, let’s go back to 1851 the birth of Australia’s Gold Fever, the goldfields were a topsy-turvy place where men could become rich overnight, wealth was being extracted from the earth in great quantities, Ballarat was one of the richest gold fields the world has known. If you walked on the world-famous Ballarat Gold Fields or into the tented camps in 1854 you would hear many different accents of a multi-faceted society; Italian, Irish, Dutch, Russian, English, German, Swiss, French, American, Canadian and Chinese, they were fortune seekers, entertainers and adventurers, the Gold Fields was a noisy hive of activity, thousands of dogs were barking outside tents and mine shafts marking territory, thousands of cradles rocked the gold out of clay on either side of the creek and diggers popped in and out of holes like frantic moles, hundreds of flags flapped in the wind on tents and stores. In the flats, on the hills, in the gullies, everywhere you looked two or three flags were flying,

flags of all nations but mostly the Union Jack. At night there was the twinkle of a thousand campfires, with talking and yelling at every camp, sometimes during the night many guns and pistols would be fired to release the frustration of the day and then the music started; accordions, concertinas, fiddles, flutes, clarinets, cornets, bugles, all playing their own tune the effect was deafening The early diggers of the 1850s were not the professional miners of the 1860s a decade later, they were individual speculators anxious about their family’s living conditions eager to make their fortune with gold and go home. Gold mining was back-breaking hard work with no guarantee of a find, you could sink a shaft next to your neighbour, you could both wallow in the dark and wet earth for five, six, nine months, bailing out the constant seeping water and your neighbour might find the gold infused river bed while your hole leads only to a bend in the underground river missing the gold completely, he wins you lose. The space where someone was digging was called a claim, to keep your claim a person had to work on it every day except on Sundays if no one was working a claim someone else would come and take it, that practice was called claim jumping, there was often violence on the gold fields with thousands of people intent on making a fortune, all crammed together in a small location, in rough accommodation with few comforts, tensions rose easily but as long as there was gold people kept coming As the alluvial gold on the surface ran out, gold seekers were forced to look further underground, miners discovered gold bearing water courses that had been buried at various depths by centuries of silting or volcanic action. Deep mining was more difficult and dangerous, places such as Bendigo and Ballarat saw great concentrations of miners who were forming partnerships and syndicates to enable them to sink ever deeper shafts, it was tough and dangerous, deep gold mining continues in many places in the world today We have always had a fascination with gold, the power of gold has inspired, seduced and manipulated us for thousands of years, the Egyptians were casting gold bars as money as early as 4000 BC, all through history we have wanted gold to decorate religious objects, to decorate important buildings, to decorate our bodies and to use as money. The demand for gold has caused all kinds of social change and havoc throughout history as people took enormous risks to find this beautiful metal, gold is so soft it can be shaped with a cold hammer yet so strong that one troy ounce of gold can be made into a wire that will stretch for 80 kilometers, which is almost the distance between the gold fields here in Ballarat to the gold decorated Victorian Parliament house. Human history is entwined with the desire for gold, the Midas legend is about a king who desired gold so much that he asked that everything he touch would turn to gold and then was devastated when he held his precious daughter and she turned to gold, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai to deliver the Ten Commandments to his people he found the Jews in a delirium worshiping a golden calf, he was so enraged to see them bowing to an icon, an idol like those worshipped by the hated Egyptians, that he smashed the Ten Commandments that he had just brought down from Mount Sinai. King Solomon enjoyed lavishing gold on his personal

possessions; his shields were made of gold, his ivory throne was overlaid with gold and he sipped his wine from golden vessels, when the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon she brought him around three tons of gold Solomon oversaw the construction of a temple made of stone and cedar overlaid with gold, everything was covered with gold; floors, walls, ceilings, it took more than 183,000 men seven years to construct, there probably hasn’t been a building built that could match its splendour Solomon’s Golden Temple was defaced; part of it is the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem today, but in AD 532 more than 12 metric tons of gold was used to build the Church of St. Sophia in Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, causing Emperor Justinian to exclaim “Solomon, I have surpassed thee” Here today, we are down in the vaults built to store the gold dug out of the Victorian landscape during the gold rush, gold that made a few rich but broke the backs of many others who dug for it, this is a place that was purpose-built to store up treasure. The Bible mentions gold many times, we know details about Solomon’s Temple from Old Testament writings, but it also suggests that we should focus on a different kind of treasure, here’s what it says in Matthew chapter 6 verses 19 to 21: “Don’t store up treasure on earth, moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasure in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.” We should treasure spiritual realities far above any kind of earthly treasure, by spiritual realities I mean immensely important things like forgiveness, fellowship with God, the power of prayer, the development of character and moral excellence, the love of God, the hope of heaven, honouring Christ in all you do, our lives should be governed by our affection for these things made available to us by Jesus. Yes we have to earn money and use money, we have to have food, shelter, transportation and healthcare, we can have nice things and save money, but we must remember that all of these things are so very temporary, so our heart ought to be controlled by heavenly treasures, spiritual blessings, treasure which cannot be touched by moth, rust or robber and will last forever. Where is your treasure? Is it in earthly things, is it in money, possessions, the latest gadget or is it in heaven, in the person of Jesus? If you’d like that heavenly treasure, treasure that lasts forever why not ask for it right now as we pray? Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and goodness to us, thank you for reminding us of the importance of getting our priorities right and building up treasures in heaven, help us not to be consumed by the glamour and glitter of the things of this world but rather focus on those things that will last forever, we ask this in Jesus’ name, amen We’re all interested in gold and treasure, we want that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, some of us wish for a life of glitz and glamour or maybe you want the real deal, you want a better life, a life that brings happiness and fulfilment, a life that’s built on faith, faith in Jesus, I’d like to recommend the free gift we have for all our viewers today, it’s a book called: “Finding Treasure – A Beginner’s Guide” and it’s pure gold It covers topics such as God’s love for us, repentance, faith and acceptance and what to do with doubt I’m sure this book will bring you closer to Jesus, you’ll discover real treasure Remember to ask for your FREE copy by

name, there’s no cost or obligation, here’s the information you need, phone or text us at 0436 333 555 or visit our website to request today’s free offer and we’ll send it to you totally free of charge and with no obligation. So don’t delay call or text 0436 333 555 in Australia or 020 422 2042 in New Zealand or visit our website to request today’s offer Write to us at PO Box 5101, Dora Creek, New South Wales 2264 Australia or PO Box 76673 Manukau, Auckland 2241 New Zealand, don’t delay phone or text 0436 333 555 in Australia or 020 422 2042 in New Zealand or visit our website to request today’s offer, call or text us now If you’ve enjoyed today’s journey, be sure to join us again next week when we will share another of life’s journeys together and experience another new and thought-provoking perspective on the peace, insight, understanding and hope that only the Bible can give us, The Incredible Journey truly is television that changes lives. Until next week remember the ultimate destination of life’s journey: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”