Gold...and The Convict Continent
From 1788 forward, for about sixty years, the inhabitants of
this Continent were called the Prisoners of the Motherland...for
it was here that England exported her criminals...to the tune of
roughly 80,000 transports. But these new inhabitant/exiles were
lucky in a way very few criminals are. For the old and original
denizens of this land were not, and never were, interested in
And there were great stretches of golden soil deposits around,
left over from old flowing rivers. Gold nuggets weighing from 100
up to 200 pounds were found by these convicts who were forced to
make their homes in this wild land. In 1851, an American by the
name of Edward Hargreaves, who had worked as a forty-niner in
Sacramento, and who had moved to this new continent, found gold.
He was the first...but the rest followed. They had a different
accent...and maybe they didn't say there's gold in them thar
hills the way we said it...but the fact was ...there was gold in
them thar hills...no matter how you said it.
A major city had almost no inhabitants left...and only one
policeman. The name of this major city was Melbourne. And the
continent was Australia. A basically barren place, this fifth
continent. Few immigrants came here voluntarily. Who wanted to
raise sheep? But when they found gold...word spread like wild
fire. An within seven years the population of Australia shot up
by ten million people.
Ahhh...my friends...what power is there on this earth more
powerful than the power of gold. Yeah, sure, nuclear energy some
of you might say. Bah, humbug, say I. The people in Australia
couldn't be ruled. Government officials left their positions to
go a prospectin'. Tents sprung up in the deserts. Melbourne and
Sidney developed into major cities. Industry was brought to the
continent. Gold financed water systems...and telegraph
And unlike the American Gold Rush...the Australian gold rush
never ended. It reached a peak production of over one hundred
tons a year well into the twentieth century. A kiss on the hand
my be quite continental...and diamonds are a girl's best
friend...but neither diamonds nor kisses can make a
continent...and gold can...and did.
And there ya have it.
That's it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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