The diggers encountered many obstacles and difficulties, including getting to the goldfields and these difficulties contributed to making life hard. The diggers were shopkeepers, clerks, tradesman, lawyers, squatters and even sailors. In the 1850’s, thousands of people believed that finding gold on the Australian goldfields would be easy and they dreamt of the better life it would be bring. The reality was hard work, disease and enduring all kinds of weather conditions. Exorbitant licensing fees fostered resentment and eventually rebellion. However, it was the Chinese who migrated to the Australian goldfields who had the most difficult lives because they had to put up with the violent attacks and racist slurs.
The digger’s difficulties began on their journeys to the goldfields and getting there was often a life and death struggle. Transportation to the goldfields was often inadequate for the rough terrain. Ships came from around the world overcrowded, crammed with people hoping to make a fortune. Food and water was contaminated on these ships and there were epidemics of dysentery, scarlet fever and typhoid. Many of the goldfields were located in remote and rugged areas and there were no established roads. Many strange vehicles were used by diggers to arrive at the goldfields, one of which was ...“one single piece of wood mounted on three wheels” ... that had been noticed. Many of the diggers’ diaries provided evidence of diggers having to walk hundreds of kilometres, over inhospitable country carrying their supplies with them.
The poor housing conditions and lack of basic facilities, including the difficulties obtaining crucial supplies was extremely hard. Clean drinking water was scarce as what was available was often polluted by sewage that escaped from the hundreds of holes that miners had dug to use as toilets. Most of the basic food items were all inflated. Huts were crude and many lived in shabby tents such as ...“a piece of tattered canvas so old...
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