DISCOVERY OF GOLD
on way to Bendigo
of the many lithographed sketches of the artist, S.T.Gill
(1818 – 1880). Gill specialized in life on the goldfields
and he was observant of detail and humour in its everyday
A Select Committee of Parliament in 1890 heard evidence from many people, including statements that the shepherds in the area, Asquith and Graham, had also been digging for gold prior to the first rush, but on the evidence available to it, the Committee was unable to decide who had made the first discovery of gold on Bendigo.
It is generally agreed that Mrs Margaret Kennedy and Mrs Julia Farrell, wives of workmen on the Ravenswood run, found gold at 'The Rocks' - now an identified location that can be visited at the junction
of Bendigo Creek and Maple Street. The
discoverers are honored nearby in Golden Square through a steel
sculpture to our pioneer women, erected 150 years
later in 2001.
The name of the creek that subsequently gave its name to the
goldfield and township is widely believed to derive from an employee
of the sheep run who was handy with his fists and nicknamed “Bendigo”
after the Nottingham prize-fighter William ‘Bendigo’
Thompson (his nickname having been corrupted from the biblical
‘Abednego’). The central area of the field was named
Sandhurst in the early 1850s but this was never popular with the
original miners. The publicity in Europe in 1851-2 was about the
Bendigo goldfields and many overseas investors did not connect
Sandhurst with a goldfield. ( In the early 1890s as part of a
drive to attract outside capital, pressure was exerted on the
City Council to revert to the original name. A poll was held,
a large majority favored the change and Bendigo again became the
official name of the city).
The first ‘rush’ had taken place in November 1851
when miners at Castlemaine (Forest Creek) heard of the new discovery. Alluvial
gold was found in the area of its first discovery
(present day Golden Square) and then the miners followed the gold
down the creek to what is now Epsom and up the creek to the present
suburb of Kangaroo Flat. Further discoveries were soon made in
the tributary creeks at Eaglehawk and Diamond Hill.
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