Investigation 3

What were the characteristics of Queensland’s mining communities in the late 1800s?

Gold was discovered in Queensland in the 1800s, which encouraged the rapid settlement of the colony. Gold was discovered in the south of Queensland, at Gympie, in 1867. Later gold discoveries, in areas such as Charters Towers and Croydon, led to the opening up of the north of the colony for settlement.

Not only did gold make the colony wealthy, it also gave rise to new communities that were very different to the pastoral and plantation communities. Gold discoveries usually led to ‘chaotic’ rushes to the places where it was found. Would-be diggers staked their claim and attempted to find as much surface gold as possible. Depending on the size of the find, miners would come from all over the continent and even other parts of the world. The populations of the towns near the diggings would grow overnight, not only because of the miners, but because of those who provided the services that the miners needed.

Your Task

Examine the mining communities in Queensland in the 1800s, and their contribution to the development of the colony.


  1. As a class, read the descriptions of life on the goldfields. Use a Venn diagram to compare the similarities and differences between the two settlements. Which settlement is being described shortly after the discovery of gold? Justify your answer.
  2. Examine the photograph of Gympie in 1898. Write a short paragraph describing what you see. Mention any differences between it and the way the settlement is described in the extract.
  3. Many Chinese miners came to Queensland. With others in your class, read ‘The Chinese invasion’ and look at the photograph of the Chinese miner. How do you think the author feels about the Chinese miners? What are his main concerns? How does the photograph confirm his concerns? What does he imagine may happen in the future?
  4. Read the ‘Petition to the Queensland Parliament’ and look at the illustration. What do ‘The Chinese invasion’ and the petition have in common? Are the arguments convincing? What do you think are the writer’s and illustrator’s real motivations? What arguments can you make to challenge their view?
  5. In small groups, research and create a class presentation on one of the following topics.
    • The advantages and disadvantages of the gold discoveries in Queensland in the 1800s.
    • The impact of people from all over the world being attracted to the Australian goldfields in the 1800s.