Bendigo is the third largest city in the Australian state of Victoria, it is home to over 105,000 people which also makes it the second largest inland city in the country after Canberra. The current mayor is Rod Campbell (2010)


The Victorian gold rush was a period in the history of Victoria, Australia approximately between 1851 and the late 1860s. In 10 years the Australian population nearly tripled.

Gold fever hitsEdit

Fuelled by extravagant stories of wealth gained at the 1849 Californian gold rush, gold fever hit Victoria following the early gold discoveries in and around Clunes, Warrandyte and Ballarat. But the real rush began with the discovery of the Mount Alexander goldfield 60 kilometres north-east of Ballarat.

Mt Alexander (taking in the goldfields of Castlemaine and Bendigo) was one of the world’s richest shallow alluvial goldfields, yielding around four million ounces of gold, most of which was found in the first two years of the rush and within five metres of the surface. When eight tonnes of Victorian gold arrived at London’s port in April 1852, the Times of London declared: '.. this is California all over again, but, it would appear, California on a larger scale…'

People from all over the world flocked to Bendigo and its surrounding areas to form the community that it is today, they built lots of mines, tramways and train lines to Melbourne. Chinese gold working were very popular, the Chinese set up a China town and many mines.

Discovery of gold at BendigoEdit

Sketch-map by shepherd William Sandbach shows the location of "Bendigo's Hut", and depicts the birth of the Bendigo goldfield, detailing who was there and where their claims and camp sites were. (Sandbach believed that fellow shepherd William Henry Johnson had been the first to find gold at Bendigo.) Inadvertently Sandbach is also revealing the Aboriginal management of the land, showing the waterholes along the creek bed, treeless flats and wooded hills.

Gold found at Bendigo Creek in September 1851. According to the Bendigo Historical Society, it is generally agreed that gold was found at Bendigo Creek by two married women from the Mount Alexander North Run (later renamed the Ravenswood Run), Margaret Kennedy (nee McPhee[1]) and Julia Farrell, at "The Rocks" area of Bendigo Creek at Golden Square, near where today's Maple Street crosses the Bendigo Creek.[2] When Margaret Kennedy gave evidence before a Select Committee in September 1890 she claimed to have found gold near "The Rocks" in early September 1851.[3] September 1851 was the date also mentioned in relation to the three other sets of serious contenders for the first finders of gold at Bendigo Creek on the Mount Alexander North Run: Stewart Gibson, one of the two brothers who owned/leased the Mount Alexander North Run in 1851, and Frederick Fenton, the then overseer and later owner (Fenton claimed that he and Gibson had been together when they found gold in a water-hole at the junction of Golden Gully with Bendigo Creek in September 1851 just before shearing commenced but decided at the time to keep it quiet); one or more of the shepherds living in the hut on the Mount Alexander North Run near the junction of Golden Gully with Bendigo Creek, James Graham (alias Ben Hall), Benjamin Bannister, and hut-keeper Christian Asquith, and/or a shepherd who visited them at the hut named William Henry Johnson (who found gold near "The Rocks"); and one or both of the husbands of the two women, "Happy Jack" John Kennedy, an overseer of the Mount Alexander North Run who had his hut on the Bullock Creek at what is today known as Lockwood South, and Patrick Peter Farrell, a cooper (who found gold near "The Rocks").[3][4] The date of September 1851 is also commemorated in a monument erected on the main highway at Golden Square in front of the Senior Citizens' Club.

In September 1890 a Select Committee of the Victorian Legislative Assembly sat to decide who was the first to discover gold at Bendigo. They stated that there were at least 12 claimants to being the first to find gold at Bendigo (they included Margaret Kennedy in this number, but not Julia Farrell who was deceased), plus the journalist Henry Frencham[5] who claimed to have discovered gold at Bendigo Creek in November 1851. (Frencham had previously also claimed to have been the first to have discovered gold at Warrandyte in June 1851 when he, unsuccessfully, claimed the £200 reward for finding payable gold within 200 miles (320km) of Melbourne[6][7]; and then he also claimed to be the first to have discovered gold at Ballarat [then also known as Yuille’s Diggings] "and make it known to the public" in September 1851[8].) In the evidence that Margaret Kennedy gave before the Select Committe in September 1890 Margaret Kennedy claimed that she and Julia Farrell had been secretly panning for gold before Henry Frencham arrived, evidence that was substantiated by others. The Select Committee found "that Henry Frencham's claim to be the discoverer of gold at Bendigo has not been sustained", but could not make a decision as to whom of the other at least 12 claimants had been first as "it would be most difficult, if not impossible, to decide that question now"..."at this distance of time from the eventful discovery of gold at Bendigo". They concluded that there was "no doubt that Mrs Kennedy and Mrs Farrell had obtained gold before Henry Frencham arrived on the Bendigo Creek", but that Frencham "was the first to report the discovery of payable gold at Bendigo to the Commissioner at Forest Creek (Castlemaine)". (An event Frencham dated to 1 December 1851,[9] a date which was, according to Frencham's own contemporaneous writings, after a number of diggers had already begun prospecting on the Bendigo goldfield.[10] 1 December 1851 was the date on which Frencham had a letter delivered to Chief Commissioner Wright at Forest Creek (Castlemaine) asking for police protection at Bendigo Creek, a request that officially disclosed the new gold-field. Protection was granted and the Assistant Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Gold Districts of Buninyong and Mt Alexander, Captain Robert Wintle Home, arrived with three black troopers (native police) to set up camp at Bendigo Creek on 8 December.[11]) The Select Committee also decided "that the first place at which gold was discovered on Bendigo was at what is now known as Golden Square, called by the station hands in 1851 "The Rocks", a point about 200 yards to the west of the junction of Golden Gully with the Bendigo Creek."[12][9][3][4][13][14][15][16][17] (The straight-line distance is nearer to 650 yards [600 metres].) In October 1893 the man who had proposed the Select Committee, who was also one the the men who had sat on the Select Committee, gave an address in Bendigo where he gave his opinion on the matter of who had first found gold at Bendigo. Alfred Shrapnell Bailes, Mayor of Bendigo, and member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, stated that "upon the whole, from evidence which, read with the stations books, can be fairly easily pieced together, it would seem that Asquith, Graham, Johnson and Bannister, (the three shepherds residing at the hut on Bendigo Creek and their shepherd visitor Johnson) were the first to discover gold".[18]

The first persons to mine for gold at the Bendigo Creek were people associated with the Ravenswood Run. They included Patrick Peter and Julia Farrell, Phillip and Margaret Kennedy and Margaret's children John Drane, 9, and Mary Kennedy, 2,[19][20][21][22] and the shepherds Christian Asquith, James Graham (alias Ben Hall) and Bannister. They were joined by other shepherds who had been employed elsewhere on the Ravenswood Run than at Bendigo Creek, including William Henry Johnson, James Lister, William Ross, Paddy O'Donnell and William Sandbach and his brother, Walter, who arrived at the Bendigo Creek in November 1851.[3][23][4] They were soon joined by miners from the Forest Creek (Castlemaine) diggings like the journalist Henry Frencham.

There is no doubt that Henry Frencham, under the pen-name of "Bendigo",[9] was the first to publicly write anything about gold-mining at Bendigo Creek, with three reports about the same event, a meeting of miners at Bendigo Creek on 8 and 9 December 1851, published respectively in the Daily News, Melbourne, date unknown[24] and the 13 December 1851 editions of the Geelong Advertiser[25] and The Argus, Melbourne.[10] It was Frencham's words, published in "The Argus" of 13 December 1851 that were to begin the Bendigo Goldrush:

"As regards the success of the diggers, it is tolerably certain the majority are doing well, and few making less than half an ounce per man per day."

In late November 1851 some of the miners at Castlemaine (Forest Creek), having heard of the new discovery of gold, began to move to Bendigo Creek joining those from the Ravenswood Run who were already prospecting there.[2] The beginnings of this gold-mining was reported from the field by Henry Frencham, under the pen-name of "Bendigo",[10][9][26] who stated that the new field at Bendigo Creek, which was at first treated as if it were an extension of the Mount Alexander or Forest Creek (Castlemaine) rush,[27][28] was already about two weeks old on 8 December 1851. Frencham reported then about 250 miners on the field. On 13 December Henry Frencham's article in "The Argus" was published announcing to the world that gold was abundant in Bendigo. Just days later, in mid-December 1851 the rush to Bendigo had begun, with a correspondent from Castlemaine for the Geelong Advertiser reported on 16 December 1851 that "hundreds are on the wing thither (to Bendigo Creek)".[29]

Henry Frencham may not have been the first person to find gold at Bendigo but he was the first person to announce to the authorities (1 December 1851) and then the world ("The Argus", 13 December 1851) the existence of the Bendigo gold-field. He was also the first person to deliver a quantity of payable gold from the Bendigo gold-field to the authorities when on 28 December 1851, 3 days after the 603 men, women and children then working the Bendigo gold-field had pooled their food resouces for a combined christmas dinner,[28] Frencham and his partner Robert Atkinson, with Trooper Synott as an escort, delivered 30lbs of gold that they had mined to Assistant Commissioner Charles .J.P. Lydiard at Forest Creek (Castlemaine), the first gold received from Bendigo.[30]

In 1890 William Sandbach was to reminisce about the earliest days of gold-mining on Bendigo Creek, stating that "I have written this for the interested, dwelling in the once Bendigo, but now famous city (Sandhurst - the name of Bendigo from 1854 to 1891)". He recalled saying in January 1852 to his fellow shepherd James Lister "Jim, I should not wonder but what this one of these days will be a big diggings". He also quoted what is the earliest known poem written about the Bendigo Goldfields that he had composed at that time:

O, lift your eyes, ye sighing sons of men;
The long-fled golden age returns again.
See! youthful riches, with his yellow wand,
Touching the hills and valleys through the land.[23]


Bendigo has experienced a massive population growth in the past few years, in 2006 the population was only about 81,000, and in 2008 the population was around 100,000 this is a growth of 19,000 people in just two years! Bendigo's population makes it the third largest city in the Australian state of Victoria and puts it as the largest inland city in the state aswell as the second largest inland city in the country after Canberra. It is said that by 2013 White Hills and Epsom (both suberbs of Bendigo) will together hold 40,000 people, they now have about 15,000 people together so by 2013 the population will have increased by at least 25,000.


  1. Kennedy Family
  2. 2.0 2.1 Discovery Of Gold, Bendigo Historical Society
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The discovery of Bendigo gold-field The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 23 September 1890 p.7
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Discovery Of Bendigo Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918) 26 September 1890 p.3
  5. Henry Frencham
  6. Cited in "Geelong Advertiser", Monday 16 June 1851, p.2
  7. David Horsfall, "Who Discovered Bendigo Gold?", Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies Inc., Bendigo Area, 2009, p.49-50]
  8. Yuille's digging The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 19 September 1851 p.2
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 The First Gold Discovery At Bendigo – Mr. H. Frencham’s Claim The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 12 September 1890 p.7
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Mount Alexander (Bendigo Creek) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 13 December 1851 p.2
  11. David Horsfall, "Who Discovered Bendigo Gold?", Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies Inc., Bendigo Area, 2009, p.53
  12. Friday, October 24, 1890 - The report of the select committee The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 24 October 1890 p.5
  13. The Discovery Of The Bendigo Gold–Field, Mr Frencham’s Claim The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 3 October 1890 p.10
  14. [ The Discovery Of Gold At Bendigo, Conclusion Of Evidence The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 10 October 1890 p.10]
  15. Parliament – Discovery Of The Bendigo Gold-Field The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 24 October 1890 p.9
  16. Social And General – A select committee of the Legislative Assembly The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 4 November 1890 p.9
  17. "Friday, October 24, 1890 - The report of the select committee", The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 24 October 1890, p.5
  18. "The Pioneers Of Gold Discovery On Bendigo", Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 28 October 1893, p.3
  19. John Kennedy & Margaret McPhee
  20. John Drane and Margaret McPhee
  21. Victorian Birth Registrations: John Drane 1842 Melbourne #12750, Mary Kennedy 1849 Melbourne #4157 (Mary Ann Drane 1844 Melbourne #13680 - deceased before 1849)
  22. "Gold Discoverer's Daughter - Margaret(sic) Polglaise", The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 14 April 1941, p.5
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Discovery Of Gold At Bendigo - a letter from William Sandbach one of the first diggers on the Bendigo Goldfield The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 13 September 1890 p.10
  24. "The Discovery Of Bendigo", Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 12 September 1890, p.3
  25. "Bendigo Creek Diggings", Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1847 - 1851), 13 December 1851, p.2
  26. "The Discovery Of Bendigo", Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 12 September 1890, p.3
  27. State of Victoria Early Postal Cancels (and History) Illustrated, Section II: 1851 to 1853
  28. 28.0 28.1 Bendigo General History, Department of Planning and Community Development, citing from Frank Cusack, "Bendigo: a History", 1973
  29. [ "The Diggings", Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), 22 December 1851, 5 May 2013, p.2]
  30. David Horsfall, "Who Discovered Bendigo Gold?", Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies Inc., Bendigo Area, 2009, p.57 & 61
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