The Story of Gold in Australia - From 1823

The gold strikes and the opportunity to obtain cheap land is what caused the rush of immigrants to Australia in the 1850's. See the Wills Timeline. This site was researched by Ian Wills


  • In March 1823 James O'Brien a local geologisth noticed gold in the Bathurst area but left it the ground. Several findings took place in the 1830s but weren't registered.
  • 20 June 1851. James Esmond was the first to claim a registered finding in Clunes, Vic. with a 51 ounce nugget.
  • 16 August 1851. John Hart dug up a 67ounce nugget at Golden Point, Ballarat, Vic. This was the first registered find in the area.
  • 8 November 1851. William Howe dug up an 84 ounce gold nugget also at Golden Point. At the time it was the largest finding.
  • 18 December 1851. Castlemaine, Victoria. The first finding in that are was by Edward Suter. His nugget weighed 45 ounces.
  • 11 February 1852. The first registered strike in Tasmania was by Charles Gould. It weighed 2lb 6ozs and the location was Tullochgoram.
  • 19 March 1854. Maryborough, Vic. Bill McMillan was the first official gold striker in that area. It weighed 38 ounces and was found at "Chinamans's Flat".
  • 28 July 1861. Two boys named Bill Jackson and Tom Bardsley were the first to strike gold in Gundagai, N.S.W. They dug up a 5lb4oz nugget.
  • 1865 June 28. H.F.Litchfield was the first to strike gold in the Northern Territory. A 52 ounce nugget found in the Finniss River, Tumbling Waters area.
  • 30 December 1867. Alex Meyer's 906 oz nugget was dug up in Gympie, Queensland and was the first recorded in that State.
  • 3 November 1873. Timor ( near Maryborough, Vic. A 102 ounce beauty was dug up by John Hawkins.
  • 17 September 1892. Kalgoorlie, W.A. Two men named Arthur Bayley & William Ford were the first in the region to register their 59 ounce gold nugget.
  • 17 June 1893. Kalgoorlie, W.A. Three Irishmen named Flanagan, Hannan & Shea working together dug up a 100 ounce nugget worth 410 pounds at the time.
  • More info on Kalgoorlie. From 1892 - 1963 some 500,000 ounces of gold has been dug up in the "Fly Flat" area. It was later named the "Golden Mile"
  • Interesting info on Gold Nugget Strikes around Australia
    Of the 40 largest gold nuggets ever found in Australia, 32 of them were dug up in Central Victoria. Ballarat. Bendigo and Avoca are where the richest findings took place.


A list of the largest Gold nuggets found in Central Victoria weighing over 1000 ounces.
  • 2,520 ounce. "The Welcome Stranger" is the largest ever found in the world. Richard Oates & John Deason dug this up at Maliago, Ballarat, on 5 February 1869.
    The nugget weighed 2283ozs. It measured 61cm x 31cm. The exact location where it was found should read Moliagul, 9 miles north west of Dunolly, Victoria. At the time of the discovery there were no scales big enough to weigh it so it was broken into three pieces on an anvil by Dunolly-based Blacksmith Archibald Walls. John Deason and Richard Oates were paid 9381 pounds by the London Chartered Bank in Dunolly.
  • 2,217 ounce "The Welcome Nugget" which was dug up by a Chinaman at Bakery Hill, Ballarat on 9 June 1858 weighed 2217 ounces. Several attempts to rob him of his find failed.
  • 1,619 ounce "The Canadian". Found at Canadian Gully , Ballarat. ( Unnamed local found this monster nugget ) Date registered 31 January 1853.
  • 1,177 ounce "The Lady Hotham" was found at a depth of 60 feet, at Dalton's Flat, Ballarat on 8 September 1854 by John Thomas Dalton.
  • 1,117 ounce "The Sarah Sands" was also found at Canadian Gully, Ballarat on 20 January 1853.
  • 1,011.ounce "Unnamed Nugget" was found by a Chinaman ( Koh - I - Noor ) also at Canadian Gully, Ballarat on 18 June 1854.
  • In every other State of Australia, nuggets weighing up to 800 ounces have been found from 1823. They are still being dug up around the country today.
What did it weight
16 ounces = one pound
2.205 pounds = one kilogram
35 ounces = one kilogram  
In 2005 gold was worth about US$400.00 an ounce
Therefore a kilogram would be worth about US$14,000 approx.



  • The massive Super Pit, Australia's largest open cut gold mine in Kalgoorlie was established in 1989 and was the brainchild of Alan Bond.
  • Western Australia supplies 75% of Australia's total gold production and about 8% of the world's gold production.
  • It takes seven 220 tonne truckloads of rock to produce a tiny 2 ounce nugget.
  • Trucks used at the Super Pit to carry rocks, rubble and ore are the biggest of their type in an Australian gold mine. The new Caterpillar 793Cs cost $4 million. They weigh a massive 376 tonnes and are 6.4 metres high, 7.4 metres wide and can travel at a top speed of 54.3 kph and carry 220 tonnes of ore. Each tyre costs $26,000 to replace.
  • The Super Pit's mine life is estimated at a further 16 years. At that time the size of the pit will be approximately 3.8 klm long and 2klm wide and 500 metre deep and more than 17,000,000 ounces of gold will have been extracted.