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Gold was first discovered in Ballarat in late August 1851 and that discovery sparked a gold rush that brought in an influx of workers from many different backgrounds. I came across an interesting book today, it’s called Black Gold: Aboriginal people in the goldfields of Victoria. It’s by an author called Fred Cahir. The book highlights the role played by Aboriginal people in the early days of the mining industry in Australia. Gold was found in various parts of Ballarat including Aboriginal land and according to the book they remained on the land despite the inrush, especially those whose lands were rich in alluvial gold, and participated actively in the mining industry working in tandem with others. Aboriginal people were “conscious actors and active participants in Australia’s economic history”.   

They exhibited a clear willingness to work with non indigenous miners, and they shared the same sentiments. Aboriginal people possessed a cultural and economic affinity to gold and despite the social dislocation that occurred because many of their gold rich lands were exploited for mining purposes they continued as independent prospectors, and like all miners from that region, they contributed actively and progressively to its economic growth and added an indigenous touch to its cultural diversity.

There was abundant interaction between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal workers, and despite the common misconceptions and prejudices that often surface during colonization, post that, there was clear evidence of substantial cooperation between all workers, regardless of ethnicity.

The Aboriginal people knew where to find gold deposits and that meant that there was some additional significance attached to gold. Their contribution was not limited to just gold mining but it also included quarrying for other minerals. Aboriginal contribution to the mining sector in Australia is as old and as important as all other contributions.



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