Inquiry-Week 4 (Women on the Gold Fields)

Good morning,
This morning we have a lot to get through.
You must make sure you have completed your synthesisiing wheels, mind maps, timelines and drafted your narrative piece of writing by the end of today.
You and your partner need to start to think about what type of model you wish to design and build to depict your interpretation of life on the gold fields. Remember- it must be based on your inquiry question!

Women on the Australian Goldfields

Life was hard on the diggings.
It was mostly men who went to look for gold.
Women and children joined them later.
Women cooked and washed.
Some women sang and danced for the diggers.

In the early years of the gold rush there were very few women at any of the goldfields. A few women were diggers, and some were shopkeepers at the diggings. Most women stayed home with their children, usually with very little money to live on, while their husbands travelled to live and work at the diggings.

A few years later, many women took their children and joined their husbands when conditions improved. However, there were always more men than women at the goldfields, and it was a hard life for all.

Women’s work consisted of washing, ironing and cooking. They made bread, butter, jams, soap and clothes for the family.The living conditions were cramped, and there were few comforts at the diggings. Because the alluvial mining muddied the once clear creek water, clean drinkable water was hard to find. Often fresh water was carted in to the diggings and sold by the bucketful. Fresh vegetables and fruit were scarce and cost a lot.

Usually when a woman gave birth to a baby, she was assisted by other women. There was little in the way of medical assistance in cases of illness or to assist the women in childbirth. Many women died while giving birth. Epidemics of illnesses such as diptheria, whooping cough, measles, typhoid and scarlet fever swept through the goldfields, and many men, women and children died.

The wealthy Bendigo goldfields were found by a woman, Margaret Kennedy, who saw gold in the creek bed in September 1851. She and a friend washed the gold using a breadmaking pan. Within a few months, there were about 20,000 people searching for gold in that area.

Lola Montez

There were women among the entertainers who travelled around performing at the various goldfields. The most famous of these was Lola Montez, best known for her Spider Dance. She was immensely popular wherever she entertained.

Lola Montez was showered with small gold nuggets by the diggers whenever she finished a performance


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