Accounts | State Library of New South Wales

Accounts from the diggings

Each goldfield had a butcher’s shop and many grog shops (sometimes canvas tents). A digger’s diet consisted of steak or mutton fried in fat for every meal with plenty of bread. Tea was the standard drink. A high-calorie intake was required for long hours of physical labour. Watered-down milk for coffee and fresh bread was delivered to miners each morning – with the price considerably more for the new chums recently arrived.

Diggers hut, Solferino, 1872

Diggers hut, Solferino, 1872, by J.W. Lindt, Solferino, Lionsville, Grafton & Australian Aborigines
Photograph PXA 1128/7

Ellen Clacy visited Australia with her brother in 1852. Her lively account of her travels was published on her return to London in 1853. Visiting Australia at the height of the rush, her observations on the diggings and the diggers provide a fascinating social history. She describes the food available on the diggings and the high costs of basic provisions. Staples such as flour, tea, sugar and other foodstuffs had increased greatly in cost.

Read a selection from A Lady's visit to the gold diggings

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View A Lady's visit to the gold diggings via the Library's catalogue


William Anderson Cawthorne travelled from Adelaide to the Victorian goldfields. View his diary entries

Image slice of Cawthorne's diary

Read Englishman Andrew Clunie's letters home describing his experiences on the NSW goldfields

Image slice of Andrew Clunie's letters

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