Edward Hammond Hargraves | State Library of New South Wales

Edward Hammond Hargraves

Mr E.H. Hargraves, the gold discoverer of Australia, Feb 12th 1851, returning the salute of the gold miners [5th] of the ensuing May, 1875Mr E.H. Hargraves, the gold discoverer of Australia, Feb 12th 1851, returning the salute of the gold miners [5th] of the ensuing May, 1875, by Thomas Tyrwhitt Balcombe, Oil painting, ML 532

Edward Hammond Hargraves was a shrewd gold promoter, credited with discovering the first payable goldfields near Bathurst, New South Wales.

Returning unsuccessfully from the Californian goldfields, Hargraves decided to travel west to Wellington in search of Australian gold during the summer of 1851. Visiting an inn at Guyong owned by the Lister family, he changed his travel plans and relied upon local knowledge of the area.

With the son of the innkeeper, John Lister and the Tom brothers, William and James, he started panning for gold at Lewis Ponds Creek. Hargraves taught the young men how to make a Californian cradle which he had seen on the Californian goldfields. This wooden contraption could be rocked from side to side so that the heavy gold particles were retained when the lighter gravel was sifted through.

On February 12, 1851 Hargraves, along with his assistants, discovered flecks of gold in the Lewis Ponds Creek.

> Learn more of the role played by John Lister and the Tom brothers in the discovery of gold

Hargraves wrote to William Northwood, a Sydney business man, announcing his gold discovery. His letters are cross-hatched, a common method of conserving paper at the time.

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Transcript: W. B. Clarke - Papers and notebooks, 1827-1951 - Letters to William Northwood, 11 Feb and 16th Feb, 1851 by Edward Hammond Hargraves, Manuscript ML MSS 139/55

[Page 1]

Wellington Inn Goyong
11th February 1851
Dear Sir,
I arrived here last evening the weather was exceedingly hot indeed nearly as much so as in California I am scarcely 250 miles from Sydney. The horse is the greatest brute I ever rode after the first days journey he would stumble twenty times in one mile – I am obliged to hold him up and by the end of the day my arms are tired however I hope to get him along after a days rest. His pedigree is as follows. Bred by Mr. Collett’s Mount York sold by him to Mr. Kendall at Fish River who sold him to Raper in consequence of his buckjumping propensities. He nearly killed Mr Kendal who is a native and an excellent horseman – Mr Raper sold him to a hackney coachman and after a while bought him again he had got the character of being a good horse if not allowed to be idle but his stumbling is a bad thing Mr. Kendall says if he is stabled for 10 days no man can sit on his back but as feed is exceedingly scarce and dear and in some places not to be got at all I hope to keep him under. Indeed he will be a pretty object if you ever see him again. I am now going to the “McQuarie River” and trace up the source of the “Bell”

[Page 2]

and Tooron Rivers a distance of 150 miles I strike the Macquarie 20 miles from Wellington at Bunnalong I have got hopes of success but the scarcity of water will prevent my making such a research as I should wish you will not hear from me for 3 weeks or a month. It is superfluous for me to say that my most undivided energies will be directed towards the object in view. I have been over a country of 30 to 40 miles abounding with copper – the resources of this country are little known it is no doubt a rich mining country and new discoveries will be made every day.

You had better send 200lbs. flour up to the house in a fortnight and write me about the same time giving me what news you can “address Post Office Bathurst” – I shall then know how things are going on – I am now at the world’s end and am going nearly 200 miles beyond it a little news will be acceptable. When I come into the world again – I met Mr.Icely as I was coming up from Sydney He was going down and gave me a very pressing invitation to go to his house at “Coombring” – I did not go. I may call coming back if I want to rest the horse Don’t forget to speak to Mr. Suttor as I shall be regularly stumped by the time I get to Bathurst
In haste
Yours truly
P.S. I have got the horse fresh shod the Blacksmith tells me the brute will not stumble so much when his feet are shorter.  EHH  Mr W Northwood Agent Market St at Sydney

[Page 3]

Prima Castra Arouya
Goyong Die Saturni
My Dear Sir
In my last dated 22th inst you were informed I was about to proceed into the wilderness on my mission.The following day I did so and be it remembered on the memorable day To Wit on the 12th day of February in the year of our Lord – one thousand eight hundred and fifty one I did at my “Prima Castra”  on Arouya  Goyong in the very first bowl bowl   of earth  washed – discover “Gold” amalgamated with the earth precisely in the same way in which it is in California - Mexico –Chilli – Peru and South America hence I claim the right of discovery You will of course keep this letter as an important document – I knew I was in gold country 70 miles before I made this discovery but being no water I could not try the earth and being near a sheep station expecting the sheep to drink I did not further disturb the earth but carefully put up my 5 little specks or grains away – I am now perfectly

[Page 4]

satisfied of its existence and shall launch out to a remote place to try for a rich place and when I can do that I shall return to Bathurst and take across the mountains to Gundagai. I shall then have travelled over a country in extent 600 miles – I do not hesitate to say that I have now been over at least 80 miles of a gold region but the want of water precludes me from making such a research as I could wish Therefore in this my present communication I wish you distinctly to understand that I cannot for the want of water make at all a satisfactory research indeed such is the scarcity of water that I have had great difficulty to get water for self and horse Where I am going now to the Toroon River there is water but no grass – I have got bran and hay but in all probability I shall be able to get Mr. Kendall  to keep the horse alive for a few days – Mr Suttors will be out of my way and 20 miles for a tired man and horse is a great deal – You had therefore better therefore enclose me a five pound note. Address to  Through the post to Bathurst as I shall not have a feather to fly with on my arrival there. My opinion is that the Gold Mines of New South Wales are more extensive than those of California, the richness of which I cannot as yet form the most remote idea.
Yours very truly

Post paid
Mr William Northwood
Market Street West