Australia’s Gold History

George Rehder 1

The discovery of gold in Australia carved the way for an industry that has contributed to the growth and development of the nation we know today.

The first gold rush took off in 1851 when the precious mineral was found in NSW, closely followed by discoveries in Victoria and later Western Australia. With workers flocking to get lucky, Australia’s population tripled to 1.1 million by 1860 and continued to grow, making the gold industry one of the biggest contributors to the country’s population growth.

A decade later Australia was producing more than 40 percent of the world’s gold output making it Australia’s largest export, exceeding wool exports and creating high economic growth. Another golden-age followed in the 1890’s with the discovery of the ‘Golden Mile’ at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, believed to be the richest square mile of gold reserves in the world. This resulted in Australia’s gold production growing from 18 tonnes to 244 tonnes by the early 90’s. Growth in the sector continued even when the gold price began to fall.

As Australia started to realise the potential of the gold industry, focus was aimed at creating new technologies and mining practices to support the sustainability of gold mining and reduce exploration costs in preparation for times of low demand. 

By the early 2000’s, Australia was still one of the largest gold producers in the world, which is largely credited to China’s increasing demand for the resource. Today the gold industry employs more than 55,000 Australians nationally and is the world’s second largest producer.

The gold industry is a major contributor to the Australian economy and regional communities. The taxes and royalties paid by gold miners have helped to fund vital infrastructure and community services throughout Australia.

Western Australia’s Gold History

Western Australia’s rich history of gold mining dates back to the 1880s following the nation’s first gold rush in 1851. One of the State’s earliest gold discoveries was in Kalgoorlie, a town which remains the heart of gold mining in Western Australia today.

The gold industry in Western Australia survived the challenges of the First World War which saw mining activity and investment decline.

However, the Great Depression in the 1930s brought the revitalisation of the gold industry with a rise in the gold price and an increase in foreign investment. The discovery of the largest gold nugget in Coolgardie in 1931, ‘The Golden Eagle’, saw many prospectors return to Western Australia.

Unfortunately, the Second World War once again devastated the industry a few years later and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that Western Australia’s gold industry showed signs of sustained recovery. Since then, the State’s gold mining industry has maintained a lasting period of prosperity that has shaped the way for Western Australia’s population growth and economic development.

Today, Western Australia is the largest producer of gold in Australia, accounting for more than 70% of the nation’s overall gold production. Additionally, the State directly employs approximately 60 percent of the nation’s gold industry workforce and pays more than $2.8 billion in wages each year.

Western Australian gold miners also contribute more than $300 million in taxes and royalties to the State Government which is invested in vital infrastructure including main roads, transport, schools and hospitals.

Gold mining has been an important part of the State’s economy for more than a century and it continues to play an important role in the development and growth of Western Australia and its regional communities.


Aug 27, 2019

The Gold Industry Group’s (GIG) free Heart of Gold Australia app has expanded to include gold tourism experiences from around the country, highlighting and educating the community of gold’s significance to the nation.

In addition to the Perth and Kalgoorlie Heart of Gold Discovery Trails, the app now boasts a wide variety of gold tourism experiences that include tours, attractions and historic landmarks.

Aug 27, 2019

Jun 18, 2019

Swick Mining recently sat down with George Horsham, a rugby-mad former diamond driller, to discover what it was like to work on Australian mine sites during the 1950s and 1960s.

Diamond core drilling has advanced in leaps and bounds since then. Technology advancements mean state-of-the-art rigs today allow hole set-ups to be completed within minutes instead of hours, and moves carried out within hours not days.

Read More →

Jun 18, 2019

Oct 30, 2018

In 1911, a newly-wed Aboriginal couple found gold in Far North Queensland. The woman became a miner and made history, when she found a new goldfield located near the Batavia River.

Aboriginal people mined the land for ochre and stone long before the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour. As the European gold rushes spread across the country, some Aboriginal people became prospectors too.

Read More →

Oct 30, 2018

Oct 14, 2018

The Gold Industry Group’s gold partner, The Perth Mint, is displaying some of the most incredible and valuable gold quartz rocks ever discovered in Australia for the next couple of weeks.

The massive gold specimens, discovered underground at RNC Minerals’ (‘RNC’) Beta Hunt mine in Kambalda, in Western Australia’s Goldfields region.

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Oct 14, 2018

Jul 24, 2018

A unique tourism experience, showcasing the complete gold production process from mine to mint, was unveiled by the Premier of Western Australia, the Honourable Mark McGowan MLA, at The Perth Mint today.

A collaboration between Go West Tours, Newmont Australia and The Perth Mint, the Mine to Mint gold tour provides a fascinating insight into the State’s gold mining industry.

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Jul 24, 2018

Jun 19, 2018

Be treated to a one-of-a-kind experience, with unique footage at point 3 on the Kalgoorlie #heartofgold Discovery Trail.

Here, the presiding Mayor of Kalgoorlie-Boulder for the last three years, John Bowler, takes viewers on an ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Kalgoorlie Town Hall. 

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Jun 19, 2018

Jun 13, 2018

We celebrated one of the nation’s biggest gold rushes at the official opening of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s #heartofgold Discovery Trail over the weekend, which saw scores of locals, tourists, students and families alike joining in the fun.

Telling the stories of the Goldfields in a unique and interactive way, the new virtual journey educates and delights people of all ages.

Read More →

Jun 13, 2018

May 17, 2018

The Gold Industry Group will launch its second virtual Heart of Gold Discovery Trail in historic Kalgoorlie at a free community event on Saturday 9 June in conjunction with a local schools program.

Set to unlock the region’s golden past and the operations of today via the Heart of Gold Australia app, the trail will educate the next generation with a fun and interactive school program aligned to the Australian Curriculum.

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May 17, 2018

May 9, 2018

After the gold rush at Fly Flat in 1892, Coolgardie in Western Australia, grew into a bush settlement of red earth, tents and humpies. The lure of striking it rich drove gold diggers and prospectors further afield to search for the next big discovery of gold.

Ninety miles north-east of Coolgardie, the country was marked by a chain of salt lakes. The Gimlet gum trees made a roaring sound when the south-westerly winds blew strong.

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May 9, 2018

Apr 30, 2018

The Gold Industry Group will launch its second virtual Heart of Gold Discovery Trail in historic Kalgoorlie at a free community event on Saturday 9 June 2018.

The official ceremony will take place at the Town Hall from 9.30am (AWST), with the starting point of the trail marked by the unveiling of a Perth Mint sponsored replica gold bar outside Market Arcade at 10am.

Read More →

Apr 30, 2018

Nov 15, 2017

Western Australians have long treasured their gold mining heritage. We have admired the courage, tenacity and sheer grit of those who laboured in the harsh and hot goldfields during the first gold rush in early 1890s.

With Perth’s first boom driven by a gold rush, the Gold Industry Group has launched the #heartofgold Discovery Trail starting at Elizabeth Quay. 

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Nov 15, 2017

Oct 12, 2017

We painted the city gold to celebrate the official opening of the #heartofgold Discovery Trail in Elizabeth Quay! And what fun it was, with more than 1500 braving the cold weather to experience Perth’s first virtual gold trail.

The event was a celebration of the significant role gold has played and continues to play in the development of WA, bringing the stories of early prospectors who first discovered gold to life. 

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Oct 12, 2017

Oct 3, 2017

Oct 3, 2017

To celebrate the launch of Perth’s Heart of Gold Discovery Trail at Elizabeth Quay this Saturday, The Perth Mint is giving trail blazers the opportunity to pan for real gold!

Scattered with real gold nuggets from Ramelius Resources’ Wattle Dam gold mine, the Mint’s interactive dry panning activity will have Perth families and tourists of all ages experience what it was like to search for gold during the gold rushes of the late 1800s.

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Oct 3, 2017

Sep 5, 2017

In 1892, Coolgardie grew into a booming town after prospectors Arthur Bayley and William Ford discovered a rich find of gold nuggets at Fly Flat. Prospectors, gold diggers, mining companies and speculators then followed the gold rush during the roaring nineties in Western Australia.

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Sep 5, 2017

Sep 1, 2017

The #heartofgold Discovery Trail will be launched in Perth on Saturday 7 October, which is part of a long-term community engagement program aimed at educating and engaging the wider community on the rich history and importance of Australia’s gold industry, with a strong focus on educating at a grass roots level.

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Sep 1, 2017

Aug 8, 2017

Aug 8, 2017

The Gold Industry Group announced the launch of its Heart of Gold Discovery Trail, which will take place at Elizabeth Quay on Saturday 7 October, at its Digital Mine breakfast at Diggers & Dealers today. 

The Heart of Gold Discovery Trail will be the first virtual trail of its kind to give the community an interactive ‘gold’ experience via the free Heart of Gold app.

Read More →

Aug 8, 2017

Jun 2, 2017

The Gold Industry Group has released results from a study conducted by Deloitte Access Economics into the gold industry, revealing its significant contribution to Australia’s history, economic development and social advancement. 

“From the 1850s, the demand for gold has helped grow, sustain and define Australia,” said Deloitte Access Economics Partner Matt Judkins.

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Jun 2, 2017

Apr 13, 2017

Gold has retained a hallowed place in the history of the Australian resources sector and beyond for generations, and its central part in Western Australia’s past is both colourful and fascinating. 

However, the story is far from over, and the importance of this rarest of precious metals in today’s economy can be seen with more than 70% of the nation’s overall gold production coming from WA. If WA was a country, it would be the 5th largest gold producer in the world.

Read More →

Apr 13, 2017

Apr 5, 2017

Medic by day, photographer by night. Not only does Ian Beattie look after the well-being of fellow employees at Ramelius Resources’ Mt Magnet Gold Mine and the local community, he captures the history of Mount Magnet after dark. 

We spoke to Ian about some of our favourite photographs that will take you back in time to Mount Magnet’s golden past. 

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Apr 5, 2017

Mar 1, 2017

In 1896, if you opened the door of Boulder Block Hotel and stepped inside, would you expect to find gold?

Yes, there is a story to be told about the secret goings-on at the Boulder Block Hotel. The underground miners of The Golden Mile were “on the gold”, and some of them were said to be selling the gold on the sly at the infamous pub before the whistle blew for the end of shift.

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Mar 1, 2017

Feb 14, 2017

Ramleius Resources Limited certainly picked a fitting mascot for its name. The story begins in Germany, over 1000 years ago. Rammelsberg is a mountain located on the northern edge of the Harz range, south of the historic town of Goslar in the North German state of Lower Saxony.

Rammelsberg Mines, also known as “The Thousand Year-old Mine” – was the longest operating base metal mine in the world! It opened in the 10th century and operated uninterrupted for over 1000 years. 

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Feb 14, 2017

Jan 31, 2017

“Fly Flat” doesn’t sound like a prestigious or auspicious name for a place that started a gold rush boom. But on the outskirts of Coolgardie in Western Australia, the flat country with sparse gum trees was rich with alluvial gold, and changed the fortunes of a nation. 

In 1892, two prospectors, Arthur Bayley and William Ford found over five hundred ounces of gold at Fly Flat. At today’s gold price, the horde would be valued at over half a million dollars. 

Read More →

Jan 31, 2017

Dec 19, 2016

Gold has retained a hallowed place in the history of the Australian resources sector and beyond for generations, and its central part in Western Australia’s past is both colourful and fascinating. However, the story is far from over, and the importance of this rarest of precious metals in today’s economy can be seen when, at this year’s Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie, almost 60% of the program of speakers comprised presentations by gold producers, explorers, prospectors or suppliers. 

Read More →

Dec 19, 2016

Nov 22, 2016

The Gold Industry Group was delighted to elect Gold Fields Vice President of Compliance & Legal Kelly Carter to the position of Vice Chair along with the re-election of current Board members. 

Chairman Richard Hayes opened the GIG’s second Annual General Meeting with a summary of the Group’s first year of activities and welcomed new members Deloitte and Impact Minerals

Read More →

Nov 22, 2016

Oct 31, 2016

The Gold Industry Group will launch its #heartofgold Discovery Trail next year in Perth, providing a fun and interactive way for the community to connect with the importance and history of gold, which remains at the heart of our nation today.

This long-term community engagement initiative will engage millions of students, families and tourists alike. Here is a sneak peak of what you will find.

Read More →

Oct 31, 2016

Oct 31, 2016

The 2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup has been made entirely from gold sourced, refined and crafted in Australia for the first time in its 150-year history.

One of the only trophies in the world still hand-spun from solid gold, the Emirates Melbourne Cup is produced by ABC Bullion. It contains 44 pieces that are hand spun over a 250-hour production process. 

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Oct 31, 2016

Aug 4, 2016

Diggers & Dealers was a buzz this year bringing a touch of gold fever to Kalgoorlie with close to 60% of the program made up of gold presenters and a number of deals made.

Here are some of the Gold Industry Group’s highlights from the 25th year of Diggers.

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Aug 4, 2016

Aug 2, 2016

The Gold Industry Group has announced a long-term, community engagement project in Perth expected to attract millions of students, tourists and families. 

The virtual Heart of Gold Discovery Trail and gold panning activity in Elizabeth Quay will provide a fun and interactive way for visitors to learn about Western Australia’s storied gold industry and its importance to our economy.

Read More →

Aug 2, 2016

Jul 27, 2016

Read about the importance of the Gold Industry Group, the storied history of gold in Australia, our members – The Perth Mint, Doray Minerals, Ramelius Resoucres and Gold Fields Australia – in The West Australian “A Golden Future” Liftout published 20 July, 2016.

Read More →

Jul 27, 2016

Jun 20, 2016

Last week the Gold Industry Group held its inaugural industry networking event at the historic Perth Mint. The event was attended by the Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Honourable Sean L’Estrange MLA, and 90 members and industry colleagues to discuss the future of Australia’s gold industry and the vision of the Group.
 
Perth Mint Chief Executive Officer and Gold Industry Group Chairman Richard Hayes spoke about the importance of the Group and what it can achieve collectively.

Read More →

Jun 20, 2016

One thought on “Australia’s Gold History

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