Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/27

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13
A SURVEY OF THE SOUTH.

Phillip district from New South Wales, and its erection into a separate colony under the name of Victoria, passed the Imperial Parliament. The gratifying intelligence reached Melbourne in the following November, and it is needless to say there were considerable rejoicings, lasting several days. The Act came into operation on July 1st of the following year and the day has ever since been commemorated as a public holiday, under the title of Separation Day. Prominent amongst those who took an active part in directing the separation movement were Sir William Foster Stawell (afterwards Chief Justice, and now Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria), Sir Redmond Barry (subsequently Judge of the Supreme Court), Sir John O'Shanassy (three times Prime Minister of the colony), and Sir Francis Murphy (for many years Speaker of the Legislative Assembly)—four Irishmen to whom reference will again be made.

In the same year (1851) that witnessed the practical outcome of the separation movement—in fact almost coincidently with that historical episode, an event occurred that completely altered the destinies of the Australian colonies in general and Victoria in particular. It is unnecessary to state that the event alluded to was the Discovery of Gold. Victoria up to that time was only known for the richness of its pastoral and agricultural resources, and the idea that mineral wealth of untold value lay concealed beneath the verdant soil never once entered the minds of the simple growers of wool and cultivators of corn. In 1849 the accounts of the golden treasures of California attracted adventurers from all parts of the world, and amongst those who left Australia for the American El Dorado were two intelligent colonists, named Edward Hammond Hargreaves and James William