Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/28

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Esmond. They were only ordinarily successful, but their visit to California gave them some valuable knowledge which they afterwards turned to good account. One thing they observed was the striking similarity in the geological formation of the two countries, and they rightly concluded that if the precious metal existed in the one place, it must also exist in the other. This conclusion they practically tested on their return, and were rewarded with immediate success. Hargreaves prospected the Bathurst district of New South Wales and found some nuggets and gold dust.

Esmond tried his luck in Victoria near the site of the present flourishing mining town of Clunes, then a squatter's run, and succeeded in finding some rich specimens, with which he hurried to the nearest town, Geelong, and made his discovery known. The news caused the most intense excitement amongst all classes, and the "gold fever" rapidly spread throughout the colonies. All ordinary pursuits were abandoned, and everywhere parties for the diggings were in process of formation. The first discoveries soon paled before the brilliant digging results that were daily brought to the surface. It was soon ascertained that the whole cent nil portion of the colony was auriferous, and, as the various parties spread about in the hope of finding new and richer ground, the great goldfields of the colony became gradually opened up. Words cannot describe the delirium that ensued on reading the reports of the developments of the famous Ballarat, Bendigo and Mount Alexander mines. Not only were the other colonies literally drained of their population, but, on the wondrous intelligence being circulated at home, the old world sent thousands to swell the mining community at the antipodes. Ireland despatched a numerous contingent, whose members prospered in the main, invested their savings