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Image 'The new rush', 1865

TLF ID R3382

This is a coloured print, measuring 19.4 cm x 25.2 cm, by the famous colonial artist Samuel Thomas Gill (1818-80), published in 'The Australian Sketchbook' in 1865. It shows a gold rush scene, probably in Victoria, with a stream of prospectors travelling along a dirt road. Several are walking beside their horses and heavily laden wagons, and various tents can be seen in the background. The artist's initials, 'STG', are in the bottom left-hand corner.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows prospectors travelling to a Victorian gold field - rumours of the next big strike spread gold fever throughout Australia and overseas, causing many people to abandon their former lives and rush away to look for gold.
  • It portrays a gold field as people trekking up from Melbourne would have seen it - it has been estimated that one-third of the adult male population of Melbourne rushed off to various gold fields during the 1850s and 1860s.
  • It shows a gold fields tent village as it would have looked at the time - miners and storekeepers have built temporary shelters out of calico, hessian, blankets and bark; the larger tents, often showing a flag, usually belonged to storekeepers, who charged exorbitant prices for common goods and made far more money than most miners.
  • It shows the barren landscape caused by gold digging - the processes that the miners used to extract gold ranged from panning and prospecting the surface layers to digging open mine shafts; both caused considerable damage to the environment.
  • It shows miners' equipment - a digger is carrying a saw used for gathering timber, for shoring up the mine shafts and for firewood; another has a shovel or a pick; the lack of resources and the prices on the gold fields meant that prospectors had to bring equipment with them; the swags show how little they owned, how lightly many travelled and how roughly they must have lived; the poor pickings and the high cost of food and materials left many miners destitute and forced them to travel to every new strike to look for better claims.
  • It shows the miners' clothes - the Crimean shirt (which was a garment without buttons and with a wide V-neck and collar, long sleeves and slits at each side) was common; it was often worn with a sash or belt, usually outside the pants, and completed with a knotted scarf and cabbage tree hat; monkey jackets or waistcoats, shown left of centre, were just as frequently worn; the trousers were usually moleskins, made from a velvety cotton material and worn with long boots; the only locally made item of clothing was the cabbage tree hat, made from the cabbage tree palm, ‘Livistona australis’, grown in the Illawarra district of New South Wales.
  • It is an example of the work of S T Gill that depicts colonial life in the mid-19th century - after becoming bankrupt in South Australia, Gill tried prospecting in Victoria but found he could make a better living working at his art; for 15 years he recorded the lives and occupations of people on the gold fields before spending eight years in Sydney; his many artworks provide an insight into the lives of the pioneers.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Hamel and Ferguson
  • Organization: Hamel and Ferguson
  • Description: Author
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Samuel Thomas Gill
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements