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Daily life

Living conditions


Domestic Bliss in Australia
Samuel Calvert
Published in Melbourne Punch, 1856, p105
State Library of Victoria
"The house is a beautiful model being higher at one end than another: about two feet from the ground stick up large pieces of bark of trees, from this it rises like the roof of a house, which is made of coarse sacking...(near the door) is an immense fireplace outside the hut, built up with mud and stones, then long bark above all. Round the outside is a deep trench to carry the rain past us. The gable is patched up with large pieces of bark. The door is pieces of bark nailed across, then canvas nailed on it, the hinges made of string.
Table we had none...logs of wood and a cask did for seats, no sofa, no bedsteads...hanging along the roof are loaves of bread, mutton, pannikins, a gun and bundles of clothes, etc. At one side lie all our digging implements and firewood. A bottle does for a candlestick: we have no carpet, no spoons, knives, mirror or other luxuries." - James Arnot



Forest Creek, Mount Alexander, From Adelaide Hill
George French Angas
Courtesy of the La Trobe Picture Collection,
State Library of Victoria
H25116

"...hundreds on hundreds of tents were clapped down in the most dusty and miserable of places; and all the ground was perforated with holes, round or square, some deeper, some shallower, some dry, some full of water...All between the holes the hard, sand-coloured clay lay in ridges, and you had to thread your way carefully amongst them if you did not mean to fall in. Still horrider stenches from butchers’ shops and garbage pits : the scene thickened, and tents after tents, stores and bark-huts crowded upon you like a great fair." - William Howitt





Religion


Sunday camp meeting, Forest Creek
S. T. Gill
Courtesy of the La Trobe Collection
State Library of Victoria
H86.7
"Sunday 12 September 1852
Heard an excellent lecture from our worthy preacher, being the first of a series: really it was excellent. He generally chooses a spot where a long tree is lying which forms seats for his hearers..." - Thomas Arnot



Buying supplies


Butchers shamble, Forest Creek
S. T. Gill
Courtesy of the La Trobe Collection
State Library of Victoria
H86.7
"All the meat that we got at the diggings was intolerably tough, partly because the squatters were killing off first what they called their hospital flocks - the scabbiest sheep and those worn to skeletons with foot-rot; and partly because it was obliged to be eaten immediately, on account of the heat and the flies..." - William Howitt

"..the store presented the same appearance as a busy shop in London would do on the same evening. I suppose there were never less than fifteen people before the counter up to twelve o’clock, pitching down their bank notes, taking up their change, which, I observed, they seldom counted, and departing. The mode of doing business, too, was original: if the vendor hadn’t the small change required, he threw in a piece of tobacco or soap, or anything else that was handy, irrespective of the wants of the customer. This was always accepted with a good-humoured nod and an ‘all right’" - John Sherer




Credits

State Library of Victoria

From the State Library of Victoria’s virtual exhibition Life on the Goldfields.



 
 

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