SBS > Gold > Environment

Hundreds of thousands of diggers rushed to Australian lands, upturned soil, polluted rivers and waterways and felled countless tress in the pursuit of gold. The often forgotten legacy of the gold rushes is a landscape that was permanently scarred.

Environmental devastation on the diggings
While some authors and diggers lamented the destruction of Australia's beautiful landscape, many were oblivious to devastating impact of the gold rushes on the environment.

First impressions of Australian land
With a lack of photographic evidence, we rely on artistic deptictions and written descriptions of Australia's landscape before the gold rush.

The mining mistakes of a golden history
The damage done to the Australian environment during the gold rushes will be felt for decades to come.

The affect of the gold rushes on agriculture
The burgeoning population of Australia couldn't eat their gold, so agriculture thrived, despite the fears of Australian pastoralists.

Introduction of Exotic Plants and Animals
Agriculturalists, eager to take advantage of Australia's abundant natural resources, encouraged the immigration of European flora and fauna, with sometimes disastrous effects.

The first environmental casualty of the Australian gold rush were trees, which were initially felled to clear space and provide fuel.

Rehabilitation and Reforestation
A dwindling timber supply was the wake up call to authorities, that gold mining was wreaking havoc on the environment. Slowly, reforestation programs were implemented and environmental action groups emerged.

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Australian soldiers were called diggers, as many men who fought for Australia in WWI were diggers from the goldfields.

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