Australia Gold Rushes

Was Edward Hargraves an honorable man?

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09/24/2009

In some ways Hargraves was not honorable, as he did not give credit to the man who enabled him to make the first official discovery of gold in Australia. Gold was first officially discovered in Australia in 1851, not far from Bathurst, New South Wales. Edward Hargraves had carefully studied the geology of the area and, convinced that it was similar to that of the California goldfields, from where he had just returned, went prospecting. He enlisted the assistance of John Lister, a man who had already found gold in the region. Lister led Hargraves directly to where gold was found, at Summerhill Creek, at a site which Hargraves named "Ophir". After reporting his discovery, Hargraves was appointed a 'Commissioner of Land', receiving a reward of £10,000 plus a life pension. The New South Wales government made the official announcement of the discovery of gold on 22 May 1851. Lister, however, was never given any credit or reward for his part in the discovery. In fact, Hargraves went to great lengths, including taking Lister and others to court, to suppress their claim as being the real discoverers of gold.