When and where was gold first discovered in Australia?

Gold was discovered in Australia as early as the 1820s. Surveyor James McBrien reported finding gold at the Fish River near Bathurst, NSW in 1823, while Polish explorer Paul Strzelecki found gold near Hartley Vale in 1839. All these discoveries were kept secret, for fear of sparking off unrest among the convicts. When Reverend WB Clark found gold near Lithgow in 1941, he was requested by Governor Gipps to keep quiet about it. Gipps is reported to have said, "Put it away, Mr Clarke, or we will all have our throats cut!" In addition, land owners did not want their workers leaving in droves to find gold.

This changed when the Californian gold rushes started, and Australians began leaving the country in the hopes of striking gold in America. The New South Wales government began to encourage gold finds, offering a reward for the discovery of payable gold. 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". Hargraves has been credited with the discovery ever since, even though, by rights, credit should go to Lister.