THE GOLD RUSH INSPIRED
ME TO WRITE A BOOK
On February 12, 1851, a prospector discovered flecks of gold in a waterhole near Bathurst, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
Soon, even more gold was discovered in what would become the neighboring state of Victoria. This began the Australian Gold Rush, which had a profound impact on the country’s national identity.
Within a year, more than 500,000 people (nicknamed “diggers”) rushed to the gold fields of Australia. Most of these immigrants were British, but many prospectors from the United States, Germany, Poland, and China also settled in NSW and Victoria.
Even more immigrants arrived from other parts of Australia. Wages in the region doubled, but it was still difficult to find workers as people abandoned their stable jobs to seek their fortune in the gold fields. These “diggers” forged a strong, unified identity independent of colonial British authority. This concept of “mateship . . . [has] been central to the way [Australian] history has been told,” according to the Australian government.
I can still recall how young I was in primary school when a teacher gave me a flimsy book about the Australian gold rush. From that moment I was hooked. Years later as an established author, I wrote 'Irish Gold'. It's a credible fiction story about the Irish on the gold fields. So, what's it about?
Pat Toomey’s violent father dies, leaving Pat, his mother and four sisters in the Port Phillip District of Australia during the 1850’s gold rush. Pat and best friend, Seamus, are offered a job by Irishman, Michael Macevoy; to transport supplies to miners in Ballarat. They take the job, and Macevoy becomes a regular caller at the Toomey’s home. The boys meet many people who know their boss, and it intrigues them. They also save a Chinese family from a dangerous bushranger, Jack Lawrie, and meet another wanted bushranger, Martin Riley – Michael Macevoy’s best mate.
Jack Lawrie escapes and seeks revenge, surprising the boys one evening, but Martin Riley appears from the dark and seriously maims Lawrie. Whilst transporting Lawrie to Castlemaine, troopers appear, notice Riley, and a chase ensues. Shots are fired and Riley is injured, but Seamus mounts Riley’s horse and rides away. Lawrie and Pat are in custody, a trooper has been shot, and Riley is still free, but Michael Macevoy arrives and Pat is released. That night, Martin Riley dies.
The boys deliver a shattered Macevoy to Pat’s mother’s home, and they step up to run Macevoy’s Transport when Michael enters a period of deep depression. The boys work hard, employ staff, and expand the business to the Bendigo goldfields. Will Michael Macevoy overcome his depression? Why does Michael know so many people?
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