The rough-and-ready life of the goldfields wasn’t deemed the ideal place for ‘a proper lady’. However, women proved to be no more immune to the lure of gold than men.
For those women who took the risk and refused to be left behind, the goldfields could be an especially dangerous place.
Violence and robberies were common and gold-seekers constantly needed to have their wits about them. Whether it was ‘jumping’ or taking over a claim by brute force, or thieves stealing gold by candle-light from lucky prospectors as they slept in their tents, striking gold was difficult, but holding on to it was equally tough.
WOMEN ON THE GOLDFIELDS
Women were supposed to be the antidote to gold fever. By encouraging female immigration, the authorities hoped that gold-hungry men in Victoria would forsake their often wild and nomadic ways and settle down.
Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned. While a few women participated in gold-seeking alongside their husbands, others sought to make their fortune by selling sly grog and other goods to the diggers. Many travelled over the oceans to the goldfields in search of a lucky digger to marry, but did not always find a happy-ever-after ending.
In the early days, women on the goldfields experienced opportunities to escape the social restrictions of their current lives. There was even the chance to develop ideals about women’s rights. These fabulous opportunities gradually diminished as goldfields society became more permanent and expectations of what proper ladies ‘should do’ became strongly embedded.
At Sovereign Hill
RED HILL PHOTOGRAPHIC ROOMS
Get a taste of the high-life and take a portrait at the Red Hill Photographic Rooms. Immortalise your Sovereign Hill experience in a photo, all dressed up in the most fashionable period attire.
Photography was still very new in the early 1850s and having your portrait taken was quite expensive. People who had done well on the goldfields would often commission a portrait to send home as evidence of their new-found success. By the end of the decade, new technologies and methods began to make photographs more affordable.
Bookings are essential. Phone 03 5337 1128 or click Book Now below.
At Sovereign Hill
HOTELS & RESTAURANTS
If you’re in need of refreshment or relaxation, do what the diggers did after a long day searching for that precious metal and venture into one of the local hotels.
Hotels were common on the goldfields and as well as providing food, drink, entertainment and a place for weary new arrivals to rest their heads, they were also venues for serious occasions including court cases, inquests and church services.