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Gold Rush in Victoria

The Gold Rush in Victoria brought extraordinary dislocation and change to the population of Van Diemen's Land, although there had been constant migration to Port Phillip since the mid-1830s. Between March 1851 and October 1852, so many men went to the gold fields that the adult male population dropped by about 33 percent (10,129), and many did not return. Departures then slowed considerably. As a result, the gender balance became more even, climbing from 39 to 60 women per 100 men.

Lt-Governor Denison, alarmed at the departure of the working population, asked in vain for more British emigration. Inflation caused price increases in bacon, meat, leather, firewood and trousers. Labour shortages resulted in high wages for remaining workers, and land under cultivation decreased by 18 percent. Economically, the colony boomed for several years due to the enormous demand for timber and agricultural produce generated by increased population and monetary inflation in Victoria.

Wendy Rimon