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How The Diggers Lived

26-03-2012 | Source | Central Point
When the diggers arrived, they pitched tents wherever they could and settled down to the hard work of finding gold.
Very few diggers had their families with them.

Very few diggers had their families with them.
When the diggers arrived, they pitched tents wherever they could and settled down to the hard work of finding gold.
Working for gold.
It was a time of great hardships for the diggers and their families. During summer, water was often dirty and in short supply. In winter the diggings were cold and diggers would work for hours knee-deep in water and soaked to the skin.
People could not keep themselves clean and sewage was not disposed of properly. It comes as no surprise then, that miners often became ill, unfortunately there were not many doctors around the goldfields and those that were there, were often self- taught and not very good.
Time off
Sunday was a non-digging day, people did their chores and organised entertainments such as cards, two-up, concerts, boxing, cricket matches, and hunting trips. Horse- racing, foot-racing and fighting were common forms of entertainment. Religious services were held in special large tents.
Diet and Health
The majority of meals consisted of strong black billy tea, mutton and damper Ďa kind of bread made from flour and water which was baked in the embers of a fireí.
Butcher's tents were easy to find, because flies swarmed around the carcasses that hung outside in the heat.
Fruit and vegetables were rare and miners had to buy what they could from the local landowner many of which charged extremely high prices.
At first there were no licensed hotels and many sly-grog sellers had booming trades, hence It didnít take long before grog~shanties sprang up in the nearby towns. It was some time before troopers were sent to patrol the Bendigo goldfields and up until then there was no law of any kind.
Housing
Gullies soon filled with miners' claims and nearby ridges became vast untidy camp- sites that were either hot and dusty or cold and muddy.
The diggers lived in primitive style, in shacks and tents furnished only with string and bark beds, or mattresses that were stuffed with leaves and used on the hard earth floor. A box for a table and a few mugs and tin pans were used for Cooking. Tents were made from nothing more than a piece of canvas slung over a few sapling ridgepoles and had to be moved if somebody wanted to dig in that place.
Outside the tents was a fireplace, a bucket of water and perhaps a log or two to sit on, a high pole with a flag, old gumboot or some other sign helped the diggers find their own place.
Lodging houses
were large tents whose owners charged 10 shillings ($1) a day for the same type of bed and the same type of food. Even the bare necessities of life were scarce, water cost 10 cents a bucket and sheep farmers whose stations lay near the diggings found that their water holes were besieged by hundreds of water carts fetching water for the diggings. At one stage water was brought from the Murray River to Bendigo, a distance of over 80 miles.
Better buildings
Gradually, bark huts and stone buildings were built in place of tents. The government camps had a log lock-up (jail), and timber barracks for the soldiers. Close by, the gold- buyers and traders set up stores, hotels and boarding houses made of timber and lined with calico.


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