Victorian Goldfields Talk at U3A Australian History Class

Hume U3A’s Australian History Class had a guest speaker on 12 February 2014. Dr Jacqualine Rankine talked about life on the goldfields. She introduced the topic by asking us to examine a painting of a butcher by S T Gill. In the painting we could see meat hanging from the rough tent poles. Without today’s refined refrigerated storage, meat in those days was slaughtered and cut, and sold on the day. Mutton roasted on the fire, damper, and tea were the staple rations on the goldfields.
Dr Rankine described other aspects of life at that time, including vermin and disease and lack of clean water. After a hard day’s digging, sly grog was available to ease the aches. And the grog, and lack of policing meant that behaviour on the goldfields was somewhat lawless. Overall, Dr Rankine helped us to understand the conditions in those days by contrasting them to our life now.