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Gold boom

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The gold rushes contributed to the development of a modern Australian society and economy. The diggers brought with them a wide range of skills and professions, which helped transform one-time rural economies into larger, diversified markets.

The Australian colonies were no longer seen as places of convict exile; they were respectable destinations for immigrants and investment. 

Railway infrastructure linked major ports to inland towns, strengthening regional centres. 

Melbourne became the main entry port to the Victorian goldfields and consequently developed into Australia’s largest city and financial centre for the next half century.

Immigrants who established businesses on the goldfields have their own stories of success. The wealth generated from many 'service industries' on the goldfields meant that these families prospered in their adopted country.

The fascinating Holtermann collection of photographs of goldfield towns of NSW and Victoria documents the ordinary people who established businesses on the goldfields along with the mines and miners.

Bernard Otto Holtermann, successful gold miner and merchant, commissioned Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss from the American & Australasian Photographic Company to document gold towns in New South Wales and Victoria from 1872 to 1875. Towns such as Hill End and Gulgong were captured at the height of their settlement. Every business, church and school was photographed, with their owners, staff and customers posed outside.

It is such thorough documentary coverage that it is possible to reconstruct the main streets of Hill End and Gulgong in precise detail.

B.O. Holtermann (2nd from left), Richard Ormsby Kerr (centre) and Beyers (2nd from right), with reef gold from Star of Hope mine
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2825335
G.H. Bryant's butcher shop, Clarke Street, Hill End, ca. 1875, by AAPC
Digital ID: 
a2822438
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Condell's Great Western Boot Mart, Clarke Street, Hill End, ca. 1875, by AAPC
Digital ID: 
a2822792
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Horse and cart bogged in what was once a gold digging outside Meares flooded Criterion Store, Clarke Street, Hill End
Winter 1872
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822734
All Nations Hotel, (J. Williams proprietor), Clarke Street, Hill
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822756
Patrick Coyle's Clubhouse Hotel, (incorporating the booking office and terminal for Coyle's Bathurst Coach Service, later taken over by Cobb & Co.), Hill End
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822817
Shop and coffee-rooms, Hawkins Hill, Hill End
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822634
Mr Henry Rapp, gold miner and his wife Mary, nee Spohn
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2823428
Teacher and schoolchildren outside the school, Blacklead
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822383
Mrs Deighton, dressmaker, Gulgong
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822296
About this item: 

The home of William Simmons and wife Margaret, and their new born son Joseph Henry in the pram. Simmons has conveniently placed his business sign out front for the photo. -- Information supplied by Baldwin & Davis Research, Gulgong (Apr 2007)

Simmons' (miners' office, mining agent, law agent and public accountant) and family outside his bark hut, Gulgong area
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822297
Couple with seven children in front of their cottage with bark roof, Hill End
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822642
Couple on the veranda of their house with large front garden (from a distance), Hill End
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822867
J. Phillips' Newsagency, Fruitrer (sic) and General Dealer, Hill End
1870-1875
American & Australasian Photographic Company
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Digital ID: 
a2822419

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of St Barbara Ltd.