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Gold diggings, Araratc 1858

by Edward Roper

Edward Roper has depicted the gold rush at Ararat, south-west Victoria, at its peak in the late 1850s. There is evidence of diggers everywhere. Their nationalities are indicated by several flags and the details of everyday life are signposted throughout the work.

A slab of meat hangs high up on a branch. Grog bottles and clothing, canvas tents and boiling billies add to the atmosphere. The general store, bowling alley, butcher, baker and numerous hotels line Main St. Further down, a large tent is designated as the Theatre Royal.

A trooper on horseback inspects the diggings, possibly checking for miners’ licences. And, at the centre of the scene, an Aboriginal family observes all this frenetic activity.