The dream of finding GOLD lured thousands from all over the World to the area then known as ‘Port Phillip’, and the budding town of Melbourne which lay on the banks of the Yarra River.  By the 1850’s Melbourne housed the busy ports of commerce and passengers, and was the business centre of the new Colony of Victoria.  It is worth mentioning that in the year 1850:

→  Melbourne was still part of the colony of New South Wales – Victoria was only proclaimed a Colony in 1851 – the year of the discovery of GOLD !!!

→  Melbourne itself, had only been founded in the June of 1835

→  yet within 15 years this ‘village’ on the River Yarra was growing at an alarming rate and would explode during the 1850’s.  Apart from the land grab of the 1830’s onwards, it was the allure of finding fortunes of

GOLD !!! . . . 

However, not all were prepared to get down and dirty to seek their fortunes:

” . . . A daring act of piracy was committed on a vessel lying off the lighthouse at Williamstown about 2 o’clock on the morning of Friday, April 2, 1852.  A large party of men, numbering at least a score, having got possession of two boats, which they found on the beach near Sandridge [now Port Melbourne], rowed silently with muffled oars to the barque Nelson, lying ready to sail for London, with a large quantity of gold on board.  The men, who were armed to the teeth and masked, boarded the Nelson, bound hand foot seven of the crew, and carried away 8,183 oz. of gold.  The Nelson was unguarded, and no proper watch seems to have been kept on her, and she was lying at a considerable distance from most of the other vessels in the port.  The crime was certainly one of the most extraordinary ever committed, partly because of the great number of men implicated in it.  The robbers did everything quietly, and — if the expression may be used — in order.  One of them showed a disposition to act violently on board the vessel, but he was warned to be quiet by his comrades.  Drays had been brought down to the beach by the party.  Boxes in which the gold had been were found empty in the ti-tree scrub near where the party landed, together with some gold spilled in the hurried distribution of the spoil.  A bag of gold, believed to have formed portion of the plunder, was also found shortly after the event in Latrobe-street.  Some arrests were very soon made by the police, and several of the gang were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment.  The whole of the gold was not recovered . . . “

Source:  Excerpt – ‘Argus’ (Melbourne, Vic) – Article “Melbourne – Its Infancy & Growth” – published 27th September 1884




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