In 1839 the Polish Count, Paul Strzelecki, during a scientific exploring expedition from Sydney across the mountains of the south-east and into the region of Victoria which he called Gippsland, observed particles of gold amongst decomposed ironstone.
Sir Roderick Murchison, when he examined Strzelecki's maps and rock specimens in England, pointed out the resemblances between the geological formation and that of the gold-bearing rocks of the Ural Mountains.
He wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Grey, stating his conclusions and the reasons for them; but no notice was taken of his letter.
Several persons in New South Wales occasionally found small specimens of gold. As early as 1823 McBrian, a surveyor, picked up some specks while at work near the Fish River.
A Sydney geologist, W. B. Clarke, from observations made in the Bathurst neighbourhood, heralded the approach of important discoveries, and showed a sample to Sir George Gipps. But the Governor did not view the discoveries with pleasure.
Gipps, who dreaded the unrest which the lure of gold would cause among his horde of convicts, said to the geologist, „Put it away, Mr. Clarke, or we shall all have our throats cut”
He requested Strzelecki to say nothing about his inferences, lest the convict population and labourers should become restless and go prospecting.
The Count, for this reason, refrained from alluding to the subject in his book on Australia. When, in 1848, a piece of gold found near Berrima was shown to the Government in Sydney, they would not order a geological survey for fear of „agitating the public mind”.
Ernest Scott (1868-1939) PROFESSOR OF HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
„A Short History of Australia” By H. M. E. Heney. Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1961. Pp. xvi + 255. Illus.45/-.