State Mineral: Gold

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Victoria's state mineral is gold.

Victoria is one of the richest gold provinces on Earth. Since the first discovery in 1851, the state has yielded about 80 million troy ounces, making up about 2% of all the gold ever mined throughout world history. At its peak, some two tonnes of gold per week flowed into the Treasury Building in Melbourne. Victoria is famous for giant masses of gold, known as nuggets, a few of which contained up to several thousand ounces of gold.

The most famous nugget found in Victoria was the Welcome Stranger, the largest discovered alluvial gold nugget in the world, which had a calculated refined weight just over 62 kilograms. It was discovered by Cornish prospectors John Deason and Richard Oates on 5 February 1869 near Dunolly, Victoria.

During the Victorian gold rush, Melbourne became one of the great cities of the British Empire and the world. The city became the centre of the colony of Victoria, with rail networks radiating to the regional towns and ports. The Eureka Rebellion of 1854 was historically significant as an organised rebellion by a group of gold miners at Ballarat against the colonial government. It is central to the development of Australian democracy because it was pivotal in the introduction of the Electoral Act 1856 – Victoria thus became the first Australian colony, and the first legislature anywhere in the world, to adopt and implement the practice of the secret ballot.

The goldfields were Australia’s first experience of a truly diverse population. The largely British population expanded to include people from all over the world, creating a broad mix of language and culture. In March 1851, Victoria’s population was approximately 90,000. By 1854 the population had tripled to 237,000 and by 1861 it had doubled again to 540,000. In short, the gold rush was a revolutionary event and reshaped Victoria, its society and politics.

The gold rush is reflected in the architecture of Victorian gold-boom cities like Melbourne, Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine. The rushes left the legacy of historic Victorian towns in the goldfields and Macedon Ranges tourist regions like Beechworth, Clunes, Daylesford, Heathcote, Kyneton, Maldon, Maryborough, and Stawell – areas that continue to draw visitors from interstate and worldwide.

Gold has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal in every part of the world for coinage, jewellery and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history. Besides its widespread monetary and symbolic functions, gold has many practical uses in dentistry, electronics and other fields. Its high malleability, ductility, resistance to corrosion and most other chemical reactions, and conductivity of electricity has led to many other uses of gold.

On 6 September 2012 the two Houses of the Parliament of Victoria, the Legislative Council, sitting in Bendigo, and the Legislative Assembly, sitting in Ballarat, each unanimously passed resolutions recommending that ‘Gold’ be declared the Mineral Emblem of Victoria because of the significance of gold to the history and development of the State.

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Last updated on Monday, 03 April 2017