Was Secret Gold the Reason VIC split from NSW?

Now I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger...

This day in 1851 Victoria separated from New South Wales.

The local Melbourne Morning Herald ran the headline:

“Glorious News! Separation at Last!” calling Victoria a “new-born colony”.

But what was the real reason for the split?

Was it gold fuelled?

July 1st is Victoria Day, an acknowledgement of when Victoria decided to split from New South Wales and become it’s own colony. The Argus newspaper wrote:

The depressing influence of our connection with Sydney is at an end

The splitting was a long saga, one of great rivalry and controversy, one that set the groundwork for a long-standing rivalry between the two states. Catherine Andrews, Historian and
Ambassador of the Historical Society of Victoria explains:

We were (Victoria) very opposed to the way in which the NSW Government was managing our funds and managing us as a government.

According to Ms Andrews Victoria didn’t want slave labour or convict settlement but there is a working theory at the Victorian State Archives that the real reason for Victoria’s divorce from NSW was an undisclosed gold discovery.

There is a notion that Governor La Trobe knew of the discovery of gold in Victoria and that he did not announce it because he did not want New South Wales to know, we're officially separated from New South Wales in 1851 and a few months later, guess what? We discover gold.

During the gold rush, Victoria was responsible for finding more than a third of the world’s gold. Because of this everyone flocked to Australia and our population grew from 77,000 to 540,000 people.

The separation took 11 years of campaigning before a petition could be sent to Queen Victoria in 1849. When approved some years later, “five days of partying commenced”.

Beacons were lit, balloons were inflated, and guns were fired to commence Victoria’s separation from New South Wales. Thousands of people joined the celebration and subsequent parade from William Street across the new Princes Bridge to the Botanic Gardens.

“This was about saying 'look we are going to determine the way that we live, by ourselves and for ourselves'," Ms Andrews said.

Thus Victoria and New South Wales split forever and the infamous feud between Melbourne and Sydney continued.

Turns out, Melbourne started it.

Header: shutterstock

Related Articles

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit