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The authorities became nervous when thousands of young men dreaming of gold arrived in the colony. Matters worsened. In a single day in January 1852, nearly half of Melbourne's police force resigned. They were off to the diggings, where better money was to be made or so they thought.

Everything seemed to be turned upside down. Stories circulated of successful diggers lighting cigars with banknotes. One hotel maid was rumoured to have made a fortune by collecting gold sweepings off the carpets. Although most would return from the goldfields penniless and exhausted, fantastic stories continued to offer hope of fortune.

While some dreamed of gold, others awoke with nightmares of chaos. The authorities hastily recruited a police force, including 53 London bobbies. Young gentlemen were recruited as officer cadets. Mounted on horseback and armed with sabres and carbines, they patrolled the city day and night.

Digger's Wedding in Melbourne
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Miner's pistol
magnifyMiner's pistol
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