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Title: Beale, Joseph Jr to Beale, Sarah, 1853
CollectionThe Earth between them_Joseph Beale's letters home to Ireland from Victoria (1852-1853) [E.Beale]
SenderBeale, Joseph Jr
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationlabourer
Sender Religionunknown
Originnear Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
DestinationMountmellick, Co. Laois, Ireland
RecipientBeale, Sarah
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2410
Genrearrival, reality shock, working at the diggings, general hardship, prospects
TranscriptA government tent
Dan's Box
5/22nd 1853.
[22 May 1853.]

My very dear Sal
Here goes to throw down the bullock whip and take up the
pen. You must read this without looking at it to see how it
is written or how it is speled how many blots, scratches or
mistakes of any kind are in it, nether is it to be shown to any
person. If you do not promise all this I'll write no more. I wd
rather walk 10 miles than write a letter. You heard enough abt
the voyage out though there was one thing they ail left out.
I am going to begin at where we left the Sarah.
The Capt hired a small steamer to take the passengers and
there luggage ashore, We landed on the wharf without one
penny in the world except 28/- I had saved out of £2 George
Bcale of Cork gave me. My father asked a man might he put
our luggage in his store for an hour or two the man said of
course so we put them in and went to inquire where we cd
pitch our tent a man said if we wd go with him he wd show
us; so we got a dray for ten shillings to take our things there
(about as far as from the mill down to Dan's) the man made
us pay 8/- before he wd let us have our luggage out of his
store. Well we got to the camping ground with only 10/- among
five of us rather a blew look out we thought. We had no fire,
no wood to make one, no tent poles nothing but a pile of boxes our beds and canvas parcel whitch they told me aboard
was our tent and that it must be a very large one when we
opened it there were five tents this was the first thing we met
to cheer us. We made up for the want of poles by putting
four boxes on the ground and four standing on them and spred
a tent over them and made our beds on the ground we got
some bread and tea for 1/- apiece next morning we set off for
wood about a mile across a swamp we also got tent poles for
our tent. We sold one of the tents for £8. another for £7 and
two for £13.10.0 we sold the Irons for £15 we sold 3 boxes
of clothes for about £7.10. We saw an advertisement for men
to work on the roads at from 8/- to 10/- a day. my father and
Dan and I got 10/- each Fan [Francis] 8/- and Jim [Kennedy]
was Tent keeper. We worked for about 3 weeks when my
father got the lone of £30 and bought a horse and cart for
£60 for which we received 30/- a day from government Jim
drove the horse. We are about 10 miles from Melbourne. About
this time Fan got the dissen tery and was very bad for 2 or 3
weeks then Jim got it then I got it and when we were recovered
Dan got it he had it for 4 or 5 weeks very bad indeed so
bad that we thought he wd have died we had then two horses
@ 30/- a day each I had 10/- a day and Dan 12/- my father
used to sleep almost day and night. We bought some sugar,
tea, tobacco, oatmeal, Hour 8cc and made an agreement with a
baker to deliver us bread and then we opened a store to sell
[merchandise to] the men which my father was to mind but
he soon hired a man @ 10/- a day to mind it. We were now
about 3 mos @ this work when the [price of] carriage [of goods]
to the diggins began to rise my father reckoned he made clear
by the horses £10 a week so Francis and I agreed to pay my
father £10 p. week if he would give us the horses and dray and
we wd find the horses in everything as well as ourselves and
let us carry goods to the digging so my father said he wd.
Francis and I went into Melbourne and got a ton of Hour to
take to the bakery on Murdering flat. Frier's Creek diggins
for which we were to receive £30. The distance is reckoned 80
eighty miles the first night we stopped at home at Spring Gully
next morning we tied up a bed a blanket and two of the red
quilts a lb 1 ½ of tea lb 4 sugar and with £2 we started. We
had a tin can to make tea in. a frying pan two bags of corn
for the horses and a bucket to carry water in. We made the paddock that night about 3 miles, drew our dray close to another
mans and I made a fire while Francis went 1 ½ miles for
water I fed the horses spread a blanket we brought for die purpose
over the shafts and made our bed under it; the shafts in
this country are kept up with 2 stiks when the horse is out
the same bight as when the horse is drawing. We boiled some
tea and drank it with dry bread hobbeled (fettered) the horses
and turned them loose undressed and crept into bed slept well
all night got up just as the clay dawned and went to look for
our horses which Fan found about £ of a mile off I looked for
about an hour when I saw them standind [sic] by the dray.
We fed the horses, got our breakfast tied up our beds etc yoked
up and started. It was now about 7 oclock. we traveled 10
miles across the Keilor plains and stopped at a water hole for
dinner made a fire of some bowes [boughs] fed the horses and
turned them loose for an hour got our dinner and lay down
to rest for the remainder of the hour as near as we cd guess
it we then turned up the horses and yoked up tied our dog to
the axil and made the Gap inn public house in an hour; this
is the end of the plains which are 14 miles across and about
100 miles long without a tree we then crossed a sandy range
covered with trees then across a deep gully the far side of which
is very steep and it made the poor horses snore [sore?] in the
collars before they got to the top we then crossed a small plain
and creek and entered another forrest of pepperment trees and
camped for the night. Next morning we made the famous bush
inn hill at the foot of which is the Township of Gisbourne
you may talk about hills at home but this is as steep as the
bank in the mill yard at the steepest place. I have seen 26
bullocks to one dray with 4 drivers with theese long bullock
whips in there hands they are used with both hands the handle
is about 10 feet long and the lash S or 9 feet the crack of one
of these is like the report of a gun, to hear these 4 men at work
on the 26 bullocks was like the police on parade in Mt. Melick.
I am very tired writing.
We made the diggins in four days and delivered the flour and
got our 30£ and 5 passengers and there swags (bed clothes)
@ 30/- each. The diggins are just what I thought they were.
Great long rowes of tents and square miles of holes from 3 to
80 feet deep. It is very hard work and very wet work I have
seen men up to their wastes in liquid mud. I have seen them
washing cradeling and panning gold at all of which they are
wet. The holes are either round or oblong the round holes
are generally about 2 feet or 2£ across they are often 20, 30
or even 80, or 100 feet deep so that a person is astonished often
when he goes over to a hole 2 ft across to see a man driving
40 or 50 feet deep. The oblong holes are generally from 2 ½
to 3 feet long and 2 feet wide and the same depth as the round
holes. The Gold is generally found on the top of pipeclay
which is nearly as hard as rock and slopes [stops] the Gold from
going through. The gold is always mixed with quartz gravel.
The earth the gold is in is called washing stuff. When the diggers
Chink they are near the bottom of the hole they try a
panfull if there is gold in it from that down to the pipeclay is
washing stuff if there is none in it they go lower clown untill
they find either washing stuff or the bottom it the latter it is
called a blanck. The washing stuff is generally from 6 inches
to 3 feet deep, it is sometimes black clay sometimes white and
sometimes sand or coarse gravel. If the washing stuff proves
rich when they have the size of the hole taken down to the pipeclay
they begin to drive (tunnel) if the stuff proves richest on
the north side they drive on that side until they are afraid to
drive any farther or until they come into another claim and
send the pick all of a sudden into another mans hole to the
surprise of both; this often leads to serious fights becaus the
man they have driven into gets vexed at finding they have
been takeing gold out of his clame; every man is allowed 8 feet
of ground which is called' his clame you can mark out a clame
any where and If you stay away from your clame 48 hours
another man may lake possession of it and then you must mark
out another; well when a man findes another driving in his
clame he calls his mates and the other man calls his and to it
they go with picks and shovels and sometimes they are joined
on both sides until there are often 2 or three hundred lighting
when diey have to be stopped by the commissioner or a troop
of mounted police. There were 5 men on the bendigo put
down one hold and got one thousand five hundred pounds
each. I have known a man to make £150 on the diggins and
come down to Melbourne and sepend it all which he called
k[n]ocking it down then he went up again and made 200 and
knocked that down then he went up again and made 290 and
knocked that down and now he is gone up again.
We saw kangaroo rats about our camp fire one night near
friers creek. We got to Melbourne in 7 days from the time we
left it. We then got a ton for Bond brothers [at the] junction
of the Lodden [River and] Friers Creek. We delivered it in 4
days and came back across the ranges and down by Orr's stachon
[station] on the Colombine through the handsomest
country I have ever seen. We saw cockatoos for the first time
wiid this journey and parrois in thousands green, red, blue
parrots, green parrots with red heads, green parrots with blue
wings, paroquets, macaws, laughing Jackasses, and O'possums
in hundreds, but we killed none yet.
We came back in 7 days. I then bought a load of flour 1
case of gin and 5 lbs of tobacco on our own a/c and took it
120 miles to the bendigo diggins Jim came with me this time
we were out only 1 day when it began to rain and rained a
week almost without stopping our bed clothes got wet and we
had to wait 3 days before we cd dry them it was very pleasant
[sic] no doubt to be wet all day undress and get into a wet bed
and put wet clothes on in the morning we camped two whole
days and made a fire before which we used to stand drying
each side of us by turns. We had to walk through creeks and
afong roads up to our knees and over in mud the horses ploughing
up the land as we went along but all this did not do, our
provisions began to fail, we had no bread no meat and only
a little tea and sugar all of which we use 3 times a day here;
We made some damper which did us until we got some bread'
We made the bendigo diggins in a fortnight whereas we should
have made it in a week. The flour cost £3.8.0 and I sold it at
£8 a bag and 7/10/- a bag. At the time I got to Bendigo there
was a great rush to the new diggins called the Mclvor so I
took the rest of my flour and the remainder of a ton of cradles
tubs and dishes and bedclothes belonging to 3 or 4 parties of
diggers to McIvor for which I received £19 I sold the flour for
£9 and £10 p. bag of 200 lbs each. I stowed all the money
except 5 or 6 pounds in the middle of a hair matrass as we had
a long and lonely road to come down. It is very bad to carry
too much or too little money about a person for If you carry
to much you loose too much if you are robbed and if you have
only a little they will beat you, often to death so a man must
carry just enough to save his back and no more. We came
down through Kilmore and by the Sydney road. We were 3 weeks @ this trip, we had only 3 fine days the whole time.
Up to this we have cleared £25 and have bought a horse and
my father will lend us the price of a cart and we are goin to
work my father 2 horses and our 1 horse on the government
again; no more diggins for me. We are to get £2 a day for
each horse. Great wages and great hardship. . . .