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On February 12, 1851, a prospector discovered flecks of gold in a waterhole near Bathurst, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Soon, even more gold was discovered in what would become the neighboring state of Victoria. This began the Australian Gold Rush, which had a profound impact on the country’s national identity.
 
Within a year, more than 500,000 people (nicknamed “diggers”) rushed to the gold fields of Australia. Most of these immigrants were British, but many prospectors from the United States, Germany, Poland, and China also settled in NSW and Victoria. 
 
Even more immigrants arrived from other parts of Australia. Wages in the region doubled, but it was still difficult to find workers as people abandoned their stable jobs to seek their fortune in the gold fields. These “diggers” forged a strong, unified identity independent of colonial British authority. This concept of “mateship . . . [has] been central to the way [Australian] history has been told,” according to the Australian government.
abandon
Verb

to desert or leave entirely.

authority
Noun

person or organization responsible for making decisions.

California Gold Rush
Noun

(1848-1855) worldwide immigration to California following the discovery of gold.

Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

endure
Verb

to survive.

gold field
Noun

geographic area where gold is mined.

identity
Noun

how a person defines themselves, or how others define them.

immigrant
Noun

person who moves to a new country or region.

impact
Noun

meaning or effect.

profound
Adjective

powerful or insightful.

prospector
Noun

person who searches or mines land for precious metals.

state
Noun

political unit in a nation, such as the United States, Mexico, or Australia.

wage
Noun

money or goods traded for work or service performed.