Immigrants arriving by ship had two choices. Those who arrived in Adelaide faced a lengthy overland trek. The alternative was to disembark at the port of Melbourne, but once on land, the prospectors faced another choice. Did they travel straight to the goldfields - a journey of over 75 miles in the old units - or were they better off to travel by boat to Geelong, leaving only about 50 miles to travel?
Both towns were desperate to reap the benefits of the gold rush, so a fierce battle developed over which was the best route to the goldfields. The newspapers from late 1851 are filled with claims and counter claims about the time taken, the distance travelled and the state of the roads, with The Argus and the Geelong Advertiser taking direct aim at each other in the ongoing dispute. Despite the best efforts of the Melbourne propagandists, thousands chose to take the steamer to Geelong and then make their way to the goldfields as best they could.
|The rush to the Ballarat goldfields 1854 by Samuel Thomas Gill. Image held|
by the National Library of Australia
For those who could afford it, this was also the road taken by coach passengers. With the discovery of gold, the number of coach services running between Geelong and Buninyong soon increased from a two-horse conveyance in 1849 running Mondays and Thursdays, to a number of four-horse carriages operating over a range of days. Often they sported names such as Red Rover or The Digger's Pride.
|The Estaffette line of coaches carried mail and passengers between Geelong|
and the goldfields of Ballarat. Image held by the Victorian State Library
|Section of the 1845 map of Victoria by the influential|
surveyor AJ Skene. Image held by the State Library of Victoria