Australia's first gold discovery - setting the record straight

By N. A. Kirk

The development of the colony of New South Wales from its settlement in 1788 necessitated a great deal of exploration but this wasn't confined to the opening up of new land and sea routes. Explorers, settlers and scientists were confronted by a web of new natural phenomena, be it animal, vegetable or mineral, and one small facet of this process of discovery was the first recorded finding of gold in Australia. Forget Hargraves. Forget the gold rushes of the 1850s. The first recorded discovery of gold in Australia by a European took place in March 1820.

The discoverer was the Baltic German naturalist, Dr. Fyodor I. Stein, and the area was in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Stein was a member of a Russian expedition that sailed around the world on a mission of discovery and exploration and at the time, the British and Russian Empires were close allies.

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