''That the life of the typical digger was by no means glamorous
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''That the life of the typical digger was by no means glamorous"
In this essay I am going to test the validity of the hypothesis that the life of the typical digger was by no means glamorous. By looking at the evidence relevant to the living and working conditions on the diggings it would appear that the hypothesis is valid.
Living conditions on the gold fields were horrible. It was damp, muddy and rainy. In James O’Sullivan’s own word he said “What we call home is a tent that leaks when it rains”. This is proof that James and many others lived in poor conditions, although there were many other diggers who lived in worse conditions. O’Sullivan wrote that some men sleep on the ground and suffer from rheumatism or arthritis. There were also very few luxuries or pastimes for men on the gold fields. Furniture for a digger was whatever they could lay their hands on: Packing crates for tables and tree stumps for chairs. O’Sullivan fashioned a bed from flour sacks and saplings. For fun, the diggers could get themselves drunk at Ma Brien or visit the squatter’s daughter. Not an enjoyable life!
The working conditions could have been described as worse than the living conditions. The diggers would perform hard and back-breaking work. The heat of summer, the dust and insects were intolerable as they toiled for twelve hours a day sometimes up to their waists in water. While this work was incredibly hard diggers had to keep going so they could find enough gold to be able to pay for the 30 shillings per month licence. In O’Sullivan’s words ‘Woes betide anyone caught without one’. Jack writes that one man was chained to a tree overnight and then fined 5 pounds. This would support the theory that working on the gold fields was a pointless effort.
In conclusion, James O’Sullivan’s diary supports the hypothesis that working on the gold fields was by no means glamorous. Examples he has given explain in explicit detail the hardships which diggers faced daily, whether it be their living or working conditions.
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Digger, Australian gold rushes, Diggings, The Nome Trilogy
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