Generations of Australians have grown up with the legend of Eureka and the familiar images of the gold rush in central Victoria. However, underneath these commonly known stories lies a stranger and darker past. As well as colonists, pioneers, soldiers and rebal miners, the colonial goldfields were home to spiritualists, secret societies, ghost-hoxers, bunyip legends and murderers. There are also the stories of those often forgotten in the goldfield histories - Indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, homosexuals, and the mentally ill. 'Goldfields and the gothic' is an anthology by local historians of the long buried legends, histories and folklore of the Victorian goldfields and their legacy today. Every historian has a collection of strange, buried pieces of history; this work begins the task of bringing them into the light.
The discovery of gold at Ballarat in 1851 conferred incredible wealth on the community, the colony and the British Empire. Ballarat was literally a city 'built on gold'. However, the immigrants who made their fortunes from gold rarely indulged in conspicuous private displays of consumption. The exception was William Bailey. His Italianate mansion, completed in 1883, reflected his great success in speculative mining ventures in the Ballarat area.