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Gold found in the Australian Northern Territory in the 19th century

#1
What if gold had been found in the Australian Northern Territory in the 19th century, instead of the 20th century? Would it be more populous and populated than in our timeline? Would it be a state?
 
#7
... It was? The Pine Creek gold rush in NT started in 1871.
I didn't know that. I was basing myself on https://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-No...an-Collins-56?ch=99&share=2660db06&srid=hiT2a, that tries to explain why the Northern Territory is less populous and populated than the rest of Australia and mentions that large deposits of gold were not found there until the 20th century. So, rephrasing the question: What if large deposits of gold had been found in the Australian Northern Territory in the 19th century, instead of the 20th century?
 

Magniac

Heh, 4 or so blocks north, that's interesting
#8
... It was? The Pine Creek gold rush in NT started in 1871.
Yup, gold rushes everywhere on our continent in the 19th century.

Big, sustainable, permanent demographic changing gold rushes, not so much.

Now, an NT gold reef find capable of spurring white settlement numbers in the same league as Western Australia between 1891 and 1901 (WA's colonist population increased by roughly 135,000 in a decade thanks to those rushes), that has some major knock-on effects, even if the inflow is only temporary and the digger settlements become ghosttowns within a generation.

Fwiw, I'm looking at the average weather figures for Brownsville, Texas, as a baseline for small enterprise, hot climate Anglo-European colonist settlement in this era, and of the notable towns in the NT, Tennant Creek tracks the closest (though it is hotter for longer, on average, and not quite as 'cool' as Brownsville gets in winter). Water is a major problem though, with the dry season in that part of the actual outback being very dry.

Oh, it also matters that the distances are quite huge up there between historical towns; Tennant Creek to Katherine is easily greater than the distance from the WA goldfields to the seaport of Fremantle on the Indian Ocean, or to Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia. And from Katherine to the seaport of Darwin is still almost as long a trip as Kalgoorlie or Coolgardie to Esperance.
 
#9
Yup, gold rushes everywhere on our continent in the 19th century.

Big, sustainable, permanent demographic changing gold rushes, not so much.

Now, an NT gold reef find capable of spurring white settlement numbers in the same league as Western Australia between 1891 and 1901 (WA's colonist population increased by roughly 135,000 in a decade thanks to those rushes), that has some major knock-on effects, even if the inflow is only temporary and the digger settlements become ghosttowns within a generation.

Fwiw, I'm looking at the average weather figures for Brownsville, Texas, as a baseline for small enterprise, hot climate Anglo-European colonist settlement in this era, and of the notable towns in the NT, Tennant Creek tracks the closest (though it is hotter for longer, on average, and not quite as 'cool' as Brownsville gets in winter). Water is a major problem though, with the dry season in that part of the actual outback being very dry.

Oh, it also matters that the distances are quite huge up there between historical towns; Tennant Creek to Katherine is easily greater than the distance from the WA goldfields to the seaport of Fremantle on the Indian Ocean, or to Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia. And from Katherine to the seaport of Darwin is still almost as long a trip as Kalgoorlie or Coolgardie to Esperance.
I don't think the weather is too important. As the Quora answer that I linked to mentions, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea have higher population densities than Australia.
 

Magniac

Heh, 4 or so blocks north, that's interesting
#10
Fwiw, I'm looking at the average weather figures for Brownsville, Texas, as a baseline for small enterprise, hot climate Anglo-European colonist settlement in this era
I should clarify, in particular I'm now thinking of Brownsville from during the American Civil War blockade, as the peacetime economics of moving supplies via stagecoaches, bullock- and camel- trains, into the interior of even the most superprofitable gold rush altTerritory, should be comparable to the literal punitive imposts on settler populations at war in malaria country.
I don't think the weather is too important. As the Quora answer that I linked to says, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea have higher population densities than Australia.
Thing is, for 19th century northern European groups, Northern Australia is more inhospitable for tropical and arid conditions than almost anywhere else non-empire building (if that's how we can define the difference between settler societies and other colonisers, i.e. the military-backed individual imperialists in the race for Africa) whites went to. The big outback towns that are much further south in Oz, like Broken Hill in NSW and those towns in the WA goldfields I mention above, they don't have as extreme a climate as most of the top end has (though they do have serious problems vis-a-vis access to drinking water.)

I think the Yukon is worse, though. But that's a low bar for moving these population groups around in that era.
 
#11
I should clarify, in particular I'm now thinking of Brownsville from during the American Civil War blockade, as the peacetime economics of moving supplies via stagecoaches, bullock- and camel- trains, into the interior of even the most superprofitable gold rush altTerritory, should be comparable to the literal punitive imposts on settler populations at war in malaria country.

Thing is, for 19th century northern European groups, Northern Australia is more inhospitable for tropical and arid conditions than almost anywhere else non-empire building (if that's how we can define the difference between settler societies and other colonisers, i.e. the military-backed individual imperialists in the race for Africa) whites went to. The big outback towns that are much further south in Oz, like Broken Hill in NSW and those towns in the WA goldfields I mention above, they don't have as extreme a climate as most of the top end has (though they do have serious problems vis-a-vis access to drinking water.)

I think the Yukon is worse, though. But that's a low bar for moving these population groups around in that era.
I know you wrote "Northern Europeans" but we should remember that the Spaniards and the Portuguese managed to settle tropical and arid areas of the Americas. Yes, I know that Spain and Portugal are warmer than Northern Europe but their climates are still far more similar to those of Northern Europe than to tropical and arid climates. Thus, if there's gold, I don't think the British settlers would have much difficulty settling the area.
 

SenatorChickpea

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#12
You may be wrong.This was a time when it was the scientific near-consensus of the Australasian colonies that Northern Queensland could not be permanently settled by Europeans lest they racially degenerate from the heat and adversity, and that was a much more lenient climate than the Territory.

Even if you overcome the climate, the sheer distance to the goldfields will be a huge problem. You can't simply trek overland and wait for infrastructure to develop behind you like some grossly simplified version of the 49ers- there's no damn water, which means that you can't create a string of small settlements that act as a route to the coast.

How will you feed these mining towns? How will you get them water? How will you get gold back to Darwin?
 

Magniac

Heh, 4 or so blocks north, that's interesting
#13
I know you wrote "Northern Europeans" but we should remember that the Spaniards and the Portuguese managed to settle tropical and arid areas of the Americas. Yes, I know that Spain and Portugal are warmer than Northern Europe but their climates are still far more similar to those of Northern Europe than to tropical and arid climates. Thus, if there's gold, I don't think the British settlers would have much difficulty settling the area.
Yes. Though it really does come down to how large the gold reserves are; I'm trying to find the figures, but my gutfeeling is you need an NT goldrush that is based off diggings-and-profits comparable in size to what WA had in the 1890s. AFAIK OTL's Pine Creek rush was nowhere near as large.

Fun fact, Pine Creek's weather average track almost identically with Merida, the capital of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsular. Katherine is very similar, though with slightly lower lows.

You may be wrong.This was a time when it was the scientific near-consensus of the Australasian colonies that Northern Queensland could not be permanently settled by Europeans lest they racially degenerate from the heat and adversity, and that was a much more lenient climate than the Territory.
Though Queensland did have enough settlement above Brisbane in the 19th century that it took until quite recently for the SouthEast of the state to become the dominant population hub that greatly outweighs Central, North and Far North Qld.

Cooktown was where the northernmost goldrush in Qld was (at the same time as the NT's rush). For comparison;
NT&FNQrushes.JPG

Even if you overcome the climate, the sheer distance to the goldfields will be a huge problem.
It's patently obvious that the appreciably worse climate in Pine Creek is made much worse by not having easy sea access, unlike Cooktown right on the coast.

You can't simply trek overland and wait for infrastructure to develop behind you like some grossly simplified version of the 49ers- there's no damn water, which means that you can't create a string of small settlements that act as a route to the coast.

How will you feed these mining towns? How will you get them water? How will you get gold back to Darwin?
It's worth considering that the minor gold works and the pastoral sector did inspire this in the 1880s, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Australia_Railway

And the water is there in the NT to sustain larger-than-OTL pop growth, from south of Tennant Creek, right through to the coast.

But it's seasonal.

How big a gold rush in the interior do you need for a nineteenth century Burdekin-Dam-to-Lake-Argyle sized project, and associated channels/aquaducts/pipelines on one or more of the NT's river catchment areas?

That said, the WA goldfields didn't have a wet season with which to stock a dam full of water, so their great infrastructure project was this, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldfields_Water_Supply_Scheme

According to these wikipedia articles, that project cost more than twice a much as was budgeted for the Darwin to Pine Creek railroad a decade earlier. And that WA water supply project was begun when the eastern states were in an economic depression, so the capital for it would have come at a higher premium, all up.
 

SenatorChickpea

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#14
Excellent post @Magniac. You're of course right to note that settlement of North Queensland was possible even then, but I was making the point that even while that process was on going even many Queenslanders doubted its long term viability- so how much greater would the reluctance be to try for mass settlement in the interior?

Also, yes, I exaggerated the dearth of water. I got carried away there.

The note about capital is a good one. I'm not sure if investors would back such a project before the 1890s, when the colonies were generally booming and you could get far greater return from apparently safer ventures in established markets. And after the early 1890s when the depression really hits, there's no capital to invest anyway. And after that we're out of scope of the OP.