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The headstone over the grave commemorates William Tipple Smith (1803-1852), discoverer of first payable gold in Australia and co-founder of the iron and steel industry. An information plaque was also unveiled at the site.

Branded a rogue and a fraud for his claims on the first discovery of gold in NSW, William Tipple Smith died in poverty with an unmarked final resting place in Rookwood Cemetery. Gold-mining effectively began the era of Australia’s narrative changing from convict colony to the wealthy and progressive nation we are today.

With support from Rookwood General Cemetery, BlueScope Steel, NSW Government and crowdfunding from the public, our heritage stonemason team have created a memorial befitting the contributions William Tipple Smith made to Australia.

Until recently, the first man to discover gold in New South Wales was buried in an unmarked grave in Sydney's Rookwood General Cemetery.

Key points:

  • A headstone has been unveiled to mark the grave of gold, iron and steel pioneer William Tipple Smith
  • Tipple Smith was the first man to find gold in NSW, but his achievement has only just been recognised
  • His great-great-grandson Bill Hamburger Snr says seeing the headstone at Rookwood Cemetery is a lifelong ambition fulfilled

Father-of-six William Tipple Smith died a poor man in 1852, and it has taken almost 170 years to recognise that he was the first man to strike gold in New South Wales.

Now, thanks to a campaign by his descendants and financial contributions from the NSW Government, Rookwood Cemetery, BHP and the public, his grave site is no longer unmarked.

"This is a man who didn't ask for much, just 500 pounds from the government to cover his expenses of finding his goldfield," historian and descendant Lynette Silver said.

"Because of political expediency, he was vilified, his reputation was trashed, deliberate lies were told about him saying he brought the gold from California and he died a broken man.
ABC News, 4 December 2020.



Address:Hawthorne Avenue, Zone B Anglican, Section 4. Grave 4929, Rookwood, 2141
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.874722
Long: 151.058333
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 3rd September, 2020
Front Inscription
BORN 8/7/1803
DIED 3/12/1852
Discoverer of Australia`s first payable gold
and co-founder of Australia`s
Iron and Steel Industry

Mary Tipple Smith
22/3/1843 - 24/4/1911
Albert Tipple Smith
3/10/1852 - 4/3/1854
Inscription in Proximity
(8 July 1803 - 3 December 1852)
Colonial pioneer discoverer of Australia`s first payable gold and co-founder of Australia`s iron and steel industry

  [ Historical Information]

William Tipple Smith`s great -great grandson, William (Bill) Hamburger had always been told the truth about his family. His lifelong ambition was for Smith to be recognised and that he have a memorial fitting for the contributions he made to NSW and Australia. in 2020, Bill saw this dream realised, with support from the Rookwood General Cemetery, BlueScope Steel, NSW Government and crowd funding from the public. 

William Tipple Smith was buried in Devonshire Street Cemetery. In 1901 his remains were exhumed and reinterred at Rookwood when Devonshire Street Cemetery was closed and re-built as Sydney`s Central Station. 
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au