Gold Discovery ObeliskPrint Page Print this page

27-August-2016 (Andrew Prior)
27-August-2016 (Andrew Prior)

Photographs supplied by Ross Wellington / Andrew Prior

The obelisk commemorates the discovery of the first payable gold in Australia. A plaque was unveiled on the 14th April 2001 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the discovery. 

In 1851, Edward Hargraves discovered a `grain of gold` in a waterhole near Bathurst. Hargraves was convinced that the similarity in geological features between Australia and the California goldfields (from where he had just returned) boded well for the search of gold in his homeland. He was proved correct. He named the place `Ophir`, reported his discovery to the authorities, and was appointed a `Commissioner of Land`. He received a reward of £10,000, plus a life pension. The discovery marked the beginning of the Australian gold rushes and a radical change in the economic and social fabric of the nation. Ophir was home to more than 1000 prospectors just four months after Hargraves discovery. Gold fever gripped the nation and the colonial authorities responded by appointing `Commissioners of Land` to regulate the diggings and collect licence fees for each `claim`.

To commemorate the first discovery of payable gold in Australia, Mr. Fitzpatrick, The Minister For Mines, unveiled an obelisk at Ophir on Friday. In order to commemorate the momentous occasion of the finding of the first payable gold in Australia; this monument has now been erected to mark the site where the discovery was made, and to do honour to those who were concerned in this epoch making event. It bears the following inscription:-—
"This obelisk was erected by the New South Wales Government to commemorate the first discovery in Australia of payable gold, which was found in the creek in front of this monument. Those responsible for the discovery were:—
Edward Hammond Hargraves.
John Hardman Australia Lister.
James Tom.
William Tom.
From experience gained in California, Hargraves formed the idea that the district was auriferous, and he found the first gold on 12th February,1851, about two miles up Lewis Pond Creek. He explained to the others how to prospect and use a miner's cradle, and Lister and W. Tom found payable gold between 7th and 12th April, 1851." 
Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW), 29 December 1923.

The group photograph from 1923 shows John Charles Lucas Fitzpatrick then Secretary / Minister for Mines and local member for Bathurst.  The man second from the left is Elisha William Gale who appears to be holding specimens. He was a contemporary gold prospector miner, geologist and stone mason by trade.  It is understood that he built the cenotaph.  Newspaper articles of the day report that ancestors of both the Tom and Lister families were also present at the unveiling. The others in the image are assumed to include the then town clerk F. J. Mulholland of Orange Council.




Address:Lower Lewis Ponds Road, Ophir Goldfields Reserve, Ophir, 2800
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.169125
Long: 149.239736
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Technology
Approx. Event Start Date:1851
Approx. Event End Date:1851


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 28th December, 1923
Front Inscription

This monument was erected by the New South Wales Government

To commemorate the first discovery in Australia of payable gold, which was found in the creek in front of this mMonument

Those responsible for the discovery were 

Edward Hammond Hargraves
John Hardman Australia Lister
James Tom
William Tom

From experience gained in California, Hargraves formed the idea that the district was auriferous, and he found the first gold on  12th February, 1851, about two miles up Lewis Pond Creek. He explained to the others how to prospect and use a miner's cradle, and Lister and W. Tom found  payable gold between 7th and 12th April, 1851.

Plaque :

Ophir Gold Discovery
150 year anniversary

This plaque was unveiled on 14th April 2001 by the Hon. Tony Kelly Deputy President, Chairman of Committees NSW Legislative Council

To commemorate the 150 year anniversay of the discovery of the first payable gold in Australia at Ophir in April, 1851.

The discovery was the cause of Australia`s first goldrush and was the impetus for immigration to Australia and its subsequent settlement.

Councillor J S Farr  Mayor Cabonne Council
G L P Fleming         General Manager Caboone Council

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au