Rivers of Gold: The Impact of Historical Gold Mining on Victorian Rivers and Floodplains
221 Bouverie Street
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Rivers are cultural artefacts transformed by human intervention. The gold rush played a major role in reshaping Victoria’s rivers: they were dammed and diverted for water supply and then choked with the sand, gravel and silt that poured from the mines. One hundred years later this profound environmental disruption is all but forgotten, yet the legacy is still here. The Rivers of Gold Project is bringing together archaeologists, hydrologists and environmental chemists in order to study how the gold rush continues to shape Victoria’s rivers and floodplains.
This talk focuses on the physical changes to fluvial systems, how our rivers have recovered from this vast unnatural experiment, and how the impact of the gold rush compares with those elsewhere. Of particular interest is the sequence of changes in impact on rivers as gold mining technology advanced. The seminar will suggest that the gold epoch provides important lessons for management of modern landscapes.