Like many women uprooted from their homeland and thrown into a strange land Elizabeth Watkins and Mary Roberts face the difficulties of living in a land gone crazy for gold.
In 1853 gold fever grips Melbourne in the new British colony of Victoria. Ships are deserted in the harbour and officials have deserted their posts. Many women are left to fend for themselves while the men go off in search of gold and adventure, others unable to wait follow.
This is the story of one women and her companion who do not wait.
Travelling to Geelong by steamer they walk behind a bullock team facing roads filled with ruts and potholes, mud and ragging rivers, sweltering under heat and freezing from cold, choked by dust and blinded by rain. And in between Elizabeth gives birth to a daughter under the dray.
Living amongst the calico tents, mullock heaps, holes, sour earth, unwashed bodies and unending noise of humans and animals in Ballarat the women gather together for mutual support. There is trouble brewing and they are as involved as the men on the diggings. Men are being arrested and miner’s peaceful protests are being ignored.
There are refugees from European Wars and revolutions Balts; Poles; Jews; beside the California, the Irish and the Scots; Germans; French; Italians and the Chinese. They may be different in their ideals but they all have deep-seated grievances against the administration of corruption.
Then comes the Eureka Stockade.