Vault #2: Gold Escorts

Arrival of the First Gold Escort at the Treasury, WIlliam Street, Melbourne, 1852. Photographic Negatives, PROV, VPRS 12903/P1, BOX 524/04.
Arrival of the First Gold Escort at the Treasury, WIlliam Street, Melbourne, 1852. Photographic Negatives, PROV, VPRS 12903/P1, BOX 524/04.

In the early 1850s, if a Ballarat digger chose to increase his profits by selling his gold in the city, he faced a journey of 89 km to Geelong or 113 km to Melbourne through rough country. He risked attack by bush rangers at every turn, and the longer he was on the road, the less time he had to dig for gold.

In October 1851, a Government gold escort service began operating from Buninyong to Melbourne, via Geelong, charging one shilling per ounce of gold. The following year a competing escort service was established by a group of Melbourne businessmen.

Yet no matter how well guarded the gold wagons were, there were always men bold enough to brandish a pistol and bail-up the escort.