In mid-19th-century Australia, like its counterparts in California and Chile, there was a focus on the rush for gold. Given the sobriquet “diggers,” men arrived in the tens of thousands from all points of the globe. In often remote bush settings, makeshift towns quickly sprouted in the foothills, valleys, and plateaus leading to the Blue Mountains and the Australian Alps. Focusing on the counterplay with this influx of fortune seekers, there also emerged a nascent global entertainment industry.
Champagne from Six to Six is a short history of the pastimes of these diggers on the gold fields at Beechworth and the Ovens of northeast Victoria. This illustrated text, based on eyewitness accounts, newspaper reports, and histories written on this period, gives a lively recreation of what were initially the findings of an academic research project, now available to readers everywhere. Music, dance, sports, theater, opera, magic shows, trapeze artists, wax works, the circus, and even the first types of “moving pictures” toured these diggings.