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gold view 5

The Australian Gold Digger’s Monthly
Published in Melbourne by James Bonwick


Letter from a digger in New South Wales

We, the diggers located at Hardy’s Race, had on that day agreed to meet together over a Christmas Dinner. Smile, if ye will, ye denizens of lofty houses – ye dwellers in the midst of cities – ye who have the good things of the earth always with ye – but believe me, we of the tent and camp-fire, we devourers of damper and mutton, could, aye, and did sit down to our Christmas dinner with as great a relish as any of you. Mighty were the preparations we made for that banquet. Quart pots and pannikins were polished up till they assumed the lustre of silver goblets. A large bower had been constructed by our united exertions. A table was erected, the rough materials and workmanship of which was carefully concealed from view by a piece of calico washed to snowy whiteness. The feast was got up in a style, which exhibited all the energy and untiring perseverance of a gold digger. When we all sat down (which was, of course, after the flies had given over their labours for the day), what a spread was there before us.

There were laid out, in mighty state, fowls, Ham, geese, soups, roast beef, a gigantic damper, baked for the occasion, and last, a magnificent pudding. One had exercised ingenuity in constructing a chandelier, with an iron hoop concealed by a profusion of flowers and paper of different colours; and several candles being inserted around the circle, in a most unaccountable manner. This suspended from the roof of our bower, by gay festoons of flowers and foliage, threw its cheering light on the good things ranged on the table below. Every one of the guests being assembled, dressed, of course, in the highest Teutonic fashion, to wit, red shirt and black belt, the feast commenced. Then but it’s vain to endeavour to describe how energetically each hungry miner applied himself to the task of feasting – with what rapidity the geese (which, by the way, might, from their texture, be supposed to have reared several generations of goslings) were disposed of; how forks and knives rattled against tin plates! How the gigantic damper waxed small beneath our efforts! How the Christmas pudding went off in a fit of our expeditious consumption! How the great joint of roast beef was, to speak in mining phraseology, set into and worked out! These are things which no tongue can ten or pen describe.

Toasts and songs followed, among the latter was the following:

In every clime, it aye has been a Briton’s proudest boast,
To have his Christmas pudding and his fine old English roast;
Then why should we, on Turin’s stream, like soulless churls, forbear?
To keep the good old custom up, and have our Christmas fare?

Though ‘neath no season’s rarities our rough-made table bends,
We care not, since within this bower, we see but hearty friends,
Nor envy we the formal feast – each man precisely dressed –
Our shirts of scarlet suit us well as white cravats and vest.