A two-hour drive north-west from Melbourne is a historic town where, for years, the regional language was Welsh instead of English.
The Welsh migrants of the now-abandoned town of Llanelly showed up in Australia throughout the 1850s and the 1860s, in the middle of a population boom in the south-eastern state of Victoria. News of gold discoveries in the area brought countless beginners excited to strike it abundant as Victoria and neighbouring New South Wales yielded unmatched quantities of gold. Amongst the 500,000 “diggers”, as immigrants getting here throughout the gold rush surge were called, were prospectors from Britain, the United States, Poland and China.
At its height in the 1860s, Llanelly had a population of about 20,000, the majority of whom were Welsh, and this tradition is clear in the Welsh surnames inscribed on the regional graveyard’s tombstones. As these miners found gold-rich reefs close by, shops, hotels, banks and a regional school appeared to deal with the growing neighborhood.
With the decrease in gold yields in the late 19th Century, the town’s homeowners distributed, causing the death of the once-flourishing settlement. Today, all that stays of the previous Welsh gold town are falling apart, unoccupied structures, although resurging interest in the area’s mining history is bringing its obscure tradition to light.
( Video by Kirsty B Carter & & Joe Harrison, text by Yasmin El- Beih)
This video belongs to BBC Reel’s Forgotten Places playlist.
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