By the mid 1800s, Australia (known as the Colony of New South Wales until 1824), had thrown off the shackles of its penal past and was becoming a prosperous place where clever businessmen and entrepreneurs could seek their fortunes. However, the incident that most changed Australia's fortunes was the discovery of gold in the 1850s. This precious metal lured millions of diggers from around the world to the goldfields of the continent from 1851, most of whom stayed on in Australia whether they made their fortunes or not. As a result, Australia's population doubled in a decade.
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