Treasure of goldrush artifacts unearthed at Bendigo GovHub site

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WATCH THE VIDEO: An extensive archaeological dig on the site of the Bendigo GovHub project has uncovered thousands of items from the city’s rich goldrush past.

Regional Victoria’s largest archaeological dig found up to 67,000 artifacts, dating back to Bendigo’s establishment in 1851. Items included ceramics, glass bottles, commercial materials, children’s toys, medicinal products, textiles, garments, shoes, jewellery and coins.

More than 30 archaeologists have been involved in the careful excavation, retrieval and recording of items to ensure they are well-documented.

Zak JonesPassionate archaeologist, Zak Jones, managed the dig and worked closely with the excavation team to make sure the work complied with strict heritage laws.

He said the number of artifacts reflects the level of activity that occurred on the site during the mid to late 19th and 20th century.

“The objects are a tangible link to Bendigo’s history during its early development from a gold rush town to a major regional city. They are the materials lost or discarded by the site’s inhabitants,” Zak said.

“Given the size of the site and its location in the civic centre, it is not surprising that there was a high level of historic activity and development.”

“What is noteworthy is the preservation of both built features and artifacts, despite developments that occurred in the late 20th century,” Zak said.

Part of the significance of the discovery is learning about how people lived and behaved 100 years ago.

“The objects can provide an understanding of the material possessions of former occupants and their behaviours, technological developments, the movement of goods through time, and socio-economic status,” said Zak.

The heritage find has rekindled community calls for a museum in Bendigo, so  items of significance can be displayed to boost awareness of times past.

Once the dig is finished in the coming weeks, the artifacts will be analysed and catalogued by a team of specialists, and the findings will be included in a detailed report.

“They will then be stored with Heritage Victoria where they may be accessed for future research. A selection of the assemblage may be used for an interpretive display onsite, subject to approval by Heritage Victoria,” Zak said excitedly.

A $90 million construction, the Bendigo GovHub, will centralise the delivery of a range of government services and accommodate up to 1000 local and state government workers, creating a one-stop-shop for customers while building a stronger and collaborative public sector presence in Bendigo.

Icon Fairbrother joint venture has been appointed to deliver the project generating more than 200 new local jobs during construction, with Lyons Architects and Arup Engineering. The project team will work alongside the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to include Indigenous design elements and language in the architecture, landscaping and spaces in what will be a multi-use development which will transform the heart of Bendigo.

Keep up to date with the Bendigo GovHub site project.

Photo gallery

Browse our photo gallery to view some of the archaeological findings from the Bendigo GovHub project.