Archaeological find dates back to Autralia's gold rush

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WHEN an old sewerage pipe near the centre of Ballarat needed replacing last year, archaeologists were called in for what was expected to be a routine dig of the surrounds.

But what they uncovered surprised and delighted heritage experts - a trove of more than a thousand gold rush artefacts, many once belonging to members of Ballarat's mid-19th century Chinese community. As well as European pottery and bottles, they found medicine vials stamped with Chinese characters, intact fig jars, coins, tokens and imported Chinese porcelain.

''It would be not unexpected to find some sort of deposit, but nothing like the scale of what was found,'' says Jeremy Smith, senior archaeologist at Heritage Victoria.

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The dig's success was rivalled by an excavation in Forest Street, Bendigo, which yielded remains of houses and an inn, an intact cellar and champagne, beer and wine bottles.

And a third goldfields dig, this time at a site earmarked for redevelopment at Ararat's Hospital Hill, uncovered a set of human remains believed to have been left behind when an 1850s-era cemetery was moved....

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