Edward Hammond Hargraves (October 7, 1816-1891) was 34 years old when he discovered gold at Bathurst. He was born at Gosport, Hampshire, England and was known to have worked in many jobs such as a sailor, a farmer a hotel manager and a shipping agent. He was not successful at any of these jobs. Hargraves went to California during the California Gold Rush to try to make some money and again failed. He realised that the goldfields of California looked very much like some areas of New South Wales (the Macquarie Valley) which inspired him to return to Australia to prove gold could be found here.

On February 12, 1851, Hargraves found gold near Bathurst, at Summer Hills Creek, he called the goldfield Ophir, named after the Biblical city, and the Ophir Township was later established there. He was accompanied on his prospecting expedition by John Hardman Lister and James Tom, but as soon as Hargraves found gold he went to Sydney alone.

He announced his discovery and claimed a £10,000 reward for being the first person to find gold and claim it. He was also appointed Commissioner for Crown Land and the Victorian Government paid him £5 000. He only claimed £2 381 before the funds were frozen after James Tom protested. An enquiry was held in 1853 which upheld that Hargraves was the first to discover a goldfield. Shortly before his death in 1891 a second enquiry found that John Lister and James Tom had discovered the first goldfield. Hargraves was never a gold miner and instead made money from writing and lecturing about the Australian goldfields.

From the Australian History website

Photo edited by Pete Wilkins from the National Library of Australia collection