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Open Right

Jan Wositzky: Gold In The Heart

Session Info:

Gold In The Heart is music and storytelling theatre, telling the broad story of the 1850’s Victorian gold rush and highlighting the diggers conflict with the Government. In Gold In The Heart Jan tells the story of the 1850’s gold rush through the adventures of an Irish gold digger, Denis O’Reilly. With digger’s songs, music and poetry, documents, maps, flags, newspaper reports and gold-seekers tales – European, Chinese and Indigenous – Gold In The Heart paints a vivid picture of goldfields life and tracks the events that led to Eureka.

And as is typical of Jan’s scripts, Gold In The Heart contains important but little known information about our history: * How the diggers stand against the government license and police brutality began three years before Eureka, in 1851, with the Monster Meeting of 15,000 diggers near Castlemaine… * then continued through Bendigo’s 1853 Red Ribbon Agitation… * and erupted into bloodshed at Eureka/Ballarat in 1854. It’s a story of how ordinary people dreamt of a better life and of democracy, and how some made it rich whilst others died, the diggers all the while singing of a ‘good time a coming’.

Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky lives in Castlemaine, where the gold rush history is etched into the landscape, and so, as always, he brings his personal experiences to this show. In 2008 Jan was commissioned to produce produced five audio tours that tell the story of the Victorian gold rush.

“A wonderful combination of characters, music, information and amusing drama, with students joining the performance, taking on various character roles and actively discovering the amazing journeys of many immigrants who arrived on our shores during the gold rush. Audience members participated by taking on roles as protesting diggers and voicing their displeasure at the government’s Gold License. It was something students and staff all enjoyed.” Cathy Samson, Castlemaine North PS


  • Life on the goldfields
  • The Chinese-European conflict
  • Events and issues that led to Eureka
  • Women’s role in gold discovery
  • Impact of gold rush

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