Gold Washing Cradle

Gold washing cradle made in 1851 by William Tom jr., following advice from Edward Hargraves who saw similar cradles used for washing gold on the Californian goldfields.

This nationally significant object is associated with the first official discovery of gold at Ophir, found by William Tom, John Lister and Edward Hargraves.

The cradle is a cedar box with rockers on the base, two sieves and a handle for agitating the box. Earth and water is shovelled into the top and the box is rocked back and forth. The heavy gold sinks to the bottom while the earth and water is sluiced out the end. This simple device was the prototype for the widespread use of cradles on goldfields across eastern Australia.

Loan courtesy of the Trustees of the Powerhouse Museum