The year was 1851, and two brothers stood by a bend in a creek that had wishfully been named ‘Golden Point’ by gold prospectors in days gone by.
Most of the gold had been found in the sandy ground to a depth of around 1m (3.2 feet), but at that point, everyone who dug hit a hard layer of clay and received no reward for their effort.
The result was that the area was littered with abandoned claims – holes in the ground were everywhere, all dug to a depth of around 1m.
Miners around the Cavanagh brothers that day were beginning to talk of rumors coming from further up creek of richer pickings and in the 24 hours that followed, most of the men had moved on.
But the brothers Cavanagh had a hunch.
They wanted to see what would happen if they dug deeper, and so began the arduous task of digging into the hard clay that everyone else had stopped digging at.
They chose an abandoned claim from another miner and began to dig.
The work was hard and unrewarding.
They dug and found nothing but more clay.
Inch by inch they chipped away at the clay only to find more clay.
All day they dug.
The next morning they continued to dig as the last miners around them abandoned their claims and moved on to chase their dreams up creek.
I can just imagine those miners abandoning their claims shaking their heads at the brothers and laughing at their foolhardy efforts.
But the brothers had a belief and kept their focus.
As sunset approached and after hours of back-breaking work, the brothers finally broke through the last of the clay at around the depth of 2m.
Under the clay they found what centuries ago had been the old bed of the creek, and in it were pockets of gold that had been washed down the creek from the mountains over hundreds of years.
The brothers worked into the night feverishly until the light from their lamps gave up. Imagine how they must have felt as they attempted to sleep that night!
The next day they arose early and assessed their work. In the light of day the full reality of what they’d uncovered started to sink in. There was gold down below that clay… and lots of it!
In a single day, the Cavanagh brothers found 27 kilograms (60 pounds) of gold.
That day’s takings alone earned the men over £3500, which was more than enough to set the two brothers up for life.
One month later 10,000 miners worked in the area around Golden Point – and the wider Ballarat area, and it became known as the richest known gold field in the world for that time.
You can bet that those who followed the brothers dug deeper than they had previously!
Reflections on the Cavanagh Brothers’ Experience
I first came across the story of the Cavanagh brothers while researching a project I was doing in high school, and have since found myself reflecting upon it many times.
I love the determination, the focus, and the persistence of these two men.
I love how that despite the distractions of rumours from up creek that they continued to dig… where others had already dug and given up at the first sign of clay.
I love that they persisted while others followed the exciting rumours of fortune and in doing so found a fortune that others could only dream of finding.
I love that through their persistence that they not only found their own fortune, but opened the eyes to others – others who probably had looked at them thinking that they were crazy for digging into that clay – to a new way.
Sometimes Success Comes Through Digging in Hard Places
There have been times over the last few years where I’ve at times felt a little like the brothers Cavanagh.
While my hands do not toil with a pick or shovel digging into hardened clay, there are days where I do second-guess my actions and wonder if I should head upstream to start something new.
I’ve seen many bloggers come and go over the years. People who, like me, saw the opportunity in blogging to build something significant – but who at the first sign of clay abandoned their blogs.
Then there were others who abandoned their work because of the exciting ‘rumors’ from up creek… bloggers who stopped blogging to MySpace… to tweet… to Tumblr… to Facebook… to G+…
The blogosphere is littered with abandoned blogs and I sometimes wonder what might have happened if some of those bloggers had kept digging through the clay.
While I know not all would have succeeded, I do think that persistence is a big part of successful blogging (and success in almost all fields).
My experience of blogging is that while there have been days where I’ve dug into rich veins of gold and great fortune, they’ve always come after focused effort of digging in hard ground.