This thesis has three prime objectives. This first is to provide an economic history of the Gympie goldfield of the period 1867-1913. The second is to analyse the relevance of the Gympie gold discovery to the upturn in the depressed Queensland The third is to provide a comparative review of fluctuations in economic activity on the Gympie goldfield, in Queensland and in Australia; and the impact of the British business cycles on this economic activity.
To achieve the first objective, it was necessary to develop a thematically cogent framework within which the local economic history could be compiled. The first objective also involved a massive data collection and data analysis exercise.
The second objective resulted from a challenge to the hypothesis of Blainey, Coghlan and others that the discovery of the Gympie goldfield was the prime causal link which restored prosperity to the Queensland economy following the financial crisis and depression of 1866. The challenge is on the basis of both empirical data and interpretation with previously unpublished State Archives material assuming a crucial status.
To achieve the final objective, it required a review of the history of British business cycle their impact on the Australian colonial economy; and the review of selected theoretical approaches to the business cycle. Once this background was established a comparative analysis was conducted to gauge the effects of the British cycles in Australia and to determine whether any definitive trends emerge.
By utilizing the thematic framework derived and by accessing primary data sources a complete and contextually coherent economic history of the Gympie goldfield is presented for the first time. In regard to the second objective, by utilizing new data and interpreting them from a different perspective, the hypothesis posited Blainey and Coghlan is soundly rejected. Finally, by analysing the fluctuations in economic activity, support is lent to the Keynesian-Pigovian theory of “errors of pessimism-optimism” as the driving force behind the fluctuations, although no readily discernible trends emerge.