Victoria experienced a surge of migration after the discovery of gold in 1851. I explore the social and geographic background of migrants lured to the colony by opportunities opened up by gold mining. When alluvial gold was exhausted, the skills of migrants enabled them to exploit the more difficult deep lead and quartz reef gold deposits and to establish cities and towns. Urban growth was encouraged by high marriage and birth rates in the 1860s. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century goldfields communities generally suffered economic and demographic declines. Copyright 2010 The Author. Journal compilation Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd and the Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand 2010.