Edward Hammond Hargraves was born in 1816 in England. He travelled to California to find his fortune during the California gold rush but was unsuccessful. It was his experience in California and the similarities he found between the land in California and Macquaire Valley in New South Wales that inspired him to return to New South Wales to begin prospecting. He concentrated his prospecting near Bathurst at Ophir Valley and on February 12, 1851, he claimed to have found gold. He named the goldfield Ophir and subsequently, the township of Ophir was established.
Edward Hargraves had two partners when he discovered the goldfield. They were John Hardman Lister and William Tom. Against the agreement with the two men, Hargraves announced the find to the public. The Government of New South Wales awarded Hargraves financially, but before he could collect all of the money, a relative of one of his partners objected. That mans name was James Tom. This action led to an inquiry in 1853 which upheld that Hargraves was entitled to the reward and was the first to discover a goldfield.
The Government of New South Wales went on to grant Hargraves a pension in 1877. Hargraves was said to have befriended members of the Wollombi Aboriginal Tribe whom he had working on his land at Budgewoi on the Central Coast of New South Wales. This is where he built “Norahville” at Noraville. He received his pension until his death in 1891. Before he died, in 1891, a second inquiry was held concerning the goldfield that found that John Lister and James Tom had actually discovered the first goldfield. That is how history went on to record it, but it was Edward Hargraves who still today is granted the most credit and publicity for discovering the goldfield that led to the Australian gold rush.