The Victorian town of Beechworth recently held its famous “Golden Horseshoe” Parade, celebrating one of the most colourful election campaigns in Australian history. In 1855, two rival gold mining factions (the Monkeys and the Punchers) were competing for their own elected candidate.
The Monkeys rode into town from their Woolshed diggings, loudly supporting their candidate Daniel Cameron who was unusually visible to all voters – his horse had been shod with two golden shoes. The gold had been supplied by “Big” Johnson, owner of the Woolshed’s richest claim. The campaigning strategy worked and Cameron quickly won the election based on a show of hands among the miners.
“Big” Johnson celebrated the win with a 300 pound champagne shout, although he did discover that gold is not the best material for horse shoes – after a one mile ride, the weight of the horse shoes had dropped by one ounce. A replica of the Golden Horseshoes is on display in the town. Each shoe weighs 580 grams and the pair are valued at $60,000.