AUSTRALIA has been wracked by its share of fevers.
Like a tsunami, influenza swept over the fledgling nation after World War I, killing thousands.
Then the polio epidemic inundated towns and cities in the years up to, and well after, World War II, killing and maiming indiscriminately.
But no fever has hit Australia so hard, and had such long-lasting impact, as gold fever.
And Victoria got the fever worse than any other state.
It is a story which has been pored over by historians, and served up in turgid tomes, or conveniently misinterpreted by the world of the screen - large and small.
A story that has now been revisited in Gold!, by David Hill, a man who insists he is not a writer.
But as a "child migrant" Hill says he has developed a passion for the young history of his adopted country.
The former head of the ABC says he has written enough reports for politicians to hone the art of using very small, easy-to-understand words.
"So, in Gold! I have let all the people who lived through this remarkable era tell their own story," Hill says.
"They can do it so much better, they were there. I have simply brought together primary sources to recount the greatest social, financial and political upheaval in Australia's history."
For a history book, Gold! is a remarkably easy read.
Its greatest risk, one Hill still wonders about, was so many names, so many characters, being introduced into a book for the mass market.
"As far as alluvial gold goes, Victoria was the centre of the gold rush. Statistics suggest gold in Victoria through the 1850s and 1860s was eight times the size of the rush in NSW."
But Hill's book has no hesitation declaring Bakery Hill in Ballarat, where the rallies which led to the Eureka "rebellion" were held, was to become a cornerstone of the Australian nation and its constitution.
"It is not my goal in this book to interpret the story, but to let it be told. By those who were there. And I hope that is what I have done," he says.
Gold! is 423 pages of the most colourful upheaval in modern Australian history.
It portrays the magical metal as producing "great wealth and ensuring the financial viability of the then precarious Australian colonies".
Hill says even better it "put an end to convict transportation, challenged the British class system which was transplanted here in the convict era and laid the foundations of Australian egalitarianism". And all that in an era where "some succeeded but many failed".
It is not a highlight of the book, but Gold! also shows the 1850s and 1860s laid the foundations of first Victoria, and then Australia as a multicultural society, as it drew people in their thousands from North America, Europe and Asia.
It was not necessarily a successful birth. The book portrays the dark side of early racism. Just as it proves that all that glisters is not gold.
For wont of a better word, the underbelly of the gold rush was incredible hardship, which descended into child prostitution, starvation in cities, unemployment and crime.
It was a headlong rush into nationhood, for better or for worse, and Gold! tells it all.