People often forget the sheer level of mortality on the goldfields according to history lecturer Doctor David Waldron.
People died in childbirth, people died at work, people died from respiratory complaints.
It may have been part of what led to an uptake of Spiritualism, the pseudo-scientific belief that people could connect with the dead popular in the nineteenth century.
It involved seances, manifestations, mediums and all kinds of tricks.
"So many people passed on and being able to connect to those loved ones was important to people as it was today," Dr Waldron said.
"One of the big drivers of Spiritualism … was grief, was loss of loved ones. It was at time when traditional religious answers seemed distant, far away … because of the rise of science and exposure to new religions.
"It gave them a sense of spirituality that they felt that they could accept in the modern scientific era, but above all else it gave you connection to dead loved ones."
Two definite subcultures of Spiritualism existed Dr Waldron said.
There was a serious group, who made a point of meeting in living rooms to detach themselves from the gothic "hangings on".
And then there were the performers who held seances for the crowds.
"There was one group that was going out and doing performance seances and celebrity seances," Dr Waldron said.
"If you look at it, it’s essentially doing magical tricks that we’d do today.
"There was a detective in Castlemaine who used to play cat and mouse trying to catch people out."
Some may have really believed, some did not.
"There’s certainly evidence where mediums were writing letters to people about prominent and wealthy people, so they would have information to work with," Dr Waldron said.
"The question is: how much they were also conning themselves."
Dr Waldron will discuss Spiritualism on the goldfields in an upcoming lecture on Bendigo.
But Spiritualism wasn't the only ghostly goings-on on the goldfields.
Ghosts come under Dr Waldron's microscope, as a community's way of remembering trauma.
And then there's ghost-hoaxing, the phenomenon prominent in Bendigo where people pretended to be ghosts. It began as an old Scottish and Irish tradition, which turned into a cover for crime.
Dr Waldron recalls one tale of a lady who got up on the roof of the Sandhurst Hotel dressed in a glow in the dark wedding dress, with her face and arms painted to look like a porcelain doll.
It must have looked spectacular, Dr Waldron said, but the glow in the dark paint was extremely toxic.
Dr Waldron's lecture will tie in with the exhibition 'Vale: mourning, remembrance and Spiritualism in Bendigo 1851 - 1901'.
'Rappings, tappings and ghost hoaxing: the fad for spirits in Victoria’s 19th century goldfields' will take place on Wednesday Feb 27 at the La Trobe Art Institute. More information at: bit.ly/2IdNY5H
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.