Colt Navy percussion handguns came to Australia via both the military, as officers' handguns, and government contractors and immigrants seeking a life in the new colonies. With the Australian goldrush which began in the 1850s, Australia saw rapid immigration, and with it, many new firearms. Colt Navies were a significant innovation in handgun design because they were well crafted, reliable, portable, used a percussion firing mechanism, and a revolving cartridge which enabled six shells to be at the ready.
Gold was found by European settlers at Ophir, near Orange, New South Wales, in 1851. It had a huge social impact on the workers of New South Wales, and thousands of eager prospectors deserted regular jobs to seek their fortunes in the goldfield.
Such was the influx of men into the areas where gold had been found that the police and governing authorities were not always able to ensure order. Personal and property protection were important to those who were mining and running businesses, and weapons, particularly handguns, became much desired tools in the goldfields. Australian gunsmiths, mainly importers rather than makers of European and North American guns, made exceptional trade, as did emigrees from the Northern Hemisphere who brought guns to sell and trade.
Colt Navies were, in the mid 1860s, issued to the New South Wales Police Force, and their older firearms issued to the New South Wales prison warders.