Chinese on the Goldfields

PUBLIC LECTUREChinese_Goldfields

Date: 2pm-4pm, Sunday 22 June 2014
Venue: Museum of Sydney, Cnr Phillip and Bridge Streets, Sydney

An illustrated talk on an important episode in Australia’s history, the riots on the goldfields at Lambing Flat. Learn about the ‘roll-up’ flag, the growing animosity between Europeans and Chinese, and how this led to the White Australia policy.

By the early 1850s, news of a gold rush in Australia had reached southern China, sparking an influx in Chinese migration to Australia. It is thought that approximately 7000 Chinese people came to work at the Araluen gold fields in southern NSW. The Chinese miners often worked in organised groups of 30 to 100 men under the direction of a leader, which resulted in their gold digging efforts being very successful. Conflict between the Chinese and Europeans on the goldfields stemmed from the European miners’ resentment of  these successes. This ongoing tension and resentment from the European gold miners came to a head in the Lambing Flat Riots, a series of violent anti-Chinese demonstrations in the Burrangong region of NSW.

Goldmining at that time was a man’s game, no more so than among the Chinese. By 1880, there were still less than a hundred Chinese women in the colony, alongside a population of 10,000 Chinese men. However, Chinese men were not necessarily without female company.

This talk will feature discussions from Dr Kate Bagnall, a notable historian who researches the history of Australia’s Chinese communities before 1920 and members of the Harden-Murrumburrah History Society.

More information at the site of Museum of Sydney.