The discovery of gold in Australia brought immigrants from China to the diggings on the goldfields. As the alluvial gold and the near-the-surface gold seams became depleted, the Chinese miners brought their families further north, attracted by the newly discovered deposits of gold.
“New Gold Mountain”, is how many Chinese described Australia. Many stayed, turning to timber cutting or market gardening after the gold ran out and became excellent, hard-working citizens. The Chinese community thrived in Atherton from the 1880’s and into the early 1900’s.
The Chinese community suffered, both from racism and the Soldier Settlement schemes that followed World War I. The local government ruled that 'All lands at present being leased to Asiatics in the Atherton, Tolga, Kairi, area be resumed for soldier settlement.' Chinese Australians were evicted from their farming leases. By 1930, few Chinese remained in the district.
The remains of Atherton's once-active Chinatown can be seen on the Herberton Road, at the restored Hou Wang Temple. Until the 1970’s this was a place of worship, but The National Trust is now the current owner.
Hou Wang Temple Alter and Hou Wang Temple Bell
After the British invasion of Australia (1788) small numbers of Chinese men arrived as indentured labourers, convicts and free settlers. However the numbers of Chinese immigrants to Australia did not really become significant till the Victorian (1850s) and New South Wales (1860s) gold rushes.Chinese Australia - Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Project
Birds of Passage, in a novel by an Australian of Chinese ancestry, Brian Castro, exploring the history of The Chinese migration to Australia to work in the goldfields.
Author and artist Ryn Shell writes of the Victorian, Australia Gold Rush with Scottish, English, and Australian Aboriginal characters in Gold.
Introduction to Gold, by Ryn Shell
1859 was a distinctive year in Australia’s colonial history. Migrants arrived in South Australia to travel to the Victorian Goldfields, dreaming of finding nuggets as big as your head. Bushrangers ruled the Victorian hills. Squatters and their twenty-million sheep settled on the plains. Australia was no longer a penal colony, and many former convicts had received their provisional free-settler status.
The population of the Australian colonies would reach one million in the following year.
The Victorian Married Women's Property Act was still in place. Any land, houses, or livestock that a woman owned when she married, or remarried, automatically became the property of her husband.
There were four hundred thousand horses, and the greatest horse race of its time was planned to take place along flats beside the Yarra River, near Melbourne, Victoria.
One of Australia’s worst ecological disasters began when Thomas Austin of the Melbourne Hunt Club and the Acclimatisation Society released twenty-four English rabbits into the Australian bush for the benefit of sporting shooters... They bred like rabbits.
And then there was author Ryn Shell’s great-grandmother, Jane. She’d trained in dentistry in Edinburgh, Scotland and accepted Queen Victoria’s encouragement and a golden sovereign to take her dentistry skill to the Australian colony.
Enter: Miss Jane Mutta…
In 1901, the year following Australian Federation, the Immigration Restriction Act – often called the White Australia Policy – hindered the entry of non-Europeans, including the Chinese, through the use of a dictation test.
James Clavell and Nevil Shute wrote of Asian culture from a Western Point of View.
Author, artist, Ryn Shell is the chief blogger, site sponsor, and volunteer author's cross-promotion manager for the historical fiction authors whose blogs appear on this website.
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