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Australian gold rush

Australian gold rush

In this scene, Chinese and European diggers methodically search for gold using various devices and techniques

The 1850s gold rush attracted many Chinese people to Australia in search of a fortune. In this scene, Chinese and European diggers methodically search for gold using various devices and techniques.

When gold was discovered

When gold was discovered in Australia, the volume of Chinese immigration significantly increased. The highest number of arrivals in any one year was 12,396 in 1856. In 1861, 38,258 people, or 3.3 per cent of the Australian population, had been born in China. This number was not to be equalled until the late 1980s. The majority of Chinese immigrants to Australia during the gold rush were indentured or contract labourers. However, many made the voyage under the credit-ticket system managed by brokers and emigration agents. Only a small minority of Chinese people were able to pay for their own voyage and migrate to Australia free of debt.

The Chinese immigrants referred to the Australian gold fields as 'Xin Jin Shan', or the New Gold Mountain. The Californian gold rush was in decline by the 1850s and had become known as 'Jiu Jin Shan', the Old Gold Mountain.