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Chinese Immigrants Versus Europeans in Australia: Analytical Essay

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Governor Arthur Phillip founded the first British settlement in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbor) on the 26th of January 1788. Just over a week later the Aboriginals first saw the European settlers. The First Fleet carried around 759 convicts and 206 marines. They described Australia as terra nullius, which means wastelands that could be taken without approval. Terra nullius translates to land of nothing. They saw it as terra nullius because there are no fences, borders, no houses, no land development, no crops or no sign of government. Even though the British saw it as terra nullius, the Aboriginals have been living on that land for over 60,000 years.

In the early 1850s, many Chinese immigrants came to Australia as indentured labourers working as shepherds, rural labourers, cooks, and gardeners. In 1851, a man named Edward Hargraves had found a small amount of Gold at Ophir, near Bathurst in New South Wales. Hargraves was rewarded £10,000 which then started the rush for gold. The Victorian inhabitants heard about this discovery of gold in New South Wales, The Victorians then made their way out of Victoria and into New South Wales. Many people were leaving Victoria so the Victorian government offered a reward of £200. Six months later gold was discovered in Clunes by Mr. L. J. Nichel. According to the Nation Museum of Australia, it was estimated that 20,000 Chinese immigrants arrived in Victoria by 1855.

On The 1st of September 1851, it was proclaimed that all miners in Victoria would have to carry a gold license. Miners would have to pay thirty shillings a month (thirty shillings is equal to $7,180.20 in 2017) to carry this license if they were European, if not they would have to pay double the license fee. If miners did not have this license when demanded were arrested and fined. If they could not pay this fine then they would be thrown in jail. In November 1854 miners from Ballarat were fed up with the way the colonial government had been administering the goldfields. 12,000 miners gathered at Bakery Hill, burning their licenses and appointed Peter Lalor as their leader. They stood around the Eureka flag and swore an oath to stand together. On the 3rd of December, government troops attacked the stockade. The stockade only carrying light weapons while the troops carried more advanced weapons lost the war in twenty minutes. The stockade killing an estimated amount of four troops, while the troops killed at least twenty-two stockade diggers.

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There were many cultural differences between the Chinese and the Europeans. Chinese people would have ‘pigtails’ on their heads. They would wear different clothes and play different games such as mah-jong, a Chinese tile game. The Chinese had their language while most European spoke English. The Chines style of living was more organized compared to the Europeans which was messy. The Chines group organization would have many people work as different roles, some miners, some cooks, some farmers. They would often run to a schedule, for example, they would start mining at a certain time and finish at a certain time. The cooks will start their cooking at four or five o’clock so when the miners come home dinner is ready for them. The Europeans system was miners would start and finish work at different times, no roles were allocated to the Europeans, unlike the Chinese. Europeans would start cooking dinner when they got home after mining, meaning they would have to wait. This was the time that the Chinese first inherited racism. Institutionalized racism began at this time with governments letting the Europeans go while watching the Chinese’s every move.

A form of institutionalized racism is the poll tax. In 1855 the Victorian government imposed a £10 poll tax when landing in any Victorian ports. To avoid this, the Chinese landed in Robe, a port in South Australia, near Penola. The Chinese landed in Robe and began to walk from Robe to Ballarat (400km). The government also restricted the number of Chinese per ship, creating a law which states one Chinese for every ten tonnes of cargo. With the creation of these laws, all were set for the Chinese, no laws were created to restrict the number of European coming to Australia.

Many racist events occurred during the gold rush including, Lambing Flat, Buckland River and Ararat. Lambing flat was considered to be the last fortune, the new Ballarat. In late 1860 many ‘roll-ups’ had taken place in Chinese camps and once again in 1861. Criminals plagued Lambing Flat, like Ararat, and police held little influence. A major brawl occurred after another ‘roll-up’ which resulted in 1500 fled Chinese in February 1861. It was on the 30th of June when the apparent worst ever riot occurred. A brass band trumpeting the song ‘Rule Britannia’ fuelled 2000 to 3000 white diggers marching on the Chinese camp. Many anti-Chinese banners were made for the march on the Chinese Camps. Over one thousand Chinese fled, and an estimated five hundred injured. The Chinese fled to the nearby property of James Roberts, seeking shelter, food, and water. Police arrested three diggers that were involved with the riot. After this, around 3000 diggers swarmed the Police Camp demanding for the rioters to be released.

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Chinese Immigrants Versus Europeans in Australia: Analytical Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from
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