SBS > Gold > Immigration and Population

The gold rush transformed a former convict colony into a first choice destination for free emigrants. Europeans, North Americans, South Americans, Indians, Chinese and Africans were among the thousands who answered the call of Australian gold. As an experiment in multiculturalism however, the gold fields were a failure. Fear and hatred of the Chinese miners led to violence and eventually, legislation to restrict their numbers. Often forgotten in gold rush history, Indigenous Australians were also greatly affected by the influx of migrants and the loss of land and culture.


The immigration rush
Hundreds and thousands of hopeful diggers rushed to Australia and transformed the population.

Multicultural gold fields
Diggers from all over the world created Australia’s first truly culturally diverse society on the gold fields.

The New Gold Mountain
Thousands of Chinese headed to Australia in search of fortune.

Fear of the Chinese
More than any other cultural group, the Chinese were singled out and despised on the gold fields.

Stereotyping the Chinese
Racist stereotypes fuelled the European diggers' sense of superiority.

Anti-Chinese riots and rorts
Fear and hatred of the Chinese soon escalated to violence.

Restrictive immigration Acts
Colonial authorities introduce legislation to control Chinese migration.

The walk from Robe
Unable to land in Victorian ports in any great numbers, the Chinese travelled hundreds of miles overland from South Australia to the diggings in Victoria.

Mining Aboriginal lands
The gold rush was another battle in the continuing war against Aboriginal culture.

Images of Aboriginality
Many diggers held low opinions of the Indigenous Australians but others, based on more positive relationships, thought highly of the Aboriginal race and culture.

Opportunities for Aborigines
Indigenous Australians did not stand idly by as the gold rush erupted around them. Many made the most of opportunities for trade, jobs and knowledge.

The Native Police Corps
Perhaps the most significant contribution Indigenous Australians made to the gold rush was as policemen in the Native Police Corps.



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Australian soldiers were called diggers, as many men who fought for Australia in WWI were diggers from the goldfields.
 
 

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