The Chinese Section of the Castlemaine Cemetery

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The Chinese section of the Castlemaine cemetery is tucked away behind the Baptists.

During the gold era of the second half of the 1800s, the Chinese formed a substantial part of the Victorian population. They, too, hoped to make their fortunes from gold and flocked to the gold fields of Ballarat, Bendigo and Mount Alexander. At a time when the population of Castlemaine was 35,000, approximately 25% of the population was Chinese.

Their different appearance, language and customs meant they could encounter hostility and racist attitudes. However, the Chinese miners were recognised for their industry. Some Chinese also went on to other occupations supplying the gold fields with fresh vegetables, running restaurants and becoming marchants.

Today, there is little evidence of the Chinese community in the Shire of Mount Alexander apart from dedicated sections of local  cemeteries.

In Castlemaine, a Chinese temple built in the 1880s was demolished in the 1960s.

In the nearby regional city of  Bendigo or Dai Gum San (Big Gold Mountain) as it was known to the Chinese, much more has been done to preserve its Chinese heritage.

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7 Responses

  1. I didn’t realise but the Chinese were a big part of the Tin mining boom in Tasmania. There is a most interesting selection of stories about Chinese tin miners who called Tasmania home. You have to admire the industry of people willing to travel so far away from their homes to make a life.

    http://www.northeasttasmania.com.au/the-trail-of-the-tin-dragon

    • Yes, Fran, It is amazing the people who travel to far distant shores to better their lives. People were willing to take their chances by sailing to other countries in the hope they could make their fortune in the lottery of mining. I think for many, including the Chinese, arriving in Australia would have been equivalent to landing on Mars.

      • I agree with you there Margaret. Just imagine our conditions after their lush green conditions and the heat! Hopefully it was worth it for those that stayed 🙂

  2. Thank you for reminding us of the part that the Chinese played in our history and their contribution and place in our current Australian society. I live in a very multicultural community here that is partially made up of refugees as well as immigrants and I very much appreciate what they bring to our culture.

    • I am glad you like the post, Jane. Melbourne has a more diverse population than Castlemaine which tends to be mainly European Australian. There is a small Sudanese community here.
      I have a particular interest in the role and influence of Chinese immigrants as 8 of my 10 nieces and nephews have Chinese parentage across 3 families.

  3. So interesting to see and read. And to see our differences in culture and expression.

    • I am glad this post gave you some more understanding of the history of this part of Victoria, Bente.

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