Chinese in Blackwood

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Photo of one of the 9 Chinese  headstones remaining in the back of the Blackwood cemetery.  The names have been translated by one of the past members of the Blackwood & District Historical Society and recorded. Photo by Margot Hitchcock B.D.H.S. ©

PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE COPYRIGHT TO MARGOT HITCHCOCK and B.D.H.S. – PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. ©

The Wardens Report of 30th August 1856 mentions the arrival of some Chinese people to Blackwood.   (James Ferguson’s report in the Bacchus Marsh Express June 1889).

“The Chinese in Blackwood were said  to have arrived from Canton.  In 1858, fifty Chinese arrived from Castlemaine and by 1861 their numbers had increased to 200.  On their first arrival, they pegged the main creek for many miles, and (except in a few cases) the Chinamen have held possession of the creek workings for nearly thirty years.

Some sources said there were 500 or more Chinese in Blackwood at one stage and the number of Chinese did tend to fluctuate with the seasons and remained so for a number of years, but official records put the figure in 1864 as 500.  

Many Chinese made as much as a thousand pounds, a sum which would be considered a fortune in their native land, whither they invariably proceeded when they had amassed sufficient wealth.  In 1888 there were at Blackwood only about sixty Chinese, most of whom were extremely poor.

The Chinese had two known camps at Blackwood, the main one being at Golden Point which covered about an acre of ground, where they had a Joss House, shops, stores, gambling houses and a Masonic Lodge.  They also had a Mission House which was built near where the little township of Golden Point is today.   The Joss House was said to have been located on a small hill some distance behind where the big rock is at the swimming hole which was named Sebastopol.  If one walks in the bush there you can see the small hill with the whole surrounding area has been removed by the Chinese by ‘paddocking’.  Evidence of their workings can still be seen where they used the system of ‘paddocking’ where large sections of land has all been moved and washed, making the area look like piles of loose rocks and stones.   

The Chinese painstakingly worked over areas previously prospected and found much gold. Stone walls are visible where they have piled up stones after moving them.   Evidence of this can be still be seen on the road to Shaws Lake before where the tip was on the right.   Another area can be seen near the creek on the right of the Old Coach Road down past the Blackwood Hotel.   There also used to be seen remains of a Chinese oven in the ground off the main road before the swimming pool.”

 The Chinese who came to Australia were formerly famine-racked farmers, small traders or peasants who were harshly indentured on a credit ticket system in which they ‘sold’ themselves, like collies from the islands, for fixed terms to tyrannical speculators of their own race.   ( Parade May 1977)   

Some Chinese died at Blackwood and are buried in unconsecrated ground at the back of the Blackwood cemetery.  Over 40 names are recorded in the cemetery records with over 10 inquests into deaths recorded in the Digger records.   Other Chinese  moved on to other diggings and some stayed at goldfields like Bendigo which still has a wealth of Chinese history and a Joss House.  Beechworth has a big Chinese section in their cemetery.  Also Ballarat has Chinese history on-line.  ©

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Photo above in Blackwood cemetery courtesy of Margot Hitchcock. ©

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Photo above – a group of Chinese men at a foot race at the Blackwood Sports Ground C. 1890.  Courtesy of Margot Hitchcock and the B.D.H.S.  ©

Researched by Margot Hitchcock for her next book – ‘History and Pioneers of Blackwood’ soon to be published.  So far Margot has typed 34 pages she has researched on the Chinese in Blackwood in her book, including over 50 names of Chinese who had lived in Blackwood.  ©

PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE COPYRIGHT TO MARGOT HITCHCOCK and B.D.H.S. – PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. ©