«THE ERRATIC COMMUNICATION BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND CHINA -By Eric Rolls NORTHERN TERRITORY LIBRARY SERVICE Darwin 1990 Cataloguing in Publication data ...»
There were several violent attempts to drive Chinese miners off the goldfields, especially on the Buckland River near Beechworth in Victoria and at Lambing Flat, now Young, in New South Wales. Savage European miners stole gold, burnt tents, smashed equipment, filled in
-- shafts, then -rounded the terrified Chinese up with stockwhips and drove them away. One burly Irish miner from Lambing Flat went back to the Victorian fields with seventeen pigtails hanging from his belt.
The Chinese extended their activities away from gold. They established thriving market gardens all over Australia and saved many European gold diggers from the disaster of scurvy and beriberi. The average Englishman thought he could work for months on salt beef, damper and black tea. For many years Chinese had control of the furniture trade. They established fisheries in al states and marketed fresh fish l as well as drying and salting fish for export to China. Here in Danvin they used very fine nets to catch young prawns no more than a centimetre or so long which they packed in brine for export. They cut sandalwood, grew tobacco, sugar cane, rice, bananas, maize. They opened restaurants, laundries. They entered into every phase of Australian life.
The first Chinese who came to the Northern Territory were brought in from Singapore by Captain Bloomfield Douglas to work for European mining companies. He arrived in August 1874 with 186 coolies and 10 Filipinos from Manila. Dr Guy who inspected each man a s he came aboard rejected 35 per cent for obvious syphilis but he could not recognise tertiary syphilis. Too many very sick men got past him. Then the broker who arranged the deal sent Triad members aboard late a t night to switch sick men for the best of those on board. Dr Guy was not sure whether fifteen or fifty were substituted. He was too nervous of the ostentatious knives to count.
This introduction also was not a happy one. Some of the mining companies who had applied for labour were going broke before the men arrived. They were not given enough to eat - there was a popular concept that a Chinese could work on veIy little food. In some cases they worked for months then the companies closed down without paying them.
Once again gold saved them. Thousands of Chinese poured in to work on the fields at Pine Creek, the Margaret River, Yam Creek, the Shackle, Burrundie, so many places. They worked rich ground and poor ground successfully. For the first and only time in Australia they worked reefs and made a good profit from fields Europeans had given up as worthless..Asthe gold cut out they went into tin mining. Men such a s Pin Que and Hang Gong became famous throughout the Territory. They were very successful businessmen whose authority
Chinese in Australia, even businessmen who owned land in several cities, who had lived with their families in Australia for years, were put to inordinate inconvenience. A group of Darwin storekeepers were stranded in Hong Kong for months. The South Australian Government i
We came to our senses in the 1960s with the realisation that new people with new customs, new foods, new languages revitalise a country. We had grown a s complacent a s syrup. The newcomers changed Australia from one of the staidest countries on earth to one of the most exciting. Chinese are deeply involved in everything Australia is doing.
But over the last three or four years there has been another change.
One hears anti-foreign, anti-Asia sentiments a s vicious a s those of a hundred years ago. r d o not think they will prevail.
In 1983 with my late wife, Joan, and Sinan Leong, a Chinese girl, I had a marvellous trip to China a s a guest of the government to see people working as they did last century. They gave u s two interpreters for the three of us, cars and drivers, and showed us what we wanted. And over and over they told me The book you are writing should make the two people more understandable to one another'. Apart from telling a fascinating story, that is what I am doing.
Sometime in the 1880s - I've not got all my information with me to give exact dates or even names - a wealthy Chinese came to Darwin from Hong Kong. He inspected the Daly River, said he could grow rice enough along it to feed all Asia. He applied to buy 4000 hectares of land and asked for a grant of another 4000 hectares. He also applied to bring in 2000 farmers with their wives and families. He intended to build homes for them. The South Australian Government did not even bother to answer him.
I believe that if he had developed his project, the Northern Territory, instead of being an embarrassingly unfmancial territory, would now be a very wealthy state.