The Australian gold rushes changed the convict colonies into more progressive cities with the influx of free emigrants. These hopefuls, termed diggers, brought new skills and professions, contributing to a burgeoning economy. The mateship that evolved between these diggers and their collective resistance to authority led to the emergence of an unique national identity. Although not all diggers found riches on the goldfields, many decided to stay and integrate into these communities
Lambing Flat riots 1861. Victoria taxed Chinese at £10 a head. This created an illegal trade whereby the Chinese were dropped off at ports in South Australia. Chinese diggers left Australia and went back to China with their gold. It was a drain on the economy. Riots ensued at gold mines between Chinese and European diggers. So all states legislated against Chinese in 1880. Their number quickly declined and many of those who remained grew vegetables for the European community.
Shu Cheong works on the goldfields at Lambing Flat. Life is tough, and there are many white settlers who are anything but friendly. It is 1860, and the white miners' behaviour towards the Chinese is becoming more and more violent. Shu Cheong witnesses increasing hatred and brutality towards his people ... But he also learns the value of true friendship.
People travelled from all over the world to seek their fortune on the Australian goldfields. But when they got to Australia, they found life was tough. The diggers lived in makeshift tents that didn't keep out the weather or thieves. The food was bad, clean water was scarce and every day was full of danger. How did these early emigrants make a life for themselves in this harsh new place?
A gold strike. On the left is the red flag which the regulations stated must be hoisted for a week as soon as gold was found; then comes the syndicate of miners with one holding the dish with four or five nuggets; next is the clerk from the mining warden's office; on the right we see the butcher included by way of "local colour"; as a background, the forge (for the never-ending tool sharpening), and just behind it on the right the actual shaft and its tall whip-pole for horse-power hoisting.