From 1852, news of the gold rushes in Victoria and New South Wales spread throughout the southern provinces of China, bringing the promise of great prosperity. Thousands of Chinese men, and a handful of Chinese women, journeyed here hoping to make their fortunes. They came from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds, and brought with them a wide range of skills and traditions. Chinese Fortunes is an exhibition from the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
In the face of stringent immigration restrictions and taxes imposed by the colonies pre federation, many Chinese came to Australia and made their fortune. Chinese Fortunes explores the motivation, spirit, hardships, and legacies of the Chinese miners through a historical timeline of key events, storytelling, artefacts and objects.
The exhibition will shine a light on the little known aspects of the Chinese diaspora during the high colonial period, providing the audience with a fresh view of the Chinese as pioneers and trailblazers of the Australian gold fields.
Chinese Fortunes delivers a ‘new view on an old story’ an opportunity for the audience to reflect on immigration and social marginalisation in Australia during the gold-rush era, and the significance of these events, not only in the past but today. The exhibition explores immigration in the context of the past, however challenges the audience to see parallels in contemporary Australia.
Chinese Fortunes also seeks to encourage audiences to examine multicultural influences, notions of assimilation and cultural stereotypes, by presenting potted histories on individual Chinese sojourners and immigrants who contributed to the development of a modern nation.