4. When the first lot of Chinese gold seekers turned up in Bathurst in 1856 they sold souvenir fans to the locals.

Australian history and particularly its Chinese Australian element of often coloured by incidents such as the Lambing Flat riots, racism in general and the various discriminatory laws that were enacted. This extract from an eyewitness of the arrival in Bathurst of a group of Chinese gold seekers in 1856 helps to provide a broader dimension and needs no other comment:

Extract from an 1866 engraving by Fredrick Grosse

“Our diggings promise to become the sites of a series of Chinese colonies. A few days ago a second batch of the sons of the Celestial Empire arrived in Bathurst, consisting, as nearly as we can guess, of about 150, and proceeded to the camping ground of their predecessors, where they pitched their tents, spread their mats, and commenced cooking — , favourite pastime apparently, which, together with eating, seems to swallow up the whole day. Amongst their number we perceived several rather ancient looking pig-tails, who, in all probability, have come to deposit their bones in Australia. Their canvass village has been a favourite resort for the townspeople, who have thronged in front of their tents to witness the novelty of their proceedings, amongst which the expert use of their chopsticks was not the least amusing. Their economical use of firewood was another circumstance which called forth the astonishment of the visitors, who saw that by digging small holes in the ground, with ventilation only in front, that about as much timber was consumed in boiling and stewing for 150 as would cook a meal for a single family, after our own fashion. There was the usual display of fans and purses, and other trifles for sale, but the exorbitant prices asked reduced their traffic almost to nil. On Monday last they struck their tents, and trotted off to the westward with their stock of domestic utensils, mats, and bedding, slung upon poles.”[1]

[1] Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 30 July 1856, p.2.

The CAHS is grateful to Dr Juanita Kwok for uncovering this gem.