2019 Dome at Dusk: Canton to Castlemaine – Chinese miners in Victoria

It was a pretty special opportunity to be invited to speak in the Domed Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria. My talk was part of their ‘Dome at Dusk’ series where they present a talk about a new display in one of their Domed Reading Room exhibitions.

Of the items in their display about the history of Chinese during the Victorian goldrushes I spoke about the extraordinary manuscript written by Chinese prospector, Jong Ah Sing, which he finished in 1872.

The manuscript (which is so very small when viewed in person), is a rare first-person account of Chinese life on the goldfields. As a historical document, however, it is incredibly difficult to interpret in part because it is written in a form of pigeon English, recounting events from memory but also because it was written by a man from a nineteenth century mental asylum of questionable sanity.

7 February 2019


Samuel C. Brees, Chinese diggers on Mount Alexander Road, Flemington on their way to the goldfields (detail), c.1856 (State Library of Victoria, H17071).

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