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Chinese Influences

The hardworking Chinese who came to the goldfields were prepared to work poor claims that others had abandoned. Their success was met with high levels of discrimination and abuse. Also, while many miners became immigrants, the Chinese were generally regarded as short-term residents with intentions to earn money, provide for themselves and their families, and then return home as prosperous men. As well as working in their own right, some were offered work by sluicing companies, and by 1863 it is estimated out of a 30-40,000 population that 7,000 Chinese were on the Beechworth fields.

Although hostility was common at all goldfields, there were some particularly unpleasant incidents in the Ovens district. A riot at the Buckland diggings resulted in the destruction of homes, robbery and murder. Robert O'Hara Burke was called in from Beechworth to assess the situation and make arrests (although hostile crowds cheered those arrested).

Chinese miners left many ancestral marks on Beechworth's historic, geographic and cultural landscape. There was a permanent Chinese Camp, complete with Joss House, shops, etc., and of course, the fascinating Chinese Cemetery and Burning Towers. Many Australian goldfields have similar 'Chinese sections'.