Gold Rush

Topics: Australia, New South Wales, Gold rush Pages: 5 (1684 words) Published: June 20, 2013
The Australian gold rush affected Australian society in many ways. One example can be the Eureka Stockade, Australia’s only armed protest by gold miners

The gold rushes in the second half of the 19th century would completely change the face of Australia. Before 1851, Australia’s combined white population was approximately 77,000. Most of those had been convicts sent by ship over the previous seventy years. 

The gold rush completely changed that however. In the two years that followed Edward Hargraves’ discovery at Bathurst, Australia’s population increased to over 540,000. 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia’s ports during the year 1852 alone.

The flow of convicts to Australia’s shores stopped. It suddenly seemed like a foolish idea (and indeed no longer a punishment) to give a free boat ride to Australia’s rich gold fields to anyone who had committed a crime.

People from all over Europe, America, the Middle East, and China were attracted to the Australian gold rush. Most of them brought nothing but a will to work hard and the skills they had attained in their home countries. Many of them never saw any gold but their skills proved to be invaluable to the formation of Australia as a country that could stand up on its own.

The origins of the 'White Australia' policy can be traced to the 1850s. White miners' resentment towards industrious Chinese diggers culminated in violence on the Buckland River in Victoria, and at Lambing Flat (now Young) in New South Wales. The governments of these two colonies introduced restrictions on Chinese immigration. Later, it was the turn of hard-working indentured labourers from the South Sea Islands of the Pacific (known as 'Kanakas') in northern Queensland. Factory workers in the south became vehemently opposed to all forms of immigration which might threaten their jobs; particularly by non-white people who they thought would accept a lower standard of living and work for lower wages. Some influential Queenslanders felt that the colony would be excluded from the forthcoming Federation if the 'Kanaka' trade did not cease. Leading NSW and Victorian politicians warned there would be no place for 'Asiatics' or 'coloureds' in the Australia of the future. In 1901, the new federal government passed an Act ending the employment of Pacific Islanders. TheImmigration Restriction Act 1901 received royal assent on 23 December 1901. It was described as an Act 'to place certain restrictions on immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of prohibited immigrants'. The Act prohibited from immigration those considered to be insane, anyone likely to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution. It also included any person suffering from an infectious or contagious disease 'of a loathsome or dangerous character'. The Act also prohibited prostitutes, criminals and anyone under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour within Australia (with some limited exceptions). Other restrictions included a dictation test which was used to exclude certain applicants by requiring them to pass a written test. Often tests were conducted in a language the applicant was not familiar with and had been nominated by an immigration officer. With these severe measures the implementation of the 'White Australia' policy was warmly applauded in most sections of the community. In 1919 the Prime Minister, William Morris Hughes, hailed it as 'the greatest thing we have achieved'.

By the mid 19th century, there was a strong desire for representative and responsible government in the colonies of Australia, fed by the democratic spirit of the goldfields evident at the Eureka Stockade and the ideas of the great reform movements sweeping Europe, the United States and the British Empire. The end of convict transportation accelerated reform in the 1840s and 1850s. The Australian...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Student: Gold Rush and Ned Kelly Essay
  • the gold rush Essay
  • Gender Identity During the Gold Rush Essay
  • The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush Essay
  • Essay on Gold Rush Effects on Gender
  • The California Gold Rush Research Paper
  • "I came to Australia in the Gold Rush" Essay
  • The Gold Rush of 1849 Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free