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Tasmania's Chinese heritage: an historical record of Chinese sites in North East Tasmania


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Vivian, H 1985 , 'Tasmania's Chinese heritage: an historical record of Chinese sites in North East Tasmania', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The Chinese came to Tasmania ( 1875 - 1890) to work the alluvial tin
fields of the North East. They came as sojourners to make quick
fortunes before returning to China. They comprised the largest
non-European ethnic community in 19th Century Tasmania.
The number of Chinese was never great, reaching a peak of
approximately 1000 - 1500 in 1887, but they played a very important
role in the settlement and development of the North East. Tin mining
was the main industry in the region and accounted for -! of the
colony's export earnings during the 1880s. The Chinese were brought
in as cheap labour for the mines in the late 1870s and early 1880s, but,
by a combination of circumstances and perserverance, they quickly
established themselves in their own right. By 1882, Chinese were
more numerous than Europeans in the alluvial tin mines and they
remained in the majority until about 1897 (by which time alluvial mining
had diminished in importance). After the introduction of restrictive
immigration laws in 1887 and a recession in tin mining in 1888, the
number of Chinese gradually declined. Those that remained form the
roots of the Tasmanian population of the 1980s.
Very little has been recorded of the history of the Chinese in Tasmania,
and this survey of historical Chinese sites can only be regarded as a
preliminary step towards understanding a period of history which has
all but vanished today. The project located and recorded 41 sites and
includes 15 oral history recordings; this forms the most comprehensive
collection or primary source material available on the Chinese to date.
The archaelogical record is currently an untapped source of information
on the Chinese. However, these sites are currently under threat from
forestry, fossicking, and small-scale mining. It is important to
preserve the sites as sources of culturally significant information and
vital to protect them as culturally significant fabric, since very few
structures have survived from this era of Tasmanian history.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Vivian, H
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