Chinese Migration to Orange and District

Chinese Migration to Orange and District

A new exhibit at Orange Regional Museum examines Chinese Migration to Orange and the district. This display tells the story of the first wave of Chinese migration, in the 1840s, to the establishment of market gardens and businesses that formed core components of our regional communities during the first half of the 20th century.

One of the highlights is a reconstructed Chinese opium tin found on the gold fields of Ophir by local metal detectorist Bill Schmich. Tins of this type would have been used by migrants who came to Australia to seek their fortune during the gold rushes of the 1860s-1890s.

The exhibit will also feature a collection of Chinese ginger jars found near Dalton and Woodward Streets, Orange. These jars would have been used by local Chinese market gardeners.

A ledger book details how Chinese migrants lived, what they ate, what they bought and how much they were paid. The ledger book on display from Crosshills Station near Moorilda notes payment from August 1883 to a group of Chinese scrubbers (land clearers) for 2 pounds per acre, about $300 in today’s money.

The ledger also gives insight into how the migrants lived. For example the ledgers show us the migrants bought extraordinary amounts of sugar. One entry dated April 1 1888 shows a purchase of 22 pounds of sugar for 10 shillings (approx. $65 today).

Chinese Migration: To the Orange District will open on Friday 19 May from 10am until March 2018.

Orange Regional Museum is open Monday – Sunday 9am-5pm.

Top: Reconstructed opium tin from fragments found at Ophir, 1850s.  Loan courtesy of the Schmich family.
Centre: Ginger jars, 19th century.  Loan courtesy of the Schmich Family.
Bottom: Ledger book, Crosshill Station, 1875-1888.  Loan courtesy of the Brown family.

by Jessica Dowdell In Collections, News & Events, Recent News and tagged , , , , , , , on