Unknown artist, Ballarat, Victoria, Watercolour, ca. 1854Contributors
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The gold fields were a melting pot of people from all around the world.
They spoke different languages and dialects and often chose to live and work with people from their own country: Germans would set up a specific camp, for instance, as would the Irish and the Welsh.
In the 1850s Chinese people quickly became the largest national sub-group outside of the British on the goldfields. At the height of Chinese migration to Victoria they made up over one-fifth of the male goldfields population, in some towns more than half the goldseekers resident were Chinese.
Although government-mandated locations were set out for them from 1855, Chinese miners did not always choose to live in the government camps: rather, they followed the gold like everyone else.
This drawing depicts people walking to and from the gold fields of Ballarat, circa 1854. In it, Aboriginal and Chinese people mingle with others on the broad flats of Ballarat East.
Ballarat was the traditional country of the Wadawurrung speaking peoples of the Eastern Kulin nation.
Gold was discovered in Ballarat, in Western Central Victoria, in 1851 and it quickly became one of the most populous, lucrative and legendary gold rush towns in Australia.