Albert Charles Cooke, Chinese Quarter Ballarat, Wood engraving published in The illustrated Australian news, Melbourne : Ebenezer and David Syme, July 18, 1868.Contributors
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The Chinese were required by the Victorian Government to be segregated into areas called Protectorates.
Chinese Protectorates were set up in 1855 with the aim of protecting Chinese residents but also segregating and quarantining them from the non-Chinese communities. Restricting Chinese to the protectorates also to made it easier for government officials to collect the taxes imposed on Chinese residents.
The Chinese Protectorates were inspired by the Aboriginal Protectorate model. Aboriginal Protectorates had been set up in Victoria in the 1830s, ostensibly to protect but also to separate Aboriginal communities from settler communities. Aboriginal protectorates were deliberately placed in remote locations outside towns, and Aboriginal people were required to move to them, although not all did so.
Unlike Aboriginal Protectorates, Chinese Protectorates were often placed quite close to the centre of towns.
Chinese Protectorates were established after violence towards the Chinese broke out in goldfields around Victoria. Strong anti-Chinese sentiment within elements of the European mining community grew. Some Europeans viewed the Chinese as alien, peculiar and sinister, others were disturbed by the numbers of Chinese people arriving and the efficiency of their communal mining techniques.
This potent mix of fear, distrust and economic envy led authorities on the goldfields to respond by separating the Chinese and imposing restrictions on them.
Chinese Protectorates required Chinese arrivals to a town to report and live in a specially-designated camp. A Chinese head man was assigned, Chinese interpreters were provided along with special police constables and other administrators. Chinese were required to pay a special tax to pay for the Protectorate services, though, as with Aboriginal people, not all Chinese people chose to live in the town protectorates.
By 1865 much of the formal government protectorate system had been dismantled but many of the camp locations continued as Chinese quarters for decades afterwards.
This engraving depicts the Chinese Quarter at Golden Point in Ballarat in 1868.