Portland Botanic Gardens, circa 1920, postcard.
Text Source: Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, ‘Chinese Fortunes’, curator, Cash Brown, 2017.Contributors
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Sometimes Chinese were blackmailed into building structures along the way.
Buildings at Chetwynd Station, the woolshed at Mundarra Station, a sheep wash and long stone fence at Dunkeld, buildings at Fulham Station and Warrock Homestead were apparently built by unpaid Chinese craftsmen fearful of being reported to the authorities.
Not all land owners were so wicked. Edward Henty of Muntham Estate, near Coleraine, employed Chinese workers to build a dam using the wheelbarrows, picks and shovels they had at hand. This dam holds water as well now as the day it was completed.
One group of sojourners, caught in Hamilton in 1857, were unable to pay the 4 pound overland poll tax (introduced in 1857 in an attempt to limit overland Chinese immigration) and were sentenced to two months in prison. They camped in the police paddocks in Portland to the south without guards, and made no attempt to escape.
Every day they worked the public gardens in Portland 'wherein this place their enforced labour turned from a wilderness into one of the beauty spots of the south.'
Text by Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka ‘Chinese Fortunes’ curator Cash Brown.