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Sydney, Australia 1800s.

Australia: ° Adelaide ° Brisbane ° Darwin ° Fremantle ° Hunter Islands ° Lord Howe Island ° Melbourne ° Perth ° New South Wales (Sydney) ° Norfolk Island ° Van Dieman's Land: Tasmania (Hobart Town, Port Arthur)


The first inhabitants of Australia were the Aboriginal people whose history, though unrecorded, is now believed to date back to before the Ice Age.

Evidence from Tasmania indicates some Aborigines survived the Ice Age by living in caves. Aboriginal history began in a time they call the Dreaming, when the Ancestor Spirits emerged from the earth and gave form to the landscape.

Anthropologists believe that Aboriginal peoples reached Sydney Harbour at least 40,000 years ago. Tribes lived in the area now known as Sydney until the English arrived and caused violent disruption to their lives.

In 1606, the small Dutch ship Duyfken (owned by the Dutch East India Company) sailed from the Indonesian island of Banda in search of gold and trade opportunities on the fabled island of Nova Guinea. Under the command of Willem Janszoon, Duyfken and her crew sailed south-east, beyond Os Papuas (Papua New Guinea) and charted part of the coast of Nova Guinea. They did not find gold, but they did find the northern coast of a huge continent: Australia. Captain Janszoon was the first European to map and record in Australia.

July 17, 1852, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Americans in Australia.

The ship Europe, which left this port about the 1st instant for Australia, had on board a large number of passengers, among whom we are informed, were fifty or sixty native-born Americans, who were going to try their fortunes in the diggings of the British South Sea Colonies.

We received, about the period of her departure, a somewhat curious document, dated on board and handed to the pilot for delivery. It was written for publication, and is intended as a remonstrance against the treatment to which foreigners are subjected in our mines. The author, who subscribes himself Australiensis, is evidently an Englishman who has lived some time among us, and who confesses a predilection for American laws, faithfully administered, and feels a warm interest and sympathy for the affairs of California. And it is not in behalf of the rights of his own countrymen on her soil, nor those of any distinct and separate body of foreign miners that he makes his appeal, but to protect all classes of aliens among us from the jealous rivalry and prejudicial spirit which exists among a large body of American miners against the laborers from other shores, and, moreover, to prevent, as far as possible, the consequences of this intolerant and unlegalized action from being re-visited upon the heads of our countrymen, who are even now departing in considerable numbers, from various parts of the United States, for the shores of South Australia.

The views of the writer are exceedingly fair, and it is not necessary that we should publish his communication entire to illustrate the friendly and courteous spirit in which it was conceived. His opinions on the subject of international rights, and the relations which are doubtless not long hence to exist between this country and the flourishing British Colonies of the South sea, are not dissimilar to those which have been freely expressed in the editorial columns of this paper from time to time. Respecting the treatment of foreigners in the mines, we also would probably not be found widely at variance with the views of Australiensis, but the propriety and force of the argument which he advances out of consideration for the safety and success of a class, of emigrating Americans on foreign shores, may be questioned.

In the first place, it is not at all likely that the gold mines of South Australia offer sufficient inducement to our countrymen to forsake the mineral fields and the thousand other fruitful resources of California, and perform a pilgrimage to that far-off country in quest of riches which are quite as abundantly supplied at home.

And though Australiensis may have properly stated that some fifty or sixty Americans accompany him in this trip to the Colonies, adventurers from their own shores, we do not infer that there is to be a decided movement of any class of our people in that direction. It is, moreover, the opinion of this gentleman that over two thousand Americans are, to use his own words, "engaged in mining pursuits in that country at this moment, whose treatment in no respect differs from the English or native born citizens being all equally taxed and protected," which opinion is also unstrengthened by facts that have recently come to light respecting the state of the British Colonies. The best-accredited reports from that region represent the feeling against Americans, and particularly Californians, among all the laboring classes, to be one of decided bitterness and animosity.

There are not, we can state with some degree of confidence, over five hundred native born Americans scattered throughout the Australian colonies, irrespective of the crews of American vessels. And as for the prospect of an emigration of adventurers from the Atlantic States to the colonies, we attach no importance whatever to the conjecture. It is true a few vessels were laid on for their ports at the date of last advices from New York, but all accounts represented the indications of passenger loads being found, to be extremely feeble. Regarding, therefore, the well-meant apprehensions of our correspondent for the prospects of Americans in Australia, we might exclaim with Roderick Dhu, "Is nought but retribution due Seek other cause."

We have no fears of serious disturbances between British and American miners in the gold fields of South Australia. Nevertheless we are fully as sensitive to the wrongs inflicted upon strangers on our own shores by a reckless and disorderly class of our countrymen, as though we had interests to harmonize and protect on foreign shores. Americans can well afford to be thus disinterested and unselfish in their foreign relations.

July 9, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Later From Australia

By the arrival yesterday of the barque Envelope, we received, through the politeness of Capt. Smith, files of Sydney papers to April 6th, fourteen days later than previous advices. The news is not important.

The Empire denounced in severe terms the deceptions practiced in England to induce emigration to the colonies. With regard to the misrepresentations of the value of the stock of the Australian Company, it says:

It is stated that the Australian Agricultural Company's purchase of 300,000 acres is an immense gold field, and that the leasing of this land to diggers is even better than digging. On the faith of this representation it appears that the shares of the Company have suddenly taken a most extraordinary leap. These shares rose in two or three days from a nominal 65 pounds to a real 250 pounds, sine which it has been said they have reached 300 pounds. A short time ago they were in effect worthless. Now it is not the legitimate purpose of the Company's establishment -- if it ever had legitimate purposes -- which have caused this immense rise, but a notion which will not bear the test of Australian scrutiny. How many persons may be ruined by these absurdities we can scarcely conjecture, but we protest against the true character of the colony bearing the penalty of fictions of this sort.

In view of these and similar misrepresentations, the Empire calls upon government to interpose in behalf of deluded emigrants as well as of the Colonies.

An escort arrived at Sydney from the "Owens" on the 29th of March, bringing down 8,564 ounces of gold dust and 7,564 pounds in cash.

The papers are filled in a measure with accounts of assaults, thefts, robberies, and other crimes.

During the week ending on the 1st of April 12, 770 ounces of gold dust arrived at Sydney, supposed to be about the amount of the products of the month.

Eighteen Mormon missionaries had arrived in Australia. An official estimate gives the following as the mining population of Australia: 15,000 at Mount Alexander, 15,000 at Bendigo, 1,500 at Korong, 1,500 at Daisy Hill, 1,000 at Ballarat, and 3,000 at the Ovens, making 46,000 in the aggregate.

Chinese in Australia's Gold Fields

The number of Chinese people that came to Australia in the 1800's Gold Rush is open to speculation. It is believed about 7000 Chinese worked in the Araluen gold fields in Southern NSW.

Australia first became multi-cultural during the gold rush period with mass international immigration to Australia. The lure of gold however often took a personal toll on individuals of all persuasions, particularly those who did not speak English.

Australia.Chinese in Australia.

The Chinese faced the same exclusionary measures in Australia as had been faced in the United States. On March 19, 1891, London papers reported that The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the appeal from Viotoria, Australia confirmed the right of colonial governments to prevent the landing of Chinese immigrants.

On March 22, 1891, a dispatch from Sydney, New South Wales, says that permission has been given by the Privy Council, which provides a way by which the British colonies may restrict Chinese immigration. The exclusion of Chinese will be made under cover of a general law by which the customs officers are permitted to reject any immigrant, though tendering his poll-tax. This is not a manly way of keeping Chinese out, but it is as much as the British Government can be expected to do in the face of protests of the Chinese Government. In this case, as in many others, the interests of the colonies and of the mother country conflict. England wants to maintain friendly relations with China in the interests of commerce, while tbe colonies realize the necessity of restricting Chinese immigration in ths interests of their own people.

By June 1892, a large proportion of the Chinese population of South Australia began migrating to otber colonies and many went to the Queensland border with the view of settling there, The Government has directed the border police to be re-enforced, and the Chinese influx prevention act will be strictly carried out.

The Chinese were particularly industrious, with techniques that differed widely from the Europeans. This and their physical appearance and fear of the unknown led to them to being persecuted in a racist way that would be regarded as untenable today.

The Chinese miners used different mining methods to the Europeans. They are said to have seldom tackled new ground, preferring to go over ground abandoned by the Europeans. It is thought that they found much gold which had been missed by Caucasian miners in their haste.

On those occasions when the Chinese did dig for gold, it is commonly believed that they constructed round shafts rather than square or rectangular ones. This is both sound engineering, as a cylindrical shaft has better structural integrity than a square one which needs a great deal of shoring-up, and a likely deference to the Chinese superstition that evil spirits hide in corners, and they would not want to turn their back on such spirits. Similarly, they had curves on their Joss house roofs and portals so that the evil spirits would slide down and then swoop upwards away from them.

May 27, 1899, Sausalito News, Sausalito, California, U.S.A.

Oriental Merchants at Work on the Scheme.

Vancouver, B. C. Some of the most influential Oriental merchants are now working on a scheme which is simply gigantic in its scope and one which undoubtedly will attract attention in all parts of the American continent. It is to form companies in every city of consequence in the United States, Canada and Australia, which will attempt to oontrol Chinese capital in order to promote and control Oriental industries.

When Kang, the Chinese reformer, was in Vancouver, he outlined the scheme to a number of prominent Chinese and his ideas were quickly acted upon. Interpreter Cum Yow, who is in the scheme, said in regard to it:

"We have no doubts about its success. Our plan is to give the Chinese a chance to invest their money in this country and to further all Chinese industries. There are at present 5,000,000 Chinese in Canada, Australia and the United States, and they will all, we think, go into the scheme. As soon as our company is formed there we will send out our agents and form companies in every city of any size in Canada, the United States and Australia. We expect to issue altogether about $60,000,000 worth of stock. With the formation of the companies accomplished and the stock issued they will be brought under one management with headquarters possibly in Vancouver. Then a Banking institution will be formed and investments in Chinese Industries will be made on an immense scale. Shares of the immense trust will sell at $1 each, and already several thousand dollars' worth have been bought here by men who are making only $1 a day."

The promoters, who are nearly all Wealthy men, are: Yip Sang, Hip Tuck Lung, Charlie Yip Yen, Sum Kee, Dr. Lui, Lee Yuen and W. A. Cum Yow.

Kang, the Chinese reformer and refugee, who originated the scheme, is said to have invented a quarter of a million in it.

Chinatown is much excited over the project and every Celestial in the city is said to be eager to purchase stock. The whole concern is simply an immense trust, although the promoters are loth to acknowledge it.

Operations of the trust will not be confined to Chinese Industries, as it proposed to build steamers to run to China and possibly construct a railway line in Mexico.

The Platypus

February 2, 1883, Colonies and India

An Australian Natural History Puzzle

It may be doubted whether any zoological discovery ever exceeded in interest the discovery in Australia of those two animals, the duck billed 'platypus (or ornithorhyuchus) and the echidna, or spiny Australian ant-eater. Long as these creatures have now been known, and carefully as they have been studied by Meckel, Owen, and other distinguished anatomists, they still continue and will long continue to offer fresh fields of research to the zealous biologist. Many other beasts are divergent enough; between the bat and the sloth, or between the whale and the antelope, not a few differences may be found; but all these added together are simply nothing to the differences which exist between the platypus and echidna on the one hand, and all other beasts taken together upon the other. By their bony breasts, their brains, small ear bones, and many other characters these two forms, which are together spoken of as monotremes,, stand alone in their class; but to the interest which such peculiarities naturally excite is now added the interest to be derived from their contemplation in the light of the theory of evolution. The question now arises, how has it been that these two isolated forms have come to exist in a remote part of the world, not only quite without any existing ally (for we count the New Guinea species as an echidna), but without a trace having been found of any fossil relative? Are these monotremes to be regarded as the last survivors of a once very numerous and generally diffused kind of animal life, or as specimens of a small and comparatively modern local offshoot a sport?

Their peculiarities differ from the structure of all ordinary beasts in such a way as to approximate towards that found among different birds and reptiles; but to which of these do they approach the nearer? Investigations recently made by Professor Lankester seem decidedly to indicate their greater affinity to birds in at least one point of their structure. In a very interesting paper read before the Zoological Society the Professor points out, as the result of a number of careful dissections, that the structure of the heart, and especially that of the valve of its right side, is (as Professor Oen sagaciously divined), bird-like, rather than (as Professors Huxley and Gegenbaur suspected) formed like that of crocodiles. The anatomical details on which this judgement rests are too technical for reproduction here, but it may interest some of our readers to know that while the structure of the heart of the platypus is very bird-like, that of the echidna is less so, so that if in the latter a few perforations in a piece of membrane were to appear so as to reduce the fibrous membrane into fibrous cords, it would thereby clearly approximate to the form of the heart found in all other beasts. Thus the platypus, by its innermost structure, only makes more and more plain that bird-like nature which its duck's bill caused its first observers to suspect. -- Times.

Brunel in South Wales.Brunel in South Wales:
Communications and Coal
New South Wales and Australia.
Stephen Jones

Brunel in South Wales:
Volume 3: Links with Leviathans
Brunel in South Wales.
Stephen Jones
Isambard Kingdom Brunel had strong associations with South Wales; chief engineer of the GWR at just 27, he was the same for the South Wales Railway Company, taking the railways across South Wales. This illustrated history focuses on Brunel's contribution to the maritime world, from his work on dry docks and shipping facilities to his steamships, including his 'great leviathan'.

The Fatal Shore
The Epic of Australia's Founding
Robert Hughes
Superbly researched and brilliantly written. The birth of Australia from England's brutal convict transportation system.

Charles Dickens' Australia.Charles Dickens' Australia.
Selected essays from Household Words 1850-1859
Book Two: Immigration
Margaret Mendelawitz
Starting as a court reporter, parliamentary newspaper columnist and theatre critic, he developed an instinct for injustice, humbug and charade. For 20 years he edited his own weekly journal, 'Household Words', later known as 'All the Year Round', publishing articles and stories designed to be interesting, entertaining, and educational. Dickens had a keen interest in Australia and fortuitously began publishing the periodical at a transitional moment, just before the heady days of the 1850s gold rush set the world ablaze. The discovery of gold drove a period of mass immigration, expansion into the hinterlands, and caused radical economic and social changes in an emerging nation. Of the nearly 3000 articles published in 'Household Words', some 100 related to Australia and have been collected in this anthology. Dickens saw Australia offering opportunities for England's poor and downtrodden to make a new start and a brighter future for themselves; optimism reflected in many of the articles.

A Merciless Place by Emma Christopher.A Merciless Place: The Fate of Britain's Convicts after the American RevolutionAustralia. A Merciless Place.
Emma Christopher
The fate of British convicts is a dramatic story—the saga of forgotten men and women scattered to the farthest corners of the British empire, driven by the American Revolution and the African slave trade. A Merciless Place captures the story of poverty, punishment, and transportation. The story begins with the American War of Independence which interrupted the flow of British convicts into America. Two entrepreneurs organized the criminals into military units to fight for the crown. The felon soldiers went to West Africa's slave-trading posts just as the war ended; these forts became the new destination for England's rapidly multiplying convicts. The move was a disaster. To end the scandal, the British government chose a new destination, as far away as possible: Australia.

Van Diemen's Land, New South Wales. Wyld. 1827

New South Wales. Map.

A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53. A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53A Lady's Visit to the Gold Digings of Australia in 1852-53.
Ellen Clacy
An 1853 account of a trip by Mrs Charles (Ellen) Clacy (1830-1901) to the Australian goldfields. Essentially a guide for prospective emigrants, with much practical advice within the narrative, this books sheds light on early Australian social history and hints at problems in the author's outwardly respectable life.

Among Australia's Pioneers
Chinese Indentured Pastoral Workers on the Northern Frontier 1848 to c.1880
Chinese Indentured Pastoral Workers, Australia, 1848 to 1880.
Margaret Slocomb
The almost simultaneous abolition of the slave trade and the cessation of convict transportation to the colony of New South Wales started a quest by the squatter pastoralists for alternative sources of cheap labor for their vast sheep runs. Over a period of five years, beginning from 1848, around three thousand Chinese men and boys from Fujian Province were recruited under conditions little different from the slave trade.Athor Margaret Slocomb focuses on the experiences of approximately two hundred of these Chinese laborers between 1848 and 1853.

True History of the Kelly GangTrue History of the Kelly Gang.
A Novel by Peter Carey

Winner of the 2001 Booker Prize.
Out of nineteenth-century Australia rides a hero of his people and a man for all nations, in this masterpiece by the Booker Prize-winning author of Oscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs. Exhilarating, hilarious, panoramic, and immediately engrossing. This is Ned Kelly's true confession, in his own words and written on the run for an infant daughter he has never seen. To the authorities, this son of dirt-poor Irish immigrants was a born thief and, ultimately, a cold-blooded murderer; to most other Australians, he was a scapegoat and patriot persecuted by "English" landlords and their agents.With his brothers and two friends, Kelly eluded a massive police manhunt for twenty months, living by his wits and strong heart, supplementing his bushwhacking skills with ingenious bank robberies while enjoying the support of most everyone not in uniform.

Australia Sea Stories:
Fiction and Non-Fiction

Australian Mining Companies.
Australians: Eureka to the DiggersAusttralian Mining.
Author Thomas Keneally is a novelist, playwright, and nonfiction author who is best-known for the Booker Prize–winning novel Schindler's Ark, which was adapted into the movie Schindler's List. His other titles include the Penguin Lives biography Abraham Lincoln, American Scoundrel: The Life of the Notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles, and A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia.

Four Seasons of Mojo
An Herbal Guide to Natural Living
Stephanie Rose Bird
Useful ideas unrestricted by geographic borders, ethnicity, religion, or magical path. Included are recipes and concepts from the Caribbean, African American soul food, Buddhist Meditation practices, sacred Hindu rites, Old European traditions, Australian Aboriginal dreaming lessons, and Native American wisdom. "Four Seasons of Mojo" infuses ancient techniques, rituals, and methods from around the world to use each season''s inherent energies to supplement body, mind, and soul.

A Selection of Books about
Australian Mining Companies
Australian Mining Companies.

Australian Mining.
The Gold Rush
The Fever That Forever Changed Australia
Australian Mining.
David Hill
Australia's incredible gold rushes of the mid-to late-1800s produced tremendous wealth and ensured the financial survival of the struggling Australian colonies. They also tripled the country's small population, halted convict transportation, subverted the hierarchical British class system, laid the foundations of the Australian egalitarian ethos, and stimulated the democratic ideas that led to the establishment of the nation of Australia. David Hill recreates this monumental turning point in Australia's history using diaries, journals, books, letters, official reports, Parliamentary enquiries, and newspaper reports of the time, along with his own storyteller's skill of bringing the past to life from New South Wales and Victoria, up to Queensland and the Northern Territory, then down to Tasmania and across the great deserts of Western Australia.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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