State Library of South Australia
Manning Index of South Australian History
  • South Australia
  • Adelaide
  • Port Adelaide
  • Place Names

  • About the Index
  • Searching
  • Text-based menus
    (Use this option if your browser will not open the folders.)

    South Australia - Immigration



    Also see:
    South Australia - Immigration - White Australia Policy
    Adelaide - Chinese Population.

    The Chinese in the South East

    The pursuance of the White Australia Policy rendered the Chinaman a curiosity in South Australia and by the middle of the 20th century he was rarely seen, either in the city or the outback. It is a fact, however, that 14,000 of them landed in South Australia in the first half of 1857 and detailed records show that 22 vessels arriving at Robe between January 17 and May 3 of that year landed 10,154 immigrants - all Chinese.

    Repeated requests from the miners on the Victorian fields stirred the government of that colony and, in 1855, it imposed duties of one shilling a ton on every vessel (half-yearly) and five shillings for each passenger other than Chinese for whom 10 had to be paid. Further, only one Chinese passenger could be landed for each ten tons of the vessel's tonnage. This impost curtailed the immigrant trade for a time but then it was realised that if Chinamen were landed in South Australia they would not have to pay anything.

    The Argus in Melbourne on 4 June 1856, p. 2 said:

    The Melbourne Herald drew a historical parallel between the City of Adelaide and the capital of ancient Greece. Athens had its Themistocles who though he "could not fiddle, knew how to turn a little city into a great one'and it concluded that Adelaide must have its Themistocles because it wished to "annex the goldfields", because Adelaide wished the ocean steamers to call and leave their mails en route and because Adelaide "chuckles" over the Chinese immigration as a means of profiting by the evasion of the Victorian law. The Editor of the Register was qiuick to respond:

    Guichen Bay, on which Robe was situated, was the nearest suitable harbour to the diggings while others went to Port Adelaide but from there they had a longer walk - unless they could afford the means of conveyance. Some entered Victoria by taking a boat up the River Murray and on this entrance there were no dues to be paid, though a communication from the Victorian to the South Australian government, asking that colony to impose some restriction, said that if something was not done, impositions would be put on Chinese immigrants entering in that way:

    Guichen Bay was by no means a safe harbour and between February and June 1857 no less than three vessels were wrecked but with, surprisingly, little loss of life - the Phaeton in February, the Sultana in April and the Koenig Willem II in June were all lost. Like all the immigrant vessels to Robe they had come from Hong Kong, eager to land their passengers and return to China for another batch - it is known that there were between 30,000 and 40,000 Chinamen in Victoria in June 1857.

    Henry D. Melville was the first Sub-Collector of Customs at Robe, a position he held for 14 years, and recalled the Chinese invasion of the 1850s:

    On a lighter note, Charles Savage, reminiscing in 1925 said:

    A party of Chinamen arrived at Mount Gambier in July 1856 and:

    In 1863 it was reported that 51 Chinamen were charged at the Hamilton Police Court with entering the colony of Victoria without paying the capitattion tax and were committed to the Portlandl gaol for one month's imprisonment and hard labour. 122 of them had landed at Guichen Bay from the Independence and set off for the diggings laden with luggage carried by means of bamboo canes and escaped the penalty of crossing the border until they arrived eight mniles beyond Hamilton when the unfortunate 51 were apprised early one morning by a trooper that their presence was required at Hamilton.

    Not all the Chinamen proceeded to the diggings and it is apparent that a few of them found employment on local stations for in September 1864 the sudden death of John Swan, "the Chinaman who has long settled on the Benaira [sic] station in the employ of Mr Lorimer" was reported while, in 1875, four Chinamen secured four acres of land "in Mr Blume's paddock next to the German Chapel" and set up as market gardeners. They came from Melbourne, where they had been settled for seven years, and an opinion was expressed that "vegetable growing will prove a poor game at Mount Gambier. Nature is too bountiful for market gardeners." Time was to disprove this statement for members of the Chinese race were still active as market gardeners on a property along Penola Road until occupied for the same purpose by Mr James Rowell in the late 1940s.

    Geoffrey H. Manning, A Colonial Experience, Observer, 14 June 1856, p. 3, Register, 14 June 1856, p. 2, 19 July 1856, p. 3, 1 May 1878, p. 5, 19 August 1903, p. 6, Advertiser, 19 June 1925, p. 14, Chronicle, 12 March 1936, p. 16, Border Watch, 24 April 1863, 17 September 1864.

    General Notes

    A proposal to import "coolies" from India "to relieve the difficulty under which the colony suffers" is in the Observer,
    15 April 1854, page 1a (supp.).

    "Chinese Immigration" is discussed in the Register,
    4 May 1853, page 3b,
    12 April 1854, page 2e; also see
    19 August 1854, page 5e,
    28 April 1855, pages 6d-7e.

    Chinese immigration is reported upon in the Register,
    30 and 31 January 1856, pages 2b and 3c,
    6 May 1856, page 3e.

    "Calculating Celestials" is in the Register,
    8 April 1856, page 3e; also see
    9 and 22 April 1856, pages 3g and 4a,
    3, 7, 10, 16, 17, 18, 21 and 30 June 1856, pages 3b, 3h, 2f, 3d, 3h, 2d, 2f and 2g, 24 July 1856, page 2h,
    1, 9 and 13 August 1856, pages 2f, 3g and 2d.

    "The Influx of Chinese" is in the Register,
    4 June 1856, page 2c.

    "The Chinese on the Overland Route" is in the Observer,
    9 August 1856, page 2d (supp.).

    "The Chinese Question" in the Register,
    4, 6 and 18 June 1856, pages 2c, 3f and 2d,
    2, 4 and 8 June 1857, pages 2c-f, 3e and 3b,
    Parliamentary Papers
    71, 91 and 91a of 1877,
    28 March 1857, page 4h.

    Chinese emigration is discussed in the Register,
    28 April 1857, page 3c,
    2 and 13 May 1857, pages 3b and 2d,
    2 June 1857, page 2c,
    28 July 1857, page 2f.

    "The Chinese Question - Importation of Disease" is in the Observer,
    29 August 1857, page 5e,
    5 September 1857, page 5h.
    27 and 28 August 1857, pages 3f and 2f,
    2 and 5 September 1857, pages 3h and 2e.

    "The Chinese" is in the Observer,
    10 and 17 July 1858, pages 6g and 6h,
    2 February 1861, page 6d. Also see
    5 May 1877, page 4d,
    14 March 1878, page 4e,
    12 January 1878, page 12b,
    30 March 1878, page 24g,
    6 April 1878, page 13e,
    4 and 11 May 1878, pages 11g and 11a,
    8 June 1878, page 13b,
    10, 14, 15, 23 and 24 January 1879, pages 5g, 5f, 4d-5g, 4e and 6b,
    13 February 1879, page 4f.

    "The Chinese Bill and the House of Assembly" is in the Register,
    30 September 1861, page 3c,
    1 October 1861, page 2f.

    "Prison Labour" is in the Register,
    5 May 1863, page 2e.

    "John Chinaman Again" is in the Chronicle,
    21 December 1878, pages 5b-8e,
    11, 18 and 25 January 1879, pages 8f, 11b and 5c,
    1 February 1879, page 12c,
    7 and 14 December 1878, pages 6f and 10c-19a.

    "China and the Chinese" is in the Chronicle,
    2 March 1861, page 4g.

    "The Great Chinese Exodus" is in the Observer,
    11 December 1875, page 7c.

    The following is in the Advertiser, 7 October 1861, page 3c:

    "Asiatic Immigration" is in the Register,
    24 June 1875, pages 4d-7c,
    6 September 1875, page 4f.

    A poem titled "Heathen Chinee in Australia" is in the Register,
    15 February 1876, page 5e and
    cartoons on
    13 February 1886, page 24,
    15 October 1887, page 11.

    "The Chinese in Australia" is in the Register,
    1 March 1877, page 4d,
    17 March 1877, page 13c; also see
    26 May 1877, pages 13c-19e,
    16 June 1877, pages 17f-20f.
    "The European and John Chinaman" is in the SA Figaro,
    11 July 1877, page 4b.

    "The Chinese" is in the Register,
    25, 26 and 30 April 1878, pages 6g, 6f and 6g,
    2 May 1878, page 6e.

    A poem titled "Mr J.L. Parsons on John Chinaman" and other information are in The Adelaide Punch,
    14 December 1878, pages 4 and 5c; also see
    21 December 1878.

    A poem entitled "John Chinaman" is in The Lantern,
    7 September 1898, page 2,
    "Heathen Chinee" on
    21 December 1878 and
    "Justice for John (cartoon) on
    21 December 1878; also see
    The Lantern,
    17 April 1880 (poem),
    17 February 1881, page 8,
    25 June 1881, pages 9c-10b,
    4 June 1887, page 11 (cartoon),
    a poem 'John Chinaman' on
    15 October 1887, page 19; also see
    12 May 1888, page 20,
    16 June 1888, page 21,
    14 July 1880, page 21.

    "The Chinese Question" is in the Observer,
    14 December 1878, page 10c,
    4, 11 and 18 January 1879, pages 10f-21c, 11a and 11c-12a.

    Also see Express,
    10, 15 and 24 January 1879, pages 3e, 3e and 3e,
    15 February 1879, pages 10d-19b,
    3 and 17 April 1880, pages 567a and 650b,
    20, 21, 23 and 25 January 1879, pages 4d-6g, 6f and 6f, 1g (supp.),
    3 and 7 February 1879, pages 6e and 4d-6a,
    29 March 1880, page 6c,
    26, 28, 29 and 31 July 1880, pages 4e, 5f, 4d-g and 6g,
    11 and 20 August 1880, pages 7b and 2a (supp.),
    6, 7, 11, 14, 22 and 24 September 1880, pages 6b, 6c, 2c (supp.), 6f,
    5a-6e-3d (supp.), and 5d,
    5 August 1880, page 3f.

    Also see Register,
    7, 12 and 20 October 1880, pages 6b and 7c,
    7 and 16 April 1881, pages 1f (supp.) and 6f,
    14, 15 and 17 June 1881, pages 4d, 5b and pages 4g-5b,
    16 and 17 December 1884, pages 4h-5a and 5g,
    3 December 1886, page 4h:

    An informative letter on Chinese immigration is in the Advertiser,
    19 May 1880, page 6f; also see
    28 July 1880, page 4f,
    5, 12 and 13 August 1880, pages 6e, 7b and 4d,
    7 and 14 September 1880, pages 6f and 6f,
    12 October 1880, page 6d,
    17 June 1881, page 4e:

    Also see Observer,
    15 October 1881, page 25e (poem),
    11 September 1886, page 7a,
    13 March 1882, page 4d,
    6 and 11 October 1883, pages 4e and 6a,
    23 June 1886, page 4c,
    7 September 1886, page 4d,
    13 August 1887, page 4e,
    13 September 1887, page 6d,
    26 April 1887, page 5b,
    13 May 1887, pages 4e-6d,
    19, 25, 26 and 29 November 1887, pages 4h, 4g-5b-6b, 7b and 7e.

    Also see Observer,
    26 November 1887, page 31c,
    3 December 1887, page 25c,
    28 July 1888, page 24e,
    22 September 1888, page 25b,
    24 and 25 November 1887, pages 4e and 5e,
    6 December 1887, page 6f,
    23 February 1888, page 7e,
    29 and 31 March 1888, pages 5b and 4d,
    4, 5, 7, 16, 17 and 19 April 1888, pages 5f-g, 5e, 7d, 4g, 7f and 6d-f,
    26 September 1888, page 4c.

    "The Chinese and the Trades Congress" is in the Register,
    9 September 1886, pages 3e-6c.

    "Chinese and Other Foreigners" is in the Register,
    28 June 1887, page 4f.

    "The Anti-Chinese Meeting" is in the Register,
    19 and 26 November 1887, pages 4g-5b-6b and 6h.

    "The Parliament and the Poll Tax" is in the Observer,
    10 March 1888, page 27c,
    "The Chinese Question" on
    12 May 1888, pages 35-36.

    "The Chinese in Australia" is in the Chronicle,
    24 and 31 March 1888, pages 6f and 5a-13e.

    "The Chinese Poll Tax" is in the Register,
    13 May 1887, page 6d,
    "Poll Tax on Way Lee" is in the Observer,
    6 October 1888, page 31c,
    17 November 1888, page 26d,
    11 May 1889, page 30a.
    "The Chinese Question - Mr Way Lee Interviewed" is in the Register,
    6 and 7 April 1888, pages 5h and 7c,
    "Mr Way Lee and the Poll Tax" on
    19 March 1889, page 5b.

    "The Chinese in Australia" is in the Register,
    9 April 1888, page 4h,
    "The Chinese at Our Doors" on
    8 May 1888, pages 4g-5h-6e.

    "What Do the Chinese Think of Us" is in the Observer,
    2 February 1889, pages 25b-33d,
    29 January 1889, page 4f,
    "The Chinese in Australia - A Chinaman's View" in the Advertiser,
    27 November 1900, page 7b,
    "The Chinese in Australia" on
    11 May 1889, page 25b.

    Also see Register,
    6 December 1887, page 6d,
    24 January 1888, page 4h,
    28 and 29 February 1888, pages 7f and 4f,
    8, 13, and 21 March 1888, pages 7g, 5b and 6e,
    9, 16 and 30 April 1888, pages 4h, 7d and 3h-4g,
    8, 9, 16, 18, 26 and 31 May 1888, pages 4g-5h, 4g-6g, 4f, 7h, 4g and 4g,
    18 and 20 June 1888, pages 4f and 7h,
    4 and 25 July 1888, pages 4e and 4f,
    23 August 1888, page 4e,
    2 October 1888, pages 4h-5c,
    8 May 1889, page 4e.

    "Chinese Petition to the Parliament" is in the Register,
    29 June 1888, pages 3h-4e.

    "What Do the Chinese Think of Us?" is in the Register,
    29 January 1889, pages 4f-5g,
    "Chinese in Australia" on
    8 May 1889, page 4e.

    Also see Advertiser,
    10 June 1890, page 4f,
    12 and 31 December 1890, pages 4c and 4c,
    26 November 1891, page 4d,
    1 December 1891, page 4g,
    11 August 1893, page 7a,
    12 September 1893, page 6d,
    11 October 1893, page 5e,
    22 October 1894, page 4g.

    "What Do the Chinese Think of Us" is in the Register,
    29 January 1889, page 4f,
    "The Chinese in Australia - A Chinaman's View" in the Advertiser,
    27 November 1900, page 7b.

    A letter from Mr Way Lee on the Restriction Act is in the Advertiser,
    29 September 1891, page 6e; also see
    7 October 1891, page 4c for editorial comment.

    "The Chinese at Home and in Australia" is in the Register,
    1 November 1891, page 4g.

    "Orientals in SA" is in the Register,
    12 March 1892, page 5b,
    12 March 1892, page 29d.

    "Licensing Asiatics" is in the Observer,
    8 and 15 July 1893, pages 31a and 14e-42b.

    "The Hon W. Haslam and Asiatics" is in the Advertiser,
    31 July 1893, page 3h,
    "The Chinese in Australia" on
    3 May 1895, page 6h.

    "The Wily Celestial" is in the Register,
    11 August 1893, pages 5a-6h; also see
    26 October 1893, page 4h,
    23 November 1893, page 5b.

    "The Chinese and Our Treatment of Them" is in the Register,
    27 August 1894, page 6c.

    "Chinese as Slaves" is in the Observer,
    19 August 1893, page 15d; also see
    1 September 1894, page 28d.

    "Influx of Chinese" is in the Register,
    27 October 1894, page 5c.

    "Australia and the Asiatics" is in the Observer,
    12 January 1895, page 42a.

    "The Heathen at Home" is in the Register,
    4 April 1895, page 4g.

    "No Japanese Need Apply" is in the Register,
    14 May 1896, page 5b.
    Japanese immigration is discussed in the Advertiser,
    15 July 1896, page 4f.

    "What is a Coloured Immigrant?" is in the Register,
    25 August 1896, page 4g; also see
    6, 10, 16 and 18 November 1896, pages 4f, 6e, 3c and 7g:

    "The Restriction of Colored Emigration" is in the Advertiser,
    6, 7, 16, 20, 24 and 26 November 1896, pages 4g, 6i, 6b, 6d, 6h and 6e,
    15 October 1897, page 4h,
    19 July 1898, page 4e.

    "Undesirable Immigrants" is in the Advertiser,
    16 June 1898, page 4f,
    "The Influx of Aliens" on
    27 September 1898, page 4e; also see
    8 December 1898, page 4f,
    "A Color Line in Australia" on
    6 September 1899, page 4f.

    "Immigration - White Australia" is in the Register,
    3 and 4 October 1900, pages 9g and 6c and
    in a letter headed "Can Palefaces Commandeer God" on
    5 October 1900, page 7i it is said:

    "From a Chinaman's Point of View" is in the Register,
    8 November 1900, page 5g; also see
    30 October 1901, page 6f,
    25 November 1901, page 9e.

    "The Chinese in Australia" is in the Observer,
    25 May 1901, page 44b.

    "A White Australia" is in the Advertiser,
    12 August 1901, page 4b,
    "Alien Immigration" on
    13 September 1901, page 4b.

    "South Australia and the Asiatics" is in the Advertiser,
    15 November 1907, page 6e,
    "The Asiatic Problem" on
    8 January 1908, page 6c,
    "The Asiatic Menace" on
    3 September 1908, page 9a.

    "The White Peril - What the Chinese Think" is in the Register
    on 28 February 1911, page 7g.

    "Chinese Gardener - Not a Prohibited Immigrant" is in the Observer,
    2 November 1912, page 45d.

    "Dominions and Asiatics" is in the Register,
    10 June 1914, page 8d.

    "Nine Chinese Stowaways" is in the Register,
    27 May 1924, page 7b.

    "Chinese in Court" is in the Observer,
    14 and 28 June 1924, pages 28d and 11c.

    "Too Many Chinese - 100 Arrive in a Year" is in the Advertiser,
    7 June 1924, page 14d; also see
    24 June 1924, page 10a,
    "Chinese in Australia" on
    11 January 1933, page 18f.

    Immigration - Choose again