Unearthing a 19th Century Chinese Kiln... Unearthing a 19th Century Chinese Kiln...For the first fifty years of the 19th century, Australia was not a favoured migration destination because of its distance from Europe and reputation as a convict containment location. This quickly changed in 1851 when gold was discovered in Victoria... people from the 1850s for at least a hundred years. In 2005, a section of the mid 19th century Chinese brickmaking kiln was unexpectedly discovered. To determine the condition and extent of the kiln, Heritage Victoria archaeologists conducted ...
When gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851, stories of treasures of mythical proportions quickly flowed across the world. Desperate to support their families, Chinese men turned to the new opportunities available at ‘Tsin Chin Shan’ - the land of the New Gold Mountain. The majority of Chinese migration to the Bendigo goldfields occurred during the mid-1850s when 16,260 males and one female arrived at Guichen Bay in South Australia and walked overland to Victoria.
By the end of the Bendigo gold rush, many miners were drawn away from Bendigo by news of gold elsewhere in Victoria, Australia and New Zealand. As mining became less profitable, market gardening became a common Chinese occupation, with miners adapting their agricultural skills learnt in China to Australian conditions.
From the 1850s, up to 1,000 Chinese populated an area called Ironbark Chinese Camp. It was reported in 1859 that the large camp had greengrocers, butchers, barbers, doctors, gambling houses, a wine shop, and a joss house. That same year the A’Fok, Fok Sing and Company constructed their brick kiln near the southern end of the camp. The kiln was in operation until it was abandoned in 1886, when the site was transformed into a market garden. The camp area was occupied by Chinese people from the 1850s for at least a hundred years.
In 2005, a section of the mid 19th century Chinese brickmaking kiln was unexpectedly discovered. To determine the condition and extent of the kiln, Heritage Victoria archaeologists conducted a preliminary excavation, with support from an expert in South-east Asian kilns, Dr Don Hein, and support from numerous students and volunteers.
The excavation provided an insight into the size of the kiln, how it operated and a vivid illustration of the transfer of Old World technology to a new country. The A’Fok, Fok Sing and Company kiln is the only known example of a Chinese brick making kiln outside of China. In addition to the kiln, numerous artefacts related to the camp and its activities were discovered, including a variety of food jars, handmade gardening tools, buttons, combs, bowls, gambling tokens, and Clydesdale horseshoes (the horses were used to plough the fields).
The archaeologists covered the excavated section of brick kiln with sand and plastic to protect its fragile fabric. Another excavation is required to uncover the kiln’s working floor and investigate its flue and firing chamber. Only then will we be able to tackle the multitude of questions that still remain to be answered.
The kiln is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. For more information on the kiln or other heritage sites visit The Victorian Heritage Database
Goldfields Stories: Dai gum san, big gold mountain... Decorative Object: 'Loong the Dragon, Flame', Canton, China, 19th Century..., the Chinese section of the Procession soon became the main attraction. This remarkable collection of 19th Century processional regalia has been preserved by the Chinese community in Bendigo and is held in the Golden Dragon Museum. It is not only a collection... New Year, that trace the history of the Chinese in Victoria. The remarkable collection of 19th Century processional regalia that has been preserved by the Chinese community in Bendigo is held in the Golden Dragon Museum. It is not only a collection ...
It may come as a surprise to some that the oldest Imperial Dragon in the world, Loong, is to be found in Bendigo, Victoria.
In 1851 gold was found in the Bendigo region. News reached China and by 1853 Chinese miners started to arrive at Dai Gum San (Big Gold Mountain). By 1855 there were up to 4000 Chinese in the Bendigo goldfields, about one fifth of the population.
By the 1860s, Bendigo was becoming a wealthy and established town, and in 1869 The Bendigo Easter Fair and Procession was initiated to raise funds for the Bendigo Benevolent Asylum and Hospital. By 1871, the Chinese, keen to support the wider community, joined the procession, providing music, theatre and acrobatic displays. Their position as the main attraction at the Fair was confirmed by 1879.
All of the costumes, flags and musical instruments were imported from China, with no expense spared. For the 1882 Fair, 100 cases of processional regalia were imported. In 1892 a further 200 cases arrived, along with Loong, the Imperial five-clawed dragon, who made his first appearance that year.
The traditions established in the 1860s by the Bendigo Chinese community continue to this day. As well as providing the main attraction in the Bendigo Easter Festival, ceremonies such as the Awakening of the Dragon are conducted. These traditions reflect uniquely preserved traditions, many of which were lost or discontinued in mainland China. They also reflect traditions, such as the main celebration taking place at Easter rather than Chinese New Year, that trace the history of the Chinese in Victoria.
The remarkable collection of 19th Century processional regalia that has been preserved by the Chinese community in Bendigo is held in the Golden Dragon Museum. It is not only a collection of world significance but, importantly, it contextualises and preserves the living heritage of both Victoria and China.
Seeing the Land from an Aboriginal Canoe... 19th century... and Rick discuss the life of 'King Tommy', an Aboriginal man who lived close by, never far from the Loddon River, in the 19th century.... the newcomers understand and survive in their new environment. And Victoria’s river system was a significant part of that new environment. To understand this world we need to cast ourselves back into the 19th century to a time before bridges and cars, where ...
This project explores the significant contribution Aboriginal people made in colonial times by guiding people and stock across the river systems of Victoria.
Before European colonisation Aboriginal people managed the place we now know as Victoria for millennia. Waterways were a big part of that management. Rivers and waterholes were part of the spiritual landscape, they were valuable sources of food and resources, and rivers were a useful way to travel. Skills such as swimming, fishing, canoe building and navigation were an important aspect of Aboriginal Victorian life.
European explorers and colonists arrived in Victoria from the 1830s onwards. The newcomers dispossessed the Aboriginal people of their land, moving swiftly to the best sites which tended to be close to water resources. At times it was a violent dispossession. There was resistance. There were massacres. People were forcibly moved from their traditional lands. This is well known. What is less well known is the ways Aboriginal people helped the newcomers understand and survive in their new environment. And Victoria’s river system was a significant part of that new environment.
To understand this world we need to cast ourselves back into the 19th century to a time before bridges and cars, where rivers were central to transport and movement of goods and people. All people who lived in this landscape needed water, but water was also dangerous. Rivers flooded. You could drown in them. And in that early period many Europeans did not know how to swim. So there was a real dilemma for the newcomers settling in Victoria – how to safely cross the rivers and use the rivers to transport stock and goods.
The newcomers benefited greatly from Aboriginal navigational skills and the Aboriginal bark canoe.
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are warned that this material may contain images of deceased persons and images of places that could cause sorrow.
Selection from Bendigo Art Gallery... 19th century art...Bendigo Art Gallery is the perfect fusion of old and new. One of Australia's largest and oldest regional galleries, Bendigo Art Gallery is known for its emphasis on contemporary Australian art, as well as its collection of 19th century European Art ...
Bendigo Art Gallery is the perfect fusion of old and new.
One of Australia's largest and oldest regional galleries, Bendigo Art Gallery is known for its emphasis on contemporary Australian art, as well as its collection of 19th century European Art, and 19th and 20th century Australian Art.
Warrnambool Art Gallery... 19th century art...The Warrnambool Art Gallery collection includes 19th century European salon paintings, colonial Australian painting, contemporary Australian works (with a focus on printmaking), Melbourne modernist works from the 1930s to 1950s including avant-garde ...
The Warrnambool Art Gallery collection includes 19th century European salon paintings, colonial Australian painting, contemporary Australian works (with a focus on printmaking), Melbourne modernist works from the 1930s to 1950s including avant-garde works by the Angry Penguins, as well as historical and contemporary local works about the region and its people.
Felon Families... 19th century...Stories of Women Prisoners and their Families "Life in the colony of Victoria during the 19th century could be fraught with difficulties for families and, particularly, for women. The problems they encountered in hard times were exacerbated ...
Stories of Women Prisoners and their Families
"Life in the colony of Victoria during the 19th century could be fraught with difficulties for families and, particularly, for women. The problems they encountered in hard times were exacerbated by distance from the support and friendship of their extended families. If women found themselves unable to cope, the repercussions for the whole family could be tragic.
The stories and images of women who passed through Victoria’s penal system in the 19th century include: Elizabeth Scott, a young girl forced into marriage, living in an isolated part of the country, and the first woman hanged in Victoria; the baby farmer Frances Knorr; Martha Needle who's story is unusual because her crimes arose not out of the severe circumstances of colonial Victoria but from universal, age-old family and personal dysfunction; Emma Williams a single mother who drowned her baby son and brought the Champion newspaper to claim in October 1895 that her case would "exhibit Victoria to the world as the very lowest and most degraded of all civilised communities"; and Janet Dibden who wrote poetry while imprisoned at the Old Melbourne Gaol. It also includes Ellen Kelly the mother of bushranger Ned Kelly, who told her son "Die brave, die like a Kelly" before he was hanged."
The text above has been abstracted from an essay Felon families: Stories of women prisoners and their families written by Diane Gardiner for the publication The Australian Family: Images and Essays. The full text of the essay is available as part of this story.
This story is part of The Australian Family project, which involved 20 Victorian museums and galleries. The full series of essays and images are available in The Australian Family: Images and Essays published by Scribe Publications, Melbourne 1998, edited by Anna Epstein. The book comprises specially commissioned and carefully researched essays with accompanying artworks and illustrations from each participating institution.
Postcards: Stories from the Mornington Peninsula... 19th century... postcards strictly for Australian tourists and holiday-makers and it is not surprising to find that most of their images are of country towns, city streets, bush scenes and beachscapes of Australia. It is also no surprise that the late 19th century saw...Holiday-making became popular in the late 19th Century. People would travel by paddle steamer to Dromana pier. ...
Stories of a time in history when holidaying was a grand pastime, and when special and unique places in Victoria began to be appreciated, celebrated and shared in that iconic mode of communication: the picture postcard.
Inspired by postcards in their collections, eight historical societies developed themes to explore the history of the Mornington Peninsula.
This story is based on a touring exhibition which was initiated by the Mornington Peninsula Local History Network and the Mornington Peninsula Shire.
Viewbank: Unearthing a Colonial Homestead... 19th century...Heritage Victoria’s Conservator Susanna Collis explains the challenges in conserving the 19th century metal servants’ bells. ...
Viewbank Homestead was one of the first grand homesteads built on the outskirts of Melbourne. Built around 1840, Viewbank was located near the junction of the Yarra and Plenty Rivers in Heidelberg.
The homestead was built in two phases. Originally a four room house, it was renovated and expanded in the 1850s and 1860s after it was acquired by wealthy squatter Dr Robert Martin.
Viewbank was destroyed by a professional demolition team in the early 1920s, long after the Martin family moved away from the area. By then, the house had fallen into disrepair and locals believed that it was haunted. For most of the 20th century, cattle grazed over the ruins and knowledge of the former grand homestead slipped from public knowledge until archaeologists returned to the site to unlock its secrets.
Between 1996 and 1999, Heritage Victoria conducted three excavations at the site with help from archaeologists from Melbourne, La Trobe and Flinders Universities, and more than 140 archaeology students and community members.
The archaeologists uncovered the stone foundations of the house and remnants of hand-made brick walls, fireplaces and other features. A range of artefacts were found during the excavation including children’s toys, coins, gaming tokens, thimbles and pins. A network of servant’s bells, fragments of marble fireplaces, and pieces of richly decorated plaster cornices reflect the affluence of the Martin family.
This story is made up of audio interviews with an archaeologist, an historian and a conservator. They discuss the Viewbank excavation, describe the artefacts found there and explain the process of their conservation at the Heritage Victoria conservation laboratory.
The Viewbank Homestead is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. For more information on the Viewbank or other heritage sites visit The Victorian Heritage Database.
Wind & Sky Productions
Many Roads: Stories of the Chinese on the goldfields... 19th century... language, but were at war with Cantonese speakers at times in the 19th century. Other goldseekers included people from Macau, Hokkien-speakers from Fujian Province who departed from the sea port of Amoy (now known as Xiamen) further up the coast ...
In the 1850s tens of thousands of Chinese people flocked to Victoria, joining people from nations around the world who came here chasing the lure of gold.
Fleeing violence, famine and poverty in their homeland Chinese goldseekers sought fortune for their families in the place they called ‘New Gold Mountain’. Chinese gold miners were discriminated against and often shunned by Europeans. Despite this they carved out lives in this strange new land.
The Chinese took many roads to the goldfields. They left markers, gardens, wells and place names, some which still remain in the landscape today. After a punitive tax was laid on ships to Victoria carrying Chinese passengers, ship captains dropped their passengers off in far away ports, leaving Chinese voyagers to walk the long way hundreds of kilometres overland to the goldfields. After 1857 the sea port of Robe in South Australia became the most popular landing point. It’s estimated 17,000 Chinese, mostly men, predominantly from Southern China, walked to Victoria from Robe following over 400kms of tracks.
At the peak migration point of the late 1850s the Chinese made up one in five of the male population in fabled gold mining towns of Victoria such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Beechworth and Ararat. It was not just miners who took the perilous journey. Doctors, gardeners, artisans and business people voyaged here and contributed to Victoria’s economy, health and cultural life. As the nineteenth century wore on and successful miners and entrepreneurs returned home, the Chinese Victorian population dwindled. However some chose to settle here and Chinese culture, family life, ceremony and work ethic became a distinctive feature of many regional Victorian towns well into the twentieth century.
By the later twentieth century many of the Chinese relics, landscapes and legacy of the goldrush era were hidden or forgotten. Today we are beginning to unearth and celebrate the extent of the Chinese influence in the making of Victoria, which reaches farther back than many have realised.
Sound in Space... 19th century architecture...The elegant, colourful and ornate 19th-century Methodist church on the Richmond Hill, offers an instantly theatrical environment with steeply rising stepped wooden terraces to a central organ high at the front. Richmond Uniting Church ...
Music always interacts with the architecture in which it is heard.
Melbourne has some wonderful acoustic environments. Often, these spaces were built for other purposes – for example the splendid public and ecclesiastical buildings from the first 100 years of the city’s history, and more recent industrial constructions.
Exploiting ‘non-customized’ spaces for musical performance celebrates and explores our architectural heritage.
For 30 years, the concerts of Astra Chamber Music Society have ranged around Melbourne’s architectural environment. Each concert has had a site-specific design that takes advantage of the marvellous visual qualities, spatial possibilities, and acoustic personality of each building.
The music, in turn, contributes a new quality to the perception of the buildings, now experienced by audiences as a sounding space - an area where cultural issues from music’s history are traversed, and new ideas in Australian composition are explored.
In this story take a tour of some of Melbourne’s intimate, hidden spaces and listen to the music that has filled their walls.
For further information about Astra Chamber Music Society click here.
Women's Suffrage... 19th Century social movements... Lulla Harvey. The work is a play on ethnographic images of indigenous women that were taken by non-indigenous photographers in the 19th Century. In effect, it is a recreation of an early image that has been reconsidered in terms of an Indigenous ...
2008 marked the centenary of the right for Victorian non-indigenous women to vote.
During 2008 the achievements of the tenacious indigenous and non-indigenous women who forged a path through history were celebrated through an array of commemorative activities.
How the right to vote was won…
In 1891 Victorian women took to the streets, knocking door to door, in cities, towns and across the countryside in the fight for the vote.
They gathered 30,000 signatures on a petition, which was made of pages glued to sewn swathes of calico. The completed petition measured 260m long, and came to be known as the Monster Petition. The Monster Petition is a remarkable document currently housed at the Public Records Office of Victoria.
The Monster Petition was met with continuing opposition from Parliament, which rejected a total of 19 bills from 1889. Victoria had to wait another 17 years until 1908 when the Adult Suffrage Bill was passed which allowed non-indigenous Victorian women to vote.
Universal suffrage for Indigenous men and women in Australia was achieved 57 years later, in 1965.
This story gives an overview of the Women’s Suffrage movement in Victoria including key participants Vida Goldstein and Miles Franklin, and the 1891 Monster Petition. It documents commemorative activities such as the creation of the Great Petition Sculpture by artists Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee, work by artists Bindi Cole, Louise Bufardeci, and Fern Smith, and community activities involving Kavisha Mazzella, the Dallas Neighbourhood House, the Victorian Women Vote 1908 – 2008 banner project, and much more…
Further information can be found at the State Library of Victoria's Ergo site Women's Rights
Learn more about the petition and search for your family members on the Original Monster Petition site at the Parliament of Victoria.
Educational Resources can be found on the State Library of Victoria's 'Suffragettes in the Media' site.
Melbourne Trams: Step aboard!... 19th century... and Nicholson streets, Fitzroy. Some older passengers like Daphne Rooms still remember riding cable cars. In the late 19th century, cable and electric tram technologies were vying for supremacy. Australia’s first electric tram line opened in 1889, running ...
'Introduction to Melbourne Trams: Step aboard!'
Written by Carla Pascoe, May 2012
Trams are what make Melbourne distinctive as a city. For interstate and overseas visitors, one of the experiences considered compulsory is to ride a tram. When Melbourne is presented to the rest of the world, the tram is often the icon used. The flying tram was one of the most unforgettable moments of the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. When Queen Elizabeth II visited Australia in 2011, she was trundled with regal dignity along St Kilda Road in her very own ‘royal tram’.
The history of trams is closely bound up with the history of this southerly metropolis. Melbourne’s tram system originated during the 1880s economic boom when the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company opened the first cable line. Cable tram routes soon criss-crossed much of the growing city and cable engine houses can still be seen in some inner suburbs, such as the grand building on the south-east corner of Gertrude and Nicholson streets, Fitzroy. Some older passengers like Daphne Rooms still remember riding cable cars.
In the late 19th century, cable and electric tram technologies were vying for supremacy. Australia’s first electric tram line opened in 1889, running through what was then farmland from Box Hill station to Doncaster. The only surviving clue that a tram line once traversed this eastern suburb is the eponymous Tram Road, which follows the former tram route in Doncaster.
Gradually, various local councils joined together to create municipal Tramways Trusts, constructing electric lines that extended the reach of the cable system. In 1920 the tram system came under centralised control when the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) consolidated the routes and began electrifying all cable lines.
Manpower shortages during World War II meant that Australian women stepped into many roles previously reserved for men. The tramways were no exception, with women being recruited as tram conductors for the first time. After the war, tram systems were slowly shut down in cities around both Australia and the world, as transport policies favoured the motor vehicle. But thanks to the stubborn resistance of MMTB Chairman, Sir Robert Risson, as well as the wide, flat streets that characterise the city’s geography, Melbourne retained its trams.
Melbourne’s tram industry has always possessed a unique workplace culture, characterised by fierce camaraderie and pride in the role of the ‘trammie’ (the nickname for a tram worker). Many Trammies, like Bruce MacKenzie, recall that they joined the tramways because a government job was seen as a job for life. But the reason they often remain for decades in the job is because of the strong bonds within the trammie ‘family’. This is partly due to the many social events and sporting clubs that have been attended by Trammies, as Bruce MacKenzie remembers. It is also because the demands of shift work bond people together, explains Roberto D’Andrea.
The tram industry once employed mainly working-class, Anglo-Australian men. After World War II, many returned servicemen joined the ranks, bringing a military-style discipline with them. With waves of post-war migration the industry became more ethnically diverse, as Lou Di Gregorio recalls. Initially receiving Italian and Greek workers from the 1950s and 1960s, from the 1970s the tramways welcomed an even broader range of Trammies, from Vietnamese, South American, Turkish and other backgrounds.
Trammies perform a wide range of tasks critical to keeping the system running, including driving, track maintenance, tram maintenance, time tabling, customer service and more. But just as designs of ‘rolling stock’ have changed - from the beloved veteran W class trams to the modern trams with their low floors, climate control and greater capacity - so too have the jobs of Trammies changed over time. Bruce MacKenzie remembers joining the Preston Workshops in the 1950s when all of Melbourne’s fleet was constructed by hand in this giant tram factory. Roberto D’Andrea fondly recalls the way that flamboyant conductors of the 1980s and 1990s would perform to a tram-load of passengers and get them talking together. As a passenger, Daphne Rooms remembers gratefully the helping role that the connies would play by offering a steadying arm or a piece of travel advice.
Trams have moved Melburnians around their metropolis for decades. As Daphne maintains, ‘If you can’t get there by tram, it’s not worth going’. Everyone has memories of their experiences travelling on trams: some funny, some heart-warming and some frustrating. Tram driver, Lenny Bates, tells the poignant story of the blind boy who would sometimes board his tram on Collins Street and unhesitatingly call out the names of the streets they passed. As the films in this collection demonstrate, every passenger has their routes that they customarily ride and these routes take on a personal meaning to their regulars. You could say that every tram line has its own distinct personality. Whilst the way the tram system is run inevitably changes across time, one thing has been constant: trams have always played a central role in the theatre of everyday life in Melbourne.
Conserving an 1889 Wedding Dress... 19th century ...
This finely tailored cream wool wedding dress with Liberty silk satin trim was worn by Ethel Florence Francis on the occasion of her marriage to Councillor David Phillips at the Brunswick Wesleyan Church on Wednesday 30th January 1889.
On the evening of the wedding guests were entertained at the Brunswick Town Hall, an imposing Victorian building constructed in the 'Second Empire' style.
The Dolls of Victoria: An unveiled toy story... 19th century ...
Our attachment to dolls – beyond them being simply an idealised smaller version of a human figure – reflects many aspects of human behaviour and cultural practices.
Dolls have long been attributed with magic powers, associated with religious beliefs, and connected to family rituals and traditions. Whether used as common toys, instruments of storytelling, educational tools, or to provide comfort and support to people during times of distress – dolls have maintained a significant place in many cultures.
Examining their function and use across place and time can reflect major global developments, social changes and the impact of major historical events such as immigration and war. This story looks at the manufacture, use and enjoyment of dolls held in cultural collections throughout the state that have been catalogued here on Victorian Collections.
Jane Routley and Elizabeth Downes
Flinders Street Station... 19th century ...
The current Flinders Street Station building has been part of the lives of Melbournians for over 100 years.
Inspired by the launch of the latest competition to put forward proposals for its restoration and reinvigoration, and to highlight some of the amazing Flinders Street-related material in Victoria's cultural collections, I will be celebrating the past, present and future of my favorite station.
Over the next few months, I will be recording impressions and stories found whilst exploring the station as it exists today, trawling the internet for related sounds and images (such as this timelapse) and featuring some of the wonderful images of the station that are held in Victoria's cultural collections. As a taster for my future posts, here's a selection of images that I've found.
Making & Using Transport on the Goldfields... 19th century ...
During the nineteenth century, horse-drawn vehicles were an essential part of life in rural Victoria.
In Ballarat, local coachbuilding firms assisted with the town’s growth in more ways than providing passage to the diggings. Horse-drawn vehicles were vital for the delivery of goods, responding to emergencies and often symbolised one’s social standing.
The Gold Rush ushered in a period of incredible growth for colonial Victoria. Ballarat’s escalating population and burgeoning industries highlighted the need for horse-drawn transport – not only for getting to the diggings, but also for delivering goods and building material, responding to emergencies and performing significant social rituals.
In the early nineteenth century, the goldfields were dominated by vehicles either imported from England or English-style vehicles built locally. Coaches, carriages and carts were typically constructed part-by-part, one at a time. As a result, each vehicle was highly unique.
By the mid-1850s, the American coachbuilding tradition had arrived on the goldfields. The American method, which had been developing since the 1840s, relied on mass-produced, ready-made components. In comparison to English designs, American coaches were known to be more reliable for goldfields travel; they were primed for long-distance journeys on rough terrain and were less likely to tip over.
As the nineteenth century progressed, a plethora of English, American and European vehicles populated Ballarat – both locally made and imported. The abundance of coaches, carriages and carts – and their value to the Ballarat community – can be seen in photographs and objects catalogued here on Victorian Collections.