Chinese men on the road to the Palmer River gold field, 1875

Accompanying article in the Australasian Sketcher, 12 June 1875


Our friends in North Queensland appear to feel rather uneasy at the large numbers of Chinese pouring in upon them. Immigration they look upon as a good thing, but would prefer it a little more European and less Chinese. Mongolians land in large numbers from every steamer from Hong Kong and Singapore and announce their intentions of making Cooktown 'a second Canton'. They say this probably with a view of delighting the residents with the prospect of being promoted to the proud position of a Chinese colony. Unfortunately, it has not this effect, and the people of Cooktown would prefer to be allowed to remain an English and Christian community. In the meantime the Chinese buy up all 'the eligible town lots' of land at high rates, and run up stores and open businesses with great celerity. They also throng the roads to the Palmer diggings, where long strings of them can be seen stretched out in Indian file, each man laden with burdens swinging from the ends of his bamboo pole, shuffling on with a curious jog-trot, and most of them carrying on conversations with those in front or behind, and making a great din with their monosyllabic chattering. Their loads consist of the most miscellaneous articles, tinware, chests of tea, bags of flour, tents and equipage, mining tools, clothes and all the other items of necessary equipment for mining life. Sometimes a whole shipload of these immigrants may thus be seen striding out along the roads, all patiently jogging onwards to the Eldorado of the Palmer gold-fields.