Chinese History


Read excerpts from Guichen Bay to Canton Lead: The Chinese Trek to Gold, by Fiona Ritchie for the District Council of Robe. First published in 2004 by the District Council of Robe.
The amazing journey of over 16,500 Chinese who left China, landed at Robe and walked over 400 kms to the Victorian goldfields between 1857 and 1863.


-Trouble in China, Gold Strike in Victoria, Funding the Passage, Preparation for the Journey, From Village to Ship

-A Wretched Voyage, Trouble in Victoria, Disembarking in South Australia, South Australia's 3rd Port

-The First Landing, The Chinese Invasion, Shipwrecks in Guichen Bay

-Chinese Camps in Robetown, Illness in the camp, Gambling, Opium and Fear

-Starting the Trek, Risks and Fortunes for Guides, Walking to Penola

-Crossing the Border, Chinese Travelling the Roads, A Treacherous Trek, An Unusual diet, Waylaid by the Constabulary

-Blackmail and Free Labour, Discovering Gold at Ararat, Trouble on the Ararat goldfields, Mining Boom

-Establishing Ararat Town, Oppressive Taxes and Charges, Chinese Society in Ararat, Chinese Settlement and Enterprises, An Amazing Feat




Over 16,500 Chinese goldseekers:


  • Took loans and indentured their families to raise the money for the journey and escape the famine in Chine, for the chance to strike it rich and return with gold to China
  • Journeyed from remote villages to Canton or Amoy, sailed on junks to Hong Kong, and joined European ships and sailed to Australia with the first Europeans they had ever seen
  • Walked over 440 kms to the Victorian goldfields in groups of up to 700 led by Bullocky guides over flooded wool trade tracks
  • Stumbled on and discovered the richest, shallow, alluvial goldfield in Australia's history, the Canton lead, now Ararat
  • Were charged £10-12 to sail to Robe, £1 to be ferried from ship to shore, up to £4 for guides to the goldfields, £1 residence tax and a £1 protection fee
  • Died of Eastern disease on the ships and when they landed, died of exhaustion and exposure on the walk, were abandoned in the bush by guides, were waylaid by squatters who blackmailed them into undertaking construction works for free, were thrown and burnt off their claims on the goldfields.


And still they came to make their fortune.



Robe SA Map

The District Council of Robe is located in one of the most diverse and exciting areas within the state of South Australia. Situated along SA's magnificent Limestone Coast, this historic seaside port has an abundance of attractions on offer.

Contact Council

Royal Circus, Robe SA 5276

Phone: 08 8768 2003