Thursday, July 13, 2006


An Australian city founded by Hakkas and CantoneseArarat, a small city with a population of about 12,500, is situated 203kmwest of Melbourne, Australia. The area around Ararat city producesfirst-class wool, wheat and wine. Textiles are manufactured in the city,along with readymix concrete timber milling. Important local industries include light engineering, printing and a local abattoir. Ararat, the only city or town founded by the Chinese in Australia, wasestablished by Hakkas and Cantonese in March 1855, due to desperation. Gold was discovered in 1848 in California. Thousands of Chinese joined inthe gold rush starting from 1849 to California (Jiu4 Jin Shan or Old GoldMountain). A few years later, gold was also discovered in MelbourneAustralia in 1851 (Xin Jin Shan or New Gold Mountain). Hoping to make afortune, many Hakka and Cantonese from Guangdong province went toAustralia to dig for gold. An English contractor signed on about seven hundred Chinese peasants ofHakka and Cantonese descent from Dongguan county. He promised to lead themto the new gold fields not far from Melbourne. They sailed through HongKong for more than two months and finally arrived at Port Melbourne. With a pole swinging with two puddles of clothes and foodstuffs, on eachman's shoulder, they began the journey by walking to the gold fields,following their English contractor. They were walking towards the GreatDividing Range. For days, all along the way they encountered nothingexcept desolate wilderness and kangaroos. After non-stop walking for morethan 200km they were very tired and decided to rest for a day. Theythought that their destination should not be far away. When the sun rose next day they could not find their contractor who haddisappeared during the night, heading back to Melbourne alone. They werepoor and stranded in the bush, with nowhere to go. Fortunately, they hadbrought along with them enough provisions to last them for sometime. However, they were without water and they would die of thirst if they didnot find a waterhole quickly. Luckily they found found a little riverwhich was later named the Hopskin River. They decided to rest for a fewdays to recuperate before they walked back to Melbourne. They cooked theirrice near the river and did their washing in the river. "I found gold! I found gold!", a man screemed.A man, who was bathing in the river, was so happy and excited that helaughed like a Kookaburra (An Australian native bird, nicknamed thelaughing bird). In no time the 700 odd pairs of hands were panning in theriver. They panned day and night. They stopped only because they wereexhausted. Thousands of grams of gold was produced by these men. Theycalled the gold they produced Canton Lead. They built makeshift huts withthe intention to settle down there. They took them to Melbourne to selland news of their new discovery spread like wild fire. Within a short period thousands of European and Chinese swarmed into thisnew Chinese settlement. It started one of Australia's greatest goldrushes. During a peak period ninety-three kilograms of gold was taken inthree weeks. Sixty thousand people were squatting in a settlement, withone in six were either Hakka or Cantonese, eight kilometers south-eastfrom a little hill called Mount Ararat, which meant Ark (as in Noah'sArk). Later this Hakkas and Cantonese founded settlement was named Ararat. One hundred and forty years later in 1998 there are only forty Chineseliving in Ararat. They are the fifth generation Chinese in Australia.Peter O'Rorke, a gentleman of about 45 years old, is the present mayor ofArarat. The city of Ararat is planning to build a memorial museum to becalled "Chinese Golden Pagoda" to commemorate the seven hundred odd Hakkasand Cantonese who founded the city. So far they have raised over sixhundred thousand dollars. Within a year or two the Chinese Golden Pagodamuseum will be ready. CHUNG Yoon-Ngan.

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