Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Digital Documents Record

55 Chinese deaths on the way to the goldfields in 1892

Full Document Caption:
This brief article reports on the death of Chin Ah Din, discusses the large number of deaths of Chinese miners on their way to the goldfields during the 1880s goldrushes, the extra money made by police by burying them and finally the Chinese preference for Chinese doctors and medicine.

Source: ‘untitled’, Northern Territory Times , 15/7/1892

Region: Date From: 1892 To: 1892
Northern Territory    

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An accident happened on Wednesday of last week which caused the death of a very well-known Chinese resident. Chin Ah Din and a countryman were driving somewhere between Howley and Burrundie, when the horse bolted and overturned the conveyance. Chin Ah Din received injuries from which he died a few hours after, and his companion had a thigh broken.

The death of Chin Ah Din calls to mind a singular piece of roguery that happened here twelve or thirteen years ago. In those halcyon days the police controlling country districts used to earn many pounds in "extras" for burying Chinese who, in attempting to reach the goldfields, died by the way. In one of the records passed in by a constable who afterwards came to grief for gold robbery, Chin Ah Din was given as dead and buried, and his interment was duly paid for! Chinese were dying very fast at the time and quite an income must have been derived from the disposal of their bodies.

It is suggestive of the times that the Chinaman who had a thigh broken while driving with Chin Ah Din did not require the assistance of Dr. Lynch but had the injured limb set by an amateur doctor of his own nationality, who charged £50 cash (and got it) for the operation. Dr. Lynch would in all probability have done the job very much better for half the money, but European skill cannot compete against national bigotry.