State Library of South Australia logoThe Foundation of South Australia 1852 - 1883
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future


  • 18 February: First government telegraph line in South Australia established between Adelaide and Port Adelaide.
  • 2 April: System of voting by secret ballot, designed by WR Boothby, introduced in South Australia. April: First steam railway in South Australia-Adelaide to Port Adelaide.
  • Chinese begin landing in South Australia at Port Adelaide and Robe, and walking overland to the Victorian goldfields to avoid the Victorian immigration tax. Between 1856 and 1858, 16,500 Chinese land at Guichen Bay.
  • 18 June: South Australian Institute Act, incorporating a public library and museum (superseded by Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery Act in 1884).
  • Constitution Act and Electoral Law Act establishes responsible government in SA; the Constitution is the first in the Australian colonies to grant full male suffrage (including Aboriginal men) and to end plural voting.
  • King William Road extended north through the grounds of Government House and across the River Torrens via City Bridge (bridge replaced in 1877 and again in 1931).
  • Population more than 100,000.

For more information see The Foundation of South Australia: 1852-1883, Key events and issues and 1850s goldrush.

Macclesfield: the Chinese
Title : Macclesfield: the Chinese Macclesfield: the Chinese
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Source : Adelaide observer, 5 September 1857, p. 8, col. a.
Date of creation : 1857
Format : Newspaper
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :
Newspapers reports from correspondents in Macclesfield and Wellington in 1857, refer to the presence of Chinese migrants. The tone indicates both fear and prejudice towards the Chinese in each report and is an accurate indication of the local reaction to new migrants in this era.

Macclesfield. The Chinese - We were favoured last week by the presence of upwards of 200 Chinese, who camped here for one night on their way overland to the diggings. The came here from Willunga, being part of those who were on board the Manhow (ship), lately wrecked. Some of them were reported to be afflicted with that loathsome disease the leprosy. They left a quantity of old clothes &c,. scattered about the site of their encampment. I think they ought to have been made to burn them, as the seeds of disease are likely to remain in their cast-off clothes, and children playing with them might catch the infection and communicate it to others.

Adelaide Observer, 5 September 1857, page 8, col. a.

Wellington. A large party of Chinamen, lately shipwrecked near Willunga, arrived here yesterday at noon, accompanied by two drays to convey the sick and some baggage. Several of them appeared to be diseased of leprosy, which soon becoming known made the good folks of Wellington anxious to see them depart. After resting on the plain for some time the party, 280 in number crossed the ferry on the punt, and camped at East Wellington for the night. From what little I could learn from their leader their destination is Ballarat.

Adelaide Observer, 5 September 1857, page 8, col. a.

The image shown is of The Mount Alexander gold diggings, 1853 (B 12164).

Coverage year : 1857
Period : 1852-1883
Place : Wellington and Macclesfield
Region : Fleurieu Peninsula,Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :

Annear, R Nothing but Gold Melbourne : Text Publishing, 1999

Bate, Weston Lucky City: The first generation of Ballarat, 1851-1901( 1978)

Cronin, K Colonial Casualties: Chinese in Early Victoria Melbourne : Melbourne University Press, 1982

Flett, J A pictorial history of the Victorian goldfields [Adelaide] : Rigby, [1977]

Hocking, G Gold: a pictorial history of the Australian gold rush, Rowville, Vic: Five Mile Press, 2006, c2000

Stone, D. I. Life on the Australian goldfields Carlton, Vic. ; [Sydney] : Methuen of Australia, [1976]

Internet links :

Chinese in South Australia State Library of South Australia factsheets online

Gold! : Victorian Cultural Collaboration

Macclesfield, Adelaide hills

The Australian gold rush : stories from Australia's culture and recreation portal

Wellington, South Australia



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