Chinese Miners, Merchants & GardenersPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Russell Byers

The sculpture commemorates over 18000 Chinese immigrants who arrived in Cooktown after the discovery of gold on the Palmer River in 1873 and their contribution to the development of Australia's north. 

Palmer River was one of Australia's major gold rush locations. William Hann and geologist Norman Taylor found gold in a sandy bed of the river in 1872. The miners in the Palmer River included Chinese, mostly from the Guangdong Province in southern China The Chinese miners would re-work the diggings of Europeans as they moved on to find richer diggings. In 1876, with the rush to the Hodgkinson River, Chinese miners occupied most of the Palmer Gold Field. 


Address:175 Charlotte Street, , Cooktown, 4895
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -15.461027
Long: 145.24998
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:Landscape
Designer:Hans Pehl
Artist:Hans Pehl


Front Inscription

Chinese Miners, merchants & gardeners

News of gold discoveries on the Palmer River in 1873 travelled quickly.  Chinese migrants rushed to Cooktown for the overland trek to this rich, new field.

The journey could take weeks. They faced starvation, prejudice and attacks by local Aboriginal clans.  By 1878 there were 18,000 Chinese on the Palmer where they outnumbered the Europeans four to one. 

When alluvial gold declines in the 1880s many Chinese moved away.  Some developed businesses that became household names in Queensland. 

The sculpture

Chinese migrants had an important, but underrated role in developing Australia`s north.  This sculpture celebrates their contribution.  The seated new arrival contemplates his new country before the trek to the goldfield.  The two standing figures represent those who later prospered and contributed to Australian business, services and commerce.

This memorial is an initiative of Cook Shire Council.  

Hans Pehl, an Atherton Tableland artist blacksmith, designed and constructed the figures.


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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