Panning for Chinese Gold: Commodifying Australian Goldfields Heritage for the Chinese Tourist Market
Ross, K, Panning for Chinese Gold: Commodifying Australian Goldfields Heritage for the Chinese Tourist Market, Centre for Colonialism and its Aftermath Winter Symposium, 20 - 21st June, 2012, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery Launceston, pp. KR. (2012) [Conference Extract]
According to Tourism Australia, Australia has become the number one intended destination for Chinese tourists. Visitor numbers demonstrate that China has become Australia’s most valuable inbound market. Indeed, the industry recognises that ensuring the continued rise in the number of Chinese visitors is vital for ameliorating the recent serious slump in tourism numbers across Australia. The Victorian goldfields outdoor museum in Ballarat, Sovereign Hill, has actively pursued this Chinese market since the 1990s. The introduction of Mandarin and Cantonese speaking guides, multilingual displays and tours, as well as features such as a replica Chinese camp and a restored Chinese temple, have successfully attracted large numbers of Chinese tour groups to the museum. In 2012, Sovereign Hill became the first Australian tourism attraction to open an office in China to market the ‘New gold Mountain’ experience on the Chinese eastern seaboard. The Chinese presence on the goldfields has become more widely known through the development and expansion of museums, displays and cultural centres not only in Ballarat but also in other goldfields locations such as Ararat and Bendigo. As more nuanced and inclusive histories of colonial Australia are produced, the diversity of Chinese experiences becomes apparent. One of the difficulties facing sites such as Sovereign Hill is how to represent the Chinese on the goldfields including their experiences of discrimination and violence at the hands of miners and authorities. This paper examines how the Chinese presence on the goldfields in colonial Australia is presented to Chinese visitors.