Ten Chinese Australians were recorded during an interview that asked them to recall life in Australia during the White Australia period, prior to the more recent waves of immigration from the 1970s. We are lucky to have these stories, as those who can remember this period in Australia’s history are becoming fewer with every year.

Our interviewees shared fascinating stories about a period in Australia’s history when many in Australia tended to assume the Chinese population simply disappeared under the weight of Australia’s immigration restrictions. This is far from the case.

We learned about what it was like being Chinese at that time and the kinds of lives Chinese-Australians built. A few of our interviewees even recalled family stories that date back to the gold rush era.

These interviews have become part of the Museum’s oral history program and will be made available to researchers and used in future exhibitions and public programs. You can read summaries in English and traditional Chinese here.

The Chinese Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government through the Community Support Fund and Public Record Office Victoria for making this project possible.