Late in the winter of 1860, a new alluvial goldfield was discovered on a pastoral holding north of Murrumburrah. The local name for the place was Lambing Flat. The goldfield that instantly sprang up around it was called Burrangong after the creek that flowed through the area.
This was the field that small scale miners across both NSW and Victoria had been waiting for. A very rich and extensive area of easily worked ground that held out prospects of instant wealth and fortune without needing to invest a large amount of time and money before getting your hands on the golden metal.
Accordingly they flocked to Lambing Flat in their thousands. They were not pleased to find that Chinese miners were actually amongst the first miners to have developed the field and as a result held claims in some of Lambing Flat’s best ground.
Confrontation started almost immediately with riots breaking out in December 1860. Then in late January, the Chinese were driven off from the claims and forced to seek shelter on a nearby property.
When additional law enforcement officers arrived on the field, the Chinese were returned to their claims. Determined once and for all to drive the Chinese off the field, some 2,000 to 3,000 miners gathered on Sunday 30 June and brutally set upon the Chinese miners.
In the wake of the riots, the NSW Government legislated to follow the Victorian initative and actively discourage further Chinese immigration by means of an entry levy. Over the next ten years, the numbers of Chinese on the NSW goldfields went from around 14,000 in 1861 to half this number by the start of the 1870s