The Australian Rebellion at Clunes

Some years after the rebellion at Lambing Flat the revolt of the miners happened in Clunes: 1876. The directors of the Lothair Gold Mining Company decided to introduce Chinese workers; the miners who were all members of the Amalgamated Miners Association (A.M.A) determined to resist this Chinese influx from Creswick mounted up a crew to physically prevent them from coming near the mines.

The miners were described as ‘an army almost formidable enough to deal with the matter immediately at issue – took up their residence in the streets, or at the door-ways, waiting the arrival of the Mongolians.” The town fire-bell was rung and a crowed went up service-street at midnight to the Lothair mine. There was at the time two roads leading into the town, one on the west where the mine was located: This road had been blockaded by the miners: approximately 500 of them accompanied with the Clunes brass band, armed with pick-handles, batons and waddies of various descriptions – nearly the whole male population of the town, and many women. The coaches carrying the Chinese found this out and turned around to use the other road: The miners, having about a mile to run made it across to the other road and hastily improvised a barricade, effectively blocking the road as far as the coaches were concerned. William Spence writes “The excitement and cheering were great, men, women and children joining in the resistance.”

The coaches drew up to the barricade, a woman from Northern Island without shoes or stockings, climbed upon the barricade with a handful of stones and exclaimed “Come on, you cousin jinnies; bring me the stones and I will fire them.” The police sergeant aimed his rifle at the woman and ordered her to crease, her answer was to bare her breast and say “Shoot away, and be damned to ye: Better be shot than starved to death!”

The police sergeant was then struck in the face with a rock; splitting his cheek: The horses and Chinamen in the carriage yelled as loud as each-other in terror; the horses and carts were driven off and the Chinese invasion repelled. The miners association soon after pressured the mines department to include a clause in every mining lease issued preventing Chinese labour to be used in mines.


The Clunes Rebellion


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