Young is the major inland town that grew up around a paddock known as Lambing Flat on the Burrangong Goldfield. Lambing Flat was once referred to as the 'El Dorado' of NSW, with over 14,600 kg of mainly alluvial gold being extracted from its gold fields.
Established in late 1860, the Burrangong field was a golden honey pot that drew in thousands of miners. It was a poor man's field - alluvial diggings were with limited capital or manpower, diggers could set to working the surface ground in hopes of making their fortunes. Such places were hard to find by the start of the 1860s, and competition for the good ground was intense.
In this environment, the new field quickly became melting pot of the good, the bad and the ugly as resentment focused on the presence of the well organised Chinese miners. Over a six month period, the Chinese were repeatedly subjected to violent threats from mobs that gathered to expel them from their claims.
Blackguard Gully in Young is of historical significance as the site of one of the worst riots against Chinese miners in Australian history. In late 1860 and early 1861 there were several attacks on Chinese miners. On 30 June 1861 some 3000 Europeans marched against Chinese miners on Lambing Flat goldfields, attacking their two main camps at Blackguard Gully and Back Creek. They carried a flag with the words 'Roll-up Roll-up No Chinese', which is on display in the Lambing Flat Folk Museum. The riot led to the passing of legislation to restrict access to goldfields to 'aliens' and to refuse miners rights to aliens. The violence of these riots resulted in the government responding to community concern by passing a Chinese Immigration Restriction Act and at an intercolonial conference held in 1880 and 1881 uniform restrictive immigration laws were adopted. The march of the Europeans through the town on 30 June 1861 and the later declaration of the Riot Act (the first official reading of the act in NSW) were of immense significance to the history of the town of Young. In 1861 Lambing Flat had its name changed to Young.
Not everyone was hostile to the Chinese. Local landowner James Roberts and his wife Elizabeth provided shelter and food for 1,276 fearful Chinese for two rain sodden weeks at his property at 'Currawong'. Some Chinese stayed under Roberts' protection at 'Currawong' for up to a month, until it was safe to return.
However, this events brought on drastic official intervention to restore order to the field, largely at the expense of the Chinese miners' rights.
Today you can visit these sites many in a similar condition the miners would have seen in the mid 19th century. You can also try your luck at Fossicking, gold pans are available for hire from the Lambing Flat Folk Museum.
To find out more visit www.goldtrails.com.au