Lake Sambell’s Chinese Garden 

Beechworth and Surrounds

Contribution to the life of Beechworth Accounts of the Beechworth Carnival in December 1874 clearly illustrate the vibrant contribution that the Chinese community made to the life of Beechworth.

The Australasian Sketcher covered the event complete with a detailed woodblock detailing the Chinese contribution to the parade. It noted that:

"They spare neither trouble nor expense, and it is said that the dresses they ordered from China in contemplation of the show we depict cost upwards of £1,000. It was universally admitted that they formed by far the most interesting and picturesque part of the display, and it is their part of the procession which we have selected for representation in our engraving. Their dresses, emblems, and insignia in all cases had a significance, and their procession had an order and coherency which was not possessed by the heterogeneous elements contributed by our own countrymen."

1863 account of the Chinese Camp

Shamefully, the Chinese Community were not permitted to settle in the main town, and therefore created their own township. The Chinese Camp at Beechworth was located several kilometres away from Lake Sambell, just above the junction of Spring Creek and Silver Creek. This can be clearly seen on the 1871 geological map of the region.

Collective efforts

The Chinese work ethic and approach to problem solving was different to that of Europeans. Collectively, they coordinated their efforts to invest in mining infrastructure such as sluices and water races, with which they could wash out gold with minimal effort. This allowed them to profitably operate ground that many European miners had abandoned.


Community contributions

The eclectic and significant contributions the Chinese Community has made to the history of Beechworth, transcended the gold mining phase of the town’s development. Of the many examples evident and recognised around the shire today, one of the locally significant places, just beside the Chinese Garden, is Nam Shing Lane.

The entry sign to the lane describes how: "William Nam Shing arrived in Beechworth as a 19 year old in 1854 and established the Sun Quong Goon Store in the Spring Creek Chinese Camp not far from this location. He became a highly respected Chinese merchant and community leader and was revered by his countrymen and the local community for his charitable deeds. He was known for helping others without wanting acknowledgement for his contribution. On his death in 1896, the Ovens and Murray Advertiser described him as a man who did good by stealth and blushed to find fame."