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Income and Livelihood

Income for miners varied from gold fields. It ranged from 8s in Castlemaine to £1 8s per week in Beechworth. Fossicking miners made less than organised companies of miners. Chinese miners who worked in European claims earned on average 20%-30% more.

Harvesting and sheep shearing earned £2 to £3 per week. Some of these work included food/meal rations. However, these works were seasonal, and last a few weeks or months at a time.

Interactive graph. Click to select gold fields.

Livelihood in the gold field was not guaranteed, and only a minority ‘strike it rich’. This sentiment was reflected in comments by the interpreter James Ah Coy of Castlemaine gold field.
“At present, Chinese miners have very hard times of it. Many earn only 1s or 2s a week, some barely earn their food, and get nothing. There are also those who get more than £1 a week, but not regular.”


Early Chinese migrants