The Gold Rush Period
From the 1840s onwards, Chinese labourers and gold-miners began arriving in Australia. The average stay was only five years, but others immigrated permanently. Only a very small proportion of Chinese would have identified as Buddhist, as most had syncretic beliefs and practices that included aspects of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Joss Houses, the earliest Temples, were established on the Gold Fields, and in South Melbourne, and were often constructed in a hostile and xenophobic environment (Croucher 1989: 2-4). According to Census data, there were 2, 677 Buddhists in Victoria in 1854 and 26, 223 in 1861 (Adam & Hughes 1996: 41).