Kalgoorlie racial riots 1934: destruction and death at the Goldfields

Walter F. Lalić

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution


The celebration of Australia Day in the major gold mining centres of Kalgoorlie and Boulder in 1934 ended with the largest racial riots on the continent during the last century. The mob attacked Southern European settlers destroying their commercial and private property. Three persons were killed, including a young Croatian miner from Dalmatia, Josip Katich; while over ninety were arrested, and gold mines were closed for a week. The damage was estimated at around £100,000. As a consequence, a significant number of migrants left the Goldfields for the more secure coastal area. The riots were international news and were reported by the Croatian regional press as well. The event left a deep scar that took decades to heal and was a major cause of insecurity that undermined the social fabric of this important mining area made up of diverse communities. ‘Foreigners’ were marginalised and discriminated against in this settlement, established only several decades earlier. They did not have equal access to work as their ‘British’ neighbours did. However with the maturing of the society and corresponding social and economic changes, the public image of the Eastern Goldfields is significantly different now. This presentation aims to tell the story of this tragic event with the intent to draw it out of obscurity and to re-position it on the historical map. It will indicate social and economic factors that over several decades germinated this dark moment in Australian history, including immigration policy and prevalent attitudes to the marginalised Southern European migrants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCroatians
Subtitle of host publicationhistory, language and migration : abstracts of the international conference honouring 30 years of croatian studies at Macquarie university
EditorsLuka Budak
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherMacquarie University : Croatian Studies Foundation
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)9780646916002
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventInternational Conference Honouring 30 years of Croatian Studies - Sydney
Duration: 5 Feb 20147 Feb 2014


ConferenceInternational Conference Honouring 30 years of Croatian Studies


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