There was a considerable German presence on the Hill End goldfields from the late 1850s.
German immigration to New South Wales had begun in the late 1840s when a German born merchant turned immigration agent, Wilhelm Kirchner attempted to solve the labour shortage issue caused by the cessation of convict transportation. He suggested bringing German families to Australia under a bounty scheme and by 1852 approximately 2000 Germans had arrived in Sydney. This scheme was supplemented by the arrival of many young men who decided to emigrate due to the policy of compulsory military service introduced by Bismarck after the 1848 revolution.
This influx coincided with the discovery of gold and whilst most chose to remain in the rural farming life there were some individuals and families who decided to try their luck on the goldfields. Many had worked out their contracts and were in a position to purchase their own land and used their agricultural skills as well as undertaking mining ventures. The Germans earned themselves a good reputation for hard work and in an enquiry held into immigration by the NSW government it was said that:
The Germans are an excellent class of people; they are a good working people, and generally bring a small amount of money with them; they congregate together, are very sober and temperate in the habits; and ate generally most useful labourers and good agriculturalists.
Many of those who were successful (and some who weren’t) moved back to the growing suburbs of Sydney, where some, such as Bernard Otto Holtermann and Peter Hermann took on civic duties. Some returned to Germany but most who moved on were assimilated into the melting pot which resulted from the influx of citizens from all over the world.
The following is a list of German names which have been associated with the district and which appear on various official records, mining lists and petitions.
Further general information on German immigration can be found in
Tampke, Jürgen and Tampke, Jurgen The Germans in Australia. Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, Vic, 2006.