AN ACCOMPLISHED author plans to retrace the steps of Chinese miners forced to walk hundreds of kilometres from South Australia to central Victoria in the 19th century.
The State Library of Victoria has awarded Alison Wong a $15,000 fellowship to research, walk and write about her experiences.
She will follow in the footsteps of the 14,000 miners forced to walk from South Australia to goldfields like Bendigo's to avoid taxes and fees.
The laws were specifically designed to discriminate against Chinese miners and those traveling to Bendigo would have had to walk at least 470km after docking in the South Australian town of Robe.
"I'll be writing about their experiences, and about my journey as I remember them," Ms Wong said.
"So it will be a collection of stories weaving in and out of each other, I think."
Ms Wong's first novel As the Earth Turns Silver was shortlisted for the Australian Prime Minister's Award in 2009. She writes a mixture of fiction and creative non-fiction.
"This project is going to be a kind of creative, non-fiction essay and memoir," Ms Wong said.
Exactly which people's experiences Ms Wong will weave in are still to be determined.
The destinations will most likely include historic mining towns like Ararat and Bendigo. Ms Wong will make that decision based at least in part on research in the State Library's collections and resources.
The library has awarded a total of $200,000 to 15 projects that will use its collections to tell new stories about "who we are, where we have been and where we are going".
The funding is available to people of all backgrounds working in everything from research to literature and performance to dance.
Ms Wong is one of two regional Victorians to receive Marion Orme Page & Regional Arts Victoria Fellowships through the State Library this year.
She is thinking of starting her long walk in autumn when weather conditions might be ideal and festivals like the Bendigo Easter Fair might be taking place, depending on COVID-19 restrictions.
The Easter fair is strongly tied to Bendigo's Chinese community.
It would also give her time to prepare for one critical element.
"I have to start training as soon as I have got myself some decent shoes, because I'm not very fit," Ms Wong joked.
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