Bold, ruthless and darkly humorous, New Gold Mountain brings to the screen for the very first time, the remarkable and untold story of the Chinese miners who arrived in the Victorian Goldfields in their thousands in the 1850s to try to make their fortune.
Using inspired-by-real-life characters and shining a light on forgotten events, this revisionist Western is based in the harsh wild west era of the Australian gold rush and unearths a captivating murder mystery.
Filmed in Sovereign Hill and around Melbourne and regional Victoria, this epic four-part series from Goalpost Pictures starts Wednesday 13 October at 9.30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.
The series opens in Ballarat, in 1857, where European, Chinese and Indigenous Australian characters live together in a wild-west frontier town as they seek to strike it rich by finding gold. Tensions between rival camps run high, and Wei Shing, the charismatic leader of the Chinese operation, struggles to remain in control as he secretly amasses his own riches. A further threat to his authority is Cheung Lei, a formidable woman who has arrived with orders from China from her powerful father. When a white woman is found murdered, Shing is fearful the prejudiced Europeans will blame the Chinese. Determined to remain in power and keep his fortune, Shing must find out what really happened. As Shing unravels the mystery, he encounters the recently widowed Belle, who is making her name in town through the local newspaper she has inherited, and Hattie, a young Aboriginal girl trying to get by.
SBS Director of Television and Online Content, Marshall Heald, said:
“New Gold Mountain is one of SBS’s proudest achievements — it’s not only our first foray into period drama, but it’s one of our most ambitious projects yet. The powerful series combines high concept drama with relatable characters that put a human lens on a pivotal moment in our history that we’ve never seen on our screens before.
“New Gold Mountain is a uniquely SBS drama that speaks right to the heart of the SBS Charter. It explores themes of identity and belonging, class and race inequality and the nature and construction of truth.”
Director, Corrie Chen, said:
“New Gold Mountain is a high impact, authored piece of storytelling that demands attention from audiences, and we are thrilled to share it with Australia. This is a precious moment. Let’s reimagine the Chinese voice in our colonial history, one Akubra at a time.”
Kylie du Fresne, Goalpost Television, said:
“As a producer it’s thrilling to bring to audiences a series as ambitious in scale and original in intent as New Gold Mountain. It’s genuinely landmark television – a compelling story set in a fascinating period in Australia’s history, from a perspective we’ve never seen before and directed by Corrie Chen, one of our most exciting creative talents.”
Sally Caplan, Head of Content at Screen Australia, said:
“We are so proud to see this stellar drama from such a talented team go to air on SBS. Viewers are in for a treat, with a gripping mystery that offers a glimpse into Australian history they may not have seen before.”
The show’s cultural clash is also highlighted by its score, which takes inspiration from both Eastern and Western music.
Produced by Goalpost Television and Directed by Corrie Chen (Homecoming Queens, Wentworth), New Gold Mountain is helmed by a stellar ensemble cast featuring Mulan and Dead Lucky’s Yoson An, Vikings’ Alyssa Sutherland, Christopher James Baker from True Detective, Dan Spielman (The Code), Mabel Li (The Tailings), Leonie Whyman (Redfern Now), Sam Wang (Runaway Millionaires), Rhys Muldoon (Informer 3838), Alison Bell (The Letdown), Chris Masters Mah (Underbelly Files: Chopper) and Travis Cotton (Romper Stomper).
New Gold Mountain is created and written by Peter Cox (The Insider’s Guide to Happiness) and produced by Kylie du Fresne (The Invisible Man) and Elisa Argenzio (Lambs of God). Writers include Yolanda Ramke (Director of The Haunting of Bly Manor), Benjamin Law (The Family Law), Greg Waters (Riot), and Pip Karmel (Total Control). Creatives Jean Tong, Olivia Cheung and Samantha Kwang were supported by Film Victoria to undertake industry placements on the production.
To mark the launch, SBS will be celebrating across its platforms with a curated collection of content across the network. SBS will also present a special half-hour program – New Gold Mountain Unwrapped – featuring the creatives discussing the making of the series. It will be available on SBS On Demand following the series finale on October 21.
To support the drama, SBS will relaunch the website Gold! via SBS Learn, SBS’s dedicated website for teachers. Gold! will be mapped to the Australian Curriculum and tailored for educational settings. The site will enrich teaching and learning by highlighting First Nations, multilingual and multicultural experiences of the Australian goldrush era.
New Gold Mountain is a Goalpost Television production for SBS. Major production investment from Screen Australia, in association with SBS. Financed with support from Film Victoria and Screen NSW. all3media International is the global partner on the show.
The serieswill be subtitled in Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean and will be added to the subtitled collection on SBS On Demand.