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KAYUEN collection




A collection of approximately 70 items removed from the crew cabins, galley and bridge of KAYUEN, which carried 69 illegal immigrants from China to Australia in May 1999. KAYUEN was intercepted by HMAS FREMANTLE off Jervis Bay, NSW, following a three-week joint surveillance operation by the Australian Customs Service, Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, Coastwatch, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. The collection includes clothing, bedding, crockery, books, games, compact discs, tools, medicines, bottles and safety equipment from the Panama-registered coastal freighter.

Since the late 1980s, sophisticated people smuggling operations have been run out of China's Fujian province, a gateway to the west. KAYUEN's passengers paid about $40,000 each to secure a passage in appalling conditions - hidden in false compartments under sand ballast in the vessel's cargo hold. The arrival of KAYUEN attracted significant media attention because it exposed the vulnerability of Australia's entire coastline - not just the more traditional northern and western shores. It also followed closely on two other high-profile landings of illegal Chinese boat people at Holloways Beach, north of Cairns in Queensland, and Scotts Head, on the NSW north coast. As with these previous groups the illegal immigrants on KAYUEN were taken into custody and detained at the Port Hedland detention centre in Western Australia. The KAYUEN collection comprises utilitarian, medical, safety and recreational items which reflect living conditions on board the illegal immigrant vessel and illustrate a key theme in Australia's maritime history - the arrival of seaborne migrants and asylum seekers.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM web site


1990s; Asylum seekers; Border protection; Immigrants; Immigration; People smuggling

Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs


Coverage Spatial

China; New South Wales, Australia; Western Australia

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:40