CCAT 50 Year Anniversary
A Celebration of the Chinese Community in Tasmania
MORE than 130 years of Chinese contribution to the Tasmanian community was celebrated during the exciting and colourful events marking the 50th Anniversary of the Chinese Community Association of Tasmania (CCAT).
Lion and dragon dancing, traditional drumming, and displays by high school students were featured during CCAT’s 50th Anniversary celebrations last July centred on the Association’s North Hobart clubhouse. More than 130 people – including families with links to the Tasmanian community dating back to the 1880s – were treated to displays featuring Chinese history, community and culture, and celebrating the valuable Chinese contribution to the Tasmanian community.
The Celebrations commenced with the Official Launch. CCAT President Brian Chung welcomed everyone and there were speeches by government representatives including State Attorney-General and Liberal MHA for Clark, Elise Archer and Acting Lord Mayor of Hobart Cr Helen Burnet.
They conveyed their ongoing support for the work of the CCAT. Varja Hong Jing, representing Master Wang of the Chinese Buddhist community, gave a blessing and congratulated CCAT and the community on the good work achieved in Tasmania over the past half century. Brief speeches were also made by five former Presidents of the CCAT, Peter Chung, Katie Young (who came from Sydney for the event), Gar Foong, and Daniel Chan and Lily Chan, all of whom then joined Brian Chung for the traditional ceremonial cutting of the birthday cake.
CCAT acknowledged the major contribution to the events by Wenda and Cynthia Tan and their team from Jow Ga Wushu and Lion Dance, performing the intricate dragon dance and exciting drums and the Tasmanian Chinese Buddhist Academy of Australia for the colourful and spectacular lion dance performance. The Association also thanked the Tasmanian Chinese Buddhist Academy of Australia and Mr James Park on behalf of the Korean Community Volunteer Association of Tasmania for their gifts and good wishes.
The release of the “50 Year Anniversary Commemorative Magazine” was featured during the Official Launch. The 88-page colourful publication, which records historical events and 26 family stories associated with the Chinese community in Tasmania, is available free to members of the CCAT.
School Student Event
The 50th Anniversary celebrations included innovative displays and activities prepared by students from the Taroona High School. The full day event included a range of displays on modern Chinese history and culture. There were billboard displays of pictures and stories of events that led to the migration flow to Australia, and Tasmania, of people from China in the 1800s. Under the guidance of Hingor Chung, the Taroona students presented superb displays showing the Chinese migrants’ culture, their journey, and their lifestyle on making the transition.
The activities were aimed at giving the community — especially children — a better understanding of the Chinese narrative and developing a positive relationship between local students and the Chinese community. Over 100 students from several Hobart schools viewed the displays, and to participate in a range of activities characterising the Chinese culture that were hosted by members of CCAT. The clearly enjoyable experience gave students a greater awareness of the Chinese culture and history. As well as students, many from the broader Hobart community visited the Clubhouse to observe the events. Feedback indicated the displays and presentations were considered highly informative.
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The highlight of the 50 Year Anniversary Celebrations was the Gala Dinner, for about 220 diners and special guests, at the Boardwalk Gallery, Wrest Point, on the evening of July 29, 2019.
This event was opened by a brightly lid LED lion dance which had a spectacular effect on the darkened dining room. After a welcome by CCAT President Brian Chung, addresses were made by several high-profile guests. The Attorney-General Elise Archer made a comprehensive speech, which included congratulating the CCAT for its sustained contribution to the Tasmanian community over the past 50 years, as well as stressing the importance of the relationship between Tasmania and China in business, education and tourism. The Victoria-Tasmania Deputy Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China, Zeng Jianhua, praised CCAT’s half a century of service in promoting the activities of the Chinese community in Tasmania. He said China was an important source of investment, and noted that China was the largest source of overseas students and international tourism revenue for the State. Master Wang delivered a heartfelt blessing.
With Cynthia Tan as the MC, there was an impressive presentation of traditional Chinese music by Steven Wang (Guzheng) and Josephine Zhou Fen (Pipa) and a beautiful moving Tibetan dance performed by Monica Xiao. An entertaining and engaging segment involved Daniel Chan’s distribution of 12 high-quality lucky door prizes.
The spectacular 19-course meal was provided by the Kwan Ho Restaurant. During the relaxing and enjoyable evening of good cheer that followed, diners shared conversation and reflections on their experiences in Tasmania.
Chinese Family History in Tasmania
THE long history of Chinese migration into Tasmania, dating back to the 1870’s, featured in stories provided by families who had been part of the great Chinese migration and resettlement in Tasmania.
A public seminar presented by CCAT on 30 July 2019 at the Clubhouse featured family history covering a wide cross section of Chinese families who had found their way to Tasmania since the late 1800’s. The absorbing three-and-a-half-hour family history presentations by six family members was attended by more than 60 people from throughout Tasmania.
These family histories were presented with an enthusiasm that had the audience engrossed — clearly the result of attention to detail by presenters who were passionate and proud of their heritage. The extent of conversation, questions and feedback after the seminar provided a clear indication the event had proved absorbing and a successful feature of the anniversary celebrations.
The Ma Sui and Chin Tock family history was presented by Jan Everett whose paternal and maternal forefathers first came to Australia in the mid-1800s. They had associations with the mining sectors in Victoria, and then Northern Tasmania in the Weldborough area, before relocating to Launceston in the 1950’s and to Hobart in 1980. Jan worked in the Public Sector and is currently National Vice-President and also Tasmanian President of the Australia China Friendship Society.
Jan has been a member of the CCAT for more than 30 years, she is a current Committee member and is a strong believer in ensuring that the wider community understands the Chinese people. Jan is very passionate that this can be achieved by forming friendships between the people of Australia and China.
The history of the well-known Launceston Chung Gon family history was presented by Reeda Chung Gon (nee Chung Hon). The Chung Gon family ancestry migration pattern was typical of many Chinese families coming to Tasmania.
James Chung Gon migrated from southern China in 1873 to Victoria, and then to Tasmania. He was involved in tin mining, market gardens and fruit and vegetable shops in and around Launceston. In more recent years the Chung Gon families had strong community and business achievements in both Hobart and in Launceston.
The Chung family history was presented by Peter Chung. The Chung family name is particularly prominent in the Tasmania- Chinese community. The story focused on Peter and his immediate family.
Peter arrived in Tasmania in 1948 having been born in the Guangdong Province, China in 1936. However, Peter’s grandfather had first arrived in Tasmania, in the 1880’s when he operated market gardens around Hobart, and then a fruit and vegetable shop in Hobart Town. After working many years in the family fruit and vegetable shop and studying to be a motor mechanic, Peter married Aileen, a nurse at St John’s Hospital, Hobart, in 1960. Together they opened Hobart’s first licensed Chinese restaurant, the Golden Bamboo, in Elizabeth Street.
Peter was President of the CCAT for more than 30 years and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2019 for services to the Chinese community in Tasmania.
The Henry family history was presented by Debbie Chung (nee Henry). The Henry family story focused on Gordon Yan Henry who was born in Hobart in 1919 and was linked closely to the family business “Henry & Co.” in Hobart that dealt in fresh produce, tobacco and imported fancy goods.
After returning to China for several years and then attempting to settle in Brisbane the Henry family returned to Hobart to settle permanently. Devotion to the Catholic faith, bringing families together and a desire to help others were strong features throughout Gordon Henry’s life. He was an active member of many committees associated with refugees, disaster emergency, support for the sick and the poor.
He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1992. Gordon passed away in 1995, and is survived by his devoted wife Monica and nine children, including Debbie Chung.
Another focus of the seminar was the typical work done by Chinese migrating families after arrival in Tasmania.
Chinese Market Gardens was presented by Margaret Chung.
This presentation included an overview of Chinese market gardening and a listing of the main gardens. This was followed by her family story of four generations of market gardeners. Kee Chung’s grandparents arrived in Tasmania in the 1880’s to work in and then establishing his own market garden. Margaret and Kee married in New Zealand in 1968 but returned to settle in Richmond where they worked in the family’s successful market gardening business in what was a challenging hot and dry environment. The vegetable crops they grew included cabbage, cauliflower, silver beet, leek, carrot and spring onion.
Both Margaret and Kee have been involved with the CCAT since its inception, with Margaret first becoming a Committee member in 1996. After working for many years, Kee and Margaret retired in 2014 and Kee was the last of the China born Market Gardeners.
Chinese Cafes and Restaurants: Ruby Lee spoke of the evolution of Chinese food establishments from basic takeaways to fully licensed restaurants. Ruby used the Chung and Yuet Yuen Lee family history as an example of this development.
The family had its Tasmanian origins in the 1950’s in market gardens in Hobart and café in Launceston. The family returned to Hobart and opened the Har Wee Yee Café in North Hobart in 1968. The name for the Café stemmed from an English translation of a potentially favorite holiday destination, Hawaii. The café became successful by serving fish and chips and other takeaway food for late night takeaway customers. Major renovations were required over time to satisfy the growing demand for in-house dining and the business became one of the leading Chinese restaurants in Hobart.
Ruby Lee (nee Yan) married Trevor Lee in 1994, and together they took over the restaurant business when his parents retired in 2002 and continues to successfully operate this innovative business.
Government House Reception
Another highlight was a Government House reception hosted by the Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice His Excellency Alan Blow and Mrs Blow. Guests included many from the Tasmanian Chinese community, as well as other invited guests. His Excellency congratulated and thanked the CCAT for its longevity and for its contribution to the Tasmanian community. The hour-long reception also included live traditional Chinese music, performed by Steven Wang (Guzheng) and Josephine Zhou Fen (Pipa).
Market Garden Bus Tour
The pioneering role of the Chinese community in market gardening was explored with a bus tour of historic market garden sites in the wider Hobart area. The Chinese community in Tasmania boasts a long and productive history working in market gardens dating back more than 100 years.
While it was often the mining industry that initially attracted Chinese to Tasmania, many eventually returned to what was their familiar background, market gardening, and associated ventures including fruit shops and general stores. With market gardening having such a strong focus for early Chinese employment, CCAT considered it appropriate to organise a bus tour of former market garden sites to explore this important aspect of Chinese history in Tasmania.
As a fitting finale to the anniversary events, more than 30 people were taken on the tour organised by CCAT and sponsored by Bob and Reeda Chung Gon, through their tourist transport company, Experienced Tasmania Tours and Charters. The bus tour travelled to a number of mostly historic Chinese market gardening sites, including those at Lenah Valley, several locations in New Town, Moonah, West Moonah, and Claremont, as well as the old site opposite the Glenorchy Showgrounds.
After a luncheon at the Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant in Moonah, the bus tour ventured to Richmond to visit further sites, including that operated over many years by Kee and Margaret Chung, the last of the China born market gardeners.
The full-day tour concluded back to Hobart after what was voted an informative and, for many, an emotional trip down memory lane with the recollections of working life in the old days. For others, it rekindled memories of what had long ago been bustling market gardens, now overtaken by housing and commercial developments.
Members of the public were welcomed to attend any of the activities as listed in the program below.