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Great Chinese Establishment In Sydney Are Lost
“They were still called aliens and didn’t have citizenship, so they couldn’t own land unless they were married to a white lady. But this was impossible for most. Unless you were very wealthy or had an academic background, Chinese men were only allowed to marry Aboriginal women or convict women. You couldn’t marry into high society,” explained Fong.

Mr Fong said that when the British-owned East India Company started importing opium, many

Chinese in Australia turned to smoking it out of loneliness, poor job prospects and depression.

The White Australia policies began to be dismantled from 1949 onwards and Australian citizenship became easier to obtain. Aspects of Chinese culture — particularly the food — started to be embraced by wider Australia from this point onwards.

Chinese food had been a novelty until the 1950s, when the well-known cook and journalist Margaret Fulton was hired by a gas company to sell more gas to Australian housewives.
“One way of doing this was through Chinese cooking on a wok,” Fong said.

“She started including Chinese recipes in her column in Woman’s Day and told readers to buy the cooking utensils from us in Chinatown. We had to triple our import quota from overseas and were very grateful to her.”
[Image: 5244a2dcc7e0c7c25170bcc995afeb01?width=650]

It was iconic Australian cook Margaret Fulton who brought Chinese food to the housewives of Australia. Picture: Bob Barker

Chan said he came up with the idea of a Chinese Heritage Museum a few years ago when he realised that Chinatowns around the world are dying and has already started talking to other community groups about submitting a proposal to the City of Sydney within the next year.

His plan is for a Chinese Heritage Museum to be set up in the soon-to-be-vacated Haymarket Library.

Chan said that part of the space could also be used to host art exhibitions, while another part could be rented out for community events. He said the proposal to the City of Sydney will include a request for funding and a possible “dollar-a-year” lease.

Chan acknowledges that there will be rival claims to the building and that if their bid is unsuccessful, he wants to set up interactive kiosks in Chinatown that depict aspects of the history of Chinese communities in Sydney, which began in 1818 when the first documented Chinese settler, Mak Sai Ying, arrived and later opened a pub in Parramatta called The Lion.
The curator of Sydney Living Museums Dr Nicola Teffer told that despite being a global city, Sydney has no museum “dedicated to displaying its history of immigration and cultural diversity”.

Melbourne’s Chinese Museum opened 32 years ago while other global cities such as Singapore, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, London, Vancouver and Zurich all have Chinese museums.

Dr Teffer has curated two exhibitions devoted to Sydney’s Chinese history. She said “there are many more stories to tell and more material to reveal of its Chinese heritage.”

“[The stories] deserve to be interpreted and preserved in a permanent facility so that this important aspect of Sydney’s ongoing story of immigration and cultural diversity can be made available to the wider public,” she added.

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