Our lion dancers in Townsville

Our lion dancers in Townsville

Lion dancers

What a great weekend for our Lion Dance team! We journeyed all the way to Townsville, spreading joy and excitement to the patrons at Shorehouse on the Strand.

If you know anyone who might be interested in joining our spirited group of lions, feel free to contact us.

lion dancers
Tung Yep family visit Cairns

Tung Yep family visit Cairns

It was a pleasure to welcome visitors from England, 4th generation members of Cairns’ Tung Yep family – Helen and Andrew, who were in Cairns last week visiting their grandfather Bishop George Tung Yep.

We are pleased they took the opportunity to visit the Lit Sung Temple collection at CADCAI and learn about their early family connections.

Their great grandmother Maggie Leong Hong (bottom photo), who came to Cairns as a 16-year-old bride, was a regular user of the Lit Sung Temple during her life time as a resident of Cairns Chinatown.

photo of Tung Yep family visiting CADCAI
photo of Maggie Leong Hong
Four Generations

Four Generations

In Chinese culture, wishing your elders good luck, health and longevity is a long-held tradition. To have four generations in one family, to become a grandmother and great grandmother and reach the age of one hundred years is truly a blessing.

 

This remarkable good fortune was recently bestowed upon the Tam family when Lau Miu Yee, Agnes, marked her 100th birthday with a double family celebration in Melbourne last month. The newest Tam family baby, Theodore, fortuitously shared his 100-day-old milestone with his great grandmother’s 100-year celebration.

 

Top photo (from left):  Jacky Tam, his grandson Harry, mother Agnes and daughter Mimi.

 

Bottom photo: Jacky’s son Constantine, daughter-in-law Pei, and their son Theodore.
Jacky Tan family photo
Tully celebrations

Tully celebrations


Dear Members and Friends,

The Cassowary Coast Council is celebrating a hundred years since my hometown was given the name “Tully” (it was originally established in the 1880s as “Banyan”).

Soon after the area was settled, there was a Chinese population of about a thousand, almost all of them market gardeners. Many of the old Chinese families of Far North Queensland have connections to Tully, including my two families (the Sings and the Gee Kees) as well as other CADCAI families – the Yet Foys, the Lee Longs, and the Kum Yuens (branches of the Wah Days and Tong.

To celebrate Tully’s Centenary, the council will be holding several events throughout the year, including the street parade on Saturday, 8th June, at 9:30am. The purpose of the parade is to celebrate Tully’s rich diversity and its vibrant mix of people, cultures, and history that shaped the town into what it is today.

CADCAI will participating in the parade with our dragon and lion team to represent the Tully Chinese.

After the parade, CADCAI will hold a free barbecue at Alligators Nest. Bring your swimmers (the water will be cold!)

From Cairns we will be car pooling . It takes about 1¾ hours to get to Tully from downtown Cairns.

Because Tully is my hometown, I would like to put on a great show for the Tully folk as many of them are unaware of the history of the Chinese in the area. It would mean a lot to me and my family if we can get as many people participating as possible.

Please let me know if you and any of your family members can participate. PH 0488 288 943 or Email: info@cadcai.org.au. You don’t have to be a lion or dragon dancer to partipate; we have many other roles in the parade.

Thanks

James Sing
CADCAI Vice-President and Lion Team Leader

Tully

Photo Credit: Neil Mitchell Brierly 1945, Cairns Victory Parade, Grafton St,  Cairns 

Cairns & District Chinese Association Inc

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Celebrating 50 years

Celebrating 50 years

  “Celebrating 50 years of Chinese herbalism with a dose of Aussie humour

Former president of CADCAI Ken Wong celebrates his golden jubilee as a Chinese herbalist in Cairns this year. WONG King Shiu (黄競軺), commonly known today as Kenny or Ken, arrived in Cairns from Hong Kong in 1961 when he was a nine-year-old.  Back then, who would have thought that he would not only follow his father’s footsteps to Far North Queensland but also his career, which has now spanned fifty years? 

Speaking with Diana Giese for the National Library post-war Chinese Australian oral history project in 1997, Ken recalled helping his father after school doing chores: from packing herbs to serving as a go-between, interpreting for his father’s patients. In fact, from the day he landed in Australia, young Kenny was consciously or not already preparing for his future in this country. When Kenny realised that his high school grades would not allow him to pursue his engineering dream, he returned to his birthplace to train in Chinese traditional medicine. In Hong Kong, Ken occasionally visited the remote areas to gather herbs; these places of the still rural New Territories reminded him of the undeveloped Far North Queensland that he saw when he arrived in the 1960s. But his training mostly took place in Kowloon in urban Hong Kong where he shadowed a doctor of traditional medicine.

Ken had planned to return to Cairns and work alongside his father, but fate did not allow it. When Ken returned to Cairns, his father’s days were numbered. At the time, it was believed that once “Uncle Sam”, as his late father was locally known, discontinued, there would be nobody to take over his practice. 

Ken started in 1973 in the same Draper Street location where his father had practiced. In a recent interview with me as part of an oral history project on Australians with Chinese heritage by the National Library of Australia, Uncle Ken recalled what the hard old days were like when he started out. “At first it was difficult to build clientele as new patients either didn’t know who I was, or they simply didn’t trust Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Herbalism used to be, and in many ways remains, an alternative practice. When Western doctors couldn’t find a satisfactory fix TCM was the patient’s last resort.”  Ken recalls his earliest patients were mainly immigrants from European countries with a long tradition of herbal use.

Over the course of his career, Ken’s bilingual and bicultural advantage has allowed him to cement his reputation as a reliable Chinese herbalist in Cairns. Some sceptical clients of TCM initially walked into his clinic terrified. Their hands trembled and their hearts pounded. “Under such circumstances, it was impossible to take their pulse accurately” Ken shared, “but once I cracked a joke, my patient felt immediately at ease. His sense of humour is undoubtedly also a legacy inherited from his father. At the same time, Ken’s deep knowledge of Chinese culture enabled him to find culturally informed solutions for everyday health problems. As a result, returning clientele and word-of-mouth recommendations have allowed Ken to keep his clinic (now in Manoora) open for the past half-century.

On behalf of CADCAI, I would like to express our sincerest appreciation to Ken Wong for his continued contribution to our community in Cairns. We are extremely proud to call him one of our very own. Ken is essentially an assimilated immigrant who practices traditional Chinese herbalism with a healthy dose of Aussie humour. We wish Ken prosperity, happiness, and good health for the next fifty years!

To celebrate Ken’s milestone achievement, I have prepared a poem for Uncle Ken (and our Chinese readers) to be read in Cantonese to rhyme.

祝唐人會會長金禧年

誰能想像到半世紀前

接手父親黃森老行尊

堅時黃氏中醫無停斷

黃大夫中英文都認知

西人起初唔認識中醫

爆出笑話令人變自在

對付緊張病人咁接待

This article was written by Christopher Cheng, 13 September 2023

 (Photo : Ken Wong at his herbalist in Manoora, February 2023), taken by  Christopher Cheng

More than a Chinese Teacher

More than a Chinese Teacher

More than a Chinese Teacher


Written by Christopher Cheng

Since the emergence of local born Chinese (ABCs) in Australia, one of the biggest concerns of their parents was how to pass on the ancestral language and culture to the next generation. Where possible, children were brought back to China for education. But when this was not possible, opening a Chinese school in Australia was considered a viable option. Again, securing qualified teachers was another challenge. Given these obstacles, I must admit I was lucky to have grown up in Cairns in the 1990s, where there was a Chinese community school, and more importantly, we had a dedicated teacher named Mr. Chee Hong Loh, or Luó lǎoshī (羅老師) in Mandarin.

During the week, Mr. Loh taught at a public school. His work however didn’t end on the weekends. On Sundays, he taught children in the Cairns community, many of whom were of Chinese descent. Although I may not have appreciated it much at the time (waking up extra early on Sunday mornings), Mr. Loh’s classes did not only introduce us to the intricacies of Chinese characters, but also opened our eyes to an appreciation of an ancient, exotic culture far from a largely western society in Cairns. Mind you, this was something my parents couldn’t do, even if they wanted to: They simply didn’t have the time, patience, or qualifications to do it. So, it took a university-educated educator, originally from Malaysia, speaking English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, to fill this key role.

After language class, Mr. Loh also held lion dance workshops. A small group of boys, including Mickey Kehoe, Hugh Hayward, and myself, watched videos of competitions, often in Malaysia, then we went on to practise basic kung fu stances. Throughout the year, Mr. Loh and his wife Jenny accompanied us, watching, and performing at various multicultural events around Cairns. Often Mr. Loh served as our driver and was also the drummer. If it wasn’t for these performances, I would probably never have visited as many places in Cairns as I had as a child. With my mother often working overtime, this exposure helped me to know my hometown as well as to gain an appreciation of my ethnic heritage. Much later, the destination of my first solo holiday to China would be to none other than Fat-san (佛山), Guangdong. This was the home of martial arts, and where lion dance remains a defining part of the local culture. My fascination with my cultural heritage obviously never went away, even after I first learned pinyin and how to write characters in Sunday school. The time spent with Mr. Loh in Cairns during my formative years would have a profound impact on my young adult life as well as my chosen career.

As we mourn his passing, I am still coming to terms with Mr. Loh’s larger-than-life influence on my life. Little did I know that when I first started Chinese and lion dancing lessons as a primary school kid decades ago, Mr. Loh’s appreciation for our heritage would one day rub off onto me, and this curiosity would sow seeds for my future travel in south China and a research career that revolved around documenting cultural heritage. Outside of teaching, Mr. Loh devoted his attention to community radio, instigating the Cantonese and Mandarin programme, where he broadcasted a variety of popular and classic songs. In fact, as I write this reflection, Mr. Loh’s distinctive chatty, Malaysian-accented English is already being missed. What is also clear is that Mr. Loh was much more than a Chinese teacher, he played an irreplaceable role in fostering cultural appreciation for the Chinese in Cairns, including among the ABCs.

4 July 2022 

Christopher Cheng

 

Photo Credit: Neil Mitchell Brierly 1945, Cairns Victory Parade, Grafton St,  Cairns 

Cairns & District Chinese Association Inc

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