Our Chinese Past Inc

Researching Chinese Australian history and heritage

Our Chinese Past Inc conducts projects to identify, document, preserve, research and promote the rich diversity of Chinese Australian history and heritage.

Formed in 2020 by a group of historians and genealogists- Juanita Kwok, Paul Macgregor, Gill Oxley, Malcolm Oakes and Kira Brown. Our Chinese Past Inc, are a not-for-profit organisation. We have a particular interest in the digitisation and translation of heritage material, historical records and photographs, to make these more broadly available, and better understood. We do this by working with and supporting museums, historical societies, communities and heritage interest groups. We encourage greater awareness of this history and heritage through websites, apps, publications, signage and interpretive displays.

Exploring a Rich Collection of

Chinese Australian Heritage

Our first project was based on the objects remaining from several temples in the New England region of NSW. New projects in development focus on a wide range of objects, records, photographs and stories from museums and private collections around Australia. These projects will demonstrate the linguistic, cultural, political and social diversity of Chinese Australians and showcase the diversity of places from which they and their ancestors hailed. The results of our research will be posted on our website as they are developed. As such, this is a continually evolving website, which will expand into an online encyclopedia resource on Chinese Australian history and heritage. 

To identify early Chinese sojourners and migrants we’ll be posting Chinese language manuscripts with English translations by Ely Finch.

We will also be sharing more family stories and research on descendants. Our Chinese Past genealogist Gillian Oxley shares with you her research on the sons of temple donor Sam Bow. We hope Gill’s research might lead to connecting with living descendants of Sam Bow and Minnie (nee Sing).

For our first project, “Chinese temples heritage of Uralla, Tingha and Emmaville, NSW, Australia”, we photographed and digitised artefacts from historical Chinese temples of these three towns, translated their inscriptions, and researched the artefacts and the histories of these temples and their communities.

This project builds on Janis Wilton’s Golden Threads project (1997-2004) which created national awareness of NSW Chinese migrant heritage. The project has been assisted with a contribution to the funding of translation work under the NSW 2020 Small Grants Program for Local History and Archives, a funding program administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government through the Heritage Council of NSW.

Our Stories

Do you own any temple artefacts?

Help us piece together the forgotten history of the Chinese temples. You may have inherited or purchased Chinese temple artefacts that have come from the New England region, if you have we’d love to hear from you.  Please leave us a message on our contact page. 

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Shrine cabinet panel 10 Composite - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Shrine cabinet panel 10

One of several pieces that would have been part of shrine cabinets. It is not yet known which...
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Gold in Hand couplet board - McCrossin's Mill

“Gold in hand” couplet board

It is clear from the metrical structure of the text that it constitutes the first or so-called upper...
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St Andrew's Church, Tingha - Temple bell, undated

Temple bell – St Andrew’s Church, Tingha

A temple bell that, at some stage, became a church bell. It is not known in which temple...
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Mount for single processional item 2 -McCrossin's Mill

Mount for single processional item 2

This mount frame would have been used inside a temple to display a processional placard when the placard...
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Shrine cabinet panel 5 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Shrine cabinet panel 5

One of several pieces that would have been part of shrine cabinets. It is not yet known which...
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Candlesticks -Wing Hing Long


This pair of candlesticks would have likely stood upon an altar table in the 1883 Howell Rd temple...
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Entrance of the 1887 Chinese temple at Emmaville

Emmaville (Vegetable Creek)

1857 temple Entrance of the 1887 temple at Emmaville. Photograph by Robert Newby Kirk in 1899, reproduced from...
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Shrine cabinet panel 1 - McCrossin's Mill thumbnail

Shrine cabinet panel 1

One of several pieces that would have been part of shrine cabinets. It is not yet known which...
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Mannequin frame Section 3 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Mannequin frame section 3

Part of the framing from a diorama which would have showed mannequins from a scene in a play,...
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Article 3

Old newspaper articles that concern the Emmaville temple

The Emmaville temple features prominently in Chinese-language Australian newspapers. This is a sample of these articles, summarized in...
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Shrine cabinet panel 8 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Shrine cabinet panel 8

One of several pieces that would have been part of shrine cabinets. It is not yet known which...
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Altar table wing 3 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Altar table wing 3

This carved panel would have been attached to the side of an altar table. It was one of...
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Shrine cabinet panel 9 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Shrine cabinet panel 9

Shrine cabinet panel 9 - McCrossin's Mill Museum
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Altar table with crane and pines

This altar table is displayed showing its rear panel. The front panel, which is no longer known to...
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McCrossin’s Mill Museum

by Juanita Kwok McCrossins Mill Museum is located in Uralla, the closest town to the historic Rocky River...
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Main altar Chinese Temple Rocky River 1908, Golden Threads Scan

Looking at the history of Temples in New England North West region

There were at least nine different temples in the New England North West region. Local histories state that the...
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