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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McCrossin's Mill Temple drum stand

Temple drum stand

The drum on this stand would have been struck to call the attention the deity or deities of...
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Name plaque dated 1866 - Inverell Pioneer Village

Names plaque dated 1866

The inscription on this plaque is a list of 155 names. The matching design of this plaque, which...
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Multicoloured incense-stick packaging - Inverell Pioneer Village

Multicolour-printed incense stick packaging

A remnant of the packaging of an incense packet from Macao, from the firm 陳聯馨 “Chun Lun Hing”....
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Painted scenes on bamboo panel 3 - McCrossins Mill

Bamboo panel with painted scenes 3

This painted screen is one of a set of three such panels (see Panel 1 and Panel 2)....
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Altar table wing 2 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Altar table wing 1

This carved panel would have been attached to the side of an altar table. It would have been...
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Southern sky couplet board - McCrossin's Mill

“Southern sky” couplet board

This couplet board is believed to have formed part of a shrine-cabinet surround, as is suggested by the...
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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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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 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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Chim stick canister 1 -Green Valley Farm

Chim stick canister 1

This canister was used to hold the chim sticks, or fortune sticks, that were used in divination rituals...
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Shrine cabinet panel 7- McCrossin's Mill Museum

Shrine cabinet panel 7

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

Incense crate

Shipping crate for “superior benzoin incense” from the Macao firm of 陳天祥 “Chan Tin Cheung”. This firm was one...
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Yee Hing Society name plaque

This name plaque, which would perhaps have originally been displayed above a front doorway, may come from Tingha’s...
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Mannequin stand

The base stand from a diorama that would have showed mannequins from a scene in a play, and...
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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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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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