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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Processional staff 1 - Wing Hing Long

Processional staff 1

This would have been one of a set of probably eight staffs, which would have been displayed at...
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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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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 temple at Tingha

Tingha 1874 – Masonic Lodge

The main temple at Tingha, photographed possibly in 1890. Photograph reproduced from Elizabeth Weidemann’s 1981 book World of...
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Key of Tingha Joss House - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Key of Tingha Joss House

Only one of the four temples in Tingha is reported to have burnt down. This was the temple...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Painted scenes on bamboo panel 2 - McCrossins Mill

Bamboo panel with painted scenes 2

This painted screen is one of a set of three such panels (see Panel 1 and Panel 3)....
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Temple Bell dated 1883–4, McCrossin's mill

Temple bell dated 1883–4

This bell, bearing the date of 1883–84, is a typical temple bell. It would be struck to call...
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“Kwun Yam Den” altar censer - Wing Hing Long

“Kwun Yam Den” altar censer

觀音 “Kwun Yam”, the Chinese goddess of mercy, is a Buddhist deity. But, on account of its syncretic nature,...
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flipped horizontally - Inverell Pioneer Village

Tingha Yee Hing Society stamp

This stamp belonged to one or both of Tingha’s Chinese Masonic society buildings. The “Yee Hing Society” was...
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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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