Our Chinese Past Inc

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

Our Chinese Past Inc was formed in 2020 by a group of historians and genealogists – Juanita Kwok, Paul Macgregor, Gill Oxley, Malcolm Oakes and Kira Brown. We 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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Vase - McCrossin's Mill Museum


A vase which may have been displayed on an altar table in a temple. It is not known...
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Mount for single processional item 1 -McCrossin's-Mill

Mount for single processional item 1

This mount frame would have been used inside a temple to display a processional placard when the placard...
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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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Shrine cabinet panel 11

One of several pieces that would have been part of shrine cabinets. It is not yet known which...
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Queensland Museum’s Chinese collections

One of the largest of the Queensland Museum’s Chinese collections is the Kwong Sang Collection.
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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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Carved scene with three sheep - McCrossin's Mill

Carved scene with three sheep

The shape of this frieze suggests it graced the top of the front of an altar table. It...
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Shrine cabinet panel 6 - McCrossin's Mill Museum

Shrine cabinet panel 6

One of several pieces that would have been part of shrine cabinets. It is not yet known 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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Yeung Fook Tong” entrance adornment, Wing Hing Long - Tingha

“Yeung Fook Tong” entrance adornment

This entrance adornment—or 彩門 “choy-moon”—is likely the one referenced by the Donation plaque dated 1866, and so would have hung...
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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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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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Red-printed incense stick packaging

Nine packets of incense, printed in red ink, and probably used in Tingha. From the firm 陳聯馨 “Chun...
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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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