by Gill Oxley
The stories of Tingha’s Chinese heritage and of the great tin boom from the 1870s to the early 1930s are encapsulated within Wing Hing Long Museum located at 10 Ruby Street Tingha. Situated on land purchased in 1881 by Ah Lin, a storekeeper from Inverell, the Wing Hing Long store was built by Chen Quin Jack in or about 1883. As a general store, it served the town of Tingha and the surrounding tin mining communities for more than a century.
The business changed hands through a succession of Chinese Australian owners, from Ah Lin in the early 1880s until its acquisition by Guyra Shire Council in 1988 for community management as a store museum. In 1918 herbalist Jack Joe (J.J.) Lowe, became the fifth successive Chinese Australian owner of the property. J.J. Lowe owned and managed the store until 1939 when it was transferred to his eldest son, Edgar Lowe. In 1951 J.J. Lowe’s daughter, Mavis Pratt, bought the property from her brother, and ran the business until her retirement in 1998. Wing Hing Long Museum comprises a complex of buildings, including the main store building made up of a number of different rooms and an attic, a courtyard at the back, and a two storey residence complex at the far side of the courtyard.
Wing Hing Long Museum achieved New South Wales State Heritage Register listing in October 1999. It provides insight into the unique contributions of Chinese Australians to the history of retail stores in Australia, as well as to the history of the town of Tingha and surrounds. The store and its collections also provide a window into the layout and workings of a country general store which has operated continuously from the late nineteenth century almost to the end of the twentieth century. Its collection is significant for its buildings, for its moveable objects and for its archival collection.
In July 2019, the town of Tingha was transferred from Guyra Shire to Inverell Shire. With this transfer, ownership of Wing Hing Long Museum was also transferred to Inverell Shire. The museum provides a strong focal point for the community of Tingha and is staffed by a knowledgeable, welcoming and enthusiastic team of local volunteers.
Wing Hing Long Museum is open Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and at other times by appointment. Please phone (02) (02) 6723 3156 to book on other days or to check opening hours.
For more information visit https://mgnsw.org.au/organisations/wing-hing-long-museum-inc