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.
The temples of Uralla, Tingha and Emmaville are no longer extant, but a rich collection of their contents is preserved at museums in New England North West: the Wing Hing Long Museum in Tingha, McCrossin’s Mill Museum in Uralla, the Inverell Pioneer Village Museum, and the Emmaville Mining Museum. These artefacts, dating from the 1860s-1930s, include altars, shrines, statues, bells, processional regalia, lanterns, fortune-telling instruments, friezes, printing-blocks, drums, cymbals, and large panels inscribed with religious and morality texts. Some of the furniture comprises dismantled sections. There are also historical photographs showing temple interiors and exteriors. The surviving artefacts, and other artefacts shown in the historical photographs, include carved inscriptions, totalling almost 1,000 Chinese characters, and containing a wealth of information.