Chinese Firm in Australia

The whole building of 82-84 Dixon Street

What is novel or innovative about what I have done?

For me, doing translation work is not something novel. As an English learner, translation is part of my life, and my ‘translation career’ starts at that time. I think the novel and innovative part for me in this project is that I can work with an organisation and do something that can directly contribute to society. I can submit the translation as my major project in this unit instead of a regular academic essay. It is different and innovative for me because I can participate in society but not sit in the library and write something that I do not know whether it contributes to the organisation instead of contributing to my credit point and helping me graduate.

Who will benefit from this work/project?

Preservation of this shop, actually the entire building, is essential for studying Chinese Australian history, and it provided the history of Dixon Street. So I think the public and the scholars will be benefit from this project. The historian who studies Chinese Australian history has a place for them to research Chinese Australian history. For the Chinese Australians, they have a chance to learn and look at the cultural relic about their ancestor’s past. For the others, this is a place to learn the Chinese life and learn about Chinese culture.

What is significant or important about my work?

My work is essential because the evidence I provided can help the Society to negotiate with the developer. I have to do it because I can read Chinese characters and understand traditional Chinese content, which allows me to have more sources for collecting evidence. Moreover, the Chinese cultural background helps me understand some cultural material and I can do a better translation and explain the newspaper to the audience.

Braised Fish Maw and Shiitake Mushroom
A common dish that the Chinese will have in Lunar New Year.

How to present my work?

I will be presenting my work in document style, a newspaper article or advertisement at the top with the translation of the content below the newspaper.

Furthermore, I have made a form for the import list of Kwong War Chong and attached a good explanation and some recipes for the non-Chinese culture background to understand how the Chinese will use or eat the goods that appear in the import list. This presenting form will be the most straightforward way to show the information I want to tell. Trove is my media and an excellent helper to search for the newspaper content I need to access the newspapers from the past. My work will show the audience life of history, Chinese economic history, and the social history of the Chinese Australian society, which can prove the uniqueness of Kwong War Chong.

82-84 Dixon Street

The front door of 82-84 Dixon Street

If you look at this photo, you might think this is just an old Chinese centre.

 You might not even notice that when you walk past it.

But this small building has carried the history of the Chinese community and represented the connection of the Chinese community and Dixon Street, which is the Chinatown we know nowadays.

 Why this is a meaningful building?

The 82-84 Dixon Street building is believed to be the first Chinese building and business in Dixon Street. Also, this is one of the earliest land acquisitions by the Chinese.

82-84 Dixon Street is the site of the critical firm Kwong War Chong. The Kwong War Chong trading company represents the Chinese community economic activities, which involve importing and exporting. Moreover, Kwong War Chong helped many Chinese with their daily life and work in Australia. Their business included being agents of Chinese residents in Sydney and rural areas, sent money to relatives in China, assisted with paperwork and tax payments, provided accommodation and even repatriated the remains of Chinese who died in Australia.

The newspaper advertisement

The business in Kwong War Chong allowed the Chinese people to feel intimacy and connection with their country even they were far from their home.

Unfortunately, this meaningful building is going to be developed by another company. As to preserve the shop, the Chinese Australian Historical Society obtained into state heritage listing. Now they will negotiate with the development company about the significance of history and culture in this building and hope to transform the ground floor and the two beds into a museum of Chinese Australian history.

The Chinese Australian Historical Society is the organisation that I am working within this unit.

About the Chinese Australian Historical Society

Logo of The Chinese Australian Historical Society

The Chinese Australian Historical Society was founded in 2002 by Professor Henry Chan (University of Newcastle, NSW). The Institute has been actively committed to advancing the study of Chinese history in Australia through workshops, seminars and conferences. Research areas include Chinese Australian family history; The home of early Chinese Australians in Guangdong; A family organisation in Sydney; Chinese shops in rural New South Wales; Trans-pacific China; History of Australian Chinese Women’s Association; Archives and how to use them. These activities have helped increase public awareness and understanding of the contribution of the Chinese people to Australia.

I chose this organisation because I am interested in Chinese Australian history. I want to know the history of the Chinese, why they decided to arrive in Australia, and what they met after they arrived. In addition, I feel some connection between the organisation and me because of my Chinese cultural background.

What am I doing now?

My primary work in the project will be researching the Chinese newspaper about Phillip Lee Chun, the dominating figure of the Kwong War Chong and the articles or advertisements of the business in Kwong War Chong. The research allowed the Chinese Australian Historical Society to have more evidence to negotiate with the developer about preserving the building.