Tag: Barry McGowan

Pastoral workers, market gardeners and entrepreneurs – talk by Dr Barry McGowan

The Chinese Australian Historical Society is holding a special meeting:

Pastoral workers, market gardeners and entrepreneurs – the Chinese people in the Riverina district of New South Wales

Dr Barry McGowan (Australian National University)

When: Saturday 22 May 2010 at 2pm
Where: Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street Sydney (near Bathurst Street)

In October of 2008 Barry McGowan was commissioned by the Museum of the Riverina in Wagga Wagga to research the history of the Chinese people in the Riverina for an exhibition at the Museum in 2010. This work follows an earlier study undertaken by Barry and Lindsay Smith into the Chinese heritage of the Riverina and southern New South Wales. The Chinese people were an integral part of Riverina society for many years, and the project has revealed an amazing amount of information on their daily lives.

A large number of artefacts and photographs have been obtained, and new insights gleaned into the importance of Chinese labour and enterprise for the rural economy, the internal workings of Chinese society, race relationships and the role of the police and courts.

New insights have also been obtained into the importance of fraternal and family networks. Much of this information has come from the descendants of Chinese Australian families, who have lived in the Riverina for several generations or more. But it is a lost history – the significance of which has been missed by most historians. Information to hand suggests that a major rewriting of colonial and post colonial history is in order.

The exhibition will run from November to March in Wagga Wagga and from March to June in Albury.

There will be a short discussion on the Sydney market gardens, in particular the Botany one which is heritage listed and is thought to be Australia’s first primary industry site.

Cost: $10 members; $15 non members. Pay at the door.
Bookings: Anna Lee (CAHS treasurer) by email: annalee@workready.com.au; phone: 9519 7436; text 0412 33 43 98

Nomchong building in Braidwood destroyed

The Canberra Times this morning is reporting the destruction of an 1850s building that was once used by the Chinese family, the Nomchongs. The single-storey wooden building stood in the main street of heritage-listed Braidwood, near Canberra and was demolished apparently in error. The Canberra Times says that the demolition was approved by the local Palerang Council, but there had been a mix-up over the address of the building.

The Nomchong brothers first settled in Braidwood in the 1860s–70s, and the descendants of one of the brothers still live and run businesses in the town today. The first Nomchong in the Braidwood area was Sheong Foon Nomchong (his name was spelt in a range of ways), who established a business at Mongarlowe and then Braidwood, and married Ellen Lupton, a woman of Irish-English descent. As his business grew he called for his brother Chee Doc to come to Australia from California. It is Chee Doc’s descendants who remain in the area today.

Read the Canberra Times article:

Historic Braidwood building’s ‘appalling’ demolition by Megan Doherty

More on the Nomchong family:

Shoon Foon Nom Chong from the Golden Threads database

Chee Doc Nom Chong from the Golden Threads database

Golden Threads also lists objects and sites associated with the Nomchong family in the Braidwood area.

The National Library of Australia holds the Nomchong family photograph collection (PIC/7659), the photographs from which are digitised and can be viewed online. The NLA also has oral history interviews with Nomchong family members.

The National Archives of Australia has a range of records about various members of the Nomchong family, including war service records, naturalisation applications and files relating to migration to Australia and travel out of Australia. Some of these can be found in the RecordSearch database by doing a keyword search for ‘nom chong’ or ‘nomchong’.

The Braidwood Historical Society has a collection of Nomchong family material, including the ‘Nomchong Room’ at the Braidwood Museum (Wallace Street, Braidwood).

And more generally on the history of the Chinese, including the Nomchongs, in the Braidwood area, see the extensive work of Dr Barry McGowan.