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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Mark Wang on the emergence of the Chinese quarter of Melbourne

Mara Moustafine and Mark Wang.

Chinese Museum deputy chair Mark Wang discusses the emergence of the Chinese quarter of Melbourne



Date Added:

03 February 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

4.6 MB






Well the Chinese came in about 1852 and – and built a couple of huts in what we call, Celestial Avenue, which is just one street from – it sounds very grand, “Celestial Avenue” but it’s a little tiny lane, one street from Swanson Street, just near – off Little Bourke Street. It’s a little cobblestone lane that’s still there obviously. And the Chinese – the people used to call Chinese people at that time a nickname for Chinese people was, “Celestials.” Because the – because Chinese people will say that they’re people from heaven, you know, so they were called, “Celestials.” Heavenly bodies. So that’s how Celestial Avenue got its name from the Chinese people living in that lane.


And then from the 1850s when the gold rush came in the 1854, when it was fully sort of – 1853 when it was fully on – the whole of Chinatown became the staging post for the people who landed in Melbourne and you know, got their provisions and went off to the gold fields. And the buildings were mainly established by – the larger buildings were originally club rooms for the different districts, they would come as clans and they were attached to a certain district and they would come to the street and you know, replenish their – it took you know, many weeks to travel here by you know, ship, so you know, they were pretty wrung out by the time they got here. So, they recovered here, got their provisions and went off to the gold fields.


And so that was – Chinatown was like that for about 20 years as that staging post.


End transcript