Atherton Chinatown Site

Atherton, Tablelands Area

The land surrounding the Hou Wang Mai was the site of an 1880's Chinese settlement. By 1897 there were over 180 Chinese living in the village known as Cedar Town, with a short main street lined with small timber and iron shops and houses. The Hou Wang Mai was built in 1903. By 1909, the commercial premises included corn merchants, food and goods stores, a herbalist, two gambling dens and an entertainment place that employed musicians. There was also a Tong society meeting hall.

After World War One when Chinese land leases were turned over to returned soldiers, most Chinese left the district. European speculators owned the site. However, local maize farmer and Hong Kong born Mow Jue Sue purchased the property in 1925 and it remained in his family until 1967 when it was transferred to John and Violet Fong On.

The National Trust of Queensland received funding in 1975 to carry out research on the site and the Fong On family arranged to transfer the Hou Wang Mai property to the Trust. The Atherton Shire Council assumed ownership of the Chinatown site in 1991. Council relocated the old Atherton Post Office nearby for use as a Chinese Museum.

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