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The Chinese were early pioneers of Tasmania’s North East near Launceston. They began arriving in the late 1870s and by the 1880s numbered around 1,000. Many came to Tasmania via the goldfields of Victoria. At a time when the other Australian colonies were closing their mining fields to the Chinese, and alluvial gold resources were declining, the Tasmanian tinfields attracted many Chinese. Their history is therefore closely tied to the fortunes of the tin mining industry in the area around Derby in the north-east of the state. They were industrious miners and tended to work the small scale, poorer, more isolated tinmine sites. They displayed considerable ingenuity in getting water to their alluvial mines.
The population was transient with people staying only to make enough money to move on. Consequently their dwellings were mainly temporary bush huts and little remains, apart from archaeological evidence. Those that stayed after the collapse of the tin price gravitated to Launceston where they mostly became market gardeners and merchants. The Chinese community in Launceston became wealthy and influential in the development of the city.
In Launceston, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Royal Park has a complete Chinese Buddhist temple on public display. The temple (or Joss House) was a gift of the dwindling Chinese community in Weldborough near Derby.
One of Launceston’s oldest remaining businesses still trading on the original premises is Chung Gon grocery store in Brisbane Street. The Chung Gon family name is also preserved in Chung Gon Street in east Launceston and by the memorial gates of the church at nearby Hadspen village which bear a plaque commemorating their donation by the family
The town of Derby, 1.5 hours north-east of Launceston, has established a community muesum, and Derby Tin Centre to commemorate the contribution of the early European and Chinese immigrants.
In nearby Branxholm little remains of the Chinese heritage. Ah Moy's shop, which was in bad condition was lost in a fire (2008). The bridge has chinese calligraphy panels commemorating the town's history. The Tin Dragon Trail cottages have developed two bushwalks along former tinmine aqueducts and offers a display in a renovated setller's hut. This display includes Henry Ah Ping's story and a brief description of the Chinese history in Branxholm. Access to the site is free and is open between 10.00am and 4.00 pm daily.
At the cemetery in Moorina there are relics consisting of an oven (for burning memorial paper), offering table and memorial stone. Louisa Ping's grave can be seen here. Louisa was Henry Ping's first wife. There is another memorial at Weldborough - the original site of the Joss House now at the Queen Victoria Museum.