Gong Hey Fat Choy! It’s Chinese New Year! Here the Chinese Lion dances down Cavenagh Street in 1920, right outside the Sue Wah Chin Building. Built in the 1880s, it is the only building from Darwin's nineteenth-century Chinatown district that survives today. Chinese New Year is believed to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck, joy, fortune and happiness. From the mid-1870s Chinese workers came to the Northern Territory to work in gold mining, as domestic servants and on the construction of the railway. By the 1890s, the Territory’s Chinese population numbered more than 6000, six times its European population. However, the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, more commonly known as the White Australia Policy, saw the local Chinese population dramatically decline. Even so, Cavenagh Street remained the centre of business and cultural life for the Chinese community in Darwin right up until World War II.

Published: 19 January 2017


Picture: Library & Archives NT. Chinese Lion Dance, PictureNT, Roy Edwards Collection, PH0274/0005

Forgotten Territory was a weekly photo column of historic images in the Northern Territory News which I curated from 2016 until 2019 supported by the collections of the Northern Territory Library and other cultural institutions around Australia, as well as local history Facebook groups. 

Click on the images to read the story behind the image.

Warning: May contain images of people who have died.

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These works were made on Arrernte, Larrakia, Gaddigal and Lenape land that was never ceded