The Chinese migrant story of great challenges and seized opportunities is being celebrated at a museum exhibition in Sydney.
Celestial City: Sydney’s Chinese Story opens at the Museum of Sydney at the weekend.
At its launch on Thursday, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said it was important to acknowledge the history of Chinese migration to Australia, which started in the 1840s.
“It hasn’t been an easy ride, but it’s been a persistent ride,” he said.
“What this exhibition demonstrates … is the wonderful contribution that our cultural diversity in this city and this state has made to the development of our society.”
Among the artifacts is a 12-month extension of a certificate of domicile dating from 1903, photos of Chinese men and their Caucasian wives and one of only five known remaining certificates exempting a Chinese man from a migrant tax during the gold rush.
President of the Chinese Heritage Association of Australia Cheryl Cumines said the exhibition reflected on “who we are and where we come from.”
“I think that it is also important for those Chinese who have come more recently to be aware of those Chinese who came before and paved the way for them,” she said in a statement.
For Dr John Yu AC, the recognition of Australia’s Chinese community is an emotional experience.
The former Australian of the Year moved to Sydney as a three-year-old in 1934 but his grandfather was a participant in the gold rushes in the 19th century.
“I just feel lucky that perhaps I can claim two heritages” he told AAP.
“I always say I’m a Chinese Australian.
“Australian is the proper noun, Chinese is the adjective.”
Celestial City runs from March 29 to October 12.
A single admission costs $10 for an adult and $5 for a concession.
A family pass is available for $20.