(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #10124)
Has there ever been a country that has provided as many emigrants to the world as China? Often seen cheap labour, Chinese workers have found their way to countries all over the world in search of the security of a job and better conditions than those they were leaving. Unfortunately, in many places they were ruthlessly exploited and discriminated against, whether because they were seen as taking jobs from locals or for bringing different beliefs and customs with them.
Today's historical photo shows a very old building, simply described as "Joss House, Breakfast Creek, 1886". It was made by Chinese craftsman with materials imported for the purpose, and it was opened in 1884. The picture shows several people gathered around the building, which is notable for its extraordinary roof ornamentation.
The Chinese word joss can be translated as "luck", but this temple was more formally known as the Temple of the Holy Triad because three religions were practised here - Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Nowadays it is listed as Quan Am Temple, at 8 Higgs St, Breakfast Creek (just behind the Breakfast Creek Hotel's Spanish Garden), and appears to be a Buddhist temple only. This is the way it looks now. (Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)
It is actually much smaller than it looks in the older photo. I don't have a human figure for reference in my photo, but I would have to stoop to enter the temple, so the men in the earlier picture must have been quite small.
On the day I visited, I was welcomed warmly by a couple of members of the temple's congregation who were quite proud of the fact that it is the oldest Buddhist temple in Brisbane. The building went through some hard times in the 1960s with neglect and vandalism, but since then has been restored. It is situated behind a protective wall, now with some adjoining ancillary structures, and is a visible reminder of the early Chinese inhabitants of Brisbane.
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Next: Meet you under the clock