Darwin was multicultural, but after Federation and the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, Chinese Territory families, most of whom were descendants of gold seekers who had came to the Territory in the 1880s, were prohibited from taking government contracts. This was an outcome of what would become infamous as the ‘White Australia Policy’.
The Chinese population of the Top End, which from earliest days had always worked in many areas outside mining including construction, pastoral and agricultural, were restricted to service delivery and supply. In the period between the wars, the Chinese of Darwin became famous for the thriving businesses and retail areas of Cavenagh Street. In particular, many long-term Darwin residents recall with pleasure the Chinese cafés where everyone ate.
There were a number of these including the popular Australian and Imperial Cafés, which specialised in both English and Chinese food run by the Gee Fong brothers, who provided a value meal for just 1/9d. The Imperial Café was supplied with fresh eggs from ‘Grannie’ Lum Loy (Lee Toy Kim) who ran a chicken farm at ‘Police Paddock’ in Stuart Park. The ‘squash’ or cool drink shop, operated by Chin Loong Tang for Sun Hing Kee and Company in Cavenagh Street sold a very popular non-alcoholic Hop Beer brewed in Darwin by the family.
Ray Foskey arrived in Darwin in 1939. He recalled.
|2009-01-01||Feeding Darwin…||Foskey, Ray|
|2009-01-01||Chinese cafes||O'Brien, Jacqueline, 1929-|
|1939-01-01||Men holding a row of pennant flags||Clancy, John|