Good fortunes at Gympie's Gold Rush

Alison, Mitchell and Amanda Jensen took in the music.
Alison, Mitchell and Amanda Jensen took in the music.

GYMPIE'S big birthday celebrations today will pay tribute to the often forgotten role of Chinese settlers in making our region's fortune - as well as our fortune cookies.

A packed program of events is guaranteed to keep the crowds entertained from 9am today until well into the evening.

You don't have to be Chinese to admire the culture that gave us Conficius, affordable consumer technology, almost all our clothes and, in Gympie's early days, most of our vitamins.

And there is no doubt Chinese food is at least as important a foundation for today's fast food industry as the more western family treat - fish and chips.

And food, fresh nutritious fruit and vegetables in particular, was also among the more important contributions that the Chinese made to the health of their fellow miners and prospectors.

Gold Rush executive Jan Collins says it is a deliberate aim of this year's celebrations to mark the contribution of the Chinese to our gold mining history.

Mrs Collins said Gympie's Chinese history is not something of which most Gympie people are often aware.

She says today's celebrations will help change that.

Mike Ostwald caught up with Ann and Paulene Rogers.
Mike Ostwald caught up with Ann and Paulene Rogers.

AS well as reworking mines already scoured out by others, Chinese settlers grew fresh vegetables and fruit and were the source of much of the Gympie's early medical services.

Their medicines, including pain relievers, anti-aging potions, antiseptics and food supplements, were generally obtained from herbs, also grown by Chinese settlers.

Many settled in the Caledonian Hill area, not far from some other historical signs of a boom town's multi-cultural history.

The gold fields provided a sometimes uneasy but often exciting melting pot of cultures, with miners from Alaska and California as well as from most of the rest of the world.

But few non-British cultures made as big a contribution as the Chinese.

After the Goldfields Settlement Act was passed, Chinese were among those who took up the offer to farm 40 acres of land, including market gardener Ah Young, who became a British subject in order to marry Mary Amelia Coe.

He was one of five brave Chinese who stood up to those trying to stir up hatred of Chinese miners, attending a Gympie meeting and informing those present of the law abiding and constructive influence of the Chinese, as well as their role in feeding the rest of the population.

To help commemorate the Chinese influence on what we are today, the Chinese Dragon Dance Troupe from Fortitude Valley in Brisbane will perform in Nelson Reserve and lead the Gold Rush parade at 3pm.

Before that we will have the Classic Car and Bike Show in Nelson Reserve at 9am, Rickshaw racing at 9.30am, a CBD chefs' challenge at 11am, the Mary St party at 1pm.

The official welcome, awards and entertainment begin at 5pm with a laser light show and techno dancing from 7pm.

Georgia Oddie and Shyla Young at the concert.
Georgia Oddie and Shyla Young at the concert. David Crossley
Gympie Times

Topics:  birthday china gold rush gympie

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