Cairns Chinese History
Chinese migration and settlement in the Cairns region began in the late 1870s after the Palmer Gold Rush.
These migrants played a major role in the early economic growth of Cairns and region, clearing virgin land in the district to establish market gardens and sugar, banana and rice plantations.
In 1886, Chinese migrants made up over 30 percent of the total Cairns population. For more than 30 years (from 1880’s to 1920) Cairns had a distinctive Chinatown precinct in Sachs Street (Grafton Street today) between Spence and Shields Streets containing Chinese shops, merchant stores, herbalists, a school, hospital, and two Chinese temples.
Although Chinese migrants played a major role in the agricultural and economic development of Cairns and Far North Queensland, there is little visible evidence left of early Chinese enterprise.
The last remaining Chinese temple in Grafton Street was unfortunately demolished in the 1960’s.
The Chinese New Year Festival or Spring festival as it known in China is the most important Chinese celebration of the year. The Cairns Chinese New Year Festival has been held annually by CADCAI since 2004,and has become a popular and much anticipated event, attracting more than 15000 people in 2013. The Cairns CNY festival showcases North Queensland’s cultural diversity and rich Chinese heritage through music, dance and cultural performances, food, market stalls, and a parade featuring the tradional Chinese dragon, lions and the 12 Zodiac Animals. The festival is free event suitable for families and all ages, so be sure to mark it on your calendar!