Chinese Australian history EP3: The changing face of Sydney's Chinatown
Living in Sydney for nearly six decades, Douglas Lam, who is originally from Taishan, has witnessed the transformation of the city's Chinatown. While nowadays you can find Chinese ingredients in most local supermarkets, he says that in the past it was only in Chinatown that you could find foods like Chinese cabbage, choy sum, Chinese broccoli, and Chinese sausage. Chinatown also offered places to hang out, like congee shops and tea houses, he says.
Chinatown was also the place to find the latest Chinese books and newspapers. "We would have whatever Hong Kong released the next day," said Douglas. He remembers that the cassettes and albums produced in Hong Kong were sometimes on sale in Sydney's Chinatown even before they were released in Hong Kong.
In the face Sydney's gentrification, urban development, and growing population, Chinatown is changing. "Chinatown isn't as lively as before," said Douglas. Suburbs like Ashfield, Hurstville, and Eastwood are home to many Chinese people, so "you can buy everything there. It's unnecessary to visit Chinatown", which he says is less competitive now that local parking is so expensive.
According to Michael Williams, a historian of Chinese history at the University of Western Sydney, the city has been home to three Chinatowns of various sizes that have changed along with the size of the city's Chinese community.
Reporter: Sana Fong
With special thanks to:
Dr. Michael Williams