The Palaszczuk Government has contributed $2000 towards a new granite memorial at the St George Cemetery to honour Chinese shepherds from Xiamen, formerly Amoy, who helped to establish the Darling Downs.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk applauded the St George Chinese Community Memorial Committee for taking on the culturally and historically significant project.
The cemetery is the resting place of 300 Chinese settlers who left their famine-ravaged villages in the mid-1800s for the promise of gold in New South Wales, only to drift north and work as shepherds and labourers in southern Queensland.
“These hard-working men, who tended more than 450,000 sheep with traditional skills in irrigation and crop production, deserve to be properly acknowledged,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“As will be inscribed on the new memorial, ‘these sojourners never earned enough to return to the families they had left behind in their ancestral villages’.
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“It’s a solemn reminder of the heartache and hardships faced by our earliest Chinese migrants who sowed some of the early seeds for the wonderfully multicultural Queensland we are today.”
“The original timber headstones on the men’s graves burned down in the 1970s and a solitary and very simple marble headstone was erected in their place.
“Now thanks to fundraising by the St George Chinese Community Memorial Committee headed by Jack Sun, and the support of Balonne Shire Mayor Richard Marsh and Federal Member for Moreton Graham Perrett, a substantial memorial will replace it.”
The Member for Toohey, Peter Russo, whose electorate includes many leading figures in the Australian Chinese community, welcomed the funding announcement.
“It’s wonderful that the Premier has recognised the importance of this project in acknowledging the Chinese Community’s contribution to the development of rural Queensland,” Mr Russo said.
“The winning design was created by Year 7 St George State High School student, Daisy Brown – a wonderful achievement and a very proud moment for her family and community.”
The first sod was turned at the St George Cemetery in April.