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恭喜發財 – Gong Xi Fa Cai! CADCAI creates a fresh display to celebrate Chinese New Year


Volunteers have developed panels to promote the Lit Sung Goong temple collection for the 2017 Cairns Chinese New Year Festival. Design: Nettie O’Connell.

As many museum followers know, Cairns is home to a nationally significant collection of Chinese artefacts known as the Lit Sung Goong temple collection. Cared for by the Heritage Group at Cairns and District Chinese Association Inc. (CADCAI), this collection tells the story of early migration and settlement, of business connections and acumen, religious practices and artistic skill and craftsmanship.

What many do not know, however, is that CADCAI is seeking support to build a new Chinese Cultural Centre. A new facility would support CADCAI’s vast array of activities, and be a place to preserve and display the Lit Sung Goong collection and explore Chinese-Australian history. Development plans and concepts are already underway, but there is still much to do before their vision can be realised.

Over the past two months, CADCAI volunteers have been working with Dr Jo Wills, MDO in Cairns, to develop display panels and banners that can be used in both temporary exhibitions and to promote CADCAI’s activities throughout the year. Following a successful RADF application to Cairns Regional Council, the group has undertaken exhibition concept development training with the MDO, text writing activities and worked with a local graphic designer. They are grateful to Cairns Historical Society and Museum for lending them showcases to display some of the collection.

Using the history of the temple, the Chinese history of Cairns and the preservation of the collection as a starting point, the banners, panels and object cases illustrate the exquisite beauty of this collection, and highlight the role played by Chinese settlers to the region. They also highlight the work that has already gone into preserving these items, and the passion of those involved. This background research and work with the collection has been so important for developing these exhibition materials. Follow this link to see a few of CADCAI’s short videos that feature the collection and volunteers.

For those based in Cairns, make sure you visit the updated CADCAI display on Grafton Street this Saturday as part of the Chinese New Year street festival and visit the festival website to find out what else is on. 恭喜發財 – Gong Xi Fa Cai – Happy Chinese New Year. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster!




Total solar eclipse and contemporary collecting…

Cairns 2012 Solar Eclipse Glasses

Sales of eclipse viewing shades and glasses have skyrocketed in FNQ over the last week or so. And, for about half an hour this morning, those without them would have been cursing themselves for not being able to witness the spectacle of a total solar eclipse.

Cairns Solar Eclipse Viewer

But viewing glasses are not the only ephemera and items that have been produced  to herald this astronomical event. Preparations for the total solar eclipse have been underway for years. The Eclipse 2012 Festival at Palmer River, for example, has drawn thousands to a remote locate for seven days of art, entertainment and healing. Port Douglas is holding the Solar Eclipse Marathon and its own five day Solar Eclipse Festival. And outrigger canoes slipped into the water at CliftonBeach near Cairns early this morning and paddled up to Palm Cove to celebrate the eclipse and finish with a tropical breakfast. The list goes on…

How can we, or should we, collect material from this major event and integrate it into our museum collections? Does it fit within our understanding of tourism, of entertainment, of revelling, or of stargazing over the years? Can we document how local people celebrated the event or collect from the various festivals that have been held? And can we capture, through photographic and intangible culture, the “being there” moment, that collective gasp we all took as the moon finally slid over the sun, when the light dimmed, the temperature dropped and when the birds went suddenly silent?

Cairns Solar Eclipse from Machan’s Beach, Cairns. Photo: Michael Marzik