New Stories, Bold Legends: Stories from Sydney Lunar Festival show

New Stories, Bold Legends: Stories from Sydney Lunar Festival

Summary: From artists to brain surgeons, fashion designers to board directors – this series brings you the unique stories of people who celebrate Lunar New Year. Hosted by Valerie Khoo – Curator of the City of Sydney's annual Sydney Lunar Festival – it’s a journey into the Asian Australian experience. You’ll discover the personalities and passions of people who meld their cultural traditions with the sunburnt country that they call home.

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 S2 Episode 6: A constellation of Sydney’s Asian communities | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1619

This series, we’ve been looking at some prominent Chinese personalities from Sydney’s history. As we’ve learned, there has been a small but strong Chinese presence in Australia right from the start of colonisation. But what about other Asian communities? Walk down any main street in Sydney and you’ll find restaurants serving Thai food, Malaysian dishes and Vietnamese delicacies. Census data shows that about 16% of Australia’s population has Asian heritage. Asian-Australains are an essential part of Sydney’s multicultural make-up. In the Chinese zodiac, 2020 is the Year of the Rat. The Rat is actually the first sign of the lunar zodiac and heralds the start of the 12-year lunar calendar cycle. So I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to explore 12 other Asian communities which make Sydney special. See for privacy information.

 S2 Episode 5: The lives of Sydney’s early Chinese women | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1801

In the stories of Chinese and Asian people in Australian history, there’s one group that’s noticeably missing: women! There were many notable Chinese men in Sydney’s early days and in the 20th century. If you’ve been listening to this podcast series, you’ve discovered some of them. But where are the ladies? Many historians have glossed over Chinese women in Sydney’s history. It’s true that they were a small population, especially in the very early years of the colony. But they were not non-existent! Combing through newspapers and archives, we can find hundreds of women of Chinese descent making their lives in Sydney in the 1800s and 1900s.  So it’s up to us. We can continue to ignore them or we can try to find out more about them. We may not know everything about their lives – where they came from, how they spent their days – but by researching their stories we can begin to have an idea of these early settlers. In this episode, we touch on the lives of a handful of Sydney’s Chinese women. Their weddings and parties, their fundraising for the Red Cross, their activism – and we will say their names. See for privacy information.

 S2 Episode 4: Sun Johnson – The linguist, educator and media mogul | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1572

Sun Johnson was the editor of Australia’s first national Chinese newspaper, which started publication in 1894. He was born in Hong Kong and educated in London, before moving to Australia as a young man. Sun used his linguistic skills to create a Chinese-Australian dictionary, aimed primarily at helping Chinese people deal with Australian merchants. The Chinese Australian Herald, which was actually established by two European men, was launched at a time when the Chinese population of Sydney was changing. Migrants were moving away from the goldfields and bushland and into the city. They were setting up market gardens and import businesses. Many of them didn’t speak English, but they could read Chinese. Over the next few decades, the Herald – helmed by Sun Johnson – would provide this small community with news from abroad and across Australia. Sun and the paper were also instrumental in helping the Chinese community engage with events within the European community, most importantly Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. For a time, Sun Johnson was one of the most influential people in Sydney’s Chinese community. See for privacy information.

 S2 Episode 3: William Liu – The pathfinder who fought for Chinese rights | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1750

William Liu was a tireless campaigner for the rights of other Chinese Australians to live and settle peacefully in this country. Earlier in his life, he had been instrumental in exporting Australia’s department store model to China and Hong Kong. William fervently believed that economic ties between the two countries was the key to a strong relationship. He was often a lone voice in his fight, but he eventually saw success with the normalisation of relations between China and Australia in 1972. More importantly, the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 officially ended the White Australia Policy. In 1983, William was appointed to the Order of the British Empire. He was a true Australian pathfinder, bringing hope and security to hundreds of Chinese Australians. He died in 1983 on Anzac Day. See for privacy information.

 S2 Episode 2: Mei Quong Tart – The entrepreneur who started Sydney’s first cafes | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1300

Mei Quong Tart was one of the most recognised figures in Sydney during the late 1800s. He was an entrepreneur and philanthropist – and most importantly, he opened Sydney’s very first cafes. Yes, we owe our fantastic cafe culture to a Chinese immigrant who spoke with a Scottish accent. We know a lot about the life and works of Mei Quong Tart because he was so prominent and well-respected. He had a string of successful businesses – and you can still see some of the facades of his cafes around Sydney today. He also had a social conscience at a time when that wasn’t in vogue – he treated his employees well and hosted suffragette meetings. His life was tragically cut short in a botched robbery but his legacy lives on in cafes and tea rooms across the city. See for privacy information.

 S2 Episode 1: John Shying – The story of Australia’s first known Chinese settler | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1264

John Shying is the first known Chinese person to arrive in Australia and make a life Down Under. He emigrated to the colony at Sydney as a young man in 1818, just 30 years after the First Fleet. He was a skilled tradesman and earned his keep as a carpenter before moving out west and becoming a publican.  John Shying was a keen property developer, buying and selling land and building houses and hotels. Basically, he dealt in property and booze – quintessential Australian pastimes! With his English-born wife, he had four sons. All of the Shying boys would go into trade as carpenters, undertakers and merchants. Between them they had at least 31 children, meaning that there are literally thousands of descendants of Australia’s first Chinese settler in Australia today.  There’s an idea amongst European Australians that if you can trace your lineage back to the early years of the colony, you are part of “Australian Royalty”. So if your last name is Shying or Dunn, Slayford, Owen, Proctor or Murphy, you may very well be a part of Australian Royalty through Australia’s first known Chinese immigrant. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 15: Eddie Woo, maths evangelist, author and YouTube star | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1532

Eddie Woo is Leader of Mathematics Growth at the NSW Department of Education and he teaches at Cherrybrook Technology High School, the largest secondary school in NSW.  He is known for his innovation and personal approach in the classroom, which in 2012 led him to start posting videos online for a student who was sick with cancer and missing a lot of school.  Before long, his videos found an audience across the country and beyond. Wootube now boasts more than 300,000 subscribers and has attracted more than nineteen million views worldwide – and counting. Eddie’s unique and caring approach to teaching is breaking the misconception that mathematics is an inaccessible and difficult subject. Eddie is well known across Australia as an advocate for teachers and the importance of teaching. He has written for, and been featured in, the specialist teaching press as well as in national and international media. His first book, Woo’s Wonderful World of Maths, has just been published worldwide by Pan Macmillan. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 14: Professor Charlie Teo, brain surgeon | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1845

Professor Charlie Teo is one of Australia’s leading brain surgeons and is known for operating on brain tumours that have been considered by many others as ‘inoperable’. He’s the only Australian neurosurgeon to be Board Certified in both Australia and the US, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, has also been named the Most Trusted Person in Australia for the last five consecutive years.  Professor Teo primarily works at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Sydney and established the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery. He has been invited to many distinguished universities in more than 50 countries as Visiting Professor, including Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt and Stanford universities in the USA, Marburg University in Germany and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. In 2017 he founded the Charlie Teo Foundation, which raises awareness and funds the frontlines of brain cancer research, with a focus on Australian research, clinical trials and patients. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 13: Louise Zhang, Artist | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1614

Louise Zhang is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice spans painting, sculpture and installation. She designed the playful Monkey Tower lantern for the Sydney Lunar Festival. With an interest in horror cinema, particularly the body horror genre, Zhang is interested in the dynamics between the attractive and repulsive. By exploring how themes of perceived innocence such as prettiness and cuteness can be contrasted with notions of the perverse and monstrous, Zhang explores the intersection of fear, anxiety and a sense of otherness in the construction of identity. Based in Sydney, Louise has had multiple solo shows both in Australia and Beijing. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 12: Ien Ang, Professor and Author of ‘On Not Speaking Chinese’ | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2139

Ien Ang, is a Professor of Cultural Studies at Western Sydney University. Ien is Chinese and was born in Indonesia but her parents migrated to The Netherlands when she was 12.  Her books, including Watching Dallas, Desperately seeking the audience and On not speaking Chinese, are recognised as classics in the field and her work has been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Turkish, German, Korean, and Spanish. Her most recent books are The art of engagement: culture, collaboration, innovation (University of Western Australia Press, 2011, co-edited with Elaine Lally and Kay Anderson) and Cultural diplomacy: beyond the national interest (Routledge, 2016, co-edited with Yudhishthir Raj Isar and Phillip Mar). Professor Ang’s work deals broadly with patterns of cultural flow and exchange in our globalised world, focusing on issues such as: the formation of audiences and publics the politics of identity and difference migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism in Australia and Asia issues of representation in contemporary cultural institutions. She is a champion of collaborative cultural research and has worked extensively with partner organisations such as the NSW Migration Heritage Centre, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Special Broadcasting Service, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Sydney. Professor Ang has had the title of Distinguished Professor conferred on her by Western Sydney University in recognition of her outstanding research record and eminence. She is the first person at the University to be conferred with this honour. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 11: Dai Le, diversity champion and founder of DAWN Network | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2062

Dai Le is a champion for diversity and, as a result, founded DAWN, a platform that gives voice to diverse and inclusive talent who are shaping today’s society. Dai speaks, consults, and help organisations understand the economic and social benefits of leveraging diversity and inclusion as part of their business development, market innovation and corporate responsibility. Prior to establishing DAWN, Dai was an award-winning journalist, film-maker and broadcaster with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). She was named one of AFR-Westpac’s Top 100 Influential Women in Australia in 2014. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Dai spent many years in refugee camps in South East Asia before being accepted for resettlement in Australia. Her childhood experiences and growing up with a dual identity – being a Vietnamese in Australia and western cultural surroundings, helped to shape her perception of life. It has also made her a passionate advocate for refugees and migrant communities. Together with her diverse and highly experienced team at DAWN they create online content, network, and thought-leadership discussions with a genuine lens on inclusion and diversity. With over 20 years of change making experience, Dai is a strong believer in the use of storytelling to inspire, educate and inform. She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member to Multicultural NSW, a Government statutory body; she’s an Ambassador for Fairfield Relay for Life, and NSW Cancer Council Greater Western Sydney. Dai is also a breast cancer survivor. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 10: Kate Bagnall, historian and expert on Chinese migration to Australia | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1787

Kate Bagnall is a historian and expert on Chinese migration in Australia. Kate’s fascination with China start decades ago and she’s currently co-editing a publication on Chinese Australian women, from some of the earliest women who settled here from China. It’s an important initiative because, as Kate says, we tend of think of Chinese Australian history as a history of men and there isn’t much information around on the contribution or participation of Chinese women in Australian life. Kate is slowly uncovering some of this history. And she’s finding stories that need to be told.  There is other academic research, by Alanna Kamp, actually about the erasure of Chinese-Australian women from our history books and from research. Kate, along with nine other historians, are looking to change that. Kate’s historical work focuses on Chinese migration and settlement in the British settler colonies of the Pacific Rim before 1940. She has a PhD in Australian history from the University of Sydney, and is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the School of Humanities & Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong. Her first book, Chinese Australians: Politics, Engagement and Resistance (co-edited with Sophie Couchman), was published by Brill in January 2015. As mentioned, she has also done research on Chinese women in colonial New South Wales and has put together an edited collection about Chinese women in Australian history, with chapters by nine other historians. The book is yet to be published but will be the first academic history book on the lives of Chinese Australian women before 1950. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 9: Laurens Tan, Artist | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2574

Laurens Tan splits his time between Las Vegas, Beijing and Wollongong. He designed the Ox lantern for the Sydney Lunar Festival. Laurens was born in The Hague to Chinese Indonesian parents from Surabaya. At the age of 12, they migrated to Australia and while Laurens first got started in music and playing in bands, he eventually turned to studying art. His art practice has incorporated ceramics for many years, painting, and now innovative 3D installations that are seen in exhibitions all over the world.  Linking sculpture, architectural & industrial design, 3D animation & video, graphics, music Laurens is concerned with the plight of a global trance as it affects cultural identity.  His work has been curated in international survey exhibitions at the Iberia Center of Contemporary Art, Today Art Museum (Beijing), at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, Houston Museum of Art (USA), Seoul National University Museum of Art, Gana Galleries (S. Korea), the Shizuoka Perfectural Art Museum (Japan) and at the National Galleries of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and the Sydney Powerhouse Museum in Australia. Recent commissions: the City of Sydney giant Monkey lantern sculptures at the Sydney Opera House to celebrate the Lunar New Year (2016-18); at Zappos Downtown, Las Vegas (2016), Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA, 2016), Rockhampton City Gallery (2017). His ‘Babalogic in the Desert’ is on exhibition at the Sahara West Library, Las Vegas for the year September 2017-18. He is Adjunct Professor at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, China (since 2006) and LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia (since 2011). He completed a Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA) in Communications and Media, University of Technology Sydney, Australia (2006- his thesis ‘The Architecture of Risk’ had Las Vegas as his focus and primary research site), a Master of Creative Arts (MCA) in Visual & Cultural Identity, University of Wollongong, Australia (1991). He has served as academic coordinator in Art (since 1980) & Design (since 1992) and taught in undergraduate and graduate programs in Australia, USA and China. Laurens served as Board member for the Asian Australian Art Association, Sydney (1997-2007), Wollongong City Gallery (2006-08) and Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Sydney (2016-current), and as Artist Advisory Group Member, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2004-06). See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 8: Angela Foong, co-founder of fashion label ‘High Tea with Mrs Woo’ | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1879

Angela Foong is a fashion designer who co-founded the Newcastle-based label ‘High Tea with Mrs Woo’ with her sisters, Rowena and Juliana. The siblings were born in Malaysia and their family migrated to Australia in 1988. Fascinated with the memory, and the memoir of clothing, they explore the ability of fashion to unfold a great yarn. They describe each garment they make from a moment in time, a truth or a reminiscence – like Stuck in Ueno, Irreversible, We’re all mad here, Waiting for Jack to name a few. The name ‘High Tea with Mrs Woo’ is a nostalgic nod to the colonial-style high teas the siblings experienced when they were younger.  The sisters say they are conscious of making decisions that support their sustainability practices on a daily basis, and work towards bettering the way they make, sell and consume things. This includes recycling and engaging in energy-saving functions as much as possible. All paper and textile waste is recycled or re-used. Furniture and fittings are sourced as locally as possible, vintage or second-hand, hand restored, re-worked, or designed and built with local skills. Trained in Graphic Design and Visual Communication, Rowena and Juliana draw on their diverse design skills whilst Angela brings her Economics and Commerce background to the table. High Tea with Mrs Woo’s store was established in 2004 and is in Cooks Hill, Newcastle. It has their clothing range and a curated selection of jewellery, accessories and shoes. It also features hand-crafted tableware, textiles and objects for gifts and home. See for privacy information.

 S1 Episode 7: Dr Geoff Lee, State Politician and Member for Parramatta | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1408

Dr Geoff Lee is the Member for Parramatta. In March 2015, Dr Geoff Lee won the NSW seat of Parramatta for the second consecutive term. This is the first time in 60 years the seat has been held by a Liberal Party member for two consecutive terms.  However, Geoff wasn’t always a politician and says he fell into it accidentally. He’s now Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Western Sydney and Multiculturalism. Dr Geoff Lee has both Australian and Chinese ancestry. His paternal grandfather originated from the providence of Zhongshan, Southern China and moved to Australia in the 1920s. His maternal ancestors are of English and Scottish descent arriving in Australia early in the 1800s. Before entering politics, Geoff was the Associate Dean (Engagement) at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) from 2007 to 2011, a lecturer in business at UWS from 2004 to 2007 and a TAFE teacher from 2002 to 2003. At UWS, Geoff was Head of Program for post-graduate marketing and international business, a coordinator and lecturer for a range of postgraduate and undergraduate courses. And before that, Geoff was the proprietor of Hambledon Garden Centre from 1992 to 2001. He’s a member of Parramatta Chamber of Commerce and is a champion of small business, saying that they are key drivers of innovation, economic growth and local jobs. Geoff holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Horticulture) from Hawkesbury Agricultural College, a Master of Business Administration and a Doctor of Business Administration from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. See for privacy information.


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