Last Updated: December 22, 2020

Sydney Chinatown History

There were very few Chinese immigrants in Australia in the past. The discrimination and resentment was ever growing each day against the Chinese group already there from the Caucasian race. This resentment and discrimination continued to grow until the Lambing Flats Riot. This brought about in Australia’s White Policy. This was brought up in 1901, and it restricted Chinese immigrants, and immigrants of other nationalities to work in Australia, and from immigrating to Australia.

Many high restrictions were placed in order to prevent any immigration or work from the Chinese in Australia. One of the most famous restrictions that the Chinese had to pass was the Dictation Test. The applicant would have to sit through a dictation test in the language the overseeing officer found fit for the person. The difficulty of the test was extremely high, and the language was usually one that the Chinese immigrant did not know. This made it virtually impossible for them to pass the test, and be allowed entrance into Australia. This also made the test highly discriminatory, and racist in a way. The process of allowing Chinese into Australia was revised in the year of 1958. This did away with the dictation test, and stayed clear of any references to race, color, or religion of the person who was taking a test for entrance.

During the 1920’s, Chinatown moved over to Campbell Street. This is currently the Capitol Theatre Site that is known. Wholesale markets such as Paddys Market moved to their current location in the 1930’s, Chinatown then decided to migrate over to Dixon and Hay Streets. During the year, 1966, the White Australia Policy was lifted. This allowed large investors from South East Asia to immigrate to Australia.

The investors then went on to purchase properties in Chinatown down Dixon Street, and during the year 1980, Dixon Street became Sydney’s official Chinatown. This was of course, after the Sydney City Council, property owners and business owners on Dixon Street worked together to raise enough funds to build the archways that are ceremonial in Chinese tradition, lions, pavilions, and other features for the Chinese community. This allowed the community to have more when it came down to a community with amenities, and other places to enjoy.

In the present time, Sydney’s Chinatown holds many different stores and restaurants. They have become a large tourist attraction for passerbies. The number of stores that sell many different things are located on either sides of the streets, and easy accessible. They have their own grocery stores and markets that sell fruits, vegetables, and other food that is custom to the Chinese and not found in other grocery stores or markets. The majority, if not all of the businesses that are in Sydney’s Chinatown are operated and maintained by the Chinese. Some of the businesses have been there since the 1960’s, others were constructed in the 80’s, and some developed recently. There are a number of attractions nearby, and visitors are welcome to visit Chinatown in Sydney whenever they would like.

Header image courtesy of Wikimedia

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.