Chen Ah Kew came to Victoria in the 1850s as a gold miner then became a storekeeper. His wife, Lum Gum, came to join him at his store in Wahgunyah on the Murray River, as an arranged bride. He was 52 years old and she was 22 years old. They had six children before they all returned to China in 1901. Chen Ah Kew and the youngest baby daughter died shortly after their return. The rest of the children grew up in their father's village of Hwang Chun in Guangdong province.
As young adults the four sons and surviving daughter came back to Australia one after the other and were allowed to settle having been born in Wahgunyah. They went into business together, setting up Wing Young & Co, with interests in banana plantations and wholesaling, fruit and vegetables, furniture making and food manufacturing. Each of the brothers returned again to China to marry. As Australia's immigration policy in the 1920s attempted to reduce the growth of the Chinese community in Australia by forbidding Chinese-born wives from staying in Australia for more than six months at a time, many of the Chen wives spent years of their marriages alternating between living in China or Hong Kong and Melbourne. Lum Gum returned to Australia in 1923.
Sources used to compile this entry: Macgregor, Paul, 'Dreams of Jade and Gold', in Epstein, Anna (ed.), The Australian Family: Images and Essays, Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 1998, pp. 25-35.
Prepared by: Paul Macgregor, independent researcher
- Macgregor, Paul, 'Dreams of Jade and Gold', in Epstein, Anna (ed.), The Australian Family: Images and Essays, Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 1998, pp. 25-35. Details
Created: 20 September 2005, Last modified: 5 July 2006