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Cultivating a Future: Chinese at the Queensland Agricultural Frontier

October 14 @ 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM AEST

$20.00 – $30.00

Geographically, the Australian and Queensland agricultural frontiers were not uniform – different regions developed at different times, at different paces and involved different drivers and agents of change. In the Queensland context, the last agricultural frontier to be secured was its far north. Situated in the tropical zone, it was long considered inhospitable for European settlement and impossible for Europeans to toil in agricultural pursuits.

However, history records the Far North Queensland tropics in terms of some great success stories of early enterprising agricultural developments – what has now been written into history as the “Triumph in the Tropics”. The agricultural settlement frontier for the far north coastal areas was dominated by the sugar cane and banana growing industries, whilst inland it was the maize industry. In all three cases, the Chinese played a pivotal role in the establishment of these agricultural pursuits and in some case, they were the original pioneers of these enterprises.

Unfortunately, the general historical records largely remain silent on the pioneering contributions of the Chinese in these agricultural industries which at times were the mainstays of the far north regional and the Queensland economies. Many conventional local, regional and indeed state histories, including most industry histories, have not recorded the contributions of the Chinese to the success of an area or industry and in some cases, they have been totally omitted from any form of recognition. Consequently, without this recorded public reference, the role the early Chinese in these agricultural industries is absent from the Australian consciousness.

This presentation will highlight the pioneering endeavours of the Chinese and their contributions to the success of the sugar, banana and maize industries. It will provide some insight into their toils in establishing a living and securing a future for themselves and their families, not as sojourners but true settlers of the Queensland agricultural frontier.

Using the previous discussion as a contextual foundation, the presentation will outline the pioneering role that the author’s paternal and maternal families played in establishing the early sugar industry in Far North Queensland. 


Emeritus Professor (Major General) Darryl Low Choy, AM, MBE, RFD, KSJ, PhD

Emeritus Professor (Major General) DARRYL LOW CHOY, AM, MBE, RFD, KSJ, PhD (retd) Darryl is a professional town planner, a Fellow of both the Planning Institute of Australia and the Environmental Institute of Australia & New Zealand. He is Professor Emeritus and former Head of Planning at Griffith University. In his parallel military career, he has held the three most senior Reserve appointments in the Army and the Australian Defence Force. Born in Innisfail, Far North Queensland as a fifth generation Australian with Chinese and English heritage he has developed a strong interest in genealogy. He is a Board Member and Director of the Society of Australian Genealogists, President of the Chinese Australian Historical Society and Patron of the Queensland Military Historical Society.



Tickets will close at 3pm Friday 13th Oct 2023

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October 14
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM AEST
$20.00 – $30.00
Event Category:


Virtually via Zoom
QLD Australia


(07) 3349 6072
View Organiser Website