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Janice Moy interviewing her father William (Bill) Moy  29th January 1984
 

Bill Moy 1990

 

William Moy - born: 28th January,1893 (91yrs old) at Branxholm

     Present address: Geraldton, Western Australia.

 

JM:    This is an interview by my father William Moy and it is as accurate as he can recall of his childhood years.    It has been recorded on th 29th January, 1984.    Yesterday on the 28th, he celebrated his ninety first birthday.    We hope you will get some value out of this tape.    Can you tell us a bit about your family?

 

WM:    My father was in Victoria, Ballaratt, and what was the name of he other place - Beechworth in the goldfields and from there back to China and then from there he came back again to Victoria with mother and then he came across to Tasmania to the North-East Coast to the tin fields.    That was in the late seventies early eighties approximately, as far as I can emember him telling me.

 

JM:       Somebody knew your father in 1980?

 

WM:    There was a man who came on the tin fields and this man was a manager of one of the tin fields when father settled and that man came in May,1980.

 

JM:     What was his name?

 

WM:    David Baker I think.    I went to school with some of his younger children.

 

JM:     What were the names of your mother and father and where were they born?

 

WM:     Dad was born in the province of Canton, that's the Southern part of China.

 

JM:     What was your father's name?

 

WM:    Lon Kee Ah Moy.

 

JM:     Your mother?

 

WM:    Hong Ah Moy

 

JM:     Just a slight correction in the birth place of my father.    Canton was the name of the city.     Quan Ton is the actual name of the province.     Can you tell us a bit about what your father did in Branxholm?

 

WM:    At first when there were a lot of Chinese he started a small store to supply the men in the Chinese comunity around there.     At that time everything came by boat to Bridport then from there transported by road by a horse team or a bullock  team for a number of years, which went up to Branxholm.     The rail terminal came from  Scottsdale in the years following , then it was transported from the Scottsdale Rail Terminal to Branxholm.    They got supplies that the Chinese used to use from Chinese merchants in Launceston.      There was a merchant name Chinn Quor.    The address was 127 St John Street.      The firm was called Sun Maa and Company and they were the general importers selling direct from Hong Kong.

 

JM:     How did your father take the goods to Scottsdale and Garibaldi?

 

WM:     By horse team.    Most of the supplies were carted to Weldborough and Garibaldi.    There was a large comunity in booth centres.

 

JM:    You used to help your father a bit didn't you?

 

WM:     Yes.     At Weldborough Maa Mon Chinn had a store there and he had a family as well.   I think they had a Joss House at Weldborough and also another one at Garibaldi.       There was a large population of Chinese, at least a few hundred between the two centres and the whole district.

 

JW:      Can you tell us a bit more about your father?    How you were able to help him in his work?

 

WM:     When I was little my father and I used to go and buy different things to help the Chinese like taking a cart around and we used to purchase pigs for the Chines New Year.     We used to go around the farms and buy them.

 

JM:    You used to help him catch them did you?

 

WM:    That was in the years following in the turn of the century because I was born in 1893.

 

 

JM:     Did you have to help your father at all to speak English?

 

WM:    I learnt at school at Branxholm.     We lived at Ruby Flat and I went to school at Branxholm.    There were a lot of bush tracks - very rough and a lot of rain and we used to lose a lot of time from school.    At the time the regulations were you attend three days a week.     In those days the school used to pay a small fee for each person.    I can't remember what the fees were for two or three days.    Unfortunately I never had much time to aattend school and during that time it made it very difficult for me.

 

JM:     When di you leave school?

 

WM:    I think I was about elven or twelve.

 

JM:     The you helped your father all the time?

 

WM:    yes I would go wiith him all the time in the cart and eventuallu he passed away in 1908.

 

JM:     How many older brothers and sisters did you have?

 

WM:   There were eight of us.      Two older sisters, myself and two sisters, two brothers and the youngest of the family.

 

JM:    Dad has already mentined Chinn Quor the suppliers of Chinese goods and the Maa Mon Chinn and Chung Gon families and the large communities at Weldborough and Garibaldi.    Can you tell us about the other supplier of Chinese goods, Tomg Sing?

 

WM:    Tom Sing was in Launceston - 127 St John Street.     He was connected in helping the Chines interpreting and also handling their business and any official things.      He was well known in the different offices in Launceston.     I can just remember.

 

JM:     There was another man called Ba Haa who used to do some interpreting wasn't there?

 

WM:     Up on the North-East Coast there was a man called Harry Peadon, he was from Victoria as far as I can understand and another man named Tom Backup who used to tour around all the areas doing the interpreting for the men for different business and so on.    Mr Thomas Backup sat up for Parliament before the war years.      It was the Liberal party.

 

JM:     What about the othe Chines in Launceston besides the people who supplied goods?

 

WM:      There were the Chinese stores.     They used to import goods from Hong Kong and also they imported the fireworks for the Chines New Year celebration up there.    They were the general importers.      During the festival they would have different partying by different ones.

 

JM:     What about other jobs for the Chinese in Launceston?

 

WM:     Part of the Chinese community...    The price of tin fell and some other interuption and the men started to drift away and some went to Launceston and some went to Victoria to look for work.    There were a lot of them setting up market gardens and also some started laundry work and some took on cabinet making and so forth.     There were quite a number of them got work on the farms.    Some were cooks and general work.     They spread out all over.

 

JM:     Can you remember if your family had any contact with any Chinese in Melbourne or other parts of Australia besides Tasmania or can't you remember, you were very young?

 

WM:     No.

 

JM:       What about contact with China, did they keep in contact with their families back in China?

 

WM:     Most of the Chinese used to correspond with their families in China.    In those days most of the mail was sent through the Chinese merchants.

 

JM:     You used to help them didn't you with their addressing?

 

WM:     Well some of them, some didn't have addresses for the firms in Hong Kong, there was no post into China and they used to send their mail to certain stores.     They would address their letters on the left hand corner in Chinese and on the right hand side where the stamp would go, there would be the English.

 

JM:    You used help in that part?

 

WM:      Yes different onaes I used to help.     They used to send money back to their families through certain stores - merchants in Melbourne, certain firms used to act as agents.    The men would send whatever they wanted to these certain firms and these firms would send it by ship to Hong Kong to one of the main merchants.     Different ones would handle the money.    In those days post would go through with the sailing boats and they would take from four to five weeks or more.    In the very early days when the gold digging was on, some of the men had a way of sending some of gold dust through merchants like in Melbourne and so forth they used to send so much in weight home.

 

JM:    Can you talk a bit about the Chinese community around Branxholm and Ruby Flat and how many there were?

 

WM:     In the very early days there were a hundred to two hundred or probably more, of course the districts were a few miles a part you know.    The price of tin slumped and different ones drifted away.    Mr Chung-Gon in the early part was up at Ruby Flat for a space of one to two years I believe and he didn't like the climate because it was cold, so he left there and went to Launceston and from there he went back to China and afterwards he got married, came back and he settled down in the garden and orchard.      I think you have been in contact with the youngest, Miss Dolly Ghung-Gon and there were quite a large family of them.     Ann Fong is up at Geraldton, she is in her eighties.