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Aboriginal people & China Town

Both Chinese and Aboriginal people were marginalised in the colonial town of Roma. While the Chinese were sometimes better treated than Aborigines, these two groups of people forged alliances on the fringes of town. Trading goods, gambling and the distribution of opium created and supported a network of relationships that extended to shared childcare and marriage between people.

China Town shelter, Roma

China Town shelter, Roma


People who lived in China Town remember it as a place where children could safely play outside because, unlike the other side of town, there was always someone to watch over them. If a new Aboriginal person came to town, they were supported by the community – everybody helped each other out, and no-one ever went hungry.


Concern about proper burial of the dead was also common to Aboriginal and Chinese people. Many Chinese disinterred bodies in the Roma cemetery and sent their dead home to China to ensure a traditional burial ceremony. Aboriginal people’s remains disturbed by earthworks around Bungil Creek have over time been sent to museums or re-buried without ceremony. Aboriginal people are beginning to seek repatriation of these remains so that they can be buried properly in accordance with Aboriginal traditions.

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