Chinatown, Sydney

Chinatown (Chinese: 雪梨華埠 or 悉尼唐人街) is an urban locality in the southern part of the Sydney central business district, in New South Wales, Australia. It is located in Haymarket, between Central station and Darling Harbour. It is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney and is Australia's largest Chinatown.[1]

Chinatown, Sydney
At Hay Street intersection, looking down Dixon Street
Alternative Chinese name

Sydney and the colony of New South Wales experienced large waves of Chinese immigration during the gold rush years. The site of Chinatown has existed in at least one other area in Sydney historically, with the earliest site being around the Rocks district. Many of the Chinese stayed in the country even after the gold rush boom years ended, weathering the sentiment that was unleashed during the anti-immigration years.

Location and historyEdit

Market City

One of the many nationalities to arrive in Australia in the Gold Rush years of the 1850s were the Chinese. Large groups stayed after the Gold Rush years ended. Many settled in their own communities, working in locations across Sydney. Some of these Chinese immigrants became gardener's on the city's fringe.[2] By 1861 there were some 13,000 Chinese living in New South Wales, during this time the Chinatown was in The Rocks district. Anti-immigration sentiment was rife during the 1880s and a Royal Commission into 'Alleged Chinese Gambling and Immorality' began in 1892, due to the amount of opium dens and brothels that were found in the area, similar to Melbourne's Chinatown. This attitude of negativity towards the Chinese had settled down by the time of Federation in 1901. By the 1920s, Sydney's Chinatown migrated over to Campbell Street, and was then placed with the Capitol Theatre.

The current location is the third in Sydney to be known as Chinatown. By this time it had moved to the area near Market Street at Darling Harbour. When Sydney's produce market moved from what became the site of the Queen Victoria to the Belmore Markets, the Haymarket and Surry hills areas became the focus for Sydney's Chinese citizens and by the 1920s, it began to be established in its current location.[2] Chinatown is centred on Dixon Street, a pedestrian street mall with many Chinese restaurants, and with a Paifang at each end. At the eastern side, running parallel with Dixon Street, are Sussex Street, which has a number of shops, and George Street, one of Sydney's main thoroughfares. At the eastern end of Chinatown, at the corner of George Street and Hay Street, there is a sculpture made from a dead tree trunk; created by artist Lin Li in 1999 and named Golden Water Mouth, it was said by its instigators to bring good fortune to the Chinese community. Other streets and lanes within Sydney's Chinatown include Factory Street, Goulburn Street, Little Hay Street, Kimber Lane and Thomas Street.

''Golden Water Mouth'' (1999) sculpture by Lin Li

At the southern side of Chinatown, next to Hay Street, a large complex called Market City has been built, behind the walls retained from the site's old produce markets. It contains a modern shopping centre, restaurants (including an 800+ seat Dim Sum (Yum Cha) Restaurant called The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant), boutique shops, City Amusements (a large indoor entertainment complex), and the Haymarket Paddy's Markets, a Wednesday-to-Sunday produce and flea market, as well as a large residential high-rise building called the Peak Apartments.

Unlike the Chinatowns in some other countries, Sydney's Chinatown has been relatively free of crime and hygiene issues. However, since there are many skyscrapers in Sydney, there are some concerns within the Chinese community about the building height restrictions imposed by the image-conscious local government authorities.

There are also satellite Chinatowns that have emerged in the past two decades in several Sydney suburbs such as Cabramatta, Ashfield, Hurstville, Eastwood, Campsie, Parramatta, Chatswood, Burwood, Flemington and Kingsford. But Sydney's Chinatown still remains a major focus for the Chinese Australian community.[3]

Sister citiesEdit

Sydney is the sister city of Guangzhou in China, and as a gift to Sydney during the Australian Bicentenary in 1988, the Chinese Garden of Friendship was constructed on the western border of Chinatown in the Darling Harbour Precinct. It is one of the few public traditional Chinese gardens outside of China.[4]

Bilingual street signsEdit

Cultural depictionsEdit

Sydney's Chinatown is the setting and film location of the music video for David Bowie's 1983 single China Girl.[5] Parts of it also appear in the 1999 film Two Hands.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Chinatown and Haymarket". Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b Sharpe, Alan (2000). City of Sydney: Pictorial History. Kingsclear Books. ISBN 9-780-98718408-5.
  3. ^ "Eastern promise spreads to the suburbs". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 September 2002.
  4. ^ "Chinese Garden of Friendship". Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  5. ^ Davd Bowie dead at 69: The songwriter's time in Australia Daily Telegraph 12 January 2016

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

Coordinates: 33°52′43.61″S 151°12′14.69″E / 33.8787806°S 151.2040806°E / -33.8787806; 151.2040806