Sam and Opal’s story deeply resonated with me as I am also of Chinese heritage. My ancestors arrived on Bangka Island, Indonesia, in the early 19th Century. Like Sam, they also came from southern China, and like Sam, they had come to a new country because of mining – to work in the tin mines there. In both cases, they had to adapt to the changing circumstances and make the best of it. My ancestors moved up from mining to become book-keepers at the mine. Later, they bought a bit of land nearby and started a pepper plantation.
Not much was left of Sam and Opal’s settlement a hundred years on.
A hand-made mortar and pestle.
A few rusty tractor parts.
The odd slab of sandstone from their homestead.
However, it was enlightening to learn about this couple, and to know that their descendents still live in the district. It is people like Sam and Opal that make Australia what it is today.