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Year of the Rooster – Time to revamp Dickson Chinatown

By Paul Costigan - 28 January 2017 20

Costigan-HappyNewYear-2017-w

It’s Chinese New Year again. This time around it is the year of the rooster.

If you were born in a year of the rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and this year) – according to one online site you are “beautiful, kind-hearted, hard-working, courageous, independent, humorous and honest”. Lucky you!

With so many people in Canberra with family and business connections to China and other Asian nations with large populations of Chinese origin, it would be very fitting for this annual celebration to be taken far more seriously by the ACT Government.

It could be a very positive time for much more celebrations and fun events resulting in better relations being built between the government and one of its very important local constituencies.

Another very tangible way this could be shown would be to revamp the area of Dickson known as Chinatown. The last time serious money was spent on these streets was several decades ago by the government of Rosemary Follett.

The place is now looking a little tired. It’s still very popular – but ready for a revamp.

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Besides the obvious improvements to the décor, the street lamps, and maybe even the facades of buildings, there are other opportunities.

The main street, Woolley Street, is very wide. So why not shrink its use by cars and allow for street stalls, markets, and maybe even some garden areas. Why not more greenery with some very appropriate artworks?

Anything could be possible with some creative thinking.

Then Canberra could really have a Chinatown area and it would then be the basis of even better celebrations at this time of the year.

And yes – more people will soon be able to travel there by tram (I thought I would mention the tram before someone else brings it up – as they do).

With so much of Dickson going through change, why not ensure that this section around Woolley and Cape Streets becomes an even more fun place to visit – day or evening.

It would be a very positive recognition of this very important group within the local community.

And to move along the international relations thingy that has been talked about so much, maybe the ACT Government could hold a joint celebration in Dickson to celebrate its ties with Singapore.

So with those thoughts out there:

Happy New Year to anyone and everyone – and may the year of the rooster bring you good health, good luck and much happiness.

What’s Your opinion?


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20 Responses to
Year of the Rooster – Time to revamp Dickson Chinatown
1
devils_advocate 10:58 am
30 Jan 17
#

There is a limited supply of 90 degree nose-to-kerb parking, which means vehicles constantly sitting in the street with their blinkers on waiting for someone to leave. The street is just wide enough to get around them.
Oh, wait, I forgot – car drivers are now considered to be criminals in this town. Never mind.

2
dungfungus 11:37 am
30 Jan 17
#

Great article Paul, as usual.

I agree, this precinct is looking a bit tacky. Somehow, it is starting to look just like the rest of “new” Canberra and not easily identifiable as a standard “Chinatown”.

You mention “ties with Singapore” could be celebrated there – maybe, but I don’t think the Chinese operating businesses there would be keen on that.

Street stalls, markets and gardens would be good. Permanent Chinese lanterns across the street perhaps?

And what about some colourful rickshaws? (I am being serious otherwise I would have said solar powered/wind assisted rickshaws).

The cuisine could do with some improvement too.

3
Heavs 1:02 pm
30 Jan 17
#

I can understand that older cities such as Melbourne and Sydney have a Chinatown – they grew out of the diaspora that came across in the 1800’s and settled/lived/worked in that area. There is a historical basis for them being there.

I can’t understand why Canberra has one apart from a bit of me-tooism. I’m sure someone could pull out demographics but I would have thought we had at least a high % of resident’s with Vietnamese or Korean backgrounds. Not scientific, but if you could say Woolley St is the Chinatown district then you have 80% of the restaurants along there not being Chinese.

Saying that – a beautification of Woolley St isn’t a bad idea – I just think it could capture more of the actual flavour of the different people that live in the city.

4
dungfungus 1:31 pm
30 Jan 17
#

Heavs said :

I can understand that older cities such as Melbourne and Sydney have a Chinatown – they grew out of the diaspora that came across in the 1800’s and settled/lived/worked in that area. There is a historical basis for them being there.

I can’t understand why Canberra has one apart from a bit of me-tooism. I’m sure someone could pull out demographics but I would have thought we had at least a high % of resident’s with Vietnamese or Korean backgrounds. Not scientific, but if you could say Woolley St is the Chinatown district then you have 80% of the restaurants along there not being Chinese.

Saying that – a beautification of Woolley St isn’t a bad idea – I just think it could capture more of the actual flavour of the different people that live in the city.

This is a timely link to a report on the history of the Chinese community in Canberra and district: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-27/chinese-history-in-canberra-region-lunar-new-year/8217844
It’s a shame that we will never see a fair-dinkum lion dancing event in Canberra. That’s because one of our previous governments banned the use of fireworks.

5
chewy14 2:45 pm
30 Jan 17
#

dungfungus said :

Great article Paul, as usual.

I agree, this precinct is looking a bit tacky. Somehow, it is starting to look just like the rest of “new” Canberra and not easily identifiable as a standard “Chinatown”.

You mention “ties with Singapore” could be celebrated there – maybe, but I don’t think the Chinese operating businesses there would be keen on that.

Street stalls, markets and gardens would be good. Permanent Chinese lanterns across the street perhaps?

And what about some colourful rickshaws? (I am being serious otherwise I would have said solar powered/wind assisted rickshaws).

The cuisine could do with some improvement too.

In a modern and multicultural society such as Australia, why should we be defining areas as a type of ethnic “ghetto”?

If it occurs organically that there’s a larger percentage of these stores/restaurants etc in an area, then all well and good but government shouldn’t be involved in prescribing these types of racially aligned areas or fitting them out to function as such.

6
dungfungus 4:57 pm
30 Jan 17
#

chewy14 said :

dungfungus said :

Great article Paul, as usual.

I agree, this precinct is looking a bit tacky. Somehow, it is starting to look just like the rest of “new” Canberra and not easily identifiable as a standard “Chinatown”.

You mention “ties with Singapore” could be celebrated there – maybe, but I don’t think the Chinese operating businesses there would be keen on that.

Street stalls, markets and gardens would be good. Permanent Chinese lanterns across the street perhaps?

And what about some colourful rickshaws? (I am being serious otherwise I would have said solar powered/wind assisted rickshaws).

The cuisine could do with some improvement too.

In a modern and multicultural society such as Australia, why should we be defining areas as a type of ethnic “ghetto”?

If it occurs organically that there’s a larger percentage of these stores/restaurants etc in an area, then all well and good but government shouldn’t be involved in prescribing these types of racially aligned areas or fitting them out to function as such.

That’s a bit harsh chewy14, especially as “good government” has for many years allowed the aboriginal tent embassy and their transient devotees to occupy the lawns opposite old Parliament House.

I don’t recall anyone from the Chinese community complaining that the area in Dickson referred to as Chinatown creates racial stereotypes.

If you are going to subscribe to that then I guess we should describe the Westside Pop Up Village as Canberra’s grungy hipster ghetto.

Then again, perhaps you are right so lets knock it all down and build apartments there.

7
JC 6:11 pm
30 Jan 17
#

chewy14 said :

dungfungus said :

Great article Paul, as usual.

I agree, this precinct is looking a bit tacky. Somehow, it is starting to look just like the rest of “new” Canberra and not easily identifiable as a standard “Chinatown”.

You mention “ties with Singapore” could be celebrated there – maybe, but I don’t think the Chinese operating businesses there would be keen on that.

Street stalls, markets and gardens would be good. Permanent Chinese lanterns across the street perhaps?

And what about some colourful rickshaws? (I am being serious otherwise I would have said solar powered/wind assisted rickshaws).

The cuisine could do with some improvement too.

In a modern and multicultural society such as Australia, why should we be defining areas as a type of ethnic “ghetto”?

If it occurs organically that there’s a larger percentage of these stores/restaurants etc in an area, then all well and good but government shouldn’t be involved in prescribing these types of racially aligned areas or fitting them out to function as such.

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

As to any upgrades there, not really sure what else it needs from government. Footpaths are ok, roads are ok, parking can be difficult at times, but only because everyone wants to park at the door and not park in the carparks where they may need to walk for 2 minutes. Could do with some new buildings, but that is not a government responsibility anyway.

8
chewy14 7:22 pm
30 Jan 17
#

JC said :

chewy14 said :

dungfungus said :

Great article Paul, as usual.

I agree, this precinct is looking a bit tacky. Somehow, it is starting to look just like the rest of “new” Canberra and not easily identifiable as a standard “Chinatown”.

You mention “ties with Singapore” could be celebrated there – maybe, but I don’t think the Chinese operating businesses there would be keen on that.

Street stalls, markets and gardens would be good. Permanent Chinese lanterns across the street perhaps?

And what about some colourful rickshaws? (I am being serious otherwise I would have said solar powered/wind assisted rickshaws).

The cuisine could do with some improvement too.

In a modern and multicultural society such as Australia, why should we be defining areas as a type of ethnic “ghetto”?

If it occurs organically that there’s a larger percentage of these stores/restaurants etc in an area, then all well and good but government shouldn’t be involved in prescribing these types of racially aligned areas or fitting them out to function as such.

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

As to any upgrades there, not really sure what else it needs from government. Footpaths are ok, roads are ok, parking can be difficult at times, but only because everyone wants to park at the door and not park in the carparks where they may need to walk for 2 minutes. Could do with some new buildings, but that is not a government responsibility anyway.

Agree totally.

9
Chris Mordd Richards 2:10 am
31 Jan 17
#

JC said :

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

Call it Asia Town instead now then? South East Asia Town more appropriate though? 😛

10
devils_advocate 8:45 am
31 Jan 17
#

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

Call it Asia Town instead now then? South East Asia Town more appropriate though? 😛

No then you get into the whole debate as to whether india is included as part of asia.

11
JC 10:03 am
31 Jan 17
#

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

Call it Asia Town instead now then? South East Asia Town more appropriate though? 😛

How about call It Woolley Street? Everyone knows it is a good destination.

Ps think you will find the street is now about 1/3rd north Asian (Korean,Japanese and Chinese), 1/3 SE Asia and the rest western. And not even going to enter the Indian debate.

Plus of course the streets around Woolley Street have food as diverse as Ethiopian etc.

12
dungfungus 10:38 am
31 Jan 17
#

JC said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

Call it Asia Town instead now then? South East Asia Town more appropriate though? 😛

How about call It Woolley Street? Everyone knows it is a good destination.

Ps think you will find the street is now about 1/3rd north Asian (Korean,Japanese and Chinese), 1/3 SE Asia and the rest western. And not even going to enter the Indian debate.

Plus of course the streets around Woolley Street have food as diverse as Ethiopian etc.

Even Scottish.

13
Serina Huang 10:59 am
31 Jan 17
#

I went to Dickson on Saturday, i.e. the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year. I had expected to be greeted with lion dances and shops laden with Chinese New Year goods. Instead it felt like a ghost town. I had not been to Dickson for several months and I was shocked at the transformation. I suspect there were more Chinese New Year events planned for the evening, but even so it felt eery.

14
dungfungus 11:30 am
31 Jan 17
#

I am detecting some anti-Chinese feelings on this thread which is surprising given that Canberra is a sister city to Beijing and that city recently gave Canberra some beautifully crafted Chinese gardens which I feel have not been generally welcomed.

The government does not appear to have been pro-active in the establishment or promotion of the gardens either.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/so-much-serenity-canberras-chinese-garden-already-the-place-for-a-hardearned-break-20140925-10jgvs.html

A lot of capital cities have a flourishing Chinatown (the movie of the same name set in Los
Angeles) has always been a favourite of mine. I can’t see why our current government isn’t on side with this concept.

Not edgy enough for the hipsters, perhaps?

15
Chris Mordd Richards 11:57 am
31 Jan 17
#

JC said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Organic is the best way to describe Woolley Street in Dickson. It evolved into a kind of China town but only by virtue of the number of Chinese restaurants that called the street home. As things change it is becoming less and less Chinese and more and more mixed Asian. If I am not mistaken Chinese restaurants are now in the minority rather than majority!

It was China town about 5-10 years ago. So really the notion of it being a China town is misguided.

Call it Asia Town instead now then? South East Asia Town more appropriate though? 😛

How about call It Woolley Street? Everyone knows it is a good destination.

Ps think you will find the street is now about 1/3rd north Asian (Korean,Japanese and Chinese), 1/3 SE Asia and the rest western. And not even going to enter the Indian debate.

Plus of course the streets around Woolley Street have food as diverse as Ethiopian etc.

+1 🙂

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