Leap back in time when a narrow laneway in Wellington becomes a bustling old-world Chinatown - complete with street food, lanterns and live entertainment.
(min cost $8)
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After a disappointing cancellation in 2022 due to wet weather, Wellington Arts is excited to bring back Fong Lees Lane on Friday, October 20 for the first time in four years.
The event celebrates Wellington's multicultural community and aims to bring to life the site of what was once the heart of regional NSW's Chinese community.
"The early pioneers of our town were the Chinese who came and really established themselves in the town - and continue to have quite a strong presence," Lisa Thomas, president of Wellington Arts said.
"A lot of people who have studied history say that Wellington is quite unique in that the Chinese community worked well with the Aboriginal community and they supported each other in the community.
"We had colonial influence as well, but the Chinese and the Aboriginal people were really the people who got the town on the map in those early years by being able to produce food for the community and also food from here was shipped to Sydney."
The first Chinese store in Wellington was opened by Hong Wong in 1879. It was a large two-storey shop boasting a "splendid stock" of imported goods including manchester, shoes, clothing, ironmongery and crockery.
Mr Wong died in 1884 but his store lived on and by 1888 it was trading as Fong Lee & Co, one of only two stores in Wellington. The shop advertised there was "not a want of the housewife that could not be satisfied" with the store's range of homewares.
In 1896 the store changed hands again to William Suey Ling, a Melbourne-born Chinese man who came to be a well-loved member of the Wellington community. He ran the store right up until it closed in 1936.
"[Fong Lee's] was the business hub of the town and that's what we want to bring back for a brief moment," Ms Thomas said.
"We want people to get a sense of what it was like back in the day, with the intensity of people in that area, buying their fruit and veggies or whatever it might have been."
The first Fong Lees Lane was held in 2018. Organisers expected 200 people to attend but in the end just under 2,000 people passed through the laneway, selling out the food vendors early in the night.
Ms Thomas said in the first two years the events ran it was difficult to get the local businesses on board as vendors, but this year - after the hiatus - they were keen to get involved.
"We've approached the local businesses first as we did last time and gave them the opportunity to be the food vendors ... and this year, it's just about 100 per cent local food vendors," she said.
"There's an ice cream lady from Dubbo and a saltbush lamb guy from Narromine, but everyone else is local to Wellington."
Cuisines available on the night will include Chinese, Thai, Turkish, Filipino, Italian, Indian and Dutch.
There will also be live entertainment from a Taiko drumming group and a Wiradjuri dance troupe as well as a showcase of history short films made by Wellington school children.
Fong Lees Lane will run from 5:00pm to 9:00pm on Fong Lees Lane in Wellington. Entry is by gold coin donation. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash along on the night.
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