Image The Holy Triad Temple at Breakfast Creek, 1886

TLF ID R8171

This black-and-white photograph of the Holy Triad Temple (San Xung Kung) at Breakfast Creek in Brisbane shows the exterior of a small elaborately decorated and well-maintained Chinese temple sometimes known as a joss house. The decorative triple roof sits on a rectangular rendered brick structure, which is adorned with large lanterns and banners. Ceramic Chinese historical and mythological characters adorn the ridges and barges of the roof. Five Chinese men, one in traditional dress, pose at the front of the Temple.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The Holy Triad Temple, shown here the year it opened in 1886, is one of only three surviving 19th-century Chinese temples in Queensland. The Temple was constructed for Brisbane's Cantonese community and named for the three deities it honoured - the gods of herbal medical treatments, of scientific knowledge and of good luck and wealth.
  • The Temple provided Brisbane's five Cantonese clans with a community focus and a place for worship, education and fellowship. Worshippers prayed and made sacrifices, including food and paper money, to their ancestors and the gods for health, prosperity, safety and good fortune. The Temple linked Chinese immigrants with their established customs and traditions and helped to preserve Chinese modes of life in a foreign land.
  • Traditional architecture was used for the Temple - skilled artisans were brought to Australia to build it, and all ornamental figures and tiles were imported from China. The builders were forced to lease the land because Chinese people in Australia were considered aliens and were prevented from purchasing land. Limited financial resources allowed development of only a forecourt and main sanctuary rather than the more usual 'village' of community buildings.
  • Known as joss houses from the joss, or incense, sticks that are lit by worshippers and burnt in urns inside and outside the temple, temples such as the one shown were an aspect of Chinese culture and a way of worship viewed with mistrust and suspicion by the rest of the Australian population in the late 19th century.
  • The Holy Triad Temple was the focus of Chinese activity in Brisbane for more than 40 years until the Chinese population in Brisbane declined and the Temple was abandoned. The population decline was brought about by Qld colonial and Australian legislation at Federation that restricted and then prohibited Chinese immigration. The Temple was not restored until 1966 after the 1956 revision of citizenship laws allowed new Chinese migrants to enter Australia.
Year level

4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9

Learning area
  • History

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements