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Popular Quong Tart was the victim of a violent physical attack in 1902, and he never fully recovered from it.

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Quong Tart

National Library of Australia

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Mei Quong Tart (1850–1903)

Chinese businessman

Quong Tart came to Australia from China when he was eight. He travelled with his uncle, who was bringing Chinese gold-diggers to New South Wales. He lived with a white family who educated him, converted him to Christianity and helped him to invest in goldmining. At the age of 18 he was already a wealthy man. His chief business became the running of a tea shop and restaurant in Sydney.

Quong Tart lived closely with British colonists. He joined their associations and sporting clubs, supported charities, learnt to play the bagpipes and wore a Scottish kilt. He married an Englishwoman. All sorts of groups invited him to sing and recite at their functions. Yet he worked hard to protect the Chinese who were living in the colony and acted as an interpreter for them. He tried to get the government to stop the import of opium, which was a drug commonly used by the Chinese.

His tea shop in Sydney became famous. He entertained governors and important visitors to the colony, including the members of the 1891 Federal Convention.

When he died in 1903, thousands of people attended his funeral.