Following the success of CHINA Inc’s inaugural Rediscovered Past: China in northern Queensland conference held in Cairns in 2006, a biennial conference program has been established, with a second conference, Rediscovered Past: China in northern Australia, held in 2008, a third conference, Rediscovered Past: Valuing Chinese roles across the north, in 2010, the fourth conference, Rediscovered Past: Chinese Tropical Australia in 2012 and fifth conference Northern Links Conference 2014.
These have all been designed as “no fuss” multidisciplinary events run over 2 days with optional conference dinner and Yum Cha. The atmosphere is casual and convivial and a wide range of papers are presented that highlight the diverse nature of Chinese settlement and life in the North. Selected papers have been published in two proceedings volumes.
The venue of the conference, the city of Cairns, has been a major regional historical site of Chinese Australian life since the 1870s. Researchers of Chinese history and heritage may investigate the Cairns Historical Society collections as well as the Pioneer and Martyn Street cemeteries. From Cairns, visitors may travel to Aloomba –a site of extensive Chinese sugarcane farming – to Innisfail (Geraldton) – a site of Chinese banana growing, and to Atherton – the site of the Hou Wang Chinese temple. Those who have the time could venture further afield to Croydon, where the remains of the former Chinatown exists as a significant Chinese Australian archaeological site, and to Cooktown, the site of early Chinese immigration associated with the Palmer River Gold Rush.